A common issue when welding Advanced High-Strength Steels (AHSS) is with protective coatings causing weld defects. A group of researchers at the NMAM Institute of Technology and Dong-Eui University studied common issues with gas metal arc welding (GMAW) in the cold metal transfer (CMT) mode on a zinc-coated steel.V-2 The study used infrared thermography to observe the welds as they were created, helping to get detailed observations on some defects appearing in real time. With GMAW in CMT mode, the prevailing defect with welding a zinc-coated steel was porosity from metal vapors escaping through the weld. This issue could be addressed by adjusting the heat input and travel speed to provide more time for metal gases to escape.
In Figure 1, it shows that with a higher heat input, more heat is in the weld puddle. In low and medium heat inputs, the puddle is above melting temperature, but not as high as the high heat input. Figure 2 shows that the low heat input also has the fastest solidification rate, and the high heat input has the slowest solidification rate. Figure 3 shows where the zinc vapors from the molten coating evaporate through the weld. In the left picture, at low heat input, the nucleation is contained inside of the weld, and the fusion zone would collect in the fusion zone. In the middle picture, at medium heat input, the zinc vapors bubble out just as the metal starts to solidify. In the right picture, at high heat input, the zinc bubbles out in the weld puddle while it is still molten.
These factors combined indicate several factors that influence zinc porosity in GMAW CMT weldments. The researchers concluded that at low heat inputs, the zinc collects in the fusion zone. At medium heat inputs, the solidification rate and temperature gradient through the weld puddle traps the zinc in the fusion zone but also allows some to bubble out through the weld puddle. This caused the worst material properties of the three weldments for the researchers. At high heat inputs, the zinc bubbles out through the weld puddle, before solidification occurs. This condition is optimal, to reduce porosity with zinc metal vapors, the heat input should be increased so that the weldment temperature increases and solidification rate decreases.