Highly conductive materials like aluminum require very high power to form quality spot welds. However aluminum alloys are routinely spot welded (see Table I for weldability). Here, cleanliness is much more of a concern than with low-carbon steels because of aluminum’s rapid surface oxidation characteristics. For optimum quality and weld performance, expensive cleaning procedures to remove surface oxide are required. For demanding applications, equipment to monitor surface resistivity from lot to lot is necessary to assure consistency of quality. This leads to a related consideration. If aluminum has been chosen for an important reason, such as lightweight or high strength-to-weight ratio, the added expense of ensuring a high-quality weld should be justified. If it has not, re-evaluation of the original material selection is in order or, perhaps, another assembling method should be considered.
Plug welding is an alternative to spot welding used by vehicle manufacturers where there is insufficient access for a spot welder. For DIY car restoration it’s generally used instead of spot welding on panels flanges that would have originally been spot welded. Plug welds when done properly tend to be stronger than the original spot welds. Rally car builders often use the technique, and it is acceptable in a UK MOT test as an alternative to spot welds where repairing older cars (it would not be suitable for modern high tensile steels).
How Does Spot Welding Work? A form of resistance welding, spot welding is one of the oldest welding processes whereby two or more sheets of metal are welded together without the use of any filler material. The process involves applying pressure and heat to the weld area using shaped alloy copper electrodes which convey an electrical current through the weld pieces. The material melts, fusing the parts together at which point the current is turned off, pressure from the electrodes is maintained and the molten “nugget” solidifies to form the joint. Read extra details on Tecna Spot Welder Arms.
Electric welding relies on the Joule Effect. This is the thermal result of the electrical resistance, occurring when an electric current passes through a conductive metal – in this case metal sheets for assembly. If that last sentence went over your head, here’s how it works: to weld two or more sheets together without adding a filler metal, they are tightly compressed between two heat-resistant electrodes (i.e. non-melting), generally made of copper, and a high-intensity current is applied to melt the plates together at that point. The result is a small merging of metal which constitutes a welding point. The welding time is very short, between one and two seconds, and the shape of the resulting welding spot depends on your choice of electrodes.