Welding is the process in which two pieces of metal are joined using heat and electricity. The type of metal you are welding will determine the technique that will provide you with the best possible result. Like many specialized skills, the art of welding is something that is mastered in progressive steps of increasing difficulty with stick welding being the easiest welding process to learn; however, more advanced techniques will require the welder to practice and have some patience during the learning process.
Most welding is performed on more common metals such as steel. While steel may be the most common metal used in welding, aluminum, copper and other metals can also be joined using welding techniques. Different types of welding require the welder to use shielding gases that help keep the metal being welded free of contaminants, allowing for a solid weld to be produced. Welds that are properly performed using shielding gases often have a cleaner look to them than those welded without the protection of a shielding gas. The welder uses electrodes and welding wire to melt the metal surface and provide a filler material to create the joint. Whenever you are going to be welding you should always take the time to put on the proper safety gear. This includes a welding helmet, welding gloves, welding apron and the proper clothing underneath.
Stick Welding (SMAW)
Stick welding, also known as Shielded Metal Arc Welding, is one of the easiest welding techniques to master. Stick welding can be performed on metals that have not been pre-cleaned, which makes it less time consuming for the welder. When a welder is performing stick welding it is important that the right amount of amperage is used for the thickness of the metal being welded. The length of the arc should not be longer than the thickness of the metal. If the welder holds the electrode too close to the metal they are welding it will cause the amperage level to decrease. The welding rod should also be held perpendicular to the surface of the metal with the top of the electrode held at a five to fifteen degree angle as it is pulled across the surface of the metal. The welder should also adjust the speed in order to keep the electrode at the top 1/3 of the weld pool.
MIG Welding (GMAW)
MIG welding, also known as Gas Metal Arc Welding, requires the welder to clean the metal being welded before any actual welding takes place. In order to create welds of a high standard you should use a grinder to remove any rust, paint or solvents that may have found their way onto the metal. If you do not have access to a grinder, you can also use solvents or detergent and water to remove any grease that may be present on the metal. Once the material has been properly cleaned and welding has begun, the welding torch should not be allowed to touch the metal being welded. The welder should use a zig zag pattern or weaving design to ensure that both sides of the joint are being welded. You should also push the torch instead of pulling it in order to achieve the proper amount coverage produced by the shielding gas.
TIG Welding (GTAW)
In TIG welding (also known as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding), tungsten rods are used to create a neat, defined weld that is visually appealing when the weld is in an area where it can be seen. To produce the highest quality TIG welds possible, you should first clean the metal thoroughly. You should also choose the smallest electrode possible to perform the weld in order to reduce any weld contamination. TIG welding requires the welder to use different arc lengths for different metals. To produce a weld of high quality, you should weld using the shortest arc length possible.