Copper is a material with excellent conducting qualities and a variety of uses. The fact that copper is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity is a key factor in this. However, this sometimes makes welding copper a challenge. Around 5,000 years ago, copper ore became the first to be successfully smelted. Our planet is now held together by the metal copper. Maybe it is a bit of exaggeration but the fact that copper is a very significant metal with several uses means can you weld copper.
Different Methods for Welding Copper
One of the oldest ways to combine metal was through soldering, which requires heating filler metal (filler wire) until it melts and fills joins. The easiest method, soft soldering, is used often in and around the house to fix tiny metal objects. Plumbing professionals also employ it to connect and fix copper fittings and tubing.
For soft soldering, you may make use of a cheap soldering iron or a blowtorch with the appropriate flux. By heating the fillers to a considerably higher temperature during hard soldering, the junction will be far more substantial than ordinary soldered joints. The process is sometimes referred to as “silver brazing” since the filler metal is distinct and typically includes silver. True brazing is done at a considerably greater temperature.
In essence, brazing is a method comparable to soldering and uses the same kind of filler (wire or a brazing rod) that soldering does. To allow capillary action to pull the filler material between the copper parts being connected, joints must be very tightly fitted. The core material must not be warmed to the melting point, even if the temperatures employed must be far greater than those needed for soldering.
Brazing, which is often employed in plumbing work, may be used to connect various metal kinds such as metal work parts of multiple thicknesses.
Arc welding, which is more precise, combines many other, more specialized procedures. Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), also known as manual metal arc (MMA) welding, may be employed for less-critical purposes, although generally, welding procedures that employ shielding gases are preferred. This approach works well for a range of copper alloy thicknesses, particularly since shielded electrodes for SMAW welding copper alloys come in a number of standard sizes.
Speed of Copper Welding
The heating rate needs to be constant. Keep the injector rod’s tip in the molten weld pool at all times. The liquid steel must be shielded by the exterior combustion envelope throughout the duration of the welding process. The shaft should be lifted and the mild steel roasted to red heat along the joint if the metal is unable to move smoothly throughout the process. Restarting the weld and continuing it until the joint weld is finished is necessary.
The Important Steps in Copper Welding
You must understand the essential procedures involved in successfully welding copper while doing it on your own. Copper welding on your own involves 11 stages. You may create a copper weld that is very robust by carrying out these stages in the correct sequence.
1. Maintain Safety
The first step in learning how to weld copper by yourself is to make sure you are safe. No matter which metal you are welding, you must take the necessary safety measures before you begin. You run the danger of being hurt if you don’t.
You run the risk of receiving an electric shock while welding copper, in addition to breathing in dangerous fumes. Therefore, you shouldn’t limit your efforts to wearing safety gear and leather gloves while welding copper to secure your safety. Instead, make sure your safety equipment also includes a respirator mask and eye protection.
2. Get the Surface Ready
Keeping the weld region clean of grease, petroleum, paints, dust, and some other foreign materials are known as surface preparation when welding copper. Why is it necessary to keep these particles out of the weld area? because if they come into contact with the metal, the weld may split. They might also include hazardous substances including lead, phosphorous, and sulfur.
Why must copper be preheated before welding can begin? due to the high heat conductivity of this metal. If the copper metal is thicker than 0.01 inches, this is very crucial. All the portions that are required to be welded should be evenly warmed up. In order to weld the thick copper parts, a high level of preheating is necessary because copper can quickly transfer heat from the welded joint to the base material around it. The temperature might vary from 50 to 752 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the thickness of the metal.
4. Joint Design
A joint element is a crucial stage in successfully welding copper. What does all of this mean? The spacing between the joints is the first thing you should think about. Ideally, you should be able to manage this distance within a range determined by the parent material and brazing alloy that was utilized. The ideal joint gap, however, is in the range of 0.04 and 0.20 mm.
A shared overlap is a crucial factor to take into account here. When joining two pieces together, the optimal joint overlap will be at least 3x thicker than the weakest piece. In order to get the necessary strength, you should aim to utilize as little material as you can.
5. Refine the Flame
You must correctly regulate the flame if you really want to create a strong copper weld. Using a neutral flame would be the best course of action here. The meaning of a neutral flame A flame that has been modified to enable the same quantities of acetylene and oxygen to mingle at the same pace is known as a neutral flame. Another crucial step in this situation is to make sure the white inside cone is distinct and there is no mist.
6. Take Away the Flux
If the flux is used, the residual must be eliminated using one of these techniques::
- using a wire brush and steaming
- using a wire brush and rinsing with hot water
- heated caustic soda dip dilution
- Failure to fully eliminate the flux might result in the joint deteriorating or possibly failing.
7. Select a Filler Substance
One of the most important phases in successfully welding copper is selecting the appropriate filler material. A copper piece that is heavier than the core material may be welded with the aid of the proper filler material selection. The corrosion resistance of the metal, the amount of strength needed in the joint, the temperature, and the related costs will all affect which filler metal is the most appropriate for welding copper.
The ideal filler metal to use is one that contains silicon (Si) or manganese (Mn), both of which function as deoxidants. This holds true whether you are welding copper utilizing the GMAW, GTAW, or MMAW technique.
8. Select the Proper Gas for Shielding
Selecting the proper shielding gas for the weld is yet another crucial step in successfully welding copper. Which alternatives do you have? Generally speaking, helium, argon, or a combination of the two are the best gases for shielding welding copper to steel. The size of the component you are working on will determine which shielding gas is good for you. Having stated that, 100% helium gas is a shielding gas increasingly used in copper welding nowadays. Therefore, you should choose this choice above the others.
9. Select a Welding Method
The three primary methods or procedures used for welding copper to steel have previously been covered. You should choose a welding method that is most suited to the welding task at hand based on the data presented above. You must choose a welding method that is most suited to the filler metal and application you are using.
10. Use the Right Amount of Heat and Gas
If you utilize the GTAW technique to weld copper with a thickness of less than 2mm, the shielding gas you must use is Argon, with a 160 amps current. However, as the thickness of the metal increases, so should the current level. Furthermore, the optimal shielding gas and pre-heating temperature vary depending on the welding process.
For instance, if you employ the GTAW technique to weld copper with a thickness of 0.196-inch, you must maintain a preheated temperature of 50°C while utilizing a combination of helium He and argon Ar with a 300 amps current.
11. Use the Correct Position
The last stage in efficiently welding copper to steel is to weld in the proper location. The optimal posture for welding copper is a parallel seam or down-hand. This makes it simpler to weld copper since less expertise is required.
As previously said, there are various ways and procedures related to copper welding. For the question can you weld copper, the answer is absolute yes. To achieve the final goal of producing a good copper weld, you should completely comprehend each approach and process. To learn to weld, you can read our article: Is Welding hard to Learn?