Reducing weld spatter | Norton Abrasives

How To Reduce Spatter in Welding

Weld spatter

Experienced welders, fabricators and metalworkers, understand that welded joints require further attention to remove droplets of molten material, commonly referred to as weld spatter. Removing the weld spatter and spending time to deburr and refine your workpiece, will help to improve the look of your welds and also ensure your work looks professionally finished.

How to remove spatter from your workpiece

Removing spatter from the weld area does not have to be a laborious process. Four different abrasive tools can be used to remove excessive spatter from your workpiece. You can choose an abrasive tool based on your requirements, such as product life and flexibility.

1.      Non-woven abrasive discs

Blaze Rapid StripThese are composed of a 3D mesh of synthetic fibres. Non-woven abrasive discs, such as the Norton Blaze Rapid Strip, work well in terms of cleaning up that annoying mess and can also be used to prepare metal before welding! Composed of fibrous nylon material, a resin bond and the premium BLAZE ceramic abrasive - the combination of grain and fibre provides a seamless cutting process. Importantly, the abrasive disc adheres to the point of contact easily, creating an enjoyable and smooth cutting experience.

The discs are also excellent at working on difficult to reach welds and in applications where a decorative surface finish is required.

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2.      Flap discs

Flap discs are made of overlapping pieces of abrasive material bonded to one central hub. Flap discs are the best choice when long abrasive life is required and you want to reduce disc change downtime. They’re similar to a grinding disc but with less vibration and more controlled stock removal. For more information on flap discs, read our definitive guide to flap discs.

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3.      Fibre discs

Fibre discs are a popular method of grinding metal when flexibility is needed as they can be used on flat areas, as well as shapes and contours. Fibre discs are ideal if you need to remove a lot of spatter quickly and abrasive life is not the priority. To help give you a better finish, use a softer backup pad so the disc can conform to the surface shape.

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Grinding wheel spatter4.      Grinding discs

Grinding discs are used for heavy stock removal and when surface finish isn’t a key concern. 

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Before you start using any abrasives, make sure you wear work gloves, a dust mask, safety glasses and a full face shield. It will also help if the area is well ventilated.

Minimising Weld Spatter

If you have some experience of welding and know how to set up your gas flow and select the correct wire speeds, as well as how to angle your welding gun or stick correctly, then you know that spatter will still happen. Although you can’t avoid weld spatter completely and prevent the spatter from sticking, you can aim for minimal spatter.

Make sure your surface is prepared correctly

This applies to all types of welding - use only pure base metals without any coatings or rust for welding. You can remove any coatings or contamination before you start welding by using the Norton Blaze Rapid Strip.

MIG Welding

MIG welding1.    Make Sure your nozzle on your MIG gun is clean

The nozzle on your MIG welder gun can become clogged and blocked quickly, leading to the wire feed becoming snagged, stuck or increasing the risk of burn back. This is annoying for any welder, as it can slow you down and lead to messy welds. Before starting any weld, the first step is to check the nozzle is clean. If the nozzle is blocked or shows signs of build-up, then use your pliers to remove the debris.

2.    Check your gas flow and maintain your equipment

Like your feed wire, gas flow is equally important and can affect the quality of a weld. You should always check that your hoses and gas regulator are properly connected and registering correctly before you start. Old or worn hoses can become kinked and affect the gas flow and it is also worth inspecting any gas ports to check these are not blocked or restricted in any way. Refer to your MIG welder manual on how to strip down any components and how regularly they should be serviced.

TIG Welding

1.    Check that your filler rods and tungsten electrodes match the material you are welding.

TIG is a much cleaner welding process than MIG, but on occasions, weld spatter can still be an issue. Due to the range of materials that can be TIG welded, it is important to ensure any filler rods or tungsten electrodes that you use, correctly match the material you are intending to weld.  

Make a note of:

  • The material you intend to weld
  • Any joint types
  • The thickness of the material
  • Any thermal properties that need to be taken into consideration 

This information can then be used with cross-reference charts that are usually available from filler rod and tungsten electrode manufacturers, to help you select the best options for your project.

2.    Gas flow is still important

Like with MIG welding, gas flow is still important to ensure a good weld, so check that the gas nozzle opening is not blocked and no debris could be restricting gas flow. A wire brush can be used to gently remove any build-up from the cup. Inspect your gun and connections to ensure everything is in good working order and refer to your TIG welder manual, should any maintenance or repairs need to be carried out.

3.    Make sure your tungsten electrode is clean and filler rods are not contaminated

The tungsten electrode or taper is where the arc connects to the metal surface. Any dirt, contamination or distortion will affect its performance and cause arc deflection.  

If the tungsten touches the weld pool or filler rod during welding, then this can also lead to contamination. Positioning the taper further away from the workpiece will help reduce the likelihood of contamination whilst also lengthening the arc.  

The electrode can be gently ground on a pedestal bench grinder to remove any contamination or distortion. Contaminated filler rods will also affect the quality of your weld, so once you spot any signs of contamination, switch to a new filler rod.

Arc Welding

Arc welding1.    Make sure your arc length isn’t too long

If the stick is positioned too far away from the workpiece, then the arc can become too wide and poor penetration will occur, as well as excessive spatter. Moving the stick closer to the workpiece will reduce spatter and also improve the strength and quality of the welds.

2.    Check you are using the correct welding rod

Check that your welding rod is compatible with the material you are welding and that it is suitable for AC (alternating current) welding. Welding rods will usually have a code listed on them to help you identify what materials and applications they are suitable for. 

As a rough rule:

  • The letter E represents the electrode
  • The first two digits indicate the weld tensile strength
  • The third digit indicates the position the electrode can be used in when welding
  • The fourth digit states whether the rod can be used for AC or DC (direct current) welding.  

Welding rod manufacturers usually have cross-reference charts available to help you select the best rod for your project.

Reducing the amount of spatter when welding, will result in a smoother weld and will save you time with the overall blending and finishing process. For more information about these final stages of the process, find out how to grind, blend and finish a weld seam.

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