Why Do My Welds Look Like Popcorn. Welds resembling popcorn can be soul-destroying. Welding takes skill, patience, and using equipment with the correct settings. In an ideal world, every weld would look clean, perform well, and be free from blobs of metal around the weld joint. Unfortunately, spatter is a common issue in welding, and it can cause welds to look like popcorn.
The term “popcorn weld” comes from the sound and appearance of a poor weld. For example, if there is an issue with the welder settings or wire, you will hear popping sounds when welding. Also, the weld will have jaggy beads, or irregular blobs around it that look like burned pieces of popcorn stuck together.
What can you do when you take your mask off, look at the weld, and you ask yourself: “Why do my welds look like popcorn?” This article answers that question. You will also learn how to fix issues with weld pops and prevent excess spatter and mess when welding.
Five Reasons Why Welds Look Like Popcorn
Popcorn-like bumps on welds are usually the result of wire speed — it’s too fast or slow. However, several other reasons can cause welds to look like popcorn. These include low-quality metal, surface contaminants, incorrect welder settings, or low-quality consumables. Popcorn welds could also be caused by welding at the wrong angle.
Let’s look in detail at what can be causing the popping issue when you weld metal.
1. Incorrect wire speed can make a welder pop
The most common reason for a weld pop is the wire speed. Amperage determines the wire feed speed, and if it’s too high, welds will look like popcorn when you’re finished. Also, some MIG welders feed wire erratically, causing a lot of spatter and a terrible-looking weld.
It’s easy to test if the speed is at the correct setting. Hold the welder to the metal, and if it makes a loud popping sound, you should adjust the speed. To avoid a weld pop, two quick fixes are to increase the voltage or decrease the wire feed speed.
2. Incorrect wire size and type can cause weld pops
Another reason why welds look like popcorn is the wire type and diameter. Welding requires using a solid wire or flux core wire. Each type of wire requires a different speed and thickness to achieve a smooth, clean weld. If the wire is too thick for the amp setting and speed, you’ll end up with an inconsistent weld that looks messy.
The obvious solution to get a nice-looking weld is to check the welder amperage settings for the type of metal and thickness of the wire you are using.
3. Material thickness can affect weld quality
If the material being welded is too thin, it won’t hold enough heat to fuse correctly. Welding thin material too slow or using the wrong amperage results in a popcorn effect on your welds. With thicker steel, welding too fast will also result in little spatter balls. So, it’s crucial to take the metal thickness into account and adjust the amperage setting and speed appropriately.
As a rule, thicker materials require slower inches per minute (IPM) and thinner metals require a faster wire speed. Also, use an output of one amp for 1/4-inch material.
4. Surface Contamination Causes Weld Pops
Surface contaminants such as oil, grease, dirt, rust, and paint can cause an untidy weld. Before you start welding, clean the metal as much as possible. Use a wire brush to remove rust and old paint. Then take a rag to eliminate as much grease, oil, dust, and dirt as possible. If you do this, you will avoid asking why your welds look like popcorn.
5. Low-grade Consumables Result in High Spatter Levels
Using cheap, low-quality wires will increase spatter levels and leave you with an unsightly weld. The consumables you use must have the right composition to produce a tidy weld. Buying a cheaper welding wire may seem like you’re saving money. However, the wire will contain filler products that will cause weld pops.
How to Fix Welds that Look Like Blobs
There are a few simple solutions to fix welds that look like popcorn. The best way to resolve weld pop issues is to use the ideal settings for the thickness and material type. This requires paying attention to the amperage settings, voltage, wire size, speed, and avoiding dirt on the weld gun tip.
Here are a few easy fixes to get cleaner, spatter-free welds:
- Adjust the wire speed — Ensure there is a constant buzzing sound as you weld. You will need to adjust the speed until you no longer hear popping.
- Clean the welding gun tip — Keep your equipment in good order, especially the tip of the welding gun. The gun’s tip can become blocked or have dirt burned within it. So, to fix welding pops, it may be necessary to replace a dirty tip.
- Use high-quality consumables — Never use a rusty wire or cheap consumables if you want a clean weld. Rusty wires cause the gun to jerk and have an inconsistent travel speed. If the wire spool looks rusty, replace it with a new, high-quality wire.
- Use the proper settings — Check the correct settings of your welder for the thickness of metal you plan on welding. Popcorn weld blobs appear when filler wire gets in the weld puddle because it doesn’t heat up enough. Increase voltage until spatter decreases for the wire to melt at the right pace.
How To Prevent Your Welds From Looking Like Popcorn
If you want to get clean welds every time, there are a few ways you can prevent weld pops. But, of course, even with the best welding equipment and using good-quality consumables, welding poor-quality metals will result in some spatter.
Here are some helpful ways to prevent weld pops and spatter:
Welding Coated Metals
How can you prevent weld pops when welding metal with a coating? Welding painted, galvanized, or chrome-plated metal can be tricky to avoid welds looking like popcorn. The best solution is to grind off the coat and a 3/4-inch area around where you plan to weld. Cleaning metal this way helps to prevent popping and a messy weld seam.
Preventing Popcorn Welds on Dirty Metal.
To avoid weld popping when welding rusty metal, it’s essential to clean the metal thoroughly. Any rust, dust, oil, or marker pen lines will contaminate the weld and cause issues with spatter in the weld joint.
Choosing the suitable filler to prevent weld pops
To prevent welds from looking like popcorn, always use good quality filler wire or rods. For example, quality flux core welding wire or solid core wire creates quality welds. However, even if you are welding suitable metal, a low-grade filler will increase spatter levels and weld blobs.
Welding with good-quality materials and equipment is the best way to avoid your welds turning out looking like popcorn stuck together. Always use the right welder setting, the proper wire, and weld at the right speed in relation to the metal. That way, every weld joint will be something you can take pride in.