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Colors in welding are cool, but...

Posted by Sparky Sommer on Jun 14, 2015 1:25:18 PM

Lately, I've been following the websites and social sites you guys share your work on, like Instagram, and the TIG welds are incredible. I see all the pretty colors - straw, rose, green and blue. 

Weld-5-e_CMYKESAB Photo

There's a good contest going between all of you to see how many colors you can get in one weld. I have to say it's pretty impressive...

But, I also have to say I've been really impressed with the people I see who are keeping it real in their comments on these photos about that good old thing we call the stainless color chart.

So, here is Sparky's Question of the Day:

Question: Which color is best in welding?

Answer: None.

I know, I know, but hear me out...

Color in a weld is a sign of oxide. Oxide lessens the ability of stainless metal to resist corrosion. Corrosion puts the integrity of the weld in jeopardy. That's why it's best to strive for a shiny chrome color in your weld. 

Welding code acceptance criteria tables detail the colors (or amount of oxidation) that are acceptable in a weld. You can find one available at American Welding Society here.

Sanitary stainless pipe color tables may be different than a stainless weld going into space, but not by much. To do it right, you really want to tune in your power source and gas flow for TIG welding stainless and check the codes and standards. Even if you're not welding to code, these guides are still the source for best welding practices.

Judging from the crazy good bead work I'm seeing on these sites, I am positive you all have the talent to make your next cool color on your welds a shiny chrome. 

IG_chrome_weldPhoto courtesy of the Instagram account of @walkwithmeinhell225

Here are a few tips for making that happen: 

Four Tips for a Shiny Chrome TIG Weld

1) Use a gas lens instead of a collet body to deliver a smooth column of shielding gas, which is a must.

Blog5-Photo5(From left): 1) Gas lens dispersing gas; 2) Collet body dispersing gas; 3) Gas lens; 4) Collet body

2) Use a glass cup gas lens for small diameter stainless pipe welding, allowing full visual contact with the arc, and giving you better control. 

3) If you have the option, use pulse on your machine settings. It's the best way to lessen the heat and deepen the penetration. You can dial it in for very fine control and a perfect bead profile.


ESAB Photo

4) Test your settings on all the material thicknesses and weld positions that you'll be working with as you weld. Take your time with each one until you are confident the welds are repeatable. Using a weld schedule will help you consider each essential variable. Then you will have recorded schedules you can refer back to whenever you need them. (*HINT: I often take a picture of my schedules with my phone so they're always with me.)

You can also download a Welding Procedure Specification (WPS) and print some out to keep with you on the job. 

Again, I would like to personally give a big thanks to those of you who are passing down this knowledge on social sites. You are keeping the craft alive and well by passing along the good stuff and doing it respectfully for the benefit of future welders. 

Now excuse me while I get back to oohing and ahhing over these colorful welds... 

Topics: Welder, welding, ESAB blog, education, metal, welding basics, TIG, welding tips, TIG welding, color chart, aluminum, stainless

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