At the start of your welding journey, as you begin to learn, it is common for beginners to become confused by the vast amount of information found online and on other sources. A good starting point is to learn about the various types of welding processes available and understand their differences, including which ones are beginner-friendly and easier to learn.
Some types of welding processes provide cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing results, which are best if you plan to do decorative work, while others focus more on the sturdiness of the weld.
Which type of welding you should choose will also depend on the type and gauge of metal you will be using. In this feature, we will be sharing essential information about different types of welding processes and how they are used.
Different Types Of Welding Processes Explained!
1. TIG Welding
TIG welding, which is also known within the industry as Heliarc and gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), uses a non-consumable electrode made from tungsten. TIG welding’s greatest strength is that it allows you to work with only the two metals being fused without the need for filler material. However, the metals will be fed by hand, which can be difficult for some welders.
To ensure a steady flow of gas for the weld, a gas tank is necessary for TIG welding, making it more suitable for indoor welding and controlled environments with less risky elements.
TIG welding focuses more on precision and visual appeal. The welds resulting from this type of welding process don’t usually require cleanup because there is no splatter.
2. Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
The Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW) is somewhat similar to another type of welding known as MIG welding. Thanks to the similarities between the two types, MIG welders are able to perform FCAW welding more easily. In Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW), there is a wire electrode with a flux core, which creates a gas shield around the weld so you won’t need a gas tank for this type of welding. The wand feeds the filler metal.
Due to its ability to generate high heat, FCAW welding is more suited for heavy-duty welds that involve more dense metals of a heavier gauge. The most popular use for this type of welding is heavy equipment repairs in various industries. FCAW welding is a low-cost process that produces less waste because it doesn’t need external gas. However, if you need good-looking results, FCAW might not be right for you since welds require cleanup.
3. Stick Welding
Stick welding / Shielded-Metal Arc Welding’s history goes back to the 1930s. Through decades, we have seen incredible upgrades and innovation in the traditional stick welding type. One of the most important reasons for its popularity is its convenience to use and affordable cost. Stick welding can weld various types of metals, but it is not ideal for thin metals. However, one of its most significant disadvantages is that splatters very quickly, thus cleanup is essential.
A replaceable electrode “stick” serves the job of filler metal. It produces an arc that links the end of this stick with the starting metals, melting the electrode directly into the filler metal and producing the weld. The stick is coated in flux, which creates a gasoline cloud when heated up and shields the metals from oxidation. As it cools, the gasoline settles on the metallic and becomes slag.
Because it does not require gasoline, this procedure could be used outdoors, maybe even in windy and rainy weather conditions. Additionally, it is effective on surfaces with rust, paint, and dirt – making it ideal for gear repairs. However, Stick welding is not for hobbyists, as it is a highly skilled practice that requires a significant learning curve.
4. GMAW / MIG Welding
Popular amongst hobbyists and home welders, MIG welding, is the best basic type of welding process that does not require extensive training and decades of experience. MIG stands for metallic inert gas; it is also commonly known as gasoline metallic arc welding (GMAW).
MIG welding is a relatively easier and faster method that involves the filler metal being fed through the wand, which the expelled gas shields it from external elements. MIG is not the best option for outdoor use. However, it is a versatile welding process that allows it to weld a wide range of metals of different thickness levels. Appropriately done, MIG welding creates a durable and smooth weld that is also visually appealing.
5. Laser Beam Welding
For metals or thermoplastics, Laser Beam Welding is one of the best welding types. Why? Because it uses advanced laser technology to produce the welds. It performs flawlessly on various metals, including aluminum, titanium, HSLA steels, stainless steel, and carbon steels. Laser Beam Welding is popular in the motor vehicle manufacturing industry because it is easily automated with robotics.
6. Electron-Beam Welding
To weld two types of materials together, a high-velocity beam of electrons is used to generate heat through kinetic power. Electron-Beam Welding is more of an advanced welding procedure type that is usually performed by a machine in a vacuum.
7. Electroslag Welding
Electroslag is amongst the more innovative types of welding process as it can weld two thin-edged metal plates together vertically. Rather than fusing the external joint, the weld is applied between the two plates’ tips. A copper electrode wire is usually used as a filler fed through a consumable metal guide tube.
Once the system has electricity, it begins to produce the arc and initiates the welding procedure from the bottom part of the seam, moving upwards gradually. Producing the weld in the position of the seam as it moves. Electroslag an automatic, machine-operated procedure.
8. Plasma Arc Welding
Similar to GTAW, Plasma Arc Welding utilizes a smaller arc that enhances the accuracy of the weld. Additionally, it uses a diverse torch, achieving higher temperatures. The pressurized gas within the wand creates plasma, which is then ionized to make it electrically conductive. This welding process enables the arc to be produced and producing exceptionally high temperatures that can quickly melt the base metals. Therefore, plasma arc welding does not require any filler metal, as it is for TIG welding.
This particular kind of welding allows heavy weld penetration with narrow welds, creating heavy-duty and reliable yet aesthetically pleasing welds. With Plasma Arc Welding, increasing welding speeds is also possible.
9. Atomic Hydrogen Welding
Suppose you talk about the type of welding process that involves incredibly high heat! Then, Atomic Hydrogen Welding would be on the top few welding processes that utilize hydrogen gas to shield two electrodes made of tungsten. This welding type is also known as arc-atom welding.
Atomic Hydrogen Welding can achieve temperatures higher than the acetylene torch, and the procedure does not always require a filler metal. However, Atomic Hydrogen Welding is not popular now as it is replaced by MIG welding.
We hope that this guide will help you get a better understanding of the different types of welding processes. This list includes both manual and machine-operated welding processes. We highly recommend you thoroughly research the type of welding process that will work best for you in terms of both technology and cost before making the final decision.
Luis Ferency with experience of 35+ years is a semi-retired welder. Though his passion for welding and learning keeps him going further. He loves sharing his knowledge on his expertise in SMAW, GMAW, GTAW, and FTAW. Hence, this helped the new welders to seek leverage knowledge and improve their welding skills.