Welding is used in constructing and repairing various types of equipment, from small piping systems to giant skyscrapers. Due to its multiple applications, different types of welding are used to bring about the best result. For example, a different method is used to build protective rails at a park than repairing aerospace equipment. There are over 30 different types of welding, from using high-tech laser beams to simple oxy-fuel flames. Keep reading to learn about the most common types.
The first type of welding we’ll look at is shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), more commonly known as stick welding or arc welding. This process uses a welding rod consisting of a flux-coated core. The rod carries an electric current. When the tip of the rod and the energized current touch and withdraw from the workpiece, an electric arc is created.
The arc generates heat to melt the electrode and base metal, resulting in a weld. The flux coating creates a gaseous shield to protect the weld from nitrides and oxides. Common uses for stick welding include repairing heavy equipment, erecting steel structures, constructing a building, and welding pipelines. No shielding gas is needed for this process.
Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), uses a solid wire electrode within a gun that is continuously fed a current. The operator feeds the electrode by pulling the trigger, forming an electric arc. The molten metal is protected by an external shielding gas.
Carbon dioxide is the most common gas, while sometimes a combination of argon and carbon dioxide is used. GMAW can weld various alloys including stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, nickel, copper, magnesium, and silicon bronze. This process is usually used for fabrication and manufacturing.
Just as with GMAW, flux-cored welding utilizes a continuously fed electrode. The main difference is that the electrode has a tubular wire with flux inside of it instead of a solid wire. There are two different types of flux-cored wire:
Self-shielded wires are usually used for outdoor projects. Flux-cored welding is typically used for erecting steel, constructing or repairing heavy equipment, and welding thick materials.
This next type of welding is known by several different terms. Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) is referred to as tungsten inert gas (TIG) or Heliarc welding. GTAW uses a tungsten electrode to heat metal. Melting two pieces of metal together creates a no-filler weld.
The strength of the weld can be increased by adding a weld bead with an external filler rod. External gasses such as argon and helium must be used to shield the molten weld. GTAW is commonly used for manufacturing and repairing motorcycle parts, creating piping systems, and aerospace equipment.
The process of electro slag welding starts with an electric arc being struck by a wire being fed into the weld location. Next, flux is added until molten slag develops, reaches the electrode, and extinguishes the arc. The wire is then fed through a consumable tube and enters the surface of the metal workpiece and filler metal. To finish off the process, copper retaining shoes secure the weld. Electroslag welding is usually used for thick materials and carbon steel.
The type of welding process used depends on the specific project. Welding an aluminum motorcycle exhaust system requires a different process than welding steel for a skyscraper. Now that you know some more details about different types of welding processes, you have a better idea of what you’ll need for your project. Check out our capabilities to learn more about our welding techniques.