One of the most common questions we get on our day to day activities is How can I get may welder(s) certified? The immediate is response is: Certified on what? Most manufacturers assume that there is a single certification for which their welders can apply, test and become certified. Unfortunately this is not the case. There is a plethora of welding certifications due to the different welding processes, welding positions, material type, material thickness, etc.
A lot of times we find that our customer’s customer doesn’t really understand certification either. These companies will ask their contractors to have a certified welder on staff or impose that the welders working on their products be certified welders. When we ask our customer to find out what certification their customer requires they almost always come back saying “they don’t know, we just need to be certified.”
When this is the case we look at what the customer is doing to determine the best certification to go after. Here is an example:
ABC, Inc manufactures frames for mining equipment made out of carbon steel. They currently use the GMAW process. Material thickness ranges from 1/4″ inch to 3/4″. They use 90/10 gas and an ER70S-6 filler metal. The power source is a CV machine with no pulsing capabilities. Their customers requires that anyone welding on their frames be a certified welder. When ABC asked their customer which certification was needed the answer was “we don’t know, we only require that they be certified welders.”
In this case if the welders have certifications on TIG or SMAW it would satisfy the customer’s requirements. However, since we know what ABC makes and the material they typically weld on we recommend a certification that applies to them. If you take a look at the AWS Application for Certified Welders you will see that the following items need to be specified:
1. Supplement – G – supplement G refers to a general supplement, meaning the manufacturer is providing its own WPS and acceptance criteria. This means we are not welding to a specific code such as AWS D1.1 or ASME Section IX which place more specific and typically more stringent requirements in order to obtain certification.
2. Code – In this case we only reference the acceptance criteria established by ABC. Typical codes could be different AWS codes, ASME codes and API codes.
3. Process – in our case this is GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding)
4. Gas – this is listed as optional, but we specify 90% Argon/10% Carbon Dioxide
5. Filler Metal – ABC uses an ER70S-6 .045 welding wire. Brand or trade name of a specific wire is NOT required
6. Base Metal – A36 steel
7. Positions – All welding is done on the flat and horizontal position, so we will test using the 2G position.
8. Thickness/Backing – According to AWS testing on a specific thickness will qualify the welder to weld on material that is twice as thick. Since ABC welds nothing thicker than 3/4″ we will certify on 3/8″ plate. We will use a1/4″ steel backer. The designator is “L” for limited (to 3/4″)
To get the welder certified the test must be under the supervision of CWI (Certified Welding Inspector). The inspector can then take the samples and perform destructive and/or non-destructive testing according to what is specified under the Supplement and Code. For ABC a simple bend test will be performed. The bend test reveals weld defects such as porosity, lack of fusion, inclusions, and lack of root penetration.
Keep in mind that this example qualifies a welder, not the procedure. Procedure qualification typically requires more extensive testing. Most certification to Supplement G will use AWS pre-qualified procedures.
The next challenge is finding a CWI and/or test facility to help.