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What is a Bead Weld?

By J. Uhl
Updated: May 17, 2024

A bead weld or weld bead is the result of a welding pass that deposits filler material. Welding is a process that combines multiple pieces of metal by heating and softening them. With bead welding, a filler material is inserted in the space between the two materials. When the metal filler material cools, a strong bond is formed between the two surfaces.

This type of weld is the first form of welding that most people learn. There are different types of bead welds, depending on how much oscillation the welder uses when applying the filler material to the welding surface. When the welder uses more oscillation, the result is a weave bead, which is a wider application of filler metal. When the welder uses less side-to-side oscillation, the result is narrower welding beads, which are known as stringer beads.

The bead welding technique is a basic welding technique involving the drawing of a filler material across the welding surface. As with all welding techniques, bead welding requires exercising proper safety techniques and wearing safety attire. At a bare minimum, welding gloves should always be worn, in addition to proper eye protection.

From a cross section point of view, the bead weld looks like a round deposit. A welder might need to create several welding beads to completely seal the two base materials together. Advanced temper bead welding and bead welding techniques produce a finished product that resembles overlapping coins or disks.

Bead welding is used in all forms of welding, though the technique can differ slightly from one to the next. Welders using the arc welding technique will strike an arc and then lay out an arc welding bead. In arc welding, one strikes the arc much in the same way that one would strike a match. The welder holds the electrode at a 45- or 90-degree angle when laying the welding beads.

When learning the bead welding technique, welders can lay their bead weld in a straight line, more closely resembling a stringer bead. As the welders improve their techniques, they can apply transverse oscillation to create weave beads in various degrees of width. Circular and crescent-shaped motions are common when creating arc or stick welding beads.

Welders can use bead welding techniques to create groove welds, square welds and bevel groove welds. Multiple bead welds can be applied to create a stronger connection between the welding surfaces. A bead weld is adaptable to a variety of different butt joints.

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Discussion Comments
By Alchemy — On Sep 15, 2011

@highlighter- The Mig welding procedure is the same as the GMAW welding procedure. These procedures essentially use a solid core, gas shielded welding process. Essentially, the wire electrode is comprised of a solid steel wire, often coated in copper to protect the wire from oxidation.

The wire is fed through a cylinder and the gun, and gas is fed through the cylinder around the wire. The type of gas used in the wire depends on the job, but it is either straight carbon dioxide or a carbon dioxide argon mix. The gases are inert and protect the weld from the elements, making sure the weld is smooth and bubble free.

The use of gas to protect the weld is the reason that welding is often done indoors. A small breeze could easily blow the gas away from the weld, allowing the weld to react with the atmosphere and weaken structurally.

By highlighter — On Sep 14, 2011

What is the difference between the MIG welding process and the GMAW welding process? I just bought a MIG welder to teach myself to weld. Some of the information I have been reading talks about the GMAW welding process, and I am confused as to what this has to do with MIG welding. Can anyone clarify the difference between the two?

By chicada — On Sep 14, 2011

@aplenty- I know of a few different welding types.

A fillet weld is where the metal that you are welding is overlapping. In this type of weld, both sides of the metal are welded so that the cross section looks like a trapezoid with two triangular bead welds.

A plug weld is when you weld a top plate to a bottom plate with two plugs. One plate is drilled, and the pieces are welded together at the holes.

The last type of weld that I know of besides the aforementioned and the bead weld is the groove weld. There are a number of different groove welds, but the ideas is to weld two pieces together edge to edge to create a welded seam. The variations in this type of weld depend on the type of notch cut into the edge.

All of these welds are used to fit pieces together to form different joints. A bead weld would be used for tee and edge joints. Filet welds are used for corner and transverse or longitudinal lap joints. Finally, groove welds would be used to create butt joints.

By cougars — On Sep 13, 2011

@aplenty- You should be fine using simple tack welds and bead welds. Building a go-kart frame is actually an excellent project for beginning welders. You will need a mig welder and you should watch a video or two on mig welding techniques. You may be able to rent a mig welder; if not, you can find one that will get the job done for less than $200.

When you start your project, you should measure and cut all of your pipe or tubing according to your plans. Start at your front and work your way back, tack welding the frame together with strong enough welds to support the weight of moving the frame. Once you have tack welded your frame, clamp it to a welding table and work your way from front to back. Learn by welding thick, then grinding your welds. If you practice enough you will find the touch.

One final tip I can give you is to use both square and round tubing. Welding round pieces to flat pieces is easier and it requires less prep work. If you weld tube to tube, you will need a notch cutter, and an inexperienced welder runs the risk of welding together a warped frame. Watch some videos and have fun!

By aplenty — On Sep 12, 2011

What are the different types of welds? This article was very informative in describing a bead weld, but I am not sure if it is the right type of weld for my project.

I am working on building a go cart for my son. I am not sure if this type of weld will be strong enough to use for a go cart frame.

I guess I could take a welding course, but I think it would be more fun to teach myself. Can someone give me some info on the different types of welds so I can find a little more information?

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