MIG welding is a common welding process used in several industries to unite different metals. On the other hand, Chromoly is popular alloy steel with various applications across different industries.
So, what happens when you try to put these two together and MIG weld Chromoly? Well, that’s what I’ll be trying to answer here today.
So, keep reading as I walk through the ins and outs of Chromoly and whether you can MIG weld it or not.
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What Is Chromoly And Its Composition?
Chromium molybdenum steel, often referred to as Chromoly or just 41 series alloy steel. Known for its impressive tensile strength and malleability, we often see Chromoly used around us in different applications. It falls in ally steel grade 4130, where the thirty refers to the carbon content of 0.30%.
Due to its high carbon content, Chromoly has increased hardness and hardenability. So, the carbon basically takes a huge chunk of Chromoly’s overall composition. The rest of Chromoly is made of chromium and molybdenum containing 0.8-1.1% and 0.15-0.25% respectively.
Each of these elements present in Chromoly adds unique characteristics to this alloy steel.
How Strong Is Chromoly Alloy?
In order to know how strong Chromoly is, you need to know what each of its elements brings to the table in terms of durability.
Generally, the application of Chromoly is a good indicator of how strong an alloy it is. Starting from the automobile industry to the oil and gas industry, Chromoly has various applications that require extreme durability.
Now, if we look on paper, there are three key elements in Chromoly, which are carbon, chromium and molybdenum. Both carbon and molybdenum provide excellent strength to the alloy with mechanical stability I high heat.
Lastly, the chromium adds better hardenability and corrosion resistance. All these qualities combined, Chromoly alloy can be considered a pretty strong substance with a much higher weight to strength ratio.
Can You MIG Weld Chromoly To Mild Steel?
Before I answer this question, we should know about mild steel to better understand the answer. So, mild steel is one type of carbon steel with low carbon content.
If we look at the definition of Chromoly, we can see that mild steel is the complete opposite of Chromoly in terms of carbon contents. Unlike Chromoly, mild steel is not an alloy, containing only iron.
Now, about the question, you can MIG weld Chromoly to mild steel, but there are some catches. Firstly, you can’t expect mild steel to do the job Chromoly should be doing. Secondly, due to dissimilarities between these two elements, the weld might crack slightly, but that shouldn’t be an issue for most cases.
Lastly, you should use a Chromoly rod as the filler for better welding results.
Can You MIG Weld Chromoly To Stainless Steel?
The answer to this question is pretty much the same as the previous one. There are some issues, but apart from those, you can weld Chromoly to stainless steel. However, due to the difference in content, it’s not easy to MIG weld Chromoly to stainless steel.
In order to put Chromoly to stainless steel, you’ll need a filler material called super missile weld that has a high chromium content in it. So you’ll get a nice and strong weld with a beautiful appearance, but the weld to stainless steel would be short-lived.
What You Need To Do To MIG Welding Chromoly Bike Frame
MIG welding Chromoly bike frame isn’t usually a great idea, but it’s doable. Also, you’ll notice lots of arguments about whether you can MIG weld Chromoly bike frame and how to do it.
Chromoly is a very common material used for bike frames, mostly bicycles. Now, the issue with MIG welding Chromoly frame is that the frame tubes are pretty thin.
As MIG welding is mostly used for heavier projects with thing metal pieces, it’s pretty challenging to weld Chromoly with lower heat control of MIG welding. Even if you managed to weld Chromoly bike frame, you’d have lots of splatters.
Having said these things, you can still MIG welding Chromoly bike frame. Just take it slow and move the torch at the right angle. Additionally, make sure the penetration is consistent at all times while welding.
Requirements For MIG Welding Chromoly
At this point, you should have already realized that MIG welding Chromoly is a little more complex than welding other alloys. However, it’s doable, and some steps can help you pull this off flawlessly.
These are pretty simple yet crucial steps to successfully MIG weld Chromoly.
First thing you need to ensure before MIG welding Chromoly is that you have the right Chromoly tube. In most applications, Chromoly is used as tubes, but it can be a sheet or something else, depending on the project.
Now, whatever workpiece of Chromoly you have, make sure that it doesn’t contain any residue on it from cutting. If there are residues left, I can affect both the appearance and durability of the welding in the future. So before MIG welding pipe , don’t forget to clean it thoroughly.
If you have a lathe available around you, put the tube in it at a moderate speed to smoothen the surface of the tube.
Fitment And Tacking
Now comes the next step of the process, which is fitment and tacking. Chromoly is infamous for its heat sensitivity and as MIG welding provides less heat control, make sure you don’t expose Chromoly directly to heat. Instead of high speed at once, increase the heat input gradually at a consistent rate. So, don’t forget to keep a tighter arc length to prevent stubbing out.
To maintain a proper weld alignment, you should tack weld Chromoly. Over 1 or 2 bigger tacks, use smaller tack welds for an aligned and durable welding result.
As for the fitment, make sure there is no space in between when you close it. This space is the sole reason to create a larger heat affected zone. Eventually, you’ll end up with brittles around the affected area.
Using The Right Torch
Welding torch plays an important role in getting the desired output from welding. When you are MIG welding Chromoly, choosing the right torch becomes even more important because of how delicate the job is. As mentioned previously, you need to move forward slowly with low speed to MIG weld Chromoly.
So, for a welding job that’ll take hours, choosing a lightweight torch can provide you with convenience for a flawless welding result.
Choose The Right Filler Rod
This step is arguably the most important part of MIG welding Chromoly, as the filler material will decide the final result of the welding. There are three available filler options available for Chromoly welding, ER80S-D2, ER70S-2 and 4130 variant of Chromoly alloy. Each of them has their advantages and their usage vary depending on availability and projects.
ER80S-D2 and ER70S-2 are two of the most common material of Chromoly welding, while the first one has an almost similar strength to Chromoly itself. In comparison, the strength of ER70S-2 is slightly lower, around 10000 less than ER80S-D2.
Lastly, 4130 Chromoly is used when you need a heat-treated Chromoly weld or match the materials. However, keep in mind that 4130 can’t be used with Chromoly tubes with thin walls.
Process Of Mig Welding Chromoly
Apart from the steps I mentioned above, there are a few points I would like to mention here. These tips will give a more efficient welding experience.
- As they say, slow and steady wins the race. If you want crack-free Chromoly welding with consistent penetration, weld at a slow speed.
- Preheating is standard practice for MIG welding Chromoly, but many people don’t understand that there is a certain limit. If your tube is thin enough, like under 0.12 inches, you can easily get away without preheating ad still get a decent result.
- When you control slope in welding, make sure to shift from downslope to upslope gradually. It’ll help you avoid brittle around the welded area.
- This is a basic tip that’s applicable for any welding metal. Whatever thing you weld, don’t try to cool it down fast. Let the cooling happen just from the normal room temperature. Forcing the cooling process can lead to distortion and reduced ductility of the metal.
Problems With MIG Welding Chromoly
Though I mentioned several times that MIG welding Chromoly is doable, it comes with certain problems. Now, whether these problems will be deal-breakers entirely depends on you and your project.
First of all, MIG weld is not a good choice in terms of heat control, and you can easily end up with Chromoly tubes cracking after the weld. If you want perfect welding the chromoly, try tig welding.
Another issue with MIG welding is that it doesn’t generate enough heat to penetrate Chromoly all the time. As a result, the weld won’t be as strong as you may think.
Even with these problems, if you have the right mig wire and skillset, you can go for MIG welding Chromoly any day.
Here we are at the end of my article. I hope my article was helpful enough to give you a better idea about Chromoly and its welding process. As you can see, it’s quite possible to MIG weld Chromoly with proper guidelines and skill set.
So, if you have any projects that require MIG welding chromoly, just boot up and get to welding. With my guidelines, you’ll easily get a smooth and string Chromoly weld in no time.