Those unfamiliar with welding might believe that there’s simply one method for completing any welding project, but veterans in the industry know that assumption is sorely misguided. In reality, there are many different welding processes, each of which has its own unique steps and applications.
To shed some light on the many welding processes, we’ve compiled a quick list of the most common types with details about the procedures and the uses.
Different Types of Welding
Though there are many different processes under the welding umbrella, we will focus on some of the most commonly used in the modern industry, outlining their unique benefits, as well as their drawbacks.
A simple method commonly utilized by new welders, MIG stands for metal inert gas. Basically, during MIG welding a filler metal (created by consumable wire acting as an electrode) is fed through a wand while gas is simultaneously expelled to protect the metal from outside elements.
Since the wire used to create the filler metal is fed from a spool, MIG welds are smooth and consistent, but allow the welder to work at their preferred speed, which is why this process is a favorite of those professionals who are just starting out. The use of gas to protect from the elements obviously means that MIG welding isn’t ideal for outdoor applications, but beyond that caveat this type of welding is incredibly versatile, and can be used to join everything from carbon steel and aluminum to copper and silicon bronze.
Far different from the process mentioned above, TIG welding does not utilize any consumable, and the electrode is made of tungsten. Another unique aspect of TIG welding is the fact that it does not require a filler metal (although one can be fed by hand), so it allows for the two metals to be joined directly, creating a seamless finished product.
Similar to MIG welding, TIG welding requires a continuous flow of gas to protect the electrode from the elements, meaning that it’s also a process more appropriate for indoor applications. Because this process produces clean welds with no spatter, it’s a perfect option for welding things like bike frames and fenders that are highly visible; it can be used for a range of different metals as well. One important note is that TIG welding can be difficult, so it’s a method best utilized by experienced welders.
A classic type of welding that dates back to the 1930s, the aptly-named STICK welding method has been updated consistently since it was created, but it still uses an electrode filler metal “stick.” This process does not require gas; instead, the arc connects the stick to the base metal, which in turn melts the stick and creates the weld. STICK welding is quick and rather easy to learn (making it another ideal beginner method), but it often results in a fair amount of splatter.
An incredibly versatile welding process, the only types of metals STICK welding isn’t ideal for are thin metals; beyond that, this method can be used indoors or outdoors, on virtually any base metal. Often, STICK welding is a popular choice for rusty or painted surfaces, like equipment repairs.
Flux-Cored Arc Welding
Flux-Cored Arc welding (FCAW) is so similar to MIG welding that welders who have mastered one of these methods should have no problem picking up the other. In FCAW, the electrode (a wire of filler metal) is fed through the wand; this wire has a core of flux which generates its own gas shield, thus eliminating the need for gas from an outside source.
Because FCAW is such a high-heat method, it’s generally better for welding thicker metals, such as during heavy equipment repairs. Since there is no external gas supply, FCAW can be utilized indoors or outdoors and it’s relatively low-cost compared to some other welding methods, though there will be some clean up required more often than not to create a perfectly neat weld.
New welders often find themselves overwhelmed by just how much information they need to digest in order to hone their craft. Although there are many different welding processes used in the industry today, a bit of research and education goes a long way toward making them more digestible, and high-quality equipment makes any process simpler and more effective. For help selecting the best products, regardless of which type of welding you choose to utilize, contact Vern Lewis Welding Supply today.