What Are the Types of Welding?
Although you might not know it, welding is necessary to make many of the things you use or see daily. From buildings to cars to cell phones, welding and various welding processes are necessary to the production of so much of the modern world and its infrastructure. Over 50% of the United States’ GDP is related in some way to welding. Welding is not only important to our economy, it is important to our way of life. Think of life without cars or without computers. Without welding we would have neither of those.
Welding is essentially a method of joining or bonding two pieces of metal together. While that may sound pretty basic, there are a number of different welding types used to achieve that goal. In addition to welding, riveting, brazing and soldering are also methods of joining metal; however, they are not the same as welding. Welding is generally more efficient, more versatile and produces a stronger end product than other methods.
The Basics of Welding Types
Welding is composed of four main components including the metal itself, the source of heat, the filler material and the shield to keep air away from the weld. There are a number of different welding types that use these basic components to create different kinds of welds on different types of metals. Welding processes have evolved and changed throughout history and continue to do so today. The basic principles, however, have essentially stayed the same. In order to join two pieces of metal together, a welder will heat the metal to a melting point while shielding it from the air. Then the filler will be added to the joining location and a single piece of metal will be produced.
Centuries ago when welding was first starting to be used, people used a casting process with a sand mold of the piece they wanted to add. Then a welder would attach that mold to the piece they were trying to join and fill it with hot metal. After the metal cooled, the pieces would be joined. During this time period, welders also placed two pieces of metal together, hammered out any open spaces between them and then poured hot filler metal into the joint to join them. Early blacksmiths would use a method called forge welding. The two metals were heated until red hot and then hammered together. This method took a lot of time and effort and could only be used with softer metals. Today more modern welding processes are generally used; however, the basic principles are the same.
Popular Welding Types
Welding processes like forge welding are occasionally still used in areas without electricity; however, more advanced methods are used for manufacturing or even in home workshops. There are a wide range of welding types that require very different amounts of skill and very different types of equipment. The four most common kinds of welding are MIG welding, Stick welding, Flux core arc welding and TIG welding. All of these methods require electricity and vary depending on the way the filler is added and the way it is shielded from air.
MIG, or Metal Inert Gas, welding is also known as Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW). This process relies on a shielding gas on a wire electrode, which produces the heat to join the metals. It is one of the most common and popular types of welding and needs constant, direct electrical power in order to function. It is also a semi-automatic type of welding. Although the welder still needs to have a level of skill and understanding of the machine and how it works, the MIG welding machine will fill the joint continuously.
Stick welding is a more manual technique and is also called Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW). The stick creates an electric arc in between the stick itself and the metals being welded using an electric current. As the rod moves over the metal, the metal will begin to melt and fill the joint. While stick welding is something that can be used for indoor and outdoor welding projects, you need to carefully evaluate your project first to identify the best way to go about it. Stick welding is a more hands on technique and, although it is easy to learn, it takes practice to know how and when to use it effectively. The welding equipment needed, however, is generally cheaper and easy for at home use.
Flux Core Arc Welding
Flux core arc welding (FCAW) is a similar process to MIG welding. The process was invented using a new type of electrode from the MIG machine and the main difference is due to the method in which the electrode is shielded from the air. Similar to MIG welding, FCAW is a semi-automatic process allowing for high volume production; however, welders using the process can produce far more welds per hour than a MIG welder. Unlike MIG welding, FCAW welding allows the welder to work outside even in windy conditions due to the shielding method. One of the biggest uses of FCAW welding is in the shipbuilding industry.
TIG welding, or Tungsten inert gas welding, requires a lot of skill and knowledge from the welder. This method generates a quality product with better finish compared to other methods, which does not require sanding or grinding to look good. TIG welding requires the welder to use two hands, one to hold the torch producing the arc and one to add filler metal into the joint. Due to the complexities, TIG welding is one of the most difficult welding types to learn. The method can take longer than other types of welding but is usable with many different types of metals and produces high quality welds. TIG welding is also often used for smaller welds. You can learn even more about TIG welding at WeldingTypes.net
Basic welding equipment is necessary regardless of what kind of welding you use. The most obvious piece of equipment is the welding machine itself. To choose your welder, you must decide based on the type of weld needed, the cost and what power sources are available to you. You also need electrodes for your welder and each type has specific varieties that work best for it. Clamps are another important piece of equipment to help secure the metals and keep your joint in place. Finally, an angle grinder can be important to prepare your metal for welding and the one you pick depends on the project you need it for.
Beyond just the equipment needed, there is also important safety attire that a welder must use in order to stay protected. A helmet is one of the most important safety elements to keep your head, eyes and face protected from the light rays the welder produces as well as from sparks. Many helmets come with auto-darkening face masks that adjust automatically to protect your eyes as the light from the torch changes. Getting quality gloves to protect your hands from heat both from the torch itself and the metal you may be holding is also important. Grounding clamps are a safety feature that is necessary to ensure that you do not get an electric shock and also protect your welder. Having the proper clothing including long sleeves to protect your arms is also an important safety measure to take. Finally, other safety measures such as ventilation systems may be needed in your workspace to keep the area protected from the fumes and sparks that welding produces.
Getting Started Welding
If you are interested in welding, there are a number of different welding types you can learn either for your own personal use or to use as a career. The basic principles of welding will always remain the same; however, the methods and techniques will continue to change over time. In many cases, the type of welding used and the tools needed change depending on the job. Because welding is used for so many different types of things, a variety of different methods have been created to efficiently and effectively meet those demands. Beyond the basic and most popular types of welding covered in this guide, a number of more advanced and specific techniques exist for more specialized jobs.