Welding 101: Four Different Types Of Welding
Look around the room you’re sitting now and consider this interesting little tidbit: most of the objects you see were either welded themselves or assembled on machines that were welded together.
Your appliances? Welded. Your computer? Welded. Your clothes? Build on welded sewing machines or assembly equipment (if your clothes are handmade, the pins and thimbles were produced on machines that were welded together).
The point here, of course, is that welding touches every aspect of our lives – and there are many ways to go about it. Each of these welding methods is matched to a specific range of materials, produces a certain type of seam, and requires its own tools, equipment and techniques.
Four Ways To Weld
Here are four of the most common types of welding used today:
- SMAW (shielded metal arc welding) – Sometimes called “stick” welding, SMAW is a type of arc welding commonly used in construction, steel fabrication, and pipeline work, and for repairing heavy equipment. SMAW works by passing an electric current between an electrode (the welding rod) and the substrate (the metal you are welding). In this method, the electrode itself melts to create the weld; as it does, flux within the electrode prevents weld-weakening oxidation.
- GMAW (gas metal arc welding) – Also called MIG (Metal Inert Gas) Welding, this welding process also uses a consumable electrode. With GMAW, however, the electrode is a solid wire that feeds through a gun, and inert gas (usually carbon dioxide or a carbon dioxide and argon mix) replaces flux as a purifier. MIG welding is easy to learn and can be used on a wide range of metals and gauges.
- FCAW: (flux cored arc welding) – FCAW combines the speed and ease of MIG welding with the efficiency of stick welding. Like MIG welding, it uses fed wire as a consumable electrode; however, the wire has a flux core, just like the electrodes used in stick welding, eliminating the need for inert gas. There are many different kinds of electrodes available for this kind of welding, so be sure to have the right one for your project!
- GTAW (gas tungsten arc welding) – Also called TIG welding, heliarc welding or gas tungsten arc welding, GTAW uses an external rod rather than an electrode to create the molten metal needed to forge the weld. TIG welding is known for its strong, high-quality, clean, and attractive welds, but it requires a higher level of skill to master.
To tackle any welding process, you’ll need the right tools – a quality, fully-functioning welding machine, proper welding safety equipment, the right welding supplies, and – with certain types of welding, as described above – a quality supply of industrial gas. Our experts can help you choose the right tools for your next project – to learn more about welding machines and supplies in western NC, contact the pros at James Oxygen today!