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Flash Welding Process | Flash Butt Welding Of Rails | Flash And Upset Welding

Flash welding:

Flash welding is one of the resistance welding processes employed to join metals. In the flash butt welding process, the ends of the piece to be welded are connected to the secondary circuit of a transformer while one piece is held firmly by a clamping device attached to a stationary platen; the other piece is clamped to a movable platen. The platen travel is continuous starting at the time of flashing and progressing until upset.


At the upset period, the plates are rapidly squeezed together to upset, and the current may be immediately terminated. The material being joined is clamped rigidly into the dies, and the specimens are separated by a suitable air gap. Then the movable platen is advanced slowly until contact is made.

01-Flash-Butt-Welding-high-frequency-resistance-welding.pngThe surfaces to be welded are allowed to touch when heavy currents pass through the peaks or asperities of the edges providing resistive heat (many short-circuits randomly located over the opposing interfaces) to the edges. This portion of the process is known as the flashing period, its objective being the establishment of suitable temperature distribution in the work to assure proper forging action during the subsequent upset period of the cycle. These asperities start melting and, at greater velocities, the molten bridges are broken and thrown off as flash particles from the joint.

This cycle of the formation and collapse of bridges goes on as the movable plate advances. When the conductive heat was sufficiently heated the metal behind the faying surfaces on either side to ensure adequate plasticity, the flashing current is stopped and the surfaces are butted against each other with greater force. This portion of the operation is known as the upset period. This action ensures that the molten metal oxides and other impurities are extruded out of the surfaces to be joined and satisfactory welding takes place.

Basic components of the machine:

1. Clamping Mechanism

2. Forging Mechanism

3. A transformer

(This will reduce the mains supply voltage from 400/500 Volts to a suitable welding voltage between 4 and 12 Volts and make available sufficient current to heat the components being welded. The welding current required varies between 30,000 amps to 80,000 amps depending on cross-sectional area of the rail being welded)


History of Flash Welding:

Flash butt welding technique spread to many countries during the 1930s, but much of this development work came to a standstill during the war years particularly in the U.K. and on the Continent. However, by 1950, the flash butt welding of rails was commonplace in all major railroads throughout the world.

Features of Flash Welding:

Basic Metallurgy – Forging Operation

Heat Affected Zone – 40–60 mm

Nominal welding transformer power – 600 kVA

Upsetting and stripping force – 800 kN

Typical welding cycle within – 150 s

The advantages of flash welding:

1. The joint obtained is clean, as filler metal is not used in this process.

2. Produces defects-free joint. Oxides, scales, and other impurities are thrown out of the weld joint due to high pressure applied at elevated temperatures.

3. Reduces maintenance costs

4. Faster installation

5. Lowest life cycle cost

6. Saves track time

7. It eliminates corrugation.

8. No weld filler material

9. smaller heat-affected zone

10. smaller annealed zone

11. Consistent hardness

12. Highest fatigue resistance

13. Average life equal to the rail

14. 25% savings over Thermite welding

15. Large cross-sectioned shape materials can be welded in a short time.


Disadvantages of flash butt welding:

1. The process is suitable for parts with a similar cross-sectional area.

2. Joint preparation is a must for proper heating of workpieces to take place.

Applications of Flash Butt Welding:

1. Used for producing joints in long tubes and pipes

2. Flash butt welding is widely employed in the automotive, aircraft, and several other engineering industries. Some examples of its use on wheel rims for automobiles, long welded rails, etc.,

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