SUBMERGED ARC WELDING (SAW)
It is used for faster welding jobs. It is possible to use larger welding electrodes (12 mm) as well as very high currents (4000 A) so that very high metal deposition rates of the order of 20 kg/h or more can be achieved with this process. Also, very high welding speeds (5 m/min) are possible in saw. Some submerged arc welding-machines are able to weld plates of thicknesses as high as 75 mm in butt joint in a single pass. Though it can weld very small thickness, of the order of 1 mm, it is very economical for larger welds only.
The arc is produced in the same manner as in GMAW. The welding zone is completely covered by means of large amount of granulated flux, which is delivered ahead of welding electrode by means of flux-feed tube. The arc between the electrode and the work-piece is completely submerged under the flux and is not visible from outside. A part of the flux melts and forms the slag, which covers the weld metal. The unused flux can be recycled.
The power source used with submerged arc welding can either be AC or DC. Both constant voltage and constant current type machines can effectively used though, for larger electrode a constant current type power supply is used. The current ratings of the SAW machines are, in general, two to three times higher that of the GMAW machines.
Arc blow is not encountered with AC supply with a single wire SAW. But sometimes two wires may be used to deposit larger amounts of metal. These two electrode being connected to two separate power sources, the arc blow is likely to occur because of the interference of the two magnetic fields surrounding the two electrodes, if the two currents are in phase. In order to avoid the setting of opposite magnetic fields, the two power supplies are adjusted in such a way that, one of the supply is in peak, and the other is set to zero current. One of the electrodes is called leading and the other called trailing. In this way the aforementioned problem is reduced.
There is no spatter of the molten metal since the arc is completely submerged in the flux. Because of the usage of loose granulated flux to cover the joint, it is difficult to carry out in any position other than the flat or down-hand position. Also, because of large metal pools generation in the SAW process, the out-of-position welds are difficult to carry out.
The electrode wires normally used are of sizes 1.6, 2, 2.5, 3.15, 4, 5, 6.3 and 8mm. The wires should be smooth with no surface imperfections or contaminants. It is difficult to manually feed the wire into the joint because of very high wire-feed rate. As SAW process produces large amount of molten weld metal, it takes sometimes for solidification. Hence, it is imperative in SAW to provide some way of containing this molten metal. Weld metal backing is normally used. The backing slaves can be with or without grooves, but in general, copper plates are used, which can easily be cooked with internal running water, when necessary. For thin plates, plain copper backing plates without any cooling water, would be enough. Pure copper removes heat quickly from the molten weld pool because of its high thermal conductivity.