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Welding Positions


Welding Positions


Welding cannot always be done in the most desirable position. It must be
done in the position in which the part will be used. Often that may be
on the ceiling, in the corner, or on the floor. Proper description and
definition is necessary since welding procedures must indicate the
welding position to be performed, and welding process selection is
necessary since some have all-position capabilities whereas others may
be used in only one or two positions. The American Welding Society has
defined the four basic welding positions as shown below.

Basic Welding Positions

Four basic welding positions defined by the American Welding Society

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Any conversation around welding starts with a discussion on welding position of the weld face. A number is used to define the position and an F for Fillet or G for groove refers to the type of weld. An architect's blueprints would indicate the welding symbol.

  • 1 refers to a flat position, either 1F or 1G
  • 2 refers to a horizontal position, either 2F or 2G
  • 3 is a vertical position, either 3F or 3G
  • 4 is an overhead position, either 4F or 4G

Horizontal Position Welding

Horizontal Position Weld

A fillet weld on a tee joint in the horizontal position.

In horizontal welding, the weld axis is approximately horizontal,
but the weld type dictates the complete definition. For a fillet weld,
welding is performed on the upper side of an approximately horizontal
surface and against an approximately vertical surface. For a groove
weld, the face of the weld lies in an approximately vertical plane.

welding in the horizontal position is a little more difficult to master
than flat position. This is due to the tendency of molten metal to flow
to the lower side of the joint. The heat from the torch rises to the
upper side of the joint. The combination of these opposing factors makes
it difficult to apply a uniform deposit to this joint.

Align the
plates and tack weld at both ends. The torch should move
with a slight oscillation up and down to distribute the heat equally to
both sides of the joint, thereby holding the molten metal in a plastic
state. This prevents excessive flow of the metal to the lower side of
the joint, and permits faster solidification of the weld metal. A joint
in horizontal position will require considerably more practice than the
previous techniques. It is, however, important that the technique be
mastered before passing on to other types of weld positions.

Horizontal Butt Joint

Flat Position Welding

This type of welding is performed from the upper side of the joint. The face of the weld is approximately horizontal. Flat welding is the preferred term; however, the same position is sometimes called downhand.

Note: The axis of a weld is a line through the length of the weld, perpendicular to the cross section at its center of gravity.

Flat Position Welding Procedures

In order to make satisfactory bead welds on a
plate surface, the flare motion, tip angle, and position of the welding
flame above the molten puddle should be carefully maintained. The
welding torch should be adjusted to give the proper type of flame for
the particular metal being welded.

Narrow bead welds are made
by raising and lowering the welding flare with a slight circular motion
while progressing forward. The tip should form an angle of
approximately 45 degrees with the plate surface. The flame will be
pointed in the welding direction.

flat position narrow bead weldFlat Position Narrow Bead Weld

increase the depth of fusion, either increase the angle between the tip
and the plate surface, or decrease the welding speed. The size of the
puddle should not be too large because this will cause the flame to burn
through the plate. A properly made bead weld, without filler rod, will
be slightly below the upper surface of the plate. A bead weld with
filler rod shows a buildup on the surface.

A small puddle
should be formed on the surface when making a bead weld with a welding
rod. The welding rod is inserted into the puddle and the
base plate and rod are melted together. The torch should be moved
slightly from side to side to obtain good fusion. The size of the bead
can be controlled by varying the speed of welding and the amount of
metal deposited from the welding rod.

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Several types of joints are used to make butt welds in the flat position.

Tack welds should be used to keep the plates aligned. The lighter
sheets should be spaced to allow for weld metal contraction and thus
prevent warpage.

The following guide should be used for selecting the number of passes (fig. 11-8) in butt welding steel plates:

Plate thickness, in.
Number of passes

1/8 to 1/4 - 1

1/4 to 5/8 - 2

5/8 to 7/8 - 3

7/8 to 1-1/8 - 4

The position of the welding rod and torch tip in making a flat position
butt joint is shown in figure 11-13. The motion of the flame should be
controlled so as to melt the side walls of the plates and enough of the
welding rod to produce a puddle of the desired size. By oscillating the
torch tip, a molten puddle of a given size can be carried along the
joint. This will ensure both complete penetration and sufficient filler
metal to provide some reinforcement at the weld.

should be taken not to overheat the molten puddle. This will result in
burning the metal, porosity, and low strength in the completed weld.

Vertical Position Welding

In vertical position welding, the axis of the weld is approximately vertical.

When welding is done on a vertical surface, the molten metal has a tendency to run downward and pile up.

Vertical Weld Position

Fillet weld on a lap joint in the vertical position

The flow of metal can be controlled by pointing the flame upward at a 45
degree angle to the plate, and holding the rod between the flame and
the molten puddle (see above). The manipulation of the torch and the
filler rod keeps the metal from sagging or falling and ensures good
penetration and fusion at the joint. Both the torch and the welding rod
should be oscillated to deposit a uniform bead. The welding rod should
be held slightly above the center line of the joint, and the welding
flame should sweep the molten metal across the joint to distribute it

Vertical Position Butt JointVertical Position Butt Joint

Butt joints welded in the vertical position should be
prepared for welding in the same manner as that required for welding in
the flat position.

Overhead Position Welding

Overhead welding is performed from the underside of a joint.

In overhead welding, the metal deposited tends to drop or sag on the plate, causing the bead to have a high crown. To overcome this difficulty, the molten puddle should be kept small, and enough filler metal should be added to obtain good fusion with some reinforcement at the bead. If the puddle becomes too large, the flame should be removed for an instant to permit the weld metal to freeze. When welding light sheets, the puddle size can be controlled by applying the heat equally to the base metal and filler rod.

Overhead Position Weld

Fillet weld on a lap joint in the overhead position

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The flame should be directed so as
to melt both edges of the joint. Sufficient filler metal should be
added to maintain an adequate puddle with enough reinforcement. The
welding flame should support the molten metal and small welding avoid
burning done from one distribute it along the joint. Only a small puddle
is required, so a rod should be used. Care should be taken to control
the heat to through the plates. This is particularly important when
welding is side only.

Overhead Butt JointOverhead Butt Joint

Positions for Pipe Welding

Pipe welds are made under many different requirements and in different
welding situations. The welding position is dictated by the job. In
general, the position is fixed, but in sane cases can be rolled for
flat-position work. Positions and procedures for welding pipe are
outlined below.

pipe welding positions diagramPipe Inclined Fixed (45 degrees + 5 degrees) and Not Rotated During Welding

Horizontal Pipe Rolled Weld

Align the joint and tack weld or hold in position with steel bridge clamps with the pipe mounted on suitable rollers. Start welding at point C (figure below)
progressing upward to point B. When point B is reached, rotate the pipe
clockwise until the stopping point of the weld is at point C and again
weld upward to point B. When the pipe is being rotated, the torch should
be held between points B and C and the pipe rotated past it.

Diagram of Tac Welded Pipe on Rollers

he position of the torch at point A is similar to that for a vertical weld. As point B is approached, the
weld assumes a nearly flat position and the angles of application of the
torch and rod are altered slightly to compensate for this change.

The weld should be stopped just before the root of the starting
point so that a small opening remains. The starting point is then
reheated, so that the area surrounding the junction point is at a
uniform temperature. This will insure a complete fusion of the advancing
weld with the starting point.

If the side wall of the pipe is more than 1/4 in. (0.64 cm) in thickness, a multi-pass weld should be made.

Horizontal Pipe Fixed Position Weld

After tack welding, the pipe is set up so that the tack welds are oriented approximately as shown below. After welding has been started, the pipe must not be moved in any direction.

Horizontal Pipe Weld with Uphand Method DiagramDiagram of Horizontal Pipe Weld with Uphand Method

When welding in the horizontal fixed position, the pipe is welded in four steps as described below.

  1. Starting at the bottom or 6 o'clock position, weld upward to the 3 o’clock position.
  2. Starting back at the bottom, weld upward to the 9 o'clock position.
  3. Starting back at the 3 o’clock position, weld to the top.
  4. Starting back at the 9 o’clock position, weld upward to the top overlapping the bead.

When welding downward, the weld is made in two stages. Start at the top (see below) and work down one side to the bottom, then return to the top and work down the other side to join with the previous weld at the bottom. The welding downward
method is particularly effective with arc welding, since the higher
temperature of the electric arc makes possible the use of greater
welding speeds. With arc welding, the speed is approximately three times
that of the upward welding method.

Horizontal Pipe Weld with Downhand Method

Welding by the backhand method is used for joints in
low carbon or low alloy steel piping that can be rolled or are in
horizontal position. One pass is used for wall thicknesses not exceeding
3/8 in. (0.95 cm), two passes for wall thicknesses 3/8 to 5/8 in. (0.95
to 1.59 cm), three passes for wall thicknesses 5/8 to 7/8 in. (1.59 to
2.22 cm), and four passes for wall thicknesses 7/8 to 1-1/8 in. (2.22 to
2.87 cm).

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Vertical Pipe Fixed Position Weld

Pipe in this position, wherein the joint is horizontal, is most frequently welded by the backhand method. The weld is started at the tack and carried continuously around the pipe.

Vertical Pipe Fixed Position Weld with Backhand Method

Multipass Arc Welding

Root Beads

If a lineup clamp is used, the root bead (see below)
is started at the bottom of the groove while the clamp is in position.
When no backing ring is used, care should be taken to build up a slight
bead on the inside of the pipe. If a backing ring is used, the root bead
should be carefully fused to it. As much root bead as the bars of the
lineup clamp will permit should be applied before the clamp is removed.
Complete the bead after the clamp is removed.

Deposition of Root, Filler and Finish Weld Beads

Filler Beads

Care should be taken that the filler beads (see diagram view B above)
are fused into the root bead, in order to remove any undercut causal by
the deposition of the root bead. One or more filler beads around the
pipe usually will be required.

Finish Beads

The finish beads (see diagram view C above)
are applied over the filler beads to complete the joint. Usually, this
is a weave bead about 5/8 in. (1.59 cm) wide and approximately 1/16 in.
(0.16 cm) above the outside surface of the pipe when complete. The
finished weld is shown in view D above.

Aluminum Pipe Welding

For aluminum pipe, special joint details have been developed and are
normally associated with combination-type procedures. A backing ring is
not used in most cases. The rectangular backing ring is rarely used when
fluids are transmitted through the piping system. It may be used for
structural applications in which pipe and tubular members are used to
transmit loads rather than materials.

For Additional Reading on Welding Positions

Welding Positions

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