Welding, as most of us are aware, is a method of joining two or more materials with heat - electrically generated, fuel gas generated, friction, pressure, explosives or even sound.

All welding work is traditionally done in one of four different positions - Flat, Horizontal, Vertical and Overhead. A welder must be familiar with these positions as he would be required to use these positions correctly during a welding qualification test. It is therefore essential that you have a good understanding and apply the techniques for welding in each of the test positions.

The need for four different positions is because the welding affects the flow of molten filler metal. In the flat position, the law of gravity draws the molten metal downward into the joint making the welding quicker and easier. Horizontal welding is relatively difficult, because the molten metal sags or flows down onto the lower plate. Vertical welding is done in a vertical line from bottom to top. The overhead welding position is the toughest position. Since the weld metal flows downward, the overhead position demands considerable practice to produce impeccable quality welds.

Though the terms flat, horizontal, vertical, and overhead exactly describe the positions for plate welding, they do not sufficiently describe pipe welding positions. In pipe welding, there are four basic test positions used but the positions refer to the position of the pipe and not the position of the person welding.

The different welding positions for pipe welding are 1G, 2G, 5G and 6G positions. The 1G is horizontal rolled position weld. The 2G is Vertical Position. The 5G is horizontal fixed position. And the 6G is inclined fixed position that is at about 45 degrees.

It is necessary that you understand the welding position norms. For instance, if a welder gets qualified in a 6G position that person would be qualified to weld in any of the other positions. But if the welder gets qualified to weld in the 1G position, then that person would only be qualified to weld in the 1G position.

It is therefore imperative that you properly make sure to read the code you are testing to. Again, getting qualified in a certain position does not necessarily mean that you are qualified to weld on all materials and of all thickness. Please note that the thickness as also the materials should be determined by the code you are qualifying to.

If you are discussing flat, horizontal, vertical, or overhead welding position, flat is always preferable. It is usually simpler for a welder to work flat welds and therefore they are less costly. The prime reason why you have to weld in other positions is due to the structure that is being assembled cannot be repositioned in the manner you want. Technically speaking, a qualified welder should be able to produce the same quality of weld regardless of the positions.

Putting the electrode into the holder at a 90 degree angle is prescribed for flat position welding and putting the electrode straight out is recommended for welding in the overhead position. If you know a qualified and experienced weld operator, ask him/her to watch you weld and also examine your finished welds. They can tell you a lot about what you may be doing is right and what needs to be corrected.