Welding is probably one of the most empowering creative fabrication techniques ever developed. The heat, the sparks, the process of manipulating some of the hardest materials—it’s no wonder that interest in it remains undying despite more than a century of practice.
Because of the many projects with which you can practice welding, you will find many choices when it comes to the method you opt to follow.
Four Types of Welding
Welding was invented way back in 1881. Since then, this practice has grown in popularity, and four different types have been developed.
1. Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) or MIG Welding
Also known as Metal Inert Gas welding, this technique makes use of a consumable wire that doubles as your electrode and filler. It also utilizes an inert gas supply to heat up and melt the components to join them together. MIG Welding Experts offers detailed summaries of MIG welding machines and how to use them. MIG welding is the most commonly practiced method of the four. After all, it is the easiest to learn, has high electrode efficiency, and minimal clean-up involved. It’s a favorite among DIY enthusiasts, too. Be that as it may, it’s not perfect. This technique only allows a limited number of welding positions, and it can’t weld thick materials. A quality MIG welder also requires quite an investment.
2. Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) aka TIG Welding
Gas Tungsten Arc welding or Tungsten Inert Gas welding involves the use of a non-consumable tungsten electrode to heat the welding materials. You can use it with or without filler, but like MIG welding, it requires an inert gas supply to help bring up the heat. TIG welding is not as commonly practiced by DIY welders as MIG welding. Still, it doesn’t mean that it is less popular. Instead, it’s because this method involves a more complicated technique that can take time and ample training to master. Also, TIG welding is a slower process that can be quite resource-consuming. With ample expertise, it does produce higher quality results. The finished product is typically more durable and aesthetically satisfying. TIG welding can also handle tougher materials. It is more commonly used for stainless steel and can also accommodate magnesium, aluminum, and other metals.
3. Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)
Also referred to as stick welding, SMAW uses an electric current to form the arc needed to weld materials together. It produces an average heat of 6,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, it is suitable for bigger projects that require more durable results, such as heavy equipment repair and construction. Shielded metal arc welding is a popular choice for industrial-level welders, especially due to the machine’s portability and low cost. It also doesn’t require any shielding gas, unlike the other welding methods. This means you can safely use it outdoors with no issue regardless of the weather conditions. You can also use this welding technique on corroded materials where other types of welding might fail to yield decent results. There are a few disadvantages to this type of welding. First, it requires quite some time to master. You also can’t use it to weld thin materials. Lastly, the process required can be painfully slow, especially for those used to quick welding techniques.
4. Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
The fourth and final method is closely similar to MIG welding. The fundamental elements are the same, where it uses a consumable electrode to help generate the heat needed. However, instead of using a solid wire, this technique utilizes a tube-shaped wire with flux instead. Flux Cored Arc welding can further be divided into two subtypes depending on the wire used and whether they require an external shielding gas. The first type, where you use social good wires, doesn’t require an external shielding gas and can therefore be used outdoors, even during windy days. On the other hand, the other subtype, referred to as dual shield welding, needs external shielding gas. This allows the generation of enough heat to weld structural steel. In fact, this is one of the reasons this method was developed in the first place. Like with the other techniques we discussed, it also has its downsides. For instance, it generates more smoke compared to other welding methods. This makes it more difficult to make an accurate weld due to lack of visibility.
Which Is the Best Welding Technique?
There are four types of welding: Gas Metal Arc Welding (or Metal Inert Gas Welding), Gas Tungsten Arc Gas Welding (or Tungsten Inert Gas Welding), Shielded Metal Arc Welding, and Flux Cored Arc Welding. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Honestly speaking, there is no better method than the other. It will simply boil down to the welding techniques you choose to master, the specific requirements of your projects and materials, and the gear that’s most accessible to you.