If you are here, it’s probably because you would like to get into welding, or at least learn what it’s all about. Maybe you’re just curious about the different processes. Maybe you would like to make a rewarding career out of this art. No matter your purpose, we have you covered. After all, BLS indicates that you can make about $15 per hour starting pay and go up from there-a great starting wage for a job that is interesting and dynamic.

Let’s learn about the four most popular processes for welding.

MIG: Metal Inert Gas Welding

This process came about in the 1940s and is done using a machine AND the skill of a welder. An MIG welding machine works to fill in the joint that is being welded. You do not need to change the electrodes in between your welds.

There are four main parts that MIG welders need to weld. They are:

  • MIG welding power supply- this provides the electricity needed to generate heat
  • Wire Feed System-Feeds wire from spool to the weld joint
  • Handle with Trigger-This controls the wire feeder that feeds the wire on the spool into the weld joint
  • Shielding Gas-Guards your weld from the air

Common Uses For MIG Welding

Some applications that MIG welding works best in include manufacturing as well as working with sheet metal. You will find it used in places where productivity must be high, such as manufacturing shops. This is because the process is quite fast.

You will do all of your work with this type of welding indoors, thanks to the use of inert gas. Welders doing this type of work must also wear eye protection and protective clothing.

TIG Welding-Tungsten Inert Gas Welding

You may hear TIG referred to as GTAW, which stands for Gas Tungsten Arc Welding. This is also what appears on blueprints when welding engineers indicate what process they want to use to create something. You might also hear veteran or retired welders refer to this as Heliarc welding.

This is a manual welding process that has welders using both hands as they work. You will find that the difference between this and other welding processes is the way in which the arc is generated and how the filler metal is brought in. Thanks to the fact that workers must use two hands as they go, this is one of the more tough processes to learn. However, it is used because it is quite versatile when it comes to using different kinds of metals.

You will use one hand to hold the torch that generates your arc and the other hand to add filler metal onto the weld joint.

This is a slow weld, but as the saying goes, good things take time. This weld, when done right, will produce one of the highest quality welds ever produced. You will see this one used in critical welding joints, materials other than steel, and areas in which precise and smaller welds are required.

Stick Welding: Shielded Metal Arc Welding

Shielded metal arc welding, casually referred to as stick welding, derives its name from the electrode that uses the metal comes in stick form.

The simple explanation is that electricity is used to melt a rod, filler, or stick that melts both the metal joint and the electrode at one time to bring two metal pieces together, filling the joint with filler metal simultaneously.

You will need the following materials for stick welding:

  • Ground cable connected to one side of arc welding power supply
  • Electrode cable and electrode holder connected to another side of power supply
  • Consumable welding stick which is placed in the electrode holder

The consumable welding stick is what closes the circuit of the power supply. Now that the circuit is closed, the base metal’s electrical resistance and the filler metal make the high heat needed for welding.

Common Uses for Stick Welding

You will commonly find this type of welding used when it comes to auto repair, pipelines, steel construction, and even in most homework areas, thanks to the low cost of equipment. Weld splatter is a major "con" of this form, which happens when molten metal sticks to areas located beyond the joint.

Flux Cored Arc Welding

Commonly abbreviated as FCAW, this process uses an arc between the consumable electrode and the weld pool with shielding from a flux that is found inside the tubular electrode. Additional shielding from a gas supplied externally may or may not be used.

This process is particularly interesting because it penetrates well into the base metal. You will find it used in low alloy steels and mild alloy steels, plus high nickel alloys and stainless steel.

You will find that this type of weld is used in outdoor and indoor applications. You can use it in areas in which gas shielding and gas cylinders cannot be used. It is a useful way of welding materials that have become rusty, scaly, or contaminated in some other way. It is important to note that base metals affected by any of these factors should be cleaned first so that the final weld is not contaminated. The area in which the ground clamp will be attached should also be cleaned as well.

Some of the most common jobs for flux-cored welding include

  • Maintenance work
  • Ship building
  • Construction work
  • Machine-shop fabrication

One of the disadvantages is the slag produced by flux-core welding. A slag does sit on top of the finished weld, and the welder must chip this away, which is similar to the splatter created by stick welding. As a result, the welds may not be as clean as some other methods but still produces a good weld.

Conclusion

We hope this overview of the most popular types of welds has been helpful. The world of welding is varied and interesting, with new techniques and technology developing every year. It’s worth your while to investigate it as a possible career!