What are the different types of welding?
Man has been sticking pieces of metal together using forms of welding for thousands of years. But since the 19th century, many different techniques have been developed that each has its own advantages and disadvantages over its competitors.
Welding is a time-tested fabrication process or sculpting process of materials, usually metal, using high temperatures to melt and fuse parts together. It should be noted that, however, pressure can also be used to aid the process or be used exclusively to produce a weld.
It is usually distinguished from lower temperature metal fusing techniques like brazing, or soldering, which do not usually melt the base metal.
Welding usually also involves the use of something called a filler material. This, as the name suggests, is used to provide a "filler" or pool of molten material that helps facilitate the formation of a strong link between the base metal parts.
While certain types of welding produce clean beads that are visually appealing and require little to no cleanup, other types produce the exact opposite. What type of metal do you plan on welding? It makes a difference. To help simplify the subject, we've compiled important information regarding nine different types of welding processes.
TIG Welding - Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)
TIG welding also goes by the names of Heliarc and gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW). With this type of welding, the electrode is non-consumable and made of tungsten. It is one of the few types of welding that can be done with no filler metal, using only the two metals being welded together. You can add a filler metal if you desire, but you will have to feed it by hand. A gas tank is necessary with TIG welding to provide the constant flow of gas needed to protect the weld. This means it's generally better performed indoors and away from the elements.
TIG welding is a precise form of welding that creates visually appealing welds and doesn't require cleanup, as there is no spatter. Due to these traits, it is a difficult type of welding that is best reserved for experienced welders.
Welding together thick sections of stainless steel or non-ferrous metals is the most common use for this method. It is also an arc-welding process that uses a tungsten electrode to produce the weld. This process is much more time consuming than the other three and much more complex.
This is one of the most difficult types of welding, and also the most time-consuming because it requires a lot of focus and skill mostly because of the small area between the art of the flame in the material you intend to weld. For this method, small strips of metal are welded with this process in order to obtain an extremely strong weld that is bound to last for years. This welding method was released in 1941, and it has changed very little since. It is still used by manufacturers of bicycles and aircraft, both military and commercial.
Submerged Arc Welding (SAW)
Used mostly on ferrous steel and nickel-based alloys, Submerged Arc Welding is a rather common Arc welding technique due to its minimal emissions of welding fumes and arc lights, making it safer than most welding processes. SAW results in deep weld penetration, and involves minimal preparation, making it a quick and efficient form of welding.
Patented in 1935 by Jones, Kennedy, and Rothermund, Submerged Arc Welding involves welding beneath a blanket of granular fusible flux consisting of silica, calcium fluoride, lime, manganese oxide, and other compounds. As heat builds up, the flux becomes conductive and provides a path between the electrode and the welding material. Since the whole process takes place beneath the flux, the welder is protected from ultraviolet and infrared radiation that is a natural part of the SMAW process.
Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
This type of welding is similar to MIG welding. In fact, MIG welders can often perform double duty as an FCAW welder as well. Just like in MIG welding, a wire that serves as the electrode and the filler metal is fed through your wand. This is where things begin to differ. For FCAW, the wire has a core of flux that creates a gas shield around the weld. This eliminates the need for external gas supply.
FCAW is better suited for thicker, heavier metals since it is a high-heat welding method. It's often used for heavy equipment repairs for this reason. It is an efficient process that doesn't create much waste. Since there's no need for external gas, it's also low cost. There will be a bit of slag left over, though, and it will need a bit of cleanup to make a finished weld.
This was developed as an alternative to shield welding. The semi-automatic arc weld is often used in construction projects, thanks to its high welding speed and portability.
This technique is rather similar to the MIG welding method, as it also requires an uninterruptedly fed electrode, but instead of a solid wire, it needs a tube-shaped wire full with flux. You can choose from two types of the flux core wire, which are socially and will shield wires. Social good wires are a good solution for outdoor use, as they work even in windy situations. In the other hand, double shields use an external shielding gas and the flux in order to guard the modern weld puddle.
The main advantages of this technique include the higher electrode efficiency that creates less waste than other types of welding methods, as well as the lower hit inputs. With the flux-cored arc welding, there is no need for external shielding gas, and you get reduced welding fumes regardless of the metal used for welding. This is also a rather clean type of welding, as you don't have to deal with lots of debris.
When it comes to the disadvantages of this welding method, some of the most common of them include the generation of a lot of smoke and the high cost of the equipment. This welding method is not recommended for thin materials and may create slag.
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The flux-cored arc welding technique is very easy to learn, and there are many professionals who prefer it because it is extremely inexpensive. Even though there are several limitations when it comes to the application of the technique and the results may not be as aesthetically pleasing as those obtained with other types of whaling methods, this matter remains popular because of its ease of use.
Stick (Shielded-Metal Arc Welding)
This process of welding started in the 1930s but continues to be updated and improved today. It has remained a popular form of welding because it is simple and easy to learn, as well as low cost to operate. However, it doesn't create the neatest welds, since it splatters easily. Cleanup is usually necessary.
A replaceable electrode "stick" also serves the role of filler metal. An arc is created that connects from the end of the stick to the base metals, melting the electrode into filler metal and creating the weld. The stick is coated in flux that creates a gas cloud when heated up and protects the metal from oxidation. As it cools, the gas settles on the metal and becomes slag.
Since it doesn't require gas, this process can be used outdoors, even in adverse weather such as rain and wind. It also works well on rusted, painted, and dirty surfaces, making it great for equipment repairs. Different types of electrodes are available and easy to swap, making it simple to weld metals of many different kinds, though it's not great for thin metals. Stick welding is a highly skilled process with a long learning curve.
With this particular type of welding, the welder follows a manual process of stick welding. The stick uses an electric current to form an arc between the stick and the metals to be joined. This is often used in the construction of steel structures and in industrial fabrication to weld iron and steel.
Although mostly considered archaic nowadays, especially when compared to the TIG and MIG, shielded metal arc welding, or stick welding, is a manual welding technique that relies on a consumable electrode coated in flux that is then used to lay the weld. This process is called stick welding because it uses welding sticks or rods that are made up of filler material and flux, the flux is used to protect the molten metal of the weld, and the filler is then used to join two pieces of metal together.
Stick welding offers a very low-cost welding solution that requires minimal equipment. However, the quality of the final weld is not always the best as it can suffer from porosity, shallow penetration, cracking, and it is highly vulnerable to severe weather and is generally less durable. Despite the fact that stick welding is a very old technique, it is still quite popular, especially in third world countries where expensive or new equipment is usually not widely available. Some of the fields that still rely on stick welding include refrigeration, plumbing, automotive and construction.
MIG welding is a simple form of welding that can easily be performed by new welders. MIG stands for inert metal gas, though it is sometimes called gas metal arc welding (GMAW). It is a quick process that involves the filler metal being fed through the wand, while gas is expelled around it to shield it from outside elements. This means it's not great for outdoor use. Still, it's a versatile process and can be used to weld many different types of metal at different thicknesses.
The filler metal is a consumable wire fed from a spool, and it acts as the electrode as well. When the arc is created from the tip of the wire to the base metal, the wire melts, becoming filler metal and creating the weld. The wire is continuously fed through the wand, allowing you to dial in your preferred speed. Done correctly, MIG welding produces a smooth and tight weld that is visually appealing.
This style of welding is also referred to as Metal Inert Gas (MIG). It uses a shielding gas along the wire electrode, which heats up the two metals to be joined. This method requires a constant voltage and direct-current power source and is the most common industrial welding process. It has four primary methods of metal transfer: globular, short-circuiting, spray and pulsed-spray.
MIG welding is the second most popular welding technique used today. MIG stands for Metal Inert Gas Welding, and it boils down to the concept of combining two pieces of metal together with a wire that is connected to an electrode current. The wire then passes through the welding stick, which is shielded by an inert gas.
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Some of the advantages that MIG welding offers over the other welding techniques include ease of use and the lower degree of precision that is required by the operator in order to obtain decent welds. However, MIG welding usually ends up being a bit more sensitive to external factors like wind, rain and dust and generally more settings like voltage and wire speed need to be finely tuned by the operator. The two most common quality problems associated with Metal Inert Gas Welding are dross and porosity. If these are not taken care of properly, welds might end up being structurally weaker than their TIG counterparts.
MIG ends up being much easier to master for operators as it is quite simple because the electrode is being automatically fed through the torch. Unlike TIG welding where both hands are used, in MIG, the operator guides the welding gun across the area being welded.
MIG welding is most commonly used in automotive repair as it is capable of providing a strong, sturdy weld that when done correctly is able to withstand large forces, providing the level of versatility and strength that is needed for such applications. MIG welding is also commonly used in plumbing, construction, robotics and the maritime industry and is generally considered an improvement over the more archaic techniques.
Laser Beam Welding
This type of welding can be used on metals or thermoplastics. As the name implies, it involves the use of a laser as a heat source to create the welds. It can be used on carbon steels, stainless steel, HSLA steels, titanium, and aluminium. It is easily automated with robotics and is therefore used often in manufacturing, such as in the automotive industry.
This is a type of welding where a high-velocity beam of electrons creates heat through kinetic energy, welding two materials together. This is a highly sophisticated form of welding that is performed by a machine, generally in a vacuum.
This type of welding involves firing a ray of high-velocity electrons at the materials that require welding. This technique transforms energy from the electrons into sheets in order to melt the welding materials, which can then merge and fuse together. This type of welding is used in multiple industries, with applications ranging from fully-automated automotive inline part production to high-cost aircraft engine industry. Some examples of products that are created with electron beam welding include aerospace components, transmission assemblies, and bimetal saw blades.
Because this is a vacuum-based process electron beam welding is a perfect choice for sealing of electrical components and pre-evacuated housings. This technique allows the joining of dissimilar metals, such as those with different thermal conductivities and melting points, something that is generally difficult to achieve with other welding methods. This is also a good technique for those who want to weld a thick material to thin material.
Plasma Arc Welding
Plasma arc welding is similar to GTAW, but it uses a smaller arc, increasing the precision of the weld. It also uses a different torch, achieving much higher temperatures. Gas is pressurized inside the wand, creating plasma. The plasma is then ionized, making it electrically conductive. This allows the arc to be created, producing incredibly high temperatures that can melt the base metals. This allows plasma arc welding to be performed with no filler metal, another similarity to TIG welding.
This type of welding allows deep weld penetration with narrow welds, producing aesthetically pleasing welds, as well as a high level of strength. On top of this, high welding speeds are also possible.
A process that is similar to that of the gas tungsten arc welding, the plasma arc welding was initially developed in 1954, and it uses an electrical current that is passed through a very small nozzle that goes through the protective gases in order to enable extreme accuracy when it comes to welding small areas. This method is a suitable one to use when it comes to heating metal very extreme temperatures which result in deeper and stronger welds. This welding method is often used in the aircraft manufacturing industry, and it is very rare for it to be useful for DIY and enthusiast welders.
Atomic Hydrogen Welding
Atomic hydrogen welding is an extremely high-heat form of welding that used to be known as arc-atom welding. This type of welding involves using hydrogen gas to shield two electrodes made of tungsten. It can reach temperatures above those of an acetylene torch and can be performed with or without filler metal. This is an older form of welding that has been replaced by MIG welding in recent years.
The gas metal arc welding methods have largely replaced this welding technique, but it is still in use for specific purposes such as welding tungsten. This material is highly resistant to heat, and by using this technique, you can weld it in a way that does not damage the metal while still creating a cohesive, strong weld. As in all welding jobs, it is extremely important to wear welder gloves for protection and safety.
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Irving Langmuir invented the method after he discovered atomic hydrogen. It involves the placement of two metal tungsten electrodes in a hydrogen atmosphere in order to break up the hydrogen in the molecules and combine them in an explosion of heat that can go up to 3000 degrees Celsius.
This is an advanced process of welding that is used to join the thin edge of two metal plates together vertically. Instead of the weld being applied to the outside of a joint, it will take place in between the edges of the two plates. A copper electrode wire is fed through a consumable metal guide tube that will act as filler metal. When electricity is introduced, the arc is created, and a weld begins at the bottom of the seam and is slowly moved up, creating the weld in place of the seam as it goes. This is an automated process and performed by the machine.
Gas or Oxy-Acetylene Welding And Cutting
They are not used as widely for general welding of mild steel—consists of mixing oxygen and acetylene gas to create a flame capable of melting steels. They are mostly used today for maintenance work and gas metal cutting. Also standard for brazing softer metals such as copper and bronze.
This method is also used for welding delicate aluminium parts such as refrigeration pipes.
Gas Cutting equipment for metal construction and maintenance. The most accessible of thermal cutting gear is by oxy-acetylene gas cutting and plasma cutting machines. Other methods include the use of a thermal cutting electrode for use with the arc welder machine.
Professional steel fabricators at Northern Weldarc are well-trained to construct structural steel for various projects across industries. Structural steel can be transformed for various purposes, and it can be utilized for a number of applications too. We at Northern Weldarc make use of high-tech equipment to produce steel and fabricate it for different utilities.
Hopefully, you now have a basic understanding of the different types of welding. Some types are performed by a machine and require expensive specialty equipment. A hobbyist can perform others at home without breaking the bank. If you're looking to purchase a welder, be sure to check out one of our guides comparing the best welders for home use.