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Why Welding Cracks Happen and How to Avoid Them

If you have welded for any time at all, chances are good that you’ve had to deal with metal cracking. Ever wondered why cracks happen, or what you can do to avoid them? Here’s a quick look at this common metalworking dilemma.

In the world of metal fabrication, cracks are a cardinal sin. They are hard (and often impossible) to repair, they look sloppy and they waste money on extra materials and additional labor. What makes cracks especially tricky is that they don’t always show up right away. Some materials can take weeks, months or even years to show that they are defective. Welders can avoid a lot of these issues by simply paying careful attention to their work. If a welder has enough room to see the entire project, uses an accurate weld map and pays close attention to the weld pool, things often go smoothly.

There are a number of situations that can increase the chances that cracking will occur. They include concave beads,  a common side effect of fillet welds, and undercut defects, something that happens when the base metal being welded comes in contact with the filler metal. There’s also cold lapping, which occurs when a base metal doesn’t fuse with the weld metal.

As you can see, there are a number of factors that can contribute to cracking metals. But if you’re especially careful with the work you do, use all of the proper tools and regularly meet with your welding supervisor, you’re already off to a great start. You can’t keep cracks from happening 100% of the time, but by being informed and paying close attention you’ve already won half the battle.

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