Welding comes in many forms and techniques, each welding technique has something different to offer and will work better than others on different types of metals. If you are just becoming interested in welding or have been around for a while and just want a reminder of the other welding techniques being used today, we’re here to help. The three most common welding techniques are gas welding, stick welding, MIG welding, and TIG welding, but there are other methods and we’re going to try and explain them all.
- Gas Welding – Gas welding, or oxyfuel welding, is one of the oldest methods still used today. The process of gas welding uses oxygen and acetylene (or an alternative fuel). This welding technique is commonly used in the automotive repair industry. This is the method that many home welders are familiar with and is the choice over the more popular MIG and TIG methods of welding.
- Stick Welding – Stick welding or manual welding is an arc welding process that is not only the most widely used but is also one of the easiest welding techniques to learn. Stick welding uses a rod or electrode (the filler metal), which has a powder coating on it (the flux) that creates the shielding gas as it is burned off. With this method of arc welding, the electrode and ground clamp complete the electric circuit on the piece of metal, creating the arc and providing the heat to melt and weld the electrode and the base metal together. The electric or heat output can typically be adjusted using the settings on the welding machine unit. The type of metal you're welding, or the thickness of the metal you're working with, will determine the type of electrode you use. There are also some electrodes designed for different welding positions and for welding with dirty metals.
- MIG Welding – MIG welding is thought to be the easiest of all the welding techniques to learn. This is primarily due to the fact that the rod does not have to feed as it becomes shorter like when stick welding is performed. MIG uses a wire that is fed through a cable and comes out of the end of the MIG welding gun. All that is required of a MIG welder is to pull the trigger of the welding gun and weld. It may sound easy, but when learning MIG welding you need to be aware of the two types of MIG welding, bare wire MIG and flux core. Bare wire MIG is the cleaner of the two processes and allows welders to work with thinner metals. Flux core is easier to use when welding needs to be done outdoors and does not require the welder to use a gas cylinder or a flow meter.
- TIG Welding – TIG welding is thought to be one of the harder types of welding to learn and more difficult to master than MIG or stick welding. The reason is that in TIG welding the welder is required to use both hands. One hand is used to hold the TIG torch with a tungsten electrode which is used to provide an arc and heat, the other hand is needed to feed the rod. TIG is also a more expensive method to use and can be more difficult to set up because of the remote amperage foot pedal that is used. In TIG welding welders must use a gas cylinder containing argon or an argon mixture to perform the weld. Of all the welding techniques, TIG welding tends to be the most versatile. It can be used on virtually all conventional metals which makes it a technique that is worth learning.
- Plasma Arc Welding – Plasma arc welding is close to TIG welding except that the tungsten electrode used is located inside a nozzle and the heat is created by ionizing gases that flow around the arc. Plasma arc welding is commonly used when high precision welds are required and in situations where a recessed electrode is more beneficial than the standard one. Plasma arc welding is primarily used in the aerospace fields to repair air seals and jet engine blades.
- Electron Beam and Laser Welding – These two types of welding are considered to be high energy welding processes because of their ability to pinpoint heat better than other types of welding. Electron beam welding is capable of penetrating through six inch steel without any bevel. Laser welding is capable of pinpointing heat so accurately that weld metal can be placed on a tool steel injection mold cavity so precisely that heat treatments are not necessary.
These are only a few of the most popular and commonly used welding techniques in use today. There are many others that are used on a larger scale or that are specialized techniques.