The Welding Methods Used For Aircraft Manufacturing and Repair

Posted on April 14, 2021 David Atkinson Aviation

Welding is a process of joining metals together through the use of heat and/or pressure, and it is a practice that can be traced back to the Bronze Age. For aircraft in particular, welding is a useful method for manufacturing various structures and components that benefit commercial, private, and defense aviation. Depending on what is being produced and the requirements of the application, there are a few common welding methods practiced in the aerospace sector that may be used. In this blog, we will provide a brief overview of the common welding methods for aviation, allowing you to familiarize yourself with each type and what it is used for.

Gas Welding
Gas welding is a process in which the ends or edges of metal pieces are heated into a molten state with the use of an oxyacetylene flame. In order to efficiently melt metals, the fame burns with a temperature reaching upwards of 6,300 degrees Fahrenheit. For aircraft, most metal components with a thickness under 3/16-inches were once primarily produced with gas welding, though the method has since been superseded by electric welding due to its cheaper cost. Nevertheless, gas welding continues to serve for many repair operations
Electric Arc Welding 
Electric arc welding includes multiple methods for working on a piece, and such welding types may be used for both manufacturing and repair work. Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) is the most common, and it utilizes a welding rod that is secured in a holder so that induced AC or DC voltage creates an arc between the rod and working piece. With gas metal arc welding (GMAW), a wire electrode is inserted through the torch while inert gases act as a shield from oxygen. Utilizing low-voltage direct current, GMAW welding may be carried out for large volume manufacturing. Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) is a method that is often relied upon for maintenance and repair, and it excels with metals such as stainless steel bar pieces, thick aluminum, and magnesium. When utilizing the GTAW method, a tungsten rod acts as the electrode and a high heat arc melts the working piece at a temperature of 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to protect the puddle from oxides, inert gases are used.
Electric Resistance Welding
When carrying out electric resistance welding, one may either take advantage of spot welding or seam welding to join thin metal components to one another. With spot welding, two jaws with copper electrodes serve to secure the piece in place while electrical current is induced. As the resistance of the metal surpasses that of the electrodes, the heat produced is sufficient for melting the metal so that molten spots are created for unification. With seam welding, the piece does not need to be adjusted constantly to create a series of welds as a continuous weld may be achieved. Rather than use jaws and electrodes, seam welding takes advantage of two copper wheels in which the piece is placed between so that a continuous seam is created as the piece is moved.
Plasma Arc Welding
Plasma arc welding (PAW) is a method that is used when there is a desire for more advanced levels of control and accuracy for developing welds. Taking advantage of automated equipment and a plasma welding torch, plasma arc welding excels in creating high quality welds for both miniature and precision applications. Despite being automated, such equipment may be used manually if desired. PAW can be used to work on most commercial metals of varying thicknesses, and the operator may adjust settings to accommodate different pieces.
Plasma Arc Cutting
Plasma arc cutting is the final common welding method for aviation metals, and it utilizes an electrical arc that is constricted within a nozzle while ionized gases are pushed through. As the gas is heated up, the metal will begin to melt and residue is blown away with air pressure. To work on thicker metals, the air pressure and arc can both be bolstered for increased capabilities. Plasma arc cutting excels with aluminum, stainless steel, and thin metals.
With the various welding methods available, one can manufacture or repair countless aircraft components such as welding seal parts, stainless steel bars, fuselage structure assy nose components, and much more. At ASAP Parts 360, we are an online distributor of aircraft parts that have been sourced from top global manufacturers we trust. Due to our steadfast commitment to quality assurance and export compliance, we proudly operate with AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B certification and accreditation. Send us a completed RFQ form for the items you are interested in today and receive a competitive quote from one of our team members in just 15 minutes or less!

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