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CATEGORIES (articles) > Chassis & Bodywork Construction > Metal working > Spot welding article

Spot welding article

A miller spot welder

Spot welding is a type of resistance welding used to weld various sheet metals. Typically the sheets are in the 0.5-3.0 mm thickness range. The process uses two shaped copper alloy electrodes to concentrate welding current and force between the materials to be welded. The result is a small "spot" that is quickly heated to the melting point, forming a nugget of welded metal after the current is removed. The amount of heat released in the spot is determined by the amplitude and duration of the current. The current and duration are chosen to match the material, the sheet thickness and type of electrodes. Applying the current for too long can result in molten metal being expelled as weld splash, or can even burn a hole right through the materials being welded.

Spot welding is typically used when welding steel sheet metal. Thicker stock is difficult to heat up from a single spot, as the heat can flow into the surrounding metal too easily. Spot welding can be easily identified on many sheet metal goods, such as metal pails. Aluminum alloys can also be spot welded. However, their much higher thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity mean that up to three times higher welding currents are needed. This requires larger, more powerful, and more expensive welding transformers.

Due to changes in the resistance of the metal as it starts to liquefy, the welding process can be monitored in real-time to ensure a perfect weld every time, using the most recent advances in monitoring/feedback control equipment. The resistance is measured indirectly, by measuring the voltage at and current through the electrodes.

The voltage needed for the welding depends on the resistance of the material to be welded, the sheet thickness and desired size of the nugget. When welding a common combination like 1.0 + 1.0 mm sheet steel, the voltage between the electrodes is only about 1.5 V at the start of the weld but can fall as low as 1 V at the end of the weld. This drop in voltage stems from the resistance reduction caused by the steel melting. The open circuit voltage from the transformer is much higher than this, typically in the 5-10 V range, but there is a very large voltage drop in the electrodes and secondary side of the transformer when the circuit is closed.

Perhaps the most common application of spot welding is in the automobile industry, where it is used almost universally to weld the sheet metal forming a car. Spot welders can also be completely automated, and many of the industrial robots found on assembly lines are spot welders (the other major use for robots being painting).

Another place where spot welding is used is in the orthodontist's clinic, where small scale spot welding equipment is used when resizing metal "molar bands" used in orthodontics.

  Arc welding: Shielded metal (MMA) | Gas metal (MIG) | Flux-cored | Submerged | Gas tungsten (TIG) | Plasma  
  Other processes: Oxyfuel | Resistance | Spot | Forge | Ultrasonic | Electron beam | Laser beam  
  Equipment: Power supply | Electrode | Shielding gas | Robot  
  Related: Heat-affected zone | Weldability | Residual stress | Arc eye | Underwater welding  

  See also: Brazing | Soldering | Metalworking | Fabrication | Casting | Machining | Metallurgy | Jewelry  

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