A Guide to Field Welding: Regulations and Requirements

We explain in detail everything you should know about field welding and how it differs from shop welding.
Christopher McDonagh
Christopher McDonagh
Research Writer
Chris is a teacher of Literature at a school in New Berlin, Wisconsin. He is also our favorite irreplaceable freelance writer who can turn such a boring topic into something read more
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Thomas Garcia
Thomas Garcia
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Thomas is a professional welder who gained his certification several decades ago and learned all the nuances of this job since then. When not at work, Thomas loves fishing i read more
Last updated: August 14, 2023
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While shop welding is the most common type of welding, field welding can be more challenging. Welding in the workshop gives you the freedom on welding equipment to use but, for instance, not all welders are suitable for field welding. In this post, we will tell you what field welding is, how it differs from shop welding, what the requirements are and what you should consider if you’re planning to join a construction team for a welding job on site.

What is Field Welding?

A Guide to Field Welding: Regulations and Requirements

Field welding simply means welding outdoors on a job site. This type of welding is done in the open space and is often done without a tent or workshop. Sometimes, field welding is a continuation of shop welding. When the shop welders have fabricated a steel structure. The structures are brought to the site and permanently installed by field welders. For these structures that are pre-fabricated in a shop, you need to bolt them or weld them in. Alternatively, to save the cost and effort of moving structures from the shop to the field, it’s always better to start and the entire project in the field.

Field vs. Shop Welding

In a machine shop, sometimes, this process is not only a part of the manufacturing process but also for maintenance and repair. While shop welders build ornamental pieces and fabricate beams and large structural items, the field workers are focused on installing these ornamental structures at the job site. Welders who install heavier steel and beams are known as ironworkers. Welding metal especially from a height is usually more grueling. This is why field welders are paid better than shop welders; or better still, this is why field welders charge more.

On-the-go welding is a fieldwork. Pipeline welding, shipbuilding, and other repair jobs are known as field works. Meanwhile, automobile bodywork welding is done indoors in body shops and factories.

Field Welding Regulations

Some of the regulations governing the job of field welding are contained in the following documents or codes:

  • ASME Code SectionⅨ
  • AWS D1.1

In summary, the AWS D1.1 Trusted Source AWS D1.1 Structural Welding - Steel : Certification : American Welding Society AWS D1.1 Structural Welding – Steel : Certification www.aws.org is a certification of the American Welding Society that assures that a welder has the training, experience, work efficiency to practice welding as a profession.

The ASME Code SectionⅨ is a code made by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) that seeks to regulate works of welding, brazing, and fusing jobs.

There are also other regulations especially on the use of certified protective clothing. This is known as ISO 11611 Trusted Source ISO - ISO 11611:2015 - Protective clothing for use in welding and allied processes Protective clothing for use in welding and allied processe www.iso.org . This code lays down the standards on welding gears. Welding involves several risks and requires great care. Welders must therefore adopt safe working methods at all times to ensure their health and safety.

Working at Height

Most vertical welding jobs done in the field are done at heights. However, according to the CDC, more than 20% of falls Trusted Source StackPath www.ehstoday.com resulting in permanent disability in occupational accidents are falls from ladders or stepladders. The use of this equipment is still today the 2nd cause of serious falls at work. Ladders, stepladders, and steps must therefore absolutely be banned as workstations at height in favor of other more suitable equipment such as individual rolling platforms.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, ladders, stepladders, and steps are not meant to be used as workstations Trusted Source www.osha.gov .

Under the regulations, ladders, stepladders and steps are therefore to be considered as work equipment allowing a temporary means of access at height, in particular, to access a work surface. They do not constitute workstations at height, because although they are unstable and there is always a risk of falling.

Field Welding Equipment Requirements

If you are looking to start welding outdoors or in the field, you need several welding equipments. Although, you have to keep your welding package as light as possible. But the essentials must not be missing.

Welder Certificate

A Guide to Field Welding: Regulations and Requirements

To have a safe business and offer quality work to clients, it will be necessary to have a certificate that guarantees that you can perform the job of a welder. There are different trusted institutes where you can acquire them, such as Certified Welder (CW), Certified Welding Inspector certification (CWI), Certified Welding Supervisor certification (CWS), and more.

Welding Equipment

Here the welding equipment will vary depending on the type of welding service you want to start. You will need a welding machine. There are static ones and there are mobile ones, with or without a fan attached. The choice may depend on the budget that you have, but you always have to look for a welding machine that, in addition to being functional and being within the price range, is safe.

Metal inert gas (MIG) welders are the most inadvisable for field welding because of the need to carry a gas tank around and because the wind will not allow the gas to prevent oxidation of the welds. For those who still can’t do without MIG welding, try flux core MIG welding. This process doesn’t require the use of gas, which can be subject to wind and be unportable. The gas instead are released from the flux-cored wire as you weld.

Meanwhile, shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), better known as the manual metal arc (MMA) welding or stick welding, is the best type of welding process for field welding. Better still, you can choose to get a multi-process welder that can weld using stick electrodes or flux core wire.

Tools for the Welding Shop

As for the tools that will be necessary in the field, both manual and electrical are needed. You need accessories that will allow better work with the material. These can include a wire gauge, a wire brush, hammer, angle grinder, drill, and more. The wire gauge is especially used for determining the gauge of the wire to be used. They can come in a single or two pieces such as the ZeeDix 2 Pcs.

In addition to the welding tools and equipment, it will be necessary to have safety equipment, including eye and ear protectors, leather gloves, welding helmet, welding sleeves, safety boots, leather or denim apron, and of course an emergency kit.

Note that your helmet has to be an auto-darkening one for proper eye and ear protection. For this, the YESWELDER Welding Helmet is the best-selling welding helmet that you can find online.

Things You Should Consider When Welding in the Field

Below are some of the things you should consider when welding in the field:

The Right Welding Process

In wind and weather, MIG/MAG welding is not necessarily the first choice. Fortunately, some alternatives produce good results even under adverse circumstances.

But there are alternatives, such as cored wire welding. It has long been in use and is particularly popular in the United States. Instead of a solid wire, a metallic wire is used here, which is filled with a special powder.

The cored wire process has other advantages: It hardly produces any spatter; the weld seam rarely shows cracks or pores, and the seam is insensitive to binding errors. And thanks to the high deposition rate, the process is also very fast.

Not everyone likes cored wire welding. An alternative to this is acetylene welding, which also always works outdoors in the field. Acetylene gas is available in containers with a volume of 10 liters or more.

In the case of self-protecting flux-cored wire, the powder contains gas, arc stabilizers, and sometimes alloy additives. During welding, shielding gases are generated that protect the weld metal from the influences of the atmosphere, so no additional shielding gas is required. However, the gas dome is a little more unstable than when using MAG processes, so the arc is a little restless.

Conventional welding devices or special cored wire welding devices that do not have a gas connection can be used for this process. But because the welding machines are very light and therefore easy to transport, and the technology can also be used outdoors without any problems, it has also established itself primarily in the DIY sector. However: Cored wire welding requires a little practice, which is why it is especially recommended for experienced welders, especially in the field.

The Welding Environment

Welding outdoors is difficult. For example, with MIG welding, the shielding gas, which is supposed to protect the weld seam from atmospheric oxygen, is blown away by even a little wind, and pore formation occurs. However, if you want to weld with this process, it is necessary to protect the welding point from the wind, for example with an enclosure.

Incidentally, this also applies in many workshops where open roller doors or fume hoods cause air movements that can cause the shielding gas hood to go over the weld seam. An enclosure can protect uninvolved people from the resulting UV radiation.

But sometimes that is not enough either. Experienced welders, therefore, increase the flow rate of the shielding gas when there is a draft and thus keep the ambient air away from the weld seam. Usually, an increase of around two liters per minute is sufficient. This value can be increased further, but at some point this compensation becomes counterproductive. The suction then draws air into the weld seam and the protective effect is lost. Then it becomes almost impossible to weld a clean and durable seam with a MAG welder outdoors.

The Materials Needed to be Welded

A Guide to Field Welding: Regulations and Requirements

Thick metals with large cavities can be processed excellently with cored wire welding machines. The compact welding devices are also recommended for minor repairs, for example on the garden fence. All somewhat coarser welding work can be carried out very well with cored wire welding equipment. They are therefore very common in agriculture. Thin sheets, on the other hand, are difficult to weld using this process. Due to the high temperatures that arise, the sheets can burn through.

There is also gas-protected flux-cored wire. It does contain arc stabilizers, but no gas formers. Therefore, protective gas must also be used. With gas-protected flux-cored wire, slag can form on the welding wire to protect it against oxidation. A particularly high-quality weld seam is therefore possible.

Preheating May Be Required

In addition to the wind, moisture in the open air is also a problem. Below 10 degrees, this moisture is deposited on the material; during welding, it diffuses out of the seam and leaves pores and cracks. Preheating can help. Materials with a high alloy content should only be preheated slowly. They have low thermal conductivity and could otherwise develop stress cracks due to uneven heating.

If a weld seam is to be welded in several layers, then it must be protected from cooling down too quickly in the open air. A large part around the weld seam should always be kept at the same temperature, even if the workpiece is only partially welded.

Final Thoughts

Field welding is only possible to a very limited extent due to the wind with MAG welding devices. The cored wire process is a tried and tested alternative that is frequently used. In addition to the wind, cold and moisture can also have a negative impact on the welding results. Special preparation, such as preheating, is then necessary. Stick welding is also a good welding process that can be used in the field.


AWS D1.1 Structural Welding - Steel : Certification : American Welding Society
AWS D1.1 Structural Welding – Steel : Certification
ISO - ISO 11611:2015 - Protective clothing for use in welding and allied processes
Protective clothing for use in welding and allied processe
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