Welding gases are used and/or created when welding or cutting, and they are a vital part of the welding process because they shield the weld from the surrounding environment. Welding gases must be carefully regulated to produce the right results.
There are several examples of shielding and fuel gases that are used during welding and cutting processes, including shielding gases like carbon dioxide, argon and helium and fuel gases like acetylene, propane, and butane. Oxygen is also used with fuel gases and in small amounts in some shielding gas mixtures.
As mentioned above, not only are welding gases used during the welding process, but they are also created during the welding process. Carbon dioxide is produced from the decomposition of fluxes, carbon monoxide is created when the carbon dioxide shielding gas begins to break down, and ozone and nitrogen are produced when interacting in different ways with oxygen. There are also gases like hydrogen chloride and phosgene that are produced by the reaction between ultraviolet light and the vapors from chlorinated hydrocarbon degreasing solvents.
Another way gases are created is through the thermal breakdown of existing coatings on the work pieces during the welding process. Polyurethane coatings can produce hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, and isocyanate vapors. Epoxy coatings can also emit carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, while vinyl paints can generate hydrogen chloride, and phosphate rust-inhibiting paints can secrete phosphine during welding procedures.
As one can imagine, all of these gases, some necessary to the welding process and others unavoidable products of the welding process, are not good for humans to breathe on a regular basis. They can be dangerous for workers, and minimizing exposure is a must – which is why many companies turn to robotic welding solutions.
Robots offer a safer welding alternative for companies. Workers no longer have to be in close proximity with welding gases that can be hazardous to their health. Some of the hazards associated with welding gases are asphyxiation, fire, explosion, and toxicity. This improves the safety level in the shop, while also improving the health of the welders.