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Name: Jeff W.
Status: Student
Age: 16
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2001

What are the advantages of welding in space?

The main benefit is in the welding of chemically reactive metals such as titanium. Heated titanium reacts with oxygen so readily that it can't be welded in the earth's atmosphere, even using an inert gas blanket (MIG or TIG welding). The only way to weld titanium on earth is to completely encase it in an inert atmosphere, such as in a glove box.

The other benefit that can come from welding in space is the lack of gravity. In some cases, it's good if the weld pool (melted metal) stays right where it is instead of flowing under gravity. The larger the amount of metal that is melted at the same time, the more of an issue this is. So, in principle, welding in zero gravity would make it easier to weld thicker pieces of metal together, especially if the weld joint has an irregular contour.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois

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