4 Basic Types of Welding Positions

You might have been thinking that welding can be performed simply by putting the two pieces together and joining them, moving them around just as one wants.

It doesn’t sound so difficult, right?

But there is much more to it. Knowing different types of welding positions might leave you panicked and agitated.

Types of Welding Positions

The welding position is a welder’s angle to join two metals together. They tell the tricks and techniques through which we can carry out safe and effective welding on pieces of different types and at different positions.

American Welding Society(AWS) has classified them into the following four positions:

  • Flat position
  • Horizontal position
  • Verticle position
  • Overhead position

Any welding discussion begins with the position of the weld face, and a number defines this position. F for fillet, or G for groove, refers to the welding type.

Fillet Weld (F): A process of joining two metals perpendicularly(vertically) or at a slight angle.
Groove Weld (G): A process in which weld is laid in the groove, which requires deep penetrations for a stronger weld.

fillet and groove weld

The following numbers and alphabets indicate the weld symbols:

  • 1F or 1G – (flat welding position)
  • 2F or 2G – (horizontal welding position)
  • 3F or 3G – (vertical welding position)
  • 4F or 4G – (overhead)

1: Flat Welding(1F &1G)

Also known as the down-hand position, the flat welding position is the most common of the four types of welding positions and the type that welders learn first.

This position does not demand much skill hence is the easiest yet provides a strong and effective weld. The welding is done on the top side of the joint, with the metals to be welded together, placed flat, and the welder moves the electric arc in a horizontal direction over them.

That way, the upper side of the joint is welded together, and the molten metal then flows down into the joint. This means maximum penetration, strong and easy weld, and the lack of danger as the molten metal does not flow out of the weld pool.

Flat welding position 1f and 1g

Hence the flat position weld is faster, safer, easier, and sounder. It is normally used to make fillet welds, butt welds, and padding welds and can be written as 1G or 1F, according to the type of weld—1 for flat weld and G and F representing groove and fillet weld, respectively.

2: Horizontal Welding(2F & 2G)

Horizontal welding is said to be an out-of-position weld because it is not flat; it also demands skill and expertise from practice as it is a challenging weld position.

It is called horizontal position because of the horizontal weld axis, while the type of weld decides the position of the joint. For a groove weld, the weld face of the joint is vertical, while the welding is done on a horizontal axis or plane.

As for a fillet position, the two surfaces are held at 90 degrees, perpendicular to each other rather than in a vertical position. One surface stands vertically over the other that lies horizontally, and both are welded on the upper side at a horizontal axis.

Hence, the difference lies in the executed position of the joint, which depends on the weld type, but the welding axis remains horizontal regardless.

2G represents horizontal welding performed on a groove weld, 2 stands for the horizontal position, and G is for the groove weld. Similarly, 2F represents horizontal welding performed on a fillet weld, 2 for the position, and F for the fillet weld.

horizontal plate welding 2f and 2g

It is taken as a difficult welding position to perform because there is a chance of sagging of the molten metal, which can flow downward on the joint. This can result in undercut and overlapping of the welding on the joint.

A skilled welder avoids this through certain tricks, like moving the welding electrode faster across the joint and moving it slightly up and down. That way, the puddle can harden quickly and is held in place; keeping the arc length shorter also helps.

3: Vertical Welding(3F & 3G)

Vertical welding involves a joint held vertically at the same (vertical) axis; the metal and weld lie on a vertical plane or an approximately vertical plane. There are two types of vertical weld, vertical-up, and vertical-down.

Vertical-up involves welding in an uphill vertical position, and vertical-down is the downhill vertical welding position. Both are used for different purposes. This position is represented by 3G and 3F, G, and F, standing for the weld type, groove, and fillet.

vertical plate welding 3f and 3g

The obvious problem with this welding position is the force of gravity acting against your work. The molten metal keeps flowing downward and can pile up, though the issue can be dealt with in both vertical variants.

While performing an uphill vertical weld, holding the electrode at a 45-degree angle while pointing at the joint can keep the molten metal from dropping. That way, the metal from the lower area of the joint works against gravity.

In vertical-down welding, the piling up of the molten metal is controlled by pointing and holding the electrode towards the plate at the same angle.

For the vertical welding position, using an electrode with a larger diameter presents a greater risk of the puddle flowing down; hence an electrode with a maximum diameter of 4mm is used, not more than that.

The vertical-up position offers deeper penetration and a stronger weld, so it is used for purposes where strength is important.

Vertical down puts one at a disadvantage here as the slag (residue of the metal) can get trapped in the molten metal as both run in the same downward direction. This results in ineffective penetration, consequently, a weak bond. So, this variant is used for sealing purposes where strength is not a major concern.

4: Overhead Welding(4F & FG)

This is the most difficult and dangerous welding position among the four basic types of welding positions. As the name implies, the workpiece is placed over the welder’s head, and the welding has to be performed from the underside of the joint; you see why it is the most complicated.

The two metal plates are above, and the welder has to adjust his and the welding electrode’s angle to reach up there and carry out the weld.

The issue and danger here lie clearly in the dropping of the molten metal over the welder’s head, along with the flying sparks. That’s because the welded metal sags from the joint, forming a droplet hanging over. To avoid this, point the electrode at an angle of 10 to 25 degrees towards the direction of the weld and weld rapidly.

horizontal plate overhead welding 4f and 4g

That way, the metal will solidify quickly, and the puddle created will be small, eliminating the chances of it dropping over. If the molten puddle gets too large, stop the heat for a few moments letting the metal cool down.

A short electrode with a diameter of not more than 3.15 mm is recommended for overhead welding. The current used is also suggested to be 20 to 25% less than the other welding positions.

Pipe Welding Positions (1G,5G & 6G)

Pipe welds are executed under different welding circumstances. Welding position depends upon the job’s nature. In most scenarios pipe is fixed, but it can also be rolled in flat positions.

1-G Position

One of the most convenient pipe welding positions. The position refers to the horizontal placement of a pipe that can be rotated horizontally and on the X-axis. The welder is not required to change his position and can easily rotate the pipe around.

5-G Position

The 5G position pipe has a horizontal or X-axis position. The welder moves along the pipe to perform the welds, as it cannot be rotated. This position is similar to 1G. Only the pipe doesn’t rotate as it’s fixed.

6-G Position

This is one of the most challenging positions in pipe welding. It cant be performed by a novice welder. The pipe has a sloping position to another pipe approximately 45 degrees from both the horizontal and vertical axis. The pipe cannot be rotated like in 5G, so the welder revolves around the pipe to perform the weld.

pipe welding positions 5g and 6g

Final Words

We recommend you do some practice sessions with the welding positions you will use to perform a weld and ensure that you can complete the whole welding process in that position comfortably. The annoying weld position results in compromised weld quality.

Your welding position depends on the transfer mode and filler metal you use. For instance, when welding overhead, you must ensure that filler metal is strong enough to hold the weld being done overhead.

So, here’s hoping that you read and understood the article thoroughly, and don’t forget to refer to it whenever you are skeptical about welding positions in the future.[/su_note]

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Dave Walker is a skilled welder and passionate blogger. With years of experience in welding, he has honed his craft and developed a deep understanding of the trade. In his blog, he shares his experiences, insights, and tips on welding, offering a valuable resource for fellow welders and those interested in the field. He is dedicated to promoting the importance of welding and its applications in various industries.