Welding-titanium

and titanium alloys:

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Welding titanium: profitable niches

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Welding-titanium is still considered a quite uncommon process because titanium applications cover only specialized niches, due mostly to high metal cost.

But its unique properties make it the preferred selection when considering the lifetime cost of the structure.

Welding titanium is feasible and rewarding and should be welcomed as a winnable challenge.

It requires however proper understanding of requirements and some adaptation of equipment and techniques.

If you are not yet familiar with Welding-titanium and its alloys, maybe that, by reading on here, you can get some confidence.

Then consider if it would make sense to specialize in this particular but affordable new field: less competition, more profitable results...

Welding-titanium and titanium alloys must be performed with special precautions because these materials are very reactive to contamination from atmosphere gases.

But Welding-titanium is possible if these alloys are shielded from air in a very effective way either in vacuum or in an enclosure containing an inert gas.


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High specific strength at intermediate temperatures

Some basic properties which make titanium alloys the natural choice for a specific range of applications are low density (about 60% relative to steel) with appreciable strength at intermediate temperatures.

This characteristic, called specific strength at certain temperatures, makes titanium the preferred selection for low pressure compressor stages of gas turbines.

Titanium for corrosion resistance

Titanium alloys are also favored for their corrosion resistance in the marine environment and in chemical processing operations.

Therefore commercial applications are numerous due to their intrinsic corrosion resistance to a variety of agents present in chemical plants and to seawater for marine applications.

Find here a short overview of Welding-titanium alloys.
However as types and conditions of various titanium alloys can be very different, so could be the problems.

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What types?...

Besides unalloyed or commercial titanium, different classes of titanium alloys are described. Reference is made to metallurgical types called alpha, alpha-beta and beta.

These indicate the main phases present in the microstructure, as seen under an optical metallographic microscope on the surface of suitably prepared, ground, polished and etched specimens.

Different properties from different structures

Titanium alpha alloys can be strengthened only by cold work (called also strain hardening) (not by heat treatment), are weldable in annealed condition and retain their strength at high temperature.

Titanium alpha-beta alloys can be welded in certain conditions but with limited weld ductility or heat affected zone ductility, however they can be strengthened by heat treatment.

Welding-titanium of beta alloys is performed in the annealed condition, and then, if necessary, they can be cold worked and heat treated to preserve ductility in the weld.

How do we know which type?...

Different alloys have different compositions and are given different names. They are then grouped according to their prevailing microstructure.

But before Welding-titanium one must also check the condition, meaning the mechanical properties, produced by cold work or by the last heat treatment that was performed before welding.

An Article on "Titanium Microstructure" was published in Practical Welding Letter issue No. 22 for June 2005.
To see the article click on PWL#022.

An Article on Titanium Clad Steel was published (11) in the Issue 23 of Practical Welding Letter for July 2005. Click on PWL#023 to read it.

An Article on Welding Titanium to Stainless Steel was published (3) in the Issue 33 of Practical Welding Letter for May 2006. To read it click on PWL#033.

An Article on Filler Metal for Brazing Titanium Alloys was published (4) in Issue 46 of Practical Welding Letter for June 2007.
Click on PWL#046 to read it.

An Article on Surface Treatments for Titanium was published (7) in Issue 81 of Practical Welding Letter for May 2010.
Click on PWL#081 to read it.

An Article on Aerospace Materials Competition was published (2) in Issue 123 of Practical Welding Letter for November 2013.
Click on PWL#123 to see it.

An Article on Brazing Titanium was published (3) in Issue 151 of Practical Welding Letter for March 2016.
Click on PWL#151.

An Article on Minimizing Alpha Case was published (11) in Issue 152 of Practical Welding Letter for April 2016.
Click on PWL#152.

An Article on Large Scale Additive Manufacturing was published (2) in Issue 153 of Practical Welding Letter for May 2016.
Click on PWL#153.

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Welding-titanium and titanium alloys can be performed by FRICTION WELDING to themselves and to other materials, with notable success in that most or all of the contaminated metal is expelled in the flash material ring subsequently removed.

RESISTANCE WELDING is used for Welding-titanium and titanium alloys, in sheet metal or extruded thin sections, much as it is for other materials.

The fact that the material has high electrical resistivity and low thermal conductivity helps in obtaining good welds while limiting the electric current to relatively normal values.

Resistance Welding-titanium needs schedules developed taking into account these particular characteristics.

Magnetic Pulse Welding, a cold welding process, can be used without special problems to join elements of suitable geometry.

Tip!: Although titanium is a highly reactive material, which should be protected from air contamination when hot, there is no need to employ inert gas for cold welding or when spot or seam welding, but the metal should always be clean and the electrodes must be thoroughly water cooled.

Which Fusion welding?...

Oxyacetylene welding is NOT applicable to Welding-titanium or titanium alloys.

Fusion Welding with Arc Welding Processes, is used for Welding-titanium Alloys, considered one of the easiest materials to weld.

Most used are GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding)(Tig), Direct Current Straight Polarity, Electrode Negative, and PAW (Plasma Arc Welding), with argon or mixtures of argon and helium. Power supply should have high frequency facility for arc initiation without contact to avoid contaminating the weld with tungsten bits.

GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding)(Mig) of titanium, although being performed successfully, requires special attentions, like Direct Current Reverse Polarity, Electrode Positive, and is considered for joints at least 13 mm (0.5 in) thick.

Tip!:Fabricators wishing to specialize in Welding-titanium should set up a training and familiarization period to understand the requirements of gas shielding and the risks of contamination and porosity in the weld.

Titanium alloys usually welded are considered having good weldability, except that due to their extreme reactivity, unusual precautions must be taken to shield the molten pool and the hot metal from contact with air.

This is done best in a special enclosure (glove box) filled with inert gas, but is also possible with special equipment that covers the hot metal with a continuous flow of inert gas.

Always clean the metal with utmost care, and chemically pickle or at least stainless steel wire brush.

Tip!: Always remember that Chlorinated Fluoro Carbon (CFC) solvents are forbidden for cleaning titanium and titanium alloys because they produce embrittlement. Use instead only Acetone or Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK).

Only chamber welding?...

Tip!: In the past it was considered that Tig Welding-titanium could be performed only in chambers, equipped with glove ports and viewing ports, filled with argon.

However with accumulating experience and especially for welding of large structures, it was concluded that this is not an absolute need, provided sufficient trailing inert gas is continuously provided by suitable equipment.

An Article on Trailing Shields for Welding Titanium was published (11) in Issue 130 of Practical Welding Letter for June 2014.
Click on PWL#130 to see it.

For Titanium welding the conventional thoriated Tungsten electrodes known as EWTh-1 and EWTh-2 are used (with 1 or 2% Thorium respectively), ground to a point.

PAW (Plasma Arc Welding) with keyhole technique permits high productivity welding of thick plates at higher depths and at higher speeds (although slower than those used in high energy processes), with less porosity problems when compared to GTAW.

A version, called micro-plasma, employing lower currents, is used for welding light gauges.

Filler materials used for Welding-titanium alloys are described in

ANSI/AWS A5.16/A5.16M:2007
Specification for Titanium and Titanium Alloy Welding Electrodes and Rods
Edition: 5th
American Welding Society / 17-Aug-2007 / 38 pages

See also:
ANSI/AWS D10.6/D10.6M:2000
Recommended Practices for Gas Tungsten Arc Welding of Titanium Pipe and Tubing
American Welding Society, 11-Feb-2000
29 pages

ANSI/AWS D17.1/D17.1M:2010-AMD1
Specification for Fusion Welding for Aerospace Applications
2nd Edition (Third Printing, Includes 2012 Amendment)
American Welding Society / 18-Nov-2010 / 104 pages

ANSI/AWS G2.4/G2.4M:2007
Guide for the Fusion Welding of Titanium and Titanium Alloys
Edition: 1st
American Welding Society / 20-Sep-2006 / 54 pages

A section on Titanium is found in:
AWS Welding Handbook
8th Ed., Vol. 4: Materials and Applications - Part 2 ,
Document Number: AWS WHB-4.8
American Welding Society, 01-Jan-1998
622 pages

[Note: The 9th Edition, Volume 4, already released, does not include a Chapter on Titanium]

An Article on Selection of Titanium Alloy Filler Metals has been published in our Practical Welding Letter No. 07, issue of March 2004. You can read it by clicking on PWL#007.

An Article titled Update: Titanium Specification Revised on the changes recently introduced in AWS specification A5.16 is quoted in Section 5 (Online Press) in the June 2004 Issue No. 10 of Practical Welding Letter. Click on PWL#010 to see the Reference.

An Article on joining Niobium to Titanium was published in the November 2004 of Practical Welding Letter Issue No. 15, in Section 4 - Filler Metal. To read the Article click on PWL#015.

An Article on Gas Metal Arc Welding of Titanium was published (3) in Issue 58 of Practical Welding Letter for June 2008.
Click on PWL#058 to read it.

An Article on Superplasticity was published (2) in Issue 82 of Practical Welding Letter for June 2010. Click on PWL#082 to read it.

An Invitation to a Titanium Welding Workshop was published (11) in Issue 105 of Practical Welding Letter for May 2012. Although the workshop is due on June 26, 2012, readers may enjoy other benefits even past this date.
Click on PWL#105 to see it.

Click on our new page on Welding Nitinol.

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Welding-titanium should be followed by stress relieving in order to prevent cracks, and also to avoid stress corrosion cracking in service.

A Table showing Stress-relieving times and temperatures for selected Titanium alloys can be found at page 786 of the ASM Handbook Volume 6 (1993).

ASM Handbook : Welding, Brazing & Soldering
Olson, David L.
9th Ed. Vol. 6
ASM International, 01-Jan-1993
1299 pages

[Note: The new Volume 6A of the ASM Handbook, deals with Fundamentals of processes. It does not include a Chapter on Welding Titanium]

Arc Welding-titanium using fluxes have been attempted variously in experimental settings, but with limited success and at present they are not considered an interesting industrial application.

High Energy Welding

High Energy Welding-titanium Processes are widely used.

Laser Beam Welding needs proper means of inert gas protection for the molten pool and the hot joint. In Electron Beam Welding, the contamination problems are taken care of in a vacuum chamber.

Tip!: A thin titanium foil is sometimes interposed between surfaces of materials difficult to weld by Electron Beam, like alloy steels, where it may provide a helpful contribution to weld ductility.

NEW RESOURCES

Find some interesting links in a special Mid Month Bulletin Page of our PRACTICAL WELDING LETTER, designed offer you, our interested readers, the opportunity to search the web quickly and effectively on the subject of welding Titanium and Titanium Alloys.

We urge you to explore this rich source of essential knowledge.

Online Resources on Welding Titanium and Titanium Alloys , presenting Articles, Tables, Data, Properties, Specifications, Downloads, Links and Information is now available by clicking on PWL#043B.

Looking for more Online Reference Links? Click on Welding Resources

Watch the following Tips from the Experts Videos:

Setting up a torch for titanium welding

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0G2Tv82xUg

Welding Titanium Tubing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0bca6DCqnE

* * *

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Welding-titanium. Easier than you may think, but still needs some study and practice. Learn of different types and conditions. See it all here...