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Last Updated on May 24, 2021

Frank Wilson

Frank Wilson 

Senior Editor 

The term “welding” refers to fusing metals using heat to melt the parts and allowing them to join during the cooling process. When you combine materials using welding, you can create a robust connection that can withstand enormous pressure. The durable bonds make welding an essential process for many industrial applications.

However, there are many types of welding techniques that are suitable for different uses. Because welding has applications in a range of industries, it’s essential to know which method provides the best results in any scenario. Although there are many ways to weld, there are nine core welding techniques that can meet most requirements.

1. Gas Tungsten Arc Welding

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) is sometimes called Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding and involves a non-consumable electrode constructed of tungsten that does not melt in high heat. There is no need to use a filler metal during TIG welding, although you can use one if desired. 

Adding a filler metal using this welding technique requires a high degree of skill, and you need to feed the material by hand, so it’s best suited to more experienced welders. Heavy-duty industries like automotive manufacturing use TIG welding because of the incredibly strong resulting bonds between metals. 

A skilled welder can produce clean welds that are difficult to see, making them ideal when you need aesthetically pleasing results. One of TIG welding’s negative aspects is the requirement for a constant gas supply necessary to protect the weld. 

Although this is one of the most popular types of welding techniques, it can be time-consuming, and the welder needs to be patient to achieve high-quality results.

2. Gas Metal Arc Welding

Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) is also known as Metal Inert Gas welding (MIG) and is an excellent technique to use while learning to weld. A steady gas supply shields the weld from outdoor elements, and you can perform MIG welding on a range of metals. 

A spool holds the filler wire, and you feed it through a wand at the required speed. You only need to pause your weld when it’s time to change the spool, allowing you to spend more time focusing on your weld’s quality. The construction and automotive industries regularly engage in MIG welding because of the fast results, neat welds, and relatively low skill level required of the welding operator. It is also possible to use automated MIG welding equipment in high-production industries to reduce staff costs and increase accuracy.

3. Flux-Cored Arc Welding

FCAW is similar to MIG welding because you feed the flux core wire and filler metal through a wand. However, FCAW does not require a gas supply and uses a flux core surrounding the electrode to produce a gas shield around the weld. 

An FCAW process produces slag, resulting in welds that are not as neat as when using a TIG or MIG technique. Many heavy-duty industries such as shipbuilding and industrial pipe maintenance use FCAW because they are effective on thicker metals and create a powerful bond. 

Although FCAW does not require much skill, the fixed-core wires are expensive to replace, making it a more suitable commercial application technique.

4. Stick-Shielded Metal Arc Welding

A SMAW technique produces inexact welds but is suitable for all weather conditions. The consumable electrode stick melts during welding, creating a filler metal that creates a strong bond between the base materials. The flux-coated stick produces gas that safeguards the weld and reduces the risk of harmful oxidization. 

Although stick welding requires some clean-up, it is an excellent technique for performing intricate welding. The powerful process works well on rusted metals, making this a popular domestic and commercial repair method. 

While inexperienced welders can quickly learn how to master stick welding, this method produces fumes. All welders should ensure the welding area is well-ventilated, and they may also need to wear respiratory equipment.

5. Laser Beam Welding

Laser beam welding is prevalent in manufacturing industries because it is easy to automate. Laser beams can produce high heat levels and melt robust base metals such as stainless steel and titanium. Although a robotic laser beam welding process can be expensive to install, there are few ongoing costs except for maintenance and repairs. 

Operators can program the system to produce accurate and consistent welds, making this technique ideal for high-production industries.

6. Electron Beam Welding

Electron beam welding occurs in a controlled-vacuum setting and is one of the most sophisticated types of welding techniques. Fast-moving electrons heat the base metals using kinetic energy, melting the materials and allowing them to bond during the cooling process. 

This technique is not suitable for manual welding and can be expensive to set up in an industrial setting. However, this system allows for an uninterrupted production process that creates sleek finishes.

7. Plasma Arc Welding

The electronics and aerospace industries use plasma arc welding because it uses a small arc and high temperatures for detailed welding. Pressured gas inside the wand creates plasma, which combines with ions to become electrically conductive. There is no need to use a filler metal, and the powerful process is suitable for use with thicker materials. 

Operators using a plasma arc welding technique need to be aware of the higher radiation levels produced during the process. Because of the higher noise levels, welders may also need to use earmuffs that offer more protection than they require when performing other welding techniques.

8. Atomic Hydrogen Welding

Atomic Hydrogen Welding uses highly flammable hydrogen to produce extremely high temperatures. The gas shields two tungsten electrodes, and there is no requirement for a filler metal. The intense heat levels achieve fast welding results, but expensive running costs may be prohibitive for many commercial companies.

Although this wedding technique is useful when you require rapid results, many industries prefer to use MIG welding, which offers a safer alternative.

9. Electroslag Welding

This automated welding technique joins metals while they are in a vertical position. A consumable guide tube melts to create a filler metal, and welders can bond heavy sections in one pass. Because the high temperatures melt durable materials, this welding technique is useful for heavy-duty industries that work with steel.

Final Thoughts

Deciding on the most suitable welding techniques for your needs can be challenging. Learning various welding methods can give you options to choose from, depending on how quickly you need results, the materials you are welding, and how much expense you are willing to invest in the welding setup.

Author

Frank Wilson, or the “Elder Welder” as he is now known in his late middle age, has 23 years of experience in the welding industry, across every project imaginable. Pipe welding and underwater welding were his stock in trade for years before his partial retirement.