The Horrors Of Horizontal Welding
Welding two pieces of metal together is by far the most effective and permanent way to join them. However, as anybody who has tried it knows, there are certain types and positions of welding which are easier than others. There's flat position welding, otherwise known as downward welding, there's vertical welding, and then there's horizontal welding. This last position is arguably the most difficult, and requires an extensive amount of practice to get right.
Why is it so hard?
Horizontal welding puts the metal in a position where the heat doesn't get evenly distributed when it's applied normally. Since there is more heat rising to one side of the joint, that part will melt faster, running down where it shouldn't be, whereas the rest of the metal will remain stubbornly solid. Additionally, it is just plain difficult to get a good angle while welding horizontally. Flat position welding offers a whole slew of convenient welding positions, as the weld is straight down. Horizontal welding, however, leaves the welder at an awkward angle.
What can be done?
There are certainly ways to cope with the added difficulties of horizontal welding. For instance, with butt welding (often used for joints and pipes), there are adjustments that can assist if a welder is determined to complete the task by hand. The issue of heat distribution can be counteracted by carefully toggling the torch evenly up and down. This will prevent runoff from metal melting too quickly and will ensure that all the metal maintains more or less the same plasticity.
If one doesn't want to deal with the added hassle of horizontal welding by hand, there are many automatic options which could prove useful. For instance, if larger-scale welds are necessary, such as halfway up a tank or a wall, an automatic tank girth welding machine could prove quite useful. This is a machine which can perform horizontal welds in a fraction of the time that it would take to weld by hand. They can often be rigged to perform welds significantly high off the ground, making them convenient for factories and warehouses.
If a large-scale welder such as this seems superfluous, keep in mind that there are smaller automatic girth welders which can perform similar horizontal welds on a smaller scale.
Whether you decide to automate the process or put in the time and practice necessary to become proficient by hand, there is no doubt that horizontal welding is an arduous task, though a worthwhile one.