What Are the Differences Between Welding, Soldering, and Brazing?

Aug 5, 2020

If you are in the process of learning about welding, a common question you may have is this – what are the differences between welding, soldering, and brazing? So in this guide, we’ll be taking a look at these different processes of metal joinery and we’ll discuss the details about each method to help eliminate confusion and boost your welding knowledge. Let’s get started.

Understanding The Basics Of Welding

Welding is a metal joinery method that involves heating up two metals until they melt, causing the metals to fuse permanently and become a single, strong piece of metal. Typically, welding offers the strongest overall joint strength compared to brazing and soldering. However, it’s usually only used for joining two identical metals, except in rare cases.

While there are many different types of welding, such as MIG, TIG, and arc welding, they all serve the same basic purpose – the machines used for welding create extremely high temperatures of more than 6,500 degrees Fahrenheit, which instantly melt metals like steel.

This creates a “weld pool,” which is the term for the molten metal that forms at the joint when welding. This weld pool must be carefully managed and shaped by a welder to ensure that it is as strong and durable as possible – because of this, welding requires a lot of skill and experience. It’s not something you can become good at overnight, particularly if you’re welding professionally.

Understanding The Basics Of Brazing

Brazing is completely different from welding. Both methods use molten metal to join components together – but that’s where the similarities end. Brazing does not directly heat up two metal pieces until they become joined. Instead, a “filler metal” is heated up, flows into the joint between the metal components, and attaches them together.

This process requires a much lower temperature compared to welding. Brazing is usually done at temperatures of between 1,150 to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, though the temperatures can be as low as 840 degrees Fahrenheit, in some cases. This means it is also less likely to warp or change the structure of the two metals it’s joining – which is particularly useful for thin metal surfaces like sheet metal and piping.

Brazing is typically used to join together dissimilar metals such as copper and steel. This is because dissimilar metals usually have a different melting point, which makes it difficult to weld them together. By using brazing and a filler metal instead, it’s easier to join these metals together and form a strong, durable joint.

Understanding The Basics Of Soldering

Soldering is similar to brazing. Both methods use a melted base metal to join two other distinct metals together to form a strong bond. However, soldering is usually done at a much lower temperature of around 300-500 Fahrenheit, while brazing is done at a minimum of 840 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because of this, soldering is often used for creating delicate joints – in the electronics industry, for example, it’s used to join wires and other fragile components. This is because the low temperature will not warp or damage the base components.

This has a caveat, though. The joints created by soldering are much weaker than those formed by brazing or by welding. They typically cannot handle as much shock and are not as strong, so soldering is rarely used for components that must be extremely durable.

For example, soldering is commonly used in household plumbing jobs – such as to seal and join two copper pipes. It offers a reasonably strong joint, and since the pipe is unlikely to be overly stressed or pressurized, soldering is fine for this purpose.

But in a commercial or industrial setting with a large, thick pipe, brazing will offer superior durability and longevity, particularly if the pipe must handle high pressure.

Know The Difference Between Welding, Soldering, And Brazing – And What’s Best For Your Job!

Welding offers excellent structural strength, but can usually only be used to join similar metals and may warp the metals, so it may not be ideal for all jobs. Brazing is not always as strong as welding, but is a good option for joining dissimilar metals, and can be used for jobs where precision is necessary and the heat from welding could warp or damage the components. And soldering is perfect for smaller-scale jobs and delicate mechanical or electronic components – but is not the best choice for components that will be subjected to shock, heavy pressure, or the elements.

Each type of metal joinery is used for different purposes – and there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution. So make sure you have a baseline knowledge of each one, and where it’s appropriate. If you are interested in learning more about welding, Vern Lewis Welding Supply offers training and classes to help you get started. Contact us today for more information.

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