The welding process is pretty basic when you break it down. You heat and melt metal together to join things together. But there are four standard methods of welding and the one you use may change depending on the material, welding environment, and your skill level. We decided to simply break down the five types of welding and why you might choose one over the other.
- Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW/MIG)- This type of welding is most commonly called MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding and is probably the most common type of welding done by a home hobbyist. This machine feeds welding wire through a welding gun/nozzle and short circuits on the weld surface to create an arc. With a MIG welder you’re balancing the wire speed and the welding voltage or amperage to create a smooth harmony of wire feeding and the rate at which it is melting. MIG welding is most commonly use indoors and works well for 18 gauge steel, stainless, or aluminum and up.
- Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)- This type of welding is most commonly called Stick Welding. It is probably one of the simplest to use and requires no shielding gas to use. Stick welding requires the welder to manually feed the welding rod into the weld seam as they travel across the panel. The current is actually fed through the welding rod and completes the circuit as it touches the metal that has the welders ground cable attached to it. This method is good for welding in areas where you need to do heavier fabrication, welding outside where shielding gas would be blown away, or want the simplest way to do electric welding. This type of welding isn’t ideal for automotive work as it is a bit messier and requires more clean up before paint.
- Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)- This method of welding is often incorrectly grouped in with MIG welding but is a different process technically. Both methods are an auto-fed wire welding process but flux core welding doesn’t require any shielding gas as wire has a flux built into it that shields the wire when welding. This process is more similar to Arc welding in that sense but it auto-feeds the wire off a spool. This method is messier than MIG welding but can do structural welding on heavier materials and is really suited only for ferrous metals.
- Gas Tungsten Arc Gas Welding (GTAW/TIG)- This type of welding is commonly caused TIG welding and is the cleanest type of welding but requires the most skill to master. With this type of welding you’re using a torch head with a tungsten attached to it that creates the electric arc to the metal. The torch also feeds shielding gas out of a nozzle around the tungsten and shields the arc. Once a puddle is formed a filler rod is introduced manually by the welder. This leaves a lot of flexibility for specialized and intricate welding but takes the most time to master. TIG welders can weld any material that can be welded when the correct process is followed.
- Gas Welding (GW)- This process of welding is the oldest and most basic. With this method a torch is used to melt the base metal and filler rod is introduced manually by the welder. Most commonly a mix of Oxygen and Acetylene is used. The welder controls the flow of each bottle of gas at the torch head and many different types of welding can be done from thin sheet metal to heavy fabrication by changing the torch head and the flow rates and mixtures of the welding gas. This method requires no electricity but does use more gas than other methods and can take some time to master. Gas welding works well for working remotely where there’s no electricity or outside where shielding gas would be blown away.
No matter which type of welding you choose make sure you choose a quality welder that will last you and you can grow into. We offer a full line of welders to cover all of the methods covered above on our site HERE.