Welding is an age-old process that involves joining two, or more, pieces of metal together. It employs the combination of high-temperature heat and pressure in order to join two parts into one. That way, both bigger and smaller objects can be welded to create an end-product.
The process of welding is useful when creating new things or fixing old ones. Most of the metalwork that we have today is created by some sort of a welding method. Since the majority of the world around us is made of some sort of metal, you can see how valuable welding actually is.
While welding, the parts that are joined together are combined with the help of filler metal, steel for example, and welding gas to prevent contamination and keep the weld clean.
The three most utilized welding methods include gas welding, arc welding, and laser welding.
The List of Different Types of Welding
Welding has advanced so much that there are now a dozen types of welding processes that welders use. Generally speaking, they can be divided into two categories – heating-based ones and pressure-based processes.
If we only take a look at the heating-based processes, there we will be able to find everything from very simple ones that involve the use of oxy-fuel and go all the way to the most advanced ones that use laser beam welding.
However, if we were to only mention the ones used in practical and commercial applications, four main processes jump out. These include MIG welding, TIG welding, Stick welding, and flux-core arc welding.
MIG welding, also known as Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), is a method that involves the use of a continuous electrode that goes through a welding gun and heats up to join the metal together.
This welding method creates an arc between the base material and the gun that heats up the material to its melting point. The created weld puddle allows different metals to join with one another. MIG is used for welding a wide array of metals such as stainless steel, magnesium, copper, carbon steel, aluminum, nickel, and silicon bronze.
The biggest advantage of MIG welding is that it is perhaps the easiest process to learn for a beginner welder. Also, it does not require so much weld clean up and lowers the input of heat to the weld area.
But there are certain disadvantages that come with MIG welding. Firstly, you have to have an external shielding gas for the electrode. This process is also going to require some additional equipment for it to work properly and the overall usage can be a bit costly.
Generally speaking, MIG welding is the best process to use in the automotive industry since it helps to create really firm welds. It is also versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes. Therefore, it comes highly effective in construction, the maritime industry, robotics, and branding.
TIG welding, or Tungsten Inert Gas Welding, is a process where a non-consumable tungsten electrode is used to heat up and melt the base metal. Tungsten has a very high melting point, which means that the electrode is not going to dissolve due to the high heat applied.
Since the need for filler metal is eliminated, the metal combination is achieved through the electrode arc. But if you want to enhance the mechanical properties of the weld you can add an external filler rod. Adding filler material depends on the type of project that you will be working on. Additionally, it does not create so many fumes.
The main advantage of TIG welding is that it allows you to work on very thin materials. Besides being able to do precision work, the process does not create a lot of spatter or metal deposits. It can help you produce clean and high-quality welds. At the same time, you are getting beautiful weld joints that are strong and highly effective.
The biggest disadvantage of TIG welding is that it can be quite difficult to learn. It is not for beginners and requires a very skilled operator for everything to work well. Also, the equipment used for TIG welding is costlier than most, so it does not pay off for part-time welders. It also requires the use of shielding gas and electrodes as well.
The TIG welding process is usually used in industries where one needs to work on nonferrous metals. So you might find it used in such industries as bicycle and vehicle manufacturing, tubing, maintenance, and repair.
Stick welding also goes by as shielded metal arc welding. This metal includes feeding the electrode to the welding point so the arc melts and that way joins the metal together. The welding electrode has a core wire that creates a high-temperature arc at the very tip of the electrode. The welder is supposed to bring the arc close to the work piece and pull it away while still maintaining distance to create high temperatures.
Stick welding is often utilized in construction, pipeline welding, repairing heavy-duty equipment, and metal casting.
The advantages of this method lie in it being the most cost-effective one and for its portability. Since you don’t have to use a shielding gas, this method can be utilized outside and is not affected by strong winds.
However, stick welding creates a lot of waste of filler metal. The welder also has to be quite skilled in working outdoors and in various kinds of unfavorable conditions. Mastering this craft takes a bit longer than other methods as well as the welding itself as it works a lot slower as opposed to other types of welding where work can be completed very fast.
Stick welding joints can be vulnerable to weather conditions and the final weld may not offer as high quality as other methods do. Nevertheless, it is a low-cost method and does not require a lot of investment.
Flux Core Arc Welding
Flux Core Arc Welding (FCAW) is considered as a subset of MIG welding. The technique involves using a fluxed-cored electrode as a filler wire for the weld. As far as the technique and its usage go, it is almost the same as MIG welding with the main difference being the use of a flux-core filler wire.
The main usages of flux core arc welding are for bridge construction, structural steel erection, and heavy equipment repair. The process has a high deposition rate and is simple to use, making it productive and economical at the same time.
One of the main advantages of this type of welding process is that you don’t require to clean the surface that you are about to weld so much. In fact, it works well even on rusty and dirty metals. It also allows welders to work outdoors or in certain kinds of conditions. Similar to MIG welding, it does not require so much skill to master.
Due to its high deposition rate and the ability to join thicker pieces of metal, the use of flux core welding is only going to expand even further.
What differentiates the many welding processes used today is the energy source used. Forge welding was the main process until the 19th century, after which other more modern methods came to prominence with arc welding being one of the main ones.
Energy sources for some modern methods include a gas flame, laser, electric arc, friction, electron beam, and even ultrasound.
However, with more advanced methods comes greater danger. Care has to be taken when using them as they can cause burns, electric shock, and exposure to radiation.
Benefits of Welding
Welding is not the only modern method that involves joining two pieces or different types of materials together. But compared to other methods, it has a number of advantages that make it superior.
For instance, the process of welding helps in creating a more durable bond and a flawless seam. It also possesses a superior melting point and offers an efficient and versatile system.
All in all, the given benefits make welding a perfect joining method for the automotive, construction, and industrial industries.
The Tools of the Trade
As with any trade, welding requires proper equipment and a place where you can do it. However, most of the tools needed depend on the project and the type of process you are using. Different methods will require different types of equipment.
Additionally, the type of metal and the weld you are trying to achieve will also determine the tools you are going to use. The most basic tool you will need is of course a welder. Depending on the method you use, you might need electrodes and a canister with the desired shielding gas. Safety is the number one concern when it comes to welding so a proper helmet and protective gear is something to consider greatly.
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