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Materials and Manufacturing Processes


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Gaussian Pulsed Current Waveform Welding for


Aluminum Alloys
ab

Qiang Zhu , Jiaxiang Xue , Ping Yao , Changwen Dong , Leilei Wang , Gongchun Heng &
a

Zhihui Li
a

School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering, South China University of Technology,


Guangzhou, China
b

School of Electronic and Information Engineering, Guangdong Communication Polytechnic,


Guangzhou, China
c

School of Electrical and Mechanical, Guangdong Polytechnic Normal University, Guangzhou,


China
Accepted author version posted online: 16 Oct 2014.Published online: 16 Oct 2014.

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To cite this article: Qiang Zhu, Jiaxiang Xue, Ping Yao, Changwen Dong, Leilei Wang, Gongchun Heng & Zhihui Li (2015)
Gaussian Pulsed Current Waveform Welding for Aluminum Alloys, Materials and Manufacturing Processes, 30:9, 1124-1130,
DOI: 10.1080/10426914.2014.973603
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10426914.2014.973603

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Materials and Manufacturing Processes, 30: 11241130, 2015


Copyright # Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1042-6914 print=1532-2475 online
DOI: 10.1080/10426914.2014.973603

Gaussian Pulsed Current Waveform Welding for Aluminum Alloys


Qiang Zhu1,2, Jiaxiang Xue1, Ping Yao3, Changwen Dong1, Leilei Wang1,
Gongchun Heng1, and Zhihui Li1
1

School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China
School of Electronic and Information Engineering, Guangdong Communication Polytechnic, Guangzhou, China
3
School of Electrical and Mechanical, Guangdong Polytechnic Normal University, Guangzhou, China

Downloaded by [South China University of Technology] at 00:56 06 September 2015

A new welding method, which uses a Gaussian current waveform with a smooth curve and concentrated energy input, was applied
for welding of aluminum alloys of various thickness. Current peak modulation and base modulation models are proposed in the article.
Five welding experiments were carried out using ER4043 1.2 mm aluminum wire, the results showing that the welding process was found
to be stable, and that current and voltage waveforms were regular with no broken arcs or short circuits. Moreover, the arc voice sound was
soft with low splatter. Weld seam surfaces were bright with regular scaly stripes and proper weld height and penetration.
Keywords Alloy; Aluminum; Control; Function; Gas; Gauss; Waveform; Welding.

INTRODUCTION
In recent years, aluminum alloys have become a
popular choice in a wide range of manufacturing
applications in the automotive, high-speed railway, and
shipbuilding industries. This increase in demand is a
result of their characteristics of light weight, high
strength, good corrosion resistance, and convenient
recyclability. However, welding of aluminum alloys has
always proven to be difcult, which has restricted its
widespread application. In comparison with traditional
black metal materials, aluminum alloys have higher thermal conductivity and lower heat resistance. In addition,
they are readily oxidized and relatively soft. Moreover,
during welding, their porosity increases, blockage of
wires frequently happens, and they have a tendency to
collapse [1, 2]. In this paper, we focus our research on
improving the quality of aluminum alloy welding in
regard to the difculties associated with this process.
Silva et al. [3] and Murphy et al. [4] described a pulsed
gas metal arc welding method for aluminum. A calibrated droplet transfer mode from globular to spray
transfer for a 4047 aluminum wire (1.2 mm) was
described. The inuence of pulse frequency and duty
cycle of one drop per pulse droplet transfer mode was
also explained. However, the quality of pulsed metal
inert gas welding (MIG) aluminum is hard to control.
To overcome this disadvantage, a double-pulsed MIG
welding procedure was designed by Da Silva et al. [5].
This new welding process improved efciency, reduced
porosity incidence, rened weld grain, and yielded a
Received September 3, 2014; Accepted September 26, 2014
Address correspondence to Jiaxiang Xue, School of Mechanical
and Automotive Engineering, South China University of Technology,
Guangzhou 510640, China; E-mail: xuejxmmp@163.com
Color versions of one or more of the gures in the article can be
found online at www.tandfonline.com/lmmp.

series of perfect scaly stripes on the weld seam surface.


Double-pulsed MIG welding improves the efciency of
aluminum welding in comparison with laser welding
and tungsten inert gas arc welding (TIG). Various
research groups have reported on and suggested
improvements related to the welding process, droplet
transfer mode, shielding gas composition, welding parameter matching, and current and voltage waveform control [611]. However, in the case of double-pulsed MIG
welding of aluminum, the matching range for parameters that can be used is small and strict control over
the process parameters is required. If these parameters
are allowed to drift outside the preset range, weld quality rapidly declines. Moreover, no unied mathematical
model proposed in literature can be used to determine
the parameters suitable for use.
The double-pulsed MIG welding process uses a lowfrequency signal to modulate high-frequency pulses.
The pulse group with higher average current is termed
the strong pulse while that with lower average current
is termed the weak pulse; the process is characterized
by a group of strong pulses followed by a group of weak
pulses, switching periodically; energy input during the
welding process varies simultaneously. Aluminum alloys
are characterized by rapid heat loss due to their high
thermal conductivity, which requires a concentrated
heat source during welding to ensure weld quality. The
double-pulsed MIG welding process does not require a
high concentration of heat input in aluminum welding
and, in addition, between strong and weak pulses there
is also a lack of transition that can decrease welding
process stability.
In this paper, a new method based on the use of Gaussian modulation current waveform is proposed. A
GAUSS-MIG aluminum welding model was established
to enable better control over heat input and smooth
variation in current pulses. Experiments using this novel

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GAUSSIAN PULSED CURRENT WAVEFORM WELDING

method demonstrate that the welding process has no


spatter, arc sound is soft, and weld quality is good.
The GAUSS-MIG model is an adaptive model for welding of an aluminum alloy which uses universal regulatory parameters so that it can be modied for materials
of varying thickness. The model allows the development
of a new theoretical and experimental basis for a stable,
high-performance aluminum welding inverter.

Gaussian curve is a key function frequently used in a


variety of applications including mathematics, physics,
and engineering. The Fourier transform of a Gaussian
function is another Gaussian function. In addition, it
has innite derivative continuity and is a smoothing
curve. The general expression of a Gaussian function is

MATERIALS AND METHODS


The experimental setup used for the welding experiments included a variable resistance box (Advantech
IPC 610), data acquisition card (Advantech PCL1800),
automatic travel control mechanism, arc dynamic waveform wavelet analyzer, pulsed MIG welding
soft-switching inverter, and wire feed machine. For the
experiments, Al-Si alloy wire of 1.2 mm (model
ER4043) was used for surface welding on 28 mm aluminum plates. The protective gas used was 99.99% argon,
at a ow rate of 15 L=min; the wire extension was
15 mm. Speeds of the automatic travel control mechanism and wire feed were maintained constant.
The arc dynamic waveform wavelet analyzer is an
important tool used during the welding process to record
current and voltage data in real time. The software interface is shown in Fig. 1. Welding signals were recorded
and exported for ofine analysis.
In order to verify effect of GAUSS-MIG model on
aluminum alloy welding, ve groups of experiments
were designed. The welding process parameters are
shown in Table 1.
In Table 1, Ips, Ibs, tps, and tbs are peak current, base
current, peak time, and base time of strong pulses,
respectively, while Ipw, Ibw, tpw, and tbw are the same
respective values for weak pulses. Iavg is the average current of welding and Flow is the low-frequency modulation. The principle of selecting parameters in Table 1
refers to Fig. 3(a), which shows the value beyond the
arc jumping curve. Aluminum plate thickness in experiments 1 and 2 were 8 mm, in 3 and 4 were 5 mm, and in 5
were 2 mm. The peak current of strong pulses in experiments 1, 3, and 5 varied according to Eq. (5), the base
current of strong pulses in experiments 2 and 4 varied
according to Eq. (6), and the coefcient a in Gaussian
function is 50 (A).

where a represents amplitude, b is the location of the


central axis of symmetry, and c represents steepness of
the function. For a low value of c, the curve is at while
for a high value the curve is slim. The function curve is
shown in Fig. 2.
Indenite integration of a Gaussian function for the
area between the curve and the x-axis is

xb2
c2

f x ae

F x

aexb =c dx

1
Z 1

ey

=c2

dy ac

1

p
2
ez dz ac p

1

2
F(x) is the value of integrated area, which is determined
by the product of a and c. If the horizontal axis represents time and the axis of the ordinates represents current, the area of the Gaussian curve can be considered
as the current integration over a time period. In order
to facilitate calculation, the Gaussian function used in
MIG welding canpbe
simplied as shown in Eq. (3).
Then, the area is a p as shown in Eq. (4). Various welding input currents are specied using different coefcients of a:
gx aex
G x

3
p
2
aex a p

1

A GAUSS-MIG model is shown in Fig. 3. Figure 3(a)


shows peak waveform modulation of strong pulses while
Fig 3(b) shows base waveform modulation of strong
pulses. From a macro point of view, current waveform
varies in accordance with Gaussian curve. Each Gaussian pulse (strong pulses) is followed by weak pulses,
which results in the formation of a new double pulse.
As shown in Fig. 3(a), the peak current of strong
pulses varies with time, and variation with respect to
the Gaussian curve can be written as
Ips I0p aex

FIGURE 1.Capture interface of arc dynamic waveform wavelet analyzer.

In Fig. 3(a), Ips is the peak current of strong pulses


(Gaussian pulses), its value being equal to the initial current, I0p plus Gaussian peak value; Ibs is the base current
of strong pulses, Ipw is the peak current of weak pulses,
and Ibw is the base current of weak pulses.

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Q. ZHU ET AL.
TABLE 1. Experimental welding parameters.

NO.

1
2
3
4
5

Ips. (A)

Ibs(A)

tps. (ms)

tbs.( ms)

Ipw=I0p(A)

Iob=Iob(A)

tpw. (ms)

tbw.(ms)

Iavg. (A)

Flow. (HZ)

Variable
210
Variable
210
Variable

130
Variable
70
Variable
50

210

210

165
144
127

3.1

130
100
70

1.5

12

297

50

1.5

20

67

1.7

As shown in Fig. 3(b), the base current of strong


pulses varies with time and the variation with respect
to Gaussian curve can be written as
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Ibs I0b aex

In Fig. 3(b), Ibs is the base current of strong pulses


(Gaussian pulses), its value being equal to the initial
current, I0b added to the Gaussian peak value; Ips is the
peak current of strong pulses, while Ipw and Ibw are the
same as described in Fig. 3(a).
Welding refers to the process of heating and melting
wire and a workpiece using energy produced by an
arc. The input power required this process can be given
by
P kIU

This means that the energy is concentrated and


conducive to removing the oxide lm on the surface of
the aluminum alloy, thereby reducing heat loss during
welding.
Input energy of the strong and weak pulses in Fig. 3(a)
can be calculated as
E kUa Ia T

 


p 
Es Uas ns I0p tps Ibs tbs a p tps = tps tbs

where P is the effective power used to heat the workpiece


and the wire, I is the welding current (A), U is the arc
voltage (V), and k is the effective power coefcient.
The value of k depends on the welding method, welding
parameters, and environment. In MIG welding, this
value is between 0.7 and 0.8 the remaining power is
lost due to radiation and convection. As can be seen
from Eq. (7), in constant current welding, energy input
in the GAUSS-MIG model is of Gaussian waveform.

FIGURE 2.Gaussian function curve.

3.1

FIGURE 3.Current waveform of GAUSS-MIG.

GAUSSIAN PULSED CURRENT WAVEFORM WELDING



Ew Uaw  I0p tpw Ibw tbw  nw

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10

The input energy of strong and weak pulses in Fig. 3(b)


can be calculated as
 


p 
Es Uas ns Ips tps Iob tbs a p tps = tps tbs
11

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Ew Uaw  Ipw tpw Ibw tbw  nw

12

Ua (V) is the average voltage of the arc, Ia(A) is the


average current used for welding, T(S) is the welding
time, Es(J) is the input energy of strong pulses, Ew(J)
is the input energy of weak pulses, Uas (V) is the average
voltage of strong pulses, Uaw(V) is the average voltage of
weak pulses, tpw is the peak time of weak pulses, and tbw
is the base time of weak pulses. The energy input of
GAUSS-MIG presents strong and weak cycles and,
keeping other parameters unchanged, the energy input
of strong pulses can be adjusted by changing the values
of coefcient a. Considering energy input, if the initial
value of both peak and base current of strong and weak
pulses is identical, the energy input of both peak and
base modulation is identical. As a result, the average
currents acquired during the welding process identical.
The pulsed MIG welding control droplet transfer
principle is one drop per pulse (ODPP), which is
achieved by the unit control method given by
Ipn Tp C

13

where Ip is the peak current of the pulse, Tp is the peak


time of the pulse, n is a natural number, and C is
a constant. For certain values of base current, Ib and base
time, Tb, ODPP droplet transfer can be achieved by
setting appropriate values for Ip and Tp. Equation (13)
shows that peak current and peak time play critical roles
in droplet transfer, with the former more important.
During the welding process, different droplet transfer
modes have signicantly different arc shapes. Generally,
tufted and bell- and cone-shaped arcs are the three arc
shapes involved in pulsed MIG welding, corresponding
to globular and short circuit transfer, projected transfer,
and streaming transfer, respectively. So, by visual observation of the arc shape, droplet transfer mode can be
interpreted.
For an aluminum alloy wire, maintaining base current
and base time constant while varying peak current and
peak time, when an arc jump was observed the welding
parameters were recorded as the critical point. The welding process is stable for a current beyond the critical
point when droplet spray transfer mode starts. The arc
jumping curve of the 1.2 mm ER4043 aluminum alloy
welding wire was calibrated as shown in Fig. 4 for the
single-pulsed MIG welding experiment.
For arc jumping curve calibration, the base current
value had a different effect on peak current value at
the moment of arc jumping. Only a small base current
was needed to maintain arc burning and cool the

FIGURE 4.1.2 mm aluminum alloy wire ER4043 arc jumping curve.

molten pool. However, when the base time was longer,


a relatively larger peak current and longer time were
needed to transfer the droplet. A large base current
can be used to maintain the arc, along with preheating
and melting of the wire, which results in a lower peak
current or peak time allowing droplet transfer. Each
point on the arc jumping curve has a different energy.
For transients, welding peak energy is inversely proportional to peak current and proportional to peak
time under similar welding conditions. For welding
of an aluminum alloy plate less than 3 mm, low energy
and low average current with higher peak current are
needed for spray transfer. This nding is of signicance in guiding the welding of thin aluminum alloy
sheet.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
In Experiment 3, real-time welding signals were
acquired by the arc dynamic waveform wavelet analyzer
and are shown in Fig. 5(a)-(g). The welding seam image
is shown in Fig. 7(c).
Voltage stability during the welding process reects
the stability of arc length, which correlated to the
regularity of droplet transfer. Figure 5(a) shows the
voltage waveform diagram for Experiment 3: average,
minimum, and maximum voltages of 21.8, 15.9, and
31.7 V, respectively. The entire waveform demonstrates
Gaussian waveform variation and the voltage uctuation range is narrow, which indicates that droplet
transfer is regular.
Figure 5(b) is the current waveform. The entire
waveform has high repeatability. The average current
is 127 A, base current of strong pulses and weak pulses
are 70 A, the minimum value and maximum value of
peak current of strong pulses are 210 and 260 A respectively. The peak current of weak pulses is 210 A, which is
the initial current for the Gaussian curve.
Figure 5(c) shows the voltagecurrent diagram which
combines Figs 5(a) and (b) and can be used to assess the
dynamic welding process. The diagram shows a clear
edge with characteristics of neat, centralized distribution

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1128
Q. ZHU ET AL.

FIGURE 5.Experiment 3: real-time welding signals.

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GAUSSIAN PULSED CURRENT WAVEFORM WELDING

used to determine arc length and droplet transfer mode.


From this gure, pulsed energy illustrates regular Gaussian waveform which indicates concentrated energy and
stable droplet transfer. Input energy can be controlled
by adjusting the Gaussian coefcient, a.
Figure 5(e) shows the welding dynamic resistance
waveform diagram whose value is obtained by dividing
instantaneous voltage by instantaneous current. The
signal uctuates in the range 0.090.35 X with good
repeatability.
Figure 5(f) shows the probability density distribution
of the current diagram; two peaks are seen around 70
and 210 A, corresponding to base current and initial
peak current, respectively. The majority of the current
is distributed between these two regions. There is no
short circuit or broken circuit point, smooth curves
indicating smooth current transition.
Figure 5(g) shows the probability density distribution
for a given voltage. A large peak is seen at around
20 V with a smaller one at about 22 V. These peaks
correspond to the voltage of peak and base current,
respectively. A concentrated and steeper probability
density distribution indicates enhanced stability and
repeatability of voltage. Based on the results shown
in Fig. 5, it can be concluded that the GAUSS-MIG
model is a good aluminum alloy welding methodology

FIGURE 6.Detailed welding current waveforms.

FIGURE 7.Weld seam images.

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and high repeatability, indicating good stability of the


welding process.
Figure 5(d) shows the instantaneous welding energy
waveform diagram, which is the product of instantaneous current and instantaneous arc voltage. This is

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1130
with stable arc, regular droplet transfer mode, and stable
welding process.
Figure 6(a)(c) shows detailed current waveforms for
experiments 3, 4, and 5. The GAUSS-MIG model has
broad adaptability in pulsed MIG welding and can be
used to weld aluminum alloy sheet of thickness 2 mm.
All welding processes in experiments 15 were
successfully completed; current and voltage waveforms
were smooth and repeatable; no broken arc or short
circuit occurred; and arc sound was soft with little
spatter. Weld seam surface images are shown in Fig. 7,
showing good weld quality with proper weld height
and penetration, bright surface, and clear and uniform
scaly ripples. Welding process stability for experiments
2 and 4 based on Fig. 2(b) is considered to be inferior
to that of experiments 1, 3, and 5. Based on Fig. 2(a),
more splashes during occurred during the welding
process, which indicates that the base current was
used to maintain arc burning. It is important to maintain the stability of the base current for a stable arc.
CONCLUSIONS
A novel pulsed MIG welding methodology is
proposed in this paper. A mathematical model was
established to enable analysis of the energy input characteristics of the proposed method. Experiments were
performed to demonstrate the GAUSS-MIG welding
model for aluminum alloy plates of varying thickness.
The welding model was used to demonstrate a suitable
current waveform modulation method for a stable
welding process with low spatter, soft arc sound, good
control of energy input, and bright weld surface. The
method was used to weld a thin aluminum alloy sheet
of 2 mm. Gaussian waveform had an innite-order
derivative and the curve was smooth with few parameters adjusted, which provides important reference
values for the establishment of an expert aluminum alloy
welding database.
FUNDING
The research described in this paper was sponsored by
Huangpu District Science and Technology Project
(Project No. 201341), Foshan Science and Technology
Planning Project (Project No. 2011AAl00175),
Guangdong Province Commissioner Workstation
(Project No. 2010B090500008), and the Foundation for Distinguished Young Teachers Training of
Guangdong (Project No. Yq2013106).

Q. ZHU ET AL.

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