Cleaning or changing out a MIG welding gun nozzle seems pretty straightforward, but like most things in life, distractions are prone to happen. If and when a process disruption occurs, the
welder has to stop what they’re doing to remove the spatter from the nozzle with a reamer or other tool. If the nozzle must be replaced, they have to remove their helmet, probably take a walk to retrieve a new one, walk back, stop to talk to a colleague along the way or maybe inspect someone else’s work. When all is said and done, several minutes will have been spent dealing with the disruption instead of actually welding.
Spatter formation is a time-consuming challenge that frequently occurs in manual and robotic MIG welding applications. It adheres to the workpieces and equipment, including clogging the nozzle and obstructing the shielding gas flow. This causes uneven heating of the wire and, in turn, poor weld quality.
“When people weld, molten metal flies everywhere and lands on several surfaces and that’s what clogs up the nozzle and disrupts gas flow,” says Philip Laforest, R&D product manager, welding solutions, Walter Surface Technologies. “They have to stop what they’re doing and either clear out the nozzle out or throw it away and replace it with a new one. This slows down productivity and drives up the costs of consumables.”
Sprays and gels
The typical approach to protecting the nozzle is to use aerosol sprays and gels. However, these must be reapplied throughout the welding process, the torch has to cool down before reapplying flammable aerosol sprays and the solutions must dry before beginning to weld again.
“For each 5 or 10 min. of welding, the welder needs to reapply the gel on the nozzle to protect it,” Laforest says. “Anti-spatter aerosol sprays also protect the nozzle and are only applied about twice a day, but these are typically solvent based so they’re spraying a lot of solvent into the air. And an aerosol can is another safety issue because the product is flammable.”
To address nozzle spatter buildup and the time spent dealing with it, Walter took a different approach. The company’s patent-pending E-Weld pre-coated nozzles are long-lasting nozzles permanently coated with a unique and innovative water-based ceramic coating. The nozzles are made from a standard high-quality nozzle with the unique ceramic coating on both the interior and exterior surface that prevents spatter from adhering to the nozzle.
“The nozzle itself is a standard brass or copper MIG welding nozzle, but the real key to this product is the coating itself,” Laforest says. “Nobody else is able to apply a water-based coating on a nozzle and have it stay there. For us, it took more than two years of research and prototype iterations to refine this unique ceramic solution and create an application process for it.”
The pre-coated nozzle provides a safe solution to nozzle spatter buildup, while reducing downtime spent scraping spatter or even replacing nozzles. This increases productivity and reduces consumable expenses. Preventing nozzle obstructions results in a higher quality weld, as well. By ensuring free-flowing shielding gas, the wire is heated evenly, helping achieve welding goals while minimizing downtime and welding operation costs.
“Our nozzle doesn’t need to be cleaned as often as a standard nozzle,” Laforest says. “Stopping to clean out the nozzle to make sure there is good gas flow is something the welder has to do several times a day. With our nozzle, the welder can tap the nozzle lightly and the molten metal falls off. That’s where we are seeing really good time savings.”
The ceramic coating is also highly durable to provide long-lasting protection against thermal damage. So, although this means the pre-coated nozzles have about 15 percent increase in price over standard nozzles, it also means they have a lifespan up to 5 times longer.
Of additional note, employers don’t have to rely on the welders to make sure they are applying anti-spatter products correctly or applying enough. Everyone has the same quality of nozzle if they are using the pre-coated nozzles.
In general, it’s still a best practice to use anti-spatter products on the base material with the pre-coated nozzles. Reducing spatter on the surface of the material means less spatter is
available to stick to the nozzle. Another good practice is to put anti-spatter on the jigs and other tooling as well to prolong the life of all the tooling.
The pre-coated nozzles are designed to help welders do their jobs faster and better with less steps in the process. The nozzles are available in various sizes and models compatible with Miller, Lincoln and Tregaskiss welding equipment without any modification or adaptors. The nozzles don’t change the MIG welding process, they just allow welders to do less maintenance and change out nozzles way less often. They truly provide a cost-effective way to keep up production, achieve high-quality welds and reduce consumables usage.