Porosity in welding refers to the presence of voids or gas pockets within a joint. It is a welding defect that can weaken the integrity and strength of the weld. Porosity appears as small holes or cavities within the metal or at the interface between the weld and the base material.

Porosity of welding occurs when gases become trapped in the molten weld pool during welding typically:

  • Oxygen
  • Nitrogen
  • Hydrogen

These gases can be present in the surrounding atmosphere, on the surface of the base metal, or in the electrode or filler material. When the weld solidifies, the trapped gases cannot escape, forming voids or pores.

Factors that Contribute to the Formation of Welding Porosity

Contaminated Base Metal or Filler Material

Moisture, oil, rust, or other contaminants on the surface of the materials can release gases. This happens when exposed to high welding temperatures.

Improper Shielding Gas or Flux Coverage

The shielding gas or flux is used to protect the weld pool from atmospheric gases in processes such as:

  • Gas metal arc welding (GMAW)
  • Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW)

Insufficient or improper shielding can allow gases to reach the weld, leading to porosity.

Welding Parameters

Using the wrong parameters, like excessive heat input or speed, can make the melted metal not flow well and trap gases. This makes it more likely to have tiny holes.

Electrode or Filler Material Selection

Some electrode or filler materials may release more gas during welding. This increases the potential for porosity. It’s essential to choose appropriate consumables for the specific welding application.

Porosity in welding can compromise a joint’s mechanical properties and structural integrity. It can: 

  • Reduce load-bearing capacity
  • Increase susceptibility to cracking or corrosion
  • Decrease overall weld quality

To mitigate porosity, welders can take several measures, including: 

  • Proper cleaning and preparation of the base material
  • Using appropriate shielding gases or fluxes
  • Optimizing welding parameters
  • Ensuring proper electrode or filler material selection

Inspecting welds for porosity is typically done through: 

If there is significant porosity is detected, the weld may need repairs to meet the required quality standards.

Types of Weld Porosity

Gas Porosity

Gas porosity is the most common type of welding porosity caused by the entrapment of gases in the weld metal. The gases come from various sources, such as: 

  • Moisture
  • Atmospheric air
  • Oils
  • Contaminants

Gas porosity appears as small spherical or elongated voids within the weld.

Hydrogen Porosity

Hydrogen porosity is a specific type of gas porosity caused by hydrogen gas in the weld. It can come in during welding through: 

  • Moisture on the base metal or electrode
  • Improper consumable storage
  • Contaminants

Hydrogen porosity often appears as fine, pinhole-like voids or distributed porosity within the weld.

Wormhole Porosity

Wormhole porosity is a type of porosity characterized by elongated, tube-like voids. It extends through the weld’s thickness. It is typically associated with specific welding processes, such as: 

  • Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW)
  • Plasma arc welding (PAW). 

Wormhole porosity is often caused by: 

  • Inadequate shielding gas coverage
  • Improper welding parameters


Microporosity refers to excellent, closely spaced porosity within the weld. It is often difficult to detect visually and requires more sensitive inspection techniques, such as: 

  • X-ray
  • Ultrasonic testing 

Microporosity can result from: 

  • Improper welding techniques
  • Insufficient cleaning of base metal
  • Inadequate control of welding parameters

Pinhole Porosity

Pinhole porosity consists of small, isolated voids within the weld metal. These voids are typically spherical and can be caused by various factors, including: 

  • Improper gas shielding
  • Inadequate degassing of the base metal
  • Insufficient flux coverage in processes like submerged arc welding (SAW)

These kinds of welding porosity can be present together on one weld or happen combined. This depends on the exact welding conditions and factors involved. The type and severity of porosity can vary based on the:

  • Welding process
  • Base metal
  • Filler material
  • Other variables

To prevent porosity and create strong welds, it’s essential to:

  • Follow the right welding procedures
  • Prepare the materials properly
  • Control the parameters correctly

These steps work together to reduce the chances of porosity happening and ensure that the welds are of high quality.

Porosity forms in welding due to the presence and entrapment of gases within the weld metal. These gases can come from various sources and become trapped during welding.

Common Reasons Why Porosity Forms

Atmospheric Contamination

The atmosphere contains oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen gases. While welding, when the weld pool is open to the air, gases can get soaked up by the molten metal and create porosity. When moisture, oil, rust, or other contaminants come in contact with high temperatures, they let out gases.

Inadequate Shielding Gas

Certain welding processes use shielding gas to protect the weld pool from atmospheric gases, such as: 

  • Gas metal arc welding (GMAW)
  • Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW)

If insufficient shielding gas coverage or the gas flow is disrupted, atmospheric gases can enter the weld pool and lead to porosity.

Contaminated Filler Material or Electrode

The filler material or electrode used in welding may contain: 

  • Moisture
  • Oil
  • Other contaminants

When these materials are heated and melted, the pollutants can release gases. This causes porosity in the weld.

Improper Welding Parameters

Incorrect welding parameters can affect the fluidity and behavior of the weld pool, such as: 

This can prevent trapped gases from escaping, resulting in welding porosity.

Base Metal Composition

Some metals are more prone to welding porosity than others. For example, aluminum and magnesium are highly reactive metals that readily absorb gases. This makes them more susceptible to porosity if proper precautions are not taken.

Hydrogen Embrittlement

Hydrogen gas can cause a specific type of hydrogen porosity. It can enter the weld during welding due to: 

  • Moisture
  • Contaminants
  • Electrode coatings

When the hydrogen is stuck in the weld, it can lead to embrittlement and porosity formation.

To minimize porosity, following proper welding procedures and techniques is crucial. This includes: 

  • Using clean and adequately prepared base metals
  • Ensuring adequate shielding gas coverage
  • Using dry and uncontaminated filler materials
  • Optimizing welding parameters for the specific application

Techniques that reduce the risk of porosity formation include:

Porosity in welding can affect the integrity of the weld and compromise its mechanical properties.

How Porosity can Impact Weld Integrity

Reduced Strength

The presence of voids or porosity within the weld reduces the effective cross-sectional area of the weld. This weakens its overall strength. The voids act as stress concentration points and can: 

  • Initiate cracks or propagate existing ones
  • Reducing load-bearing capacity and structural integrity

Increased Susceptibility to Cracking

Porosity can be stress risers or crack initiation points. The presence of voids creates areas of localized stress concentration. This makes the weld more susceptible to cracking under applied loads or environmental stresses. Cracks can propagate through the porosity, leading to further deterioration of the joint.

Decreased Fatigue Resistance

Porosity acts as internal defects within the weld. It promotes stress concentration and reduces the fatigue resistance of the joint. The existence of empty spaces forms an area where stress gathers. This speeds up the growth of cracks and shortens the lifespan of the weld due to fatigue.

Impaired Corrosion Resistance

Porosity within the weld can form interconnected pathways for corrosive substances to enter and penetrate the weld joint. This can cause corrosion to start and spread faster along these pathways. This leads to either local or widespread damage. This could potentially weaken the structure’s strength.

Reduced Weld Ductility

Porosity can decrease the ductility of the weld, making it more susceptible to brittle fracture. The presence of voids can act as stress concentrators. This reduces the ability of the weld to absorb energy and deform before failure.

Leakage and Infiltration

In situations where welds need to prevent leaks or act as barriers, porosity can weaken the weld’s reliability. This is because it forms paths that fluid or gases can escape through. Porosity lowers the weld’s effective sealing capability. This might result in problems during operation or raise safety issues.

Remember that the severity and impact of porosity affect the weld’s strength. This depends on things like the voids’ size, how many there are, and where they’re located. It relies on how the structure will be used. Welding standards are quality rules that usually give directions for acceptable porosity levels. These vary based on the application, aiming to keep the weld strong as needed. 

Several measures can be taken to minimize the occurrence of voids or gas pockets within the weld to prevent weld porosity.

Standard Preventative Measures

Clean and Prepare Base Metal

Clean the base metal to remove contaminants such as: 

  • Oil
  • Grease
  • Dirt
  • Rust
  • Moisture 

Proper cleaning methods may include: 

  • Solvent cleaning
  • Wire brushing
  • Grinding
  • Using specific cleaning agents based on the type of metal

Proper Storage of Filler Material and Electrodes

Ensure that filler materials and electrodes are stored in a dry environment. This will ensure they are protected from moisture or other contaminants. Follow manufacturer recommendations for storage conditions and use only clean and uncontaminated consumables.

Use Dry and Clean Shielding Gas

Ensure the shielding gas used in welding is dry and moisture-free. Moisture can introduce hydrogen into the weld, leading to hydrogen-induced porosity. Use proper gas cylinders, moisture traps, and filters to maintain clean and dry shielding gas.

Adequate Shielding and Gas Coverage

Select and set up the appropriate shielding method for welding. Ensure that the weld zone is shielded to prevent the ingress of atmospheric gases. Maintaining proper gas flow rates and coverage creates a protective atmosphere around the weld pool.

Control Welding Parameters

Optimize welding parameters such as: 

  • Heat input
  • Current
  • Voltage
  • Travel speed
  • Interpass temperature

This will help to suit the welding process and base metal being welded. Avoid excessive heat input or fast travel speeds that impede gas escape and result in porosity.

Proper Filler Material Selection

Choose the appropriate filler material for the specific base metal and welding process. Some filler materials release more gas during welding. Selecting suitable consumables can help minimize the risk of porosity.

Preheating and Post-Weld Heat Treatment

With certain materials, it’s useful to do a couple of things to lower the change of porosity. One is heating up the metal before welding, and the other is treating it with heat after welding. Preheating the metals helps by lowering their moisture and raising their temperature. Then, for the second step, the heat treatment helps by letting out any trapped gases.

Welding Technique and Skills

Ensure the welder is trained and proficient in the chosen welding process and technique. Minimize the likelihood of porosity formation by ensuring proper: 

  • Weld manipulation
  • Arc control
  • Travel speed

Inspection and Quality Control

To assess the quality and integrity of the welds implement the following:

This can help identify porosity or other defects early on. This allows for necessary corrective actions.

Following these preventive measures and adhering to industry, best practices can minimize weld porosity. This ensures high-quality and structurally sound welds.