Welding is a procedure that involves merging different materials including thermoplastics and metals to seamlessly unite them. It uses heat and pressure to these materials, along with a filler substance to generate a weld pool that cools to form a strong joint.
The process has dramatically evolved over the years with the help of technology, and it is essential to understand the different techniques used. After all, how can you make an educated decision to pick the right welding procedure for the job? There are a few types of welding techniques, and the most popular ones are the following:
This method is formally known as Gas Metal Arc Welding or GMAW, but many welders call it MIG, which stands for “metal inert gas.” It is the most widely used and is often considered the easiest to learn and master, particularly for home and industry use. GMAW is suitable for:
- joining mild steel,
- aluminum and
- stainless steel.
Originally, this method was used to weld aluminum and other non-ferrous metals. Eventually, it evolved and was later used on steel as well.
It is quick and easy, especially if you compare it to the other types of welding. It is why many homeowners know how to do this type of welding procedure.
MIG welding is popular because it is speedy and it can weld different metals, including the thicker ones. Perhaps the most significant benefit is that it can be automated so human work can be removed altogether.
It is common now to find robotic MIG welders in an automobile factory. The machines utilize a system with a wire feed, and these robots can carry a tremendous amount of filler wire or rod.
In this type of welding, the external shielding gas is required, which is quite expensive. Plus, there are other pieces of equipment needed that can be costly. There are also only a few limited positions on how you can weld the materials because you cannot use the technique overhead or vertically.
It is also imperative that you only weld materials that are free from rust and dirt.
TIG – Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)
Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) is also known as Gas Tungsten or GTAW. Welders call it heliarc welding as well, and this technique is considered one of the harder ones to learn. It is a welding procedure that utilizes a tungsten electrode.
It is indeed challenging to master mainly because it uses both hands to perform the whole process.
One hand is for holding the TIG torch that has the tungsten electrode. This electrode is utilized to give an arc and heat to the material.
Meanwhile, the other hand is for feeding the rod. TIG welding is also more expensive, and for some welders, it is difficult to set up because it requires a remote amperage foot pedal.
What Is It Used For?
This method is often referred to as precision or micro welding and has been specifically designed to weld small and delicate components. The entire process, along with precise heat and energy, is tightly controlled. See our highest rated Tig welders recommendations [ Read Our Full Guide]
The process is set up by depositing small blobs of weld to the materials that should be fused. Frequently, the welding bead does not exceed 0.065 and can even be as fine as 0.005.
It is for welding small areas, and it demands the surrounding area to be as minimally affected by heat as possible. Therefore, it requires precise heating; otherwise, it will not properly fuse.
Also, note that this technique requires the use of a gas cylinder that contains argon. If not, any argon mixture is acceptable to weld the components.
Of all the techniques in welding, this method is thought to be the most versatile, even though it is difficult to master. When learned, it can be used on almost all conventional metals, which is why it is a technique that is worth understanding.
Arc – Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)
For many welders, this method is generally known as stick welding while others call it Shielded Metal Arc Welding or SMAW. It is a process that also uses an electrode that carries an electric current.
The electrode has a core wire with a coded influx, and there is an electric arc created when the edge of the electrode workpiece is withdrawn to generate temperatures close to 6500F.
The process protects the molten metal from oxides and nitrates from the surroundings, which means that it is a suitable technique for pipeline welding. It is also used for repairing heavy equipment, erecting steel, and construction.
Among the advantages of this type of welding is that it does not require expensive equipment. It is also portable and does not require a shielding gas, unlike MIG and TIG techniques.
This way, you can use this method outside even when it is raining or windy. If your materials are dirty and rusty metals, it should not be a problem as well. This technique is suitable for projects where you cannot use the other two mentioned types of welding.
However, this form of welding is not quite perfect. It has a few downsides, too just like the other methods.
One drawback is that it is not as efficient as the other procedures of welding. It produces tons of waste if you choose to weld your materials this way. Plus, it is necessary that the operator is skilled.
It may be useful for many projects, but many welders consider this type as the hardest one to learn. It can take you longer to train for this method compared to the other techniques.
Stick welding is also not advised to use on thin materials because it can be quite tricky. For some welders, this method is considered obsolete, especially when compared to the anti-aging techniques used in MIG welding.
Primarily, it is a manual welding process, but it can still be necessary in case of the needed position, skill, and type of material to work on.
Learning these three main types of welding can save you a lot of time in determining which method to use for an individual project. They can also help in discovering more techniques, including those specialized welding methods if ever you may need them for your next task.