In recent years, the demand for welding jobs has increased, making it a lucrative career. DIY channels and pages have also popularized it, making it attractive and empowering. No matter where you fall, learning the right welding techniques will help you become a master welder. This takes time and requires you to follow the safety guidelines, especially for beginners.
Welding has countless uses Knowing the equipment and materials used in welding is the first step in understanding the processes. Welding refers to the joining of two metals using heat and a filler. This is done using a welding machine. You also need the necessary protective gear to weld in a safe environment.
Main Welding Processes
There are over 70 different welding techniques. However, the most popular welding processes fall under arc welding, which uses an electric arc to produce heat to melt and join metal pieces.
So, whether you are looking to learn car battery welding, have personal DIY projects, or are hoping to learn more about welding, below are the main welding processes you are bound to come across.
Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) or Metal Inter Gas (MIG) Welding
MIG welding is another easy process for beginners. Like with TIG welding, it produces a clean weld. This process works by creating an arc using an electrode, causing two pieces of metal to melt and create a weld.
Like TIG, this process also uses a shielding gas to protect the metal from oxidation or contamination, producing a clean weld. The gases used in this process are pure Argon, carbon dioxide, or an Argon carbon dioxide mix.
MIG welding is used in:
- Industrial sheet metal welding
- Pipe welding
- Automotive industry
- Deep groove welding
- Home improvements
Unfortunately, the welding equipment used in this process can be expensive. The equipment can also be bulky, making it less portable. It is less ideal for thin sheets of metal as it can easily cause burn-through.
Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) or Tungsten Inter Gas (TIG) Welding
TIG weld is the hardest welding technique and is usually used by professional welders. This process makes provisions for better control over the arc and hold. It works by using a tungsten electrode and an arc to heat up a metal and form a joint. A shielding gas (either Argon or an Argon Helium mixture) is used on the weld to protect it from atmospheric contamination.
This process produces the best welds and is used when working with thick stainless steel or non-ferrous metals. It can be used in manual, robotic, and mechanical welding. TIG welding is commonly used in:
- Pipeline and pipe welding
- Sheet metal industries
- Aviation and aerospace industries
Because the process does not use any flux, there is no slag to clean up when you’re done. In addition, no toxic fumes or sparks are produced, making it a less hazardous process.
The main disadvantages of TIG are the fact that it is time-consuming and takes a while to master.
Shield Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) or Stick Welding
Stick welding is one of the most common welding processes. This process has been around for a long time and is the best place to start for beginners because it is a very easy-to-learn process. The equipment used in this process is also cheaper than the one used in other welding processes.
With stick welding, an electric current is passed through a metal and an electrode, also known as the stick. As the electrode melts, it fuses with the metal forming a joint. It works with stainless steel, alloyed steel, carbon steel, cast iron, ductile iron, nickel, and copper.
Stick welding is used in various applications, including:
- Steel fabrication
- Structural welding
One of the disadvantages of this process is the production of splatter and slag. This can make the process messy, and the weld may not be of the best quality when compared to the TIG weld.
Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
FCAW is an automatic or semi-automatic process also known as dual shield welding. A tubular flux-cored electrode and electric arc are used to form a weld. This process was developed due to the limitations caused by stick welding.
It can be used with or without shielding gas. When a shielding gas is used, argon or a blend of argon and carbon dioxide is used. FCAW is best used on thick materials and ferrous metals like stainless steel, cast iron, carbon steel, and hard-facing or surfacing alloys. It can also be used outdoors.
This welding process is commonly used in construction and also produces cleaner and high-quality welds.
A major disadvantage of FCAW is the toxic fumes produced when the flux is heated.
Other Welding Processes
There are other welding processes that do not use the arc welding method. These include:
- Linear friction welding
- Electron beam welding
- Laser beam welding
- Gas welding
- Atomic Hydrogen welding
- Electroslag welding
Welding is a critical and widely used joining process, and many of these processes produce a weld. Finding the right process depends on the desired result.