TC 9-237 – Chapter 8 – Section II


There are other filler metals and special items normally used in making welds. These include the nonconsumable electrodes (tungsten and carbon), and other materials, including backing tapes, backing devices, flux additives, solders, and brazing alloys. Another type of material consumed in making a weld are the consumable rings used for root pass welding of pipe. There are also ferrules used for stud welding and the guide tubes in the consumable guide electroslag welding method. Other filler materials are solders and brazing alloys.


a. Types of Nonconsumable Electrodes. There are two types of nonconsumable electrodes. The carbon electrode is a non-filler metal electrode used in arc welding or cutting, consisting of a carbon graphite rod which may or may not be coated with copper or other coatings. The second nonconsumable electrode is the tungsten electrode, defined as a non-filler metal electrode used in arc welding or cutting, made principally of tungsten.

b. Carbon Electrodes. The American Welding Society does not provide specification for carbon electrodes but there is a military specification, no. MIL-E-17777C, entitled, “Electrodes Cutting and Welding Carbon-Graphite Uncoated and Copper Coated”. This specification provides a classification system based on three grades: plain, uncoated, and copper coated. It provides diameter information, length information, and requirements for size tolerances, quality assurance, sampling, and various tests. Applications include carbon arc welding, twin carbon arc welding, carbon cutting, and air carbon arc cutting and gouging.

c. Tungsten Electrodes.

(1) Nonconsumable electrodes for gas types: pure tungsten, tungsten containing tungsten arc (TIG) welding are of four 1.0 percent thorium, tungsten containing 2.0 percent thorium, and tungsten containing 0.3 to 0.5 percent zirconium. They are also used for plasma-arc and atomic hydrogen arc welding.

(2) Tungsten electrodes can be identified by painted end marks:

(a) Green – pure tungsten.

(b) Yellow – 1.0 percent thorium.

(c) Red – 2.0 percent thorium.

(d) Brown – 0.3 to 0.5 percent zirconium.

(3) Pure tungsten (99. 5 percent tungsten) electrodes are generally used on less critical welding operations than the tungstens which are alloyed. This type of electrode has a relatively low current carrying capacity and a low resistance to contamination.

(4) Thoriated tungsten electrodes (1.0 or 2.0 percent thorium) are superior to pure tungsten electrodes because of their higher electron output, better arc starting and arc stability, high current-carrying capacity, longer life, and greater resistance to contamination.

(5) Tungsten electrodes containing 0.3 to 0.5 percent zirconium generally fall between pure tungsten electrodes and thoriated tungsten electrodes in terms of performance. There is, however, some indication of better performance in certain types of welding using ac power.

(6) Finer arc control can be obtained if the tungsten alloyed electrode is ground to a point (fig. 8-3). When electrodes are not grounded, they must be operated at maximum current density to obtain reasonable arc stability. Tungsten electrode points are difficult to maintain if standard direct current equipment is used as a power source and touch–starting arc is standard practice. Maintenance of electrode shape and the reduction of tungsten inclusions in the weld can best be ground by superimposing a high-frequency current on the regular welding current. Tungsten electrodes alloyed with thorium retain their shape longer when touch-starting is used. Unless high frequency alternating current is available, touch-starting must be used with thorium electrodes.

correct electrode taper

(7) The electrode extension beyond the gas cup is determined by the type of joint being welded. For example, an extension beyond the gas cup of 1/8 in. (0.32 cm) might be used for butt joints in light gauge material, while an extension of approximately 1/4 to 1/2 in. (0.64 to 1.27 cm) might be necessary on some fillet welds. The tungsten electrode or torch should be inclined slightly and the filler metal added carefully to avoid contact with the tungsten to prevent contamination of the electrode. If contamination does occur, the electrode must be removed, reground, and replaced in the torch.

d. Backing Materials. Backing materials are being used more frequently for welding. Special tapes exist, some of which include small amounts of flux, which can be used for backing the roots of joints. There are also different composite backing materials, for one-side welding. Consumable rings are used for making butt welds in pipe and tubing. These are rings made of metal that are tack welded in the root of the weld joint and are fused into the joint by the gas tungsten arc. There are three basic types of rings called consumable inert rings which are available in different analyses of metal based on normal specifications.


Specially processed metal powder is sometimes added to the flux used for the submerged arc welding process. Additives are provided to increase productivity or enrich the alloy composition of the deposited weld metal. In both cases, the additives are of a proprietary nature and are described by their manufacturers, indicating the benefit derived by using the particular additive. Since there are no specifications covering these types of materials, the manufacturer’s information must be used.


a. General. Soldering is the process of using fusible alloys for joining metals. The kind of solder used depends on the metals being joined. Hard solders are called spelter, and hard soldering is called silver solder brazing. This process gives greater strength and will withstand more heat than soft solder. Soft soldering is used for joining most common metals with an alloy that melts at a temperature below that of the base metal, and always below 800°F (427°C). In many respects, this is similar to brazing, in that the base is not melted, but merely tinned on the surface by the solder filler metal. For its strength, the soldered joint depends on the penetration of the solder into the pores of the base metal and. the formation of a base metal-alloy solder.

b. Solders of the tin-lead alloy system constitute the largest portion of all solders in use. They are used for joining most metals and have good corrosion resistance to most materials. Most cleaning and soldering processes may be used with the tin-lead solders. Other solders are: tin-antimony; tin-antimony-lead; tin-silver; tin-lead-silver; tin-zinc; cadmium-silver; cadmium-zinc; zinc-aluminum; bismuth (fusible) solder; and indium solders. These are described below. Fluxes of all types can also be used; the choice depends on the base metal to be joined.

(1) Tin-antinmony solder. The 95 percent tin-5 percent antimony solder provides a narrow melting range at a temperature higher than the tin-lead eutectic. the solder is used many plumbing, refrigeration, and air conditioning applications because of its good creep strength.

(2) Tin-antimony-lead solders. Antimony may be added to a tin-lead solder as a substitute for some of the tin. The addition of antimony up to 6 percent of the tin content increases the mechanical properties of the solder with only slight impairment to the soldering characteristics. All standard methods of cleaning, fluxing, and heating may be used.

(3) Tin-silver and tin-lead-silver solders. The 96 percent tin-4 percent silver solder is free of lead and is often used to join stainless steel for food handling equipment. It has good shape and creep strengths, and excellent flow characteristics. The 62 percent tin-38 percent lead-2 percent silver solder is used when soldering silver-coated surfaces for electronic applications. The silver addition retards the dissolution of the silver coating during the soldering operation. The addition of silver also increases creep strength. The high lead solders containing tin and silver provide higher temperature solders or many applications. They exhibit good tensile, shear, and creep strengths and are recommended for cryogenic applications. Because of their high melting range, only inorganic fluxes are recommended for use with these solders.

(4) Tin-zinc solders. A large number of tin-zinc solders have come into use for joining aluminum. Galvanic corrosion of soldered joints in aluminum is minimized if the metals in the joint are close to each other in the electrochemical series. Alloys containing 70 to 80 percent tin with the balance zinc are recommended for soldering aluminum. The addition of 1 to 2 percent aluminum, or an increase of the zinc content to as high as 40 percent, improves corrosion resistance. However, the liquidus temperature rises correspondingly, and these solders are therefore more difficult to apply. The 91/9 and 60/40 tin-zinc solders may be used for high temperature applications (above 300°F (149°C)), while the 80/20 and the 70/30 tin-zinc solders are generally used to coat parts before soldering.


Cadmium fumes can be health hazards. Improper use of solders containing cadmium can be hazardous to personnel.

(5) Cadmium-silver solder. The 95 percent cadmium-5 percent silver solder is in applications where service temperatures will be higher than permissible with lower melting solders. At room temperature, butt joints in copper can be made to produce tensile strengths of 170 MPa (25,000 psi). At 425°F (218°C), a tensile strength of 18 MPa (2600 psi) can be obtained. Joining aluminum to itself or to other metals is possible with this solder. Improper use of solders containing cadmium may lead to health hazards. Therefore, care should be taken in their application, particularly with respect to fume inhalation.

(6) Cadmium-zinc solders. These solders are also useful for soldering aluminum. The cadmium-zinc solders develop joints with intermediate strength and corrosion resistance when used with the proper flux. The 40 percent cadmium-60 percent zinc solder has found considerable use in the soldering of aluminum lamp bases. Improper use of this solder may lead to health hazards, particularly with respect to fume inhalation.

(7) Zinc-aluminum solder. This solder is specifically for use on aluminum. It develops joints with high strength and good corrosion resistance. The solidus temperature is high, which limits its use to applications where soldering temperature is in excess of 700°F (371°C) can be tolerated. A major application is in dip soldering the return bends of aluminum air conditioner coils. Ultrasonic solder pots are employed without the use of flux. In manual operations, the heated aluminum surface is rubbed with the solder stick to promote wetting without a flux.

(8) Fusible alloys. Bismuth-containing solders, the fusible alloys, are useful for soldering operations where soldering temperatures helm 361°F (183°C) are required. The low melting temperature solders have applications in cases such as soldering heat treated surfaces where higher soldering temperatures would result in the softening of the part; soldering joints where adjacent material is very sensitive to temperature and would deteriorate at higher soldering temperatures; step soldering operations where a low soldering temperature is necessary to avoid destroying a nearby joint that has been made with a higher melting temperature solder; and on temperature-sensing devices, such as fire sprinkler systems, where the device is activated when the fusible alloy melts at relatively low temperature. Many of these solders, particularly those containing a high percentage of bismuth, are very difficult to use successfully in high-speed soldering operations. Particular attention must be paid to the cleanliness of metal surfaces. Strong, corrosive fluxes must be used to make satisfactory joints on uncoated surfaces of metals, such as copper or steel. If the surface can be plated for soldering with such metals as tin or tin-lead, noncorrosive rosin fluxes may be satisfactory; however, they are not effective below 350°F (177°C).

(9) Indium solders. These solders possess certain properties which make them valuable for some special applications. Their usefulness for any particular application should be checked with the supplier. A 50 percent indium-50 percent tin alloy adheres to glass readily and may be used for glass-to-metal and glass-to-glass soldering. The low vapor pressure of this alloy makes it useful for seals in vacuum systems. Iridium solders do not require special techniques during use. All of the soldering methods, fluxes, and techniques used with the tin-lead solders are applicable to iridium solders.


a. General.

(1) Brazing is similar to the soldering processes in that a filler rod with a melting point lower than that of the base metal, but stove 800°F (427°C) is used. A groove, fillet, plug, or slot weld is made and the filler metal is distributed by capillary attraction. In brazing, a nonferrous filler rod, strip, or wire is used for repairing or joining cast iron, malleable iron, wrought iron, steel, copper, nickel, and high melting point brasses and bronzes. Some of these brasses and bronzes, however, melt at a temperature so near to that of the filler rod that fusion welding rather than brazing is required.

(2) Besides a welding torch with a proper tip size, a filler metal of the required composition and a proper flux are important to the success of any brazing operation.

(3) The choice of the filler metal depends on the types of metals to be joined. Copper-silicon (silicon-bronze) rods are used for brazing copper and copper alloys. Copper-tin (phosphor-bronze) rods are used for brazing similar copper alloys and for brazing steel and cast iron. Other compositions are used for brazing specific metals.

(4) Fluxes are used to prevent oxidation of the filler metal and the base metal surface, and to promote the free flowing of the filler metal. They should be chemically active and fluid at the brazing temperature. After the joint members have been fitted and thoroughly cleaned, an even coating of flux should be brushed over the adjacent surfaces of the joint, taking care that no spots are left uncovered. The proper flux is a good temperate indicator for torch brazing because the joint should be heated until the flux remains fluid when the torch flame is momentarily removed.

b. Characteristics. For satisfactory use in brazing applications, brazing filler metals must possess the following properties:

(1) The ability to form brazed joints possessing suitable mechanical and physical properties for the intended service application.

(2) A melting point or melting range compatible with the base metals being joined and sufficient fluidity at brazing temperature to flow and distribute into properly prepared joints by capillary action.

(3) A composition of sufficient homogeneity and stability to minimize separation of constituents (liquation) under the brazing conditions encountered.

(4) The ability to wet the surfaces of the base metals being joined and form a strong, sound bond.

(5) Depending on the requirements, ability to produce or avoid base metal-filler metal interactions.

c. Filler Metal Selection. The following factors should be considered when selecting a brazing filler metal:

(1) Compatibility with base metal and joint design.

(2) Service requirements for the brazed assembly. Compositions should be selected to suit operating requirements, such as service temperature (high or cryogenic), thermal cycling, life expectancy, stress loading, corrosive conditions, radiation stability, and vacuum operation.

(3) Brazing temperature required. Low brazing temperatures are usually preferred to economize on heat energy; minimize heat effects on base metal (annealing, grain growth, warpage, etc.); minimize base metal-filler metal interaction; and increase the life of fixtures and other teals. High brazing temperatures are preferred in order to take advantage of a higher melting, but more economical, brazing filler metal; to combine annealing, stress relief, or heat treatment of the base metal with brazing; to permit subsequent processing at elevated temperatures; to promote base metal-filler metal interactions to increase the joint remelt temperature; or to promote removal of certain refractory oxides by vacuum or an atmosphere.

(4) Method of heating. Filler metals with narrow melting ranges (less than 50°F (28°C) between solidus and liquidus) can be used with any heating method, and the brazing filler metal may be preplaced in the joint area in the form of rings, washers, formed wires, shims, powder, or paste. Such alloys may also be manually or automatically face fed into the joint after the base metal is heated. Filler metals that tend to liquate should be used with heating methods that bring the joint to brazing temperature quickly, or allow the introduction of the brazing filler metal after the base metal reaches the brazing temperature.

d. Aluminum-Silicon Filler Metals. This group is used for joining aluminum and aluminum alloys. They are suited for furnace and dip brazing, while some types are also suited for torch brazing using lap joints rather than butt joints. Flux should be used in all cases and removed after brazing, except when vacuum brazing. Use brazing sheet or tubing that consists of a core of aluminum alloy and a coating of lower melting filler metal to supply aluminum filler metal. The coatings are aluminum-silicon alloys and may be applied to one or both sides of sheet. Brazing sheet or tubing is frequently used as one member of an assembly with the mating piece made of an unclad brazeable alloy. The coating on the brazing sheet or tubing melts at brazing temperature and flows by capillary attraction and gravity to fill the joints.

e. Magnesium Filler Metals. Because of its higher melting range, one magnesium filler metal (BMg-1) is used for joining AZ10A, KIA, and MIA magnesium alloys, while the other alloy (BMg-2a), with a lower melting range, is used for the AZ31B and ZE10A compositions. Both filler metals are suited for torch, dip, or furnace brazing processes. Heating must be closely controlled with both filler metals to prevent melting of the base metal.

f. Copper and Copper-Zinc Filler Metals. These brazing filler metals are used for joining various ferrous metals and nonferrous metals. They are commonly used for lap and butt joints with various brazing processes. However, the corrosion resistance of the copper-zinc alloy filler metals is generally inadequate for joining copper, silicon bronze, copper-nickel alloys, or stainless steel.

(1) The essentially pure copper brazing filler metals are used for joining ferrous metals, nickel base, and copper-nickel alloys. They are very free flowing and are often used in furnace brazing with a combusted gas, hydrogen, or dissociated ammonia atmosphere without flux. However, with metals that have components with difficult-to-reduce oxides (chromium, manganese, silicon, titanium, vanadium, and aluminum), a higher quality atmosphere or mineral flux may be required. copper filler metals are available in wrought and powder forms.

(2) Copper-zinc alloy filler metals are used on most common base metals. A mineral flux is commonly used with the filler metals.

(3) Copper-zinc filler metals are used on steel, copper, copper alloys, nickel and nickel base alloys, and stainless steel where corrosion resistance is not a requirement. They are used with the torch, furnace, and induction brazing processes. Fluxing is required, and a borax-boric acid flux is commonly used.

g. Copper-Phosphorus Filler Metals. These filler metals are primarily used for joining copper and copper alloys and have some limited use for joining silver, tungsten, and molybdenum. They should not be used on ferrous or nickel base alloys, or on copper-nickel alloys with more than 10 percent nickel. These filler metals are suited for all brazing processes and have self fluxing properties when used on copper. However, flux is recommended with all other metals, including copper alloys.

h. Silver Filler Metals.

(1) These filler metals are used for joining most ferrous and nonferrous metals, except aluminum and magnesium, with all methods of heating. They may be prep laced in the joint or fed into the joint area after heating. Fluxes are generally required, but fluxless brazing with filler metals free of cadmium and zinc can be done on most metals in an inert or reducing atmosphere (such as dry hydrogen, dry argon, vacuum, and combusted fuel gas).


Do not overheat filler metals containing cadmium. Cadmium oxide fumes are hazardous.

(2) The addition of cadmium to the silver-copper-zinc alloy system lowers the melting and flew temperatures of the filler metal. Cadmium also increases the fluidity and wetting action of the filler metal on a variety of base metals. Cadmium bearing filler metals should be used with caution. If they are improperly used and subjected to overheating, cadmium oxide frees can be generated. Cadmium oxide fumes are a health hazard, and excessive inhalation of these fumes must be avoided.

(3) Of the elements that are commonly used to lower the melting and flow temperatures of copper-silver alloys, zinc is by far the most helpful wetting agent when joining alloys based on iron, cobalt, or nickel. Alone or in combination with cadmium or tin, zinc produces alloys that wet the iron group metals but do not alloy with them to any appreciable depth.

(4) Tin has a low vapor pressure at normal brazing temperatures. It is used in silver brazing filler metals in place of zinc or cadmium when volatile constituents are objectionable, such as when brazing is done without flux in atmosphere or vacuum furnaces, or when the brazed assemblies will be used in high vacuum at elevated temperatures. Tin additions to silver-copper alloys produce filler metals with wide melting ranges. Alloys containing zinc wet ferrous metals more effectively than those containing tin, and where zinc is tolerable, it is preferred to tin.

(5) Stellites, cemented carbides, and other molybdenum and tungsten rich refractory alloys are difficult to wet with the alloys previously mentioned. Manganese, nickel, and infrequently, cobalt, are often added as wetting agents in brazing filler metals for joining these materials. An important characteristic of silver brazing filler metals containing small additions of nickel is improved resistance to corrosion under certain conditions. They are particularly recommended where joints in stainless steel are to be exposed to salt water corrosion.

(6) When stainless steels and other alloys that form refractory oxides are to be brazed in reducing or inert atmospheres without flux, silver brazing filler metals containing lithium as the wetting agent are quite effective. Lithium is capable of reducing the adherent oxides on the base metal. The resultant lithium oxide is readily displaced by the brazing alloy. Lithium bearing alloys are advantageously used in very pure dry hydrogen or inert atmospheres.

i. Gold Filler Metals. These filler metals are used for joining parts in electron tube assemblies where volatile components are undesirable; and the brazing of iron, nickel, and cobalt base metals where resistance to oxidation or corrosion is required. Because of their low rate of interaction with the base metal, they are commonly used on thin sections, usually with induction, furnace, or resistance heating in a reducing atmosphere or in vacuum without flux. For certain applications, a borax-boric acid flux may be used.

j. Nickel Filler Metals.

(l) These brazing filler metals are generally used for their corrosion resistance and heat resistant properties up to 1800°F (982°C) continuous service, and 2200°F (1204°C) short time service, depending on the specific filler metals and operating environment. They are generally used on 300 and 400 series stainless steels and nickel and cobalt base alloys. Other base metals such as carbon steel, low alloy steels, and copper are also brazed when specific properties are desired. The filler metals also exhibit satisfactory room temperature and cryogenic temperature properties down to the liquid point of helium. The filler metals are normally applied as powders, pastes, or in the form of sheet or rod with plastic binders.

(2) The phosphorus containing filler metals exhibit the lowest ductility because of the presence of nickel phosphides. The boron containing filler metals should not be used for brazing thin sections because of their erosive action. The quantity of filler metal and time at brazing temperatures should be controlled because of the high solubility of some base metals in these filler metals.

k. Cobalt Filler Metal. This filler metal is generally used for its high temperature properties and its compatibility with cobalt base metals. For optimum results, brazing should be performed in a high quality atmosphere. Special high temperature fluxes are available.

1. Filler Metals for Refractory Metals.

(1) Brazing is an attractive means for fabricating many assemblies of refractory metals, in particular those involving thin sections. The use of brazing to join these materials is somewhat restricted by the lack of filler metals specifically designed for brazing them. Although several references to brazing are present, the reported filler metals that are suitable for applications involving both high temperature and high corrosion are very limited.

(2) Low melting filler metals, such as silver-copper-zinc, copper-phosphorus, and copper, are used to join tungsten for electrical contact applications. These filler metals are limited in their applications, however, because they cannot operate at very high temperatures. The use of higher melting metals, such as tantalum and columbium, is warranted in those cases. Nickel base and precious-metal base filler metals may be used for joining tungsten.

(3) A wide variety of brazing filler metals may be used to join molybdenum. The brazing temperature range is the same as that for tungsten. Each filler metal should be evaluated for its particular applicability. The service temperature requirement in many cases dictates the brazing filler metal selection. However, consideration must -be given to the effect of brazing temperature on the base metal properties, specifically recrystallization. When brazing above the recrystallization temperature, time should be kept as short as possible. When high temperature service is not required, copper and silver base filler metals may be used. For electronic parts and other nonstructural applications requiring higher temperatures, gold-copper, gold-nickel, and copper-nickel filler metals can be used. Higher melting metals and alloys may be used as brazing filler metals at still higher temperatures.

(4) Copper-gold alloys containing less than 40 percent gold can also be used as filler metals, but gold content between 46 and 90 percent tends to form age hardening compounds which are brittle. Although silver base filler metals have been used to join tantalum and columbium, they are not recommended because of a tendency to embrittle the base metals.

m. Filler metal specifications and welding processes are shown in table 8-2.

AWS filler metal specification and welding processes
AWS filler metal specification and welding processes
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