A poorly made weld could crack and fail without warning, and the consequences could be dire. That’s why we take extensive measures to guarantee the quality of the welds performed by our skilled welders. However, achieving this isn’t simple, as the welding process involves managing numerous variables. Moreover, appearances can be deceiving, as a weld might appear flawless on the surface but hide flaws within.
While inspections play a crucial role in ensuring that every fabricated weld leaving our facility adheres to design specifications, another, arguably more critical path, involves certifying every weld for quality. This certification process forms the cornerstone of our commitment to weld excellence.
In this blog post, we will delve into the meaning and significance of welding certification, why it holds paramount importance, and why you should prioritize it in your considerations. But first, let’s explore the inherent complexities that make welding a challenging process to control.
An Excess of Variables
Arc welding uses an electric arc to generate heat to melt metal. The welder adds filler wire to a molten pool, which solidifies to fuse separate metal pieces into one.
The main parameters the welder adjusts to make a good weld are current, wire feed rate, and speed at which they move the weld pool along the edges being joined. Other factors include the characteristics of the metals being joined, the size of any gap between them, the type and flow rate of the shielding gas, and how thoroughly the weld area was prepared. As all of these can vary, even in a single setup, the welder has to make adjustments ‘on-the-fly’-to prevent defects from occurring.
Typical Weld Defects
Weld defects are referred to as discontinuities. The most common weld discontinuities are:
- Too little or too much penetration
- Porosity – bubbles, which can be at the surface or the body of the weld
- Inclusions – foreign material in the weld
- Poor fusion (adherence to the parent metal)
- Cracks – tend to appear as the weld cools
Excessive spatter is sometimes considered a defect: although the weld itself may be sound, the additional time spent cleaning up is a problem.
What Welding Certification Means
Obtaining certification requires demonstrating the ability to:
- Work safely with a variety of arc welding processes
- Weld various types and thicknesses of material
- Follow company/design-specific Weld Procedure Specifications (WPS)
- Comply with applicable industry codes and regulations
- Consistently produce welds that are free of defects
Certification is performed by external bodies, so it’s independent of the welder or their employer. (This prevents a fabrication shop from just claiming their welders are certified, even if they have verified their competence.)
Certification benefits welders, the shops where they work, and the customers for the welding work. Welders benefit because formal certification makes them more employable, (and who doesn’t like some recognition of their skills?) Fabrication shops benefit from employing certified welders because it assures them of the quality of work the welder is capable of. (It doesn’t absolve them from producing technically correct WPS though – someone still needs to define what weld is needed.)
For the customer having work done by a certified welder means they can be confident the weld or welds will perform as needed. This may not be especially important for purely decorative work, like welding a gate, but it matters a great deal when safety is at stake.
Types of Welding Certification
The number of industries and businesses using welded fabrications is too large to count, and this means a lot of variation in priorities and materials being welded. Rather than one body overseeing welding standards for the entire spectrum of applications, there are multiple bodies catering to specific sectors.
This isn’t a complete list, but the main weld certification bodies are:
- American Welding Society (AWS) – used by most welders in the fabrication sector, has specific certifications relating to structural steel, aluminum, and sheet steel
- American Petroleum Institute (API) – focuses on welding pipes and challenging materials
- ASME – emphasis is on welding codes and standards for boilers and pressure vessels
- National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) – construction-related welding (plate sheet and pipe)
- American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) – as the name suggests, an emphasis on welding codes specific to the maritime sector
Certified Welders at Wiley
As you’ve probably realized, at Wiley we’re big believers in the value of welder certification. Reiterating some of the points made above, we believe it’s important for ensuring our welders can produce the quality welds needed in the fabrications and structures we make.
Our welders are all AWS certified by the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, (which is across the state line in Ohio.) We’ve found the Hobart Institute rigorous and extremely technically competent and they certify our welders to AWS D1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 standards. (That’s steel, aluminum, and sheet steel respectively.)
Talk to us About Your Welding Needs
When you care about the welds in your structures and fabrications, you should have them made by certified welders. Our welders are all AWS-certified and experienced in working with a wide range of metals. They can follow your product or industry welding codes and work to the WPSs we write and agree with you.
To learn more about our welding services, contact us.