fra0811 Fundamentals of Professional Welding

GMA Welding Common Metals

You can use the welding equipment and techniques for gas metal-arc welding to join all types of metals; however, as we discussed in the GTAW process, each of the metals requires a unique welding method. In this section, we discuss some of the welding methods associated with a few of the more commonly welded metals.

Carbon Steels

The majority of welding by all methods is done on carbon steels. When you are using GMA to weld carbon steels, both the spray-arc and short-arc methods may be applied. For spray-arc welding, a mixture of 5-percent oxygen with argon is recommended. As we mentioned earlier, this mixture provides a more stable arc. Also you may use a mixture of argon and CO2 or straight CO2. Straight CO2 is often used for high-speed production welding; however, with CO2 the arc is not a true spray arc. For short-arc welding, a 25-percent CO2 and 75-per-cent argon mixture is preferred.

For GMA welding of thin materials (0.035 inch to 1/8 inch), no edge preparation is needed and a root opening of 1/16 of an inch or less is recommended. For production of adequate welds on thicker material, some beveling is normally required. When welding plates 1/4 of an inch or greater in thickness, you should prepare a single or double-V groove with 50- to 60-degree included angle(s).


The joint design for aluminum is similar to that of steel; however, aluminum requires a narrower joint spacing and lower welding current setting.

The short-arc welding method is normally used for out-of-position welding or when welding thin materials because short-arc produces a cooler arc than the spray type arc. When welding thinner material (up to 1 inch in thickness), you should use pure argon.

The spray-arc welding method is recommended for welding thicker materials. With spray arc, more heat is produced to melt the wire and base metal. When you are welding thicker material (between 1 and 2 inches) a mixture of 90-percent argon and 10-percent helium is recommended. The helium provides more heat input and the argon provides good cleaning action.

Stainless Steel

DCRP with a 1- or 2-percent oxygen with argon mixture is recommended for most stainless steel welding. In general, you weld stainless steel with the spray-arc welding method and a pushing technique. When welding stainless steel up to 1/16 of an inch in thickness, you should use a copper backup strip. For welding thin materials in the overhead or vertical positions, the short-arc method produces better results.

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