An Overview of 9 Different Types of Welding

Different types of welding

An Overview of 9 Different Types of Welding

Welding is a method used to fuse two parts (base metals) together using heat or the application of pressure, or both, to create a new whole piece. There are many different types of welding, but typically it’s used on metals and thermoplastics to join two or more pieces together. The final fabrication that’s created is called the weldment. 

Welding has been used for centuries and has evolved a lot since the 19th century. The 20th century has created many industrial applications for welding and many types of welding machines to suit different skill levels.

Whether you’re looking for a career in welding in the aircraft manufacturing industries or you’re just keen to see if you have any job prospects using welding metals as an art form, you need to have a basic understanding of the different kinds of welding.

9 Different Types of Welding and Their Unique Purposes 

Below we provide a comprehensive overview of 9 types of welding and their pros, cons, and applications. 

1. Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)

Shielded Metal Arc Welding is one of the easiest, most simple forms of welding. Not to mention, it’s quite affordable. It can be used on most metals and makes strong weld bonds.

This type of welding is suitable for beginners, but the drawback is that it doesn’t create the neatest looking welds. That means that you typically have to do a fair amount of cleaning up afterwards. 

Compared to other different types of welding that use gas, SMAW is quite versatile since it only requires a power source. In other words, it can be done outdoors! 

SMAW requires a constant electric current arc power source, which flows through a welding electrode that’s coated in flux, to ensure that no air touches the welding zone while the rod is melting. The electrode is then melted into filler metal to create the weld. 

Pros

  • Can be done outside and in bad weather
  • Easy and simple to learn
  • Affordable and cheap to operate
  • Can be used to weld a wide variety of metals, including thick metals

Cons

  • Can create untidy looking welds
  • Lots of cleaning up required
  • Not great for thin metals

Applications

  • Construction
  • Home workshop
  • Shipyards
  • Repairs
  • Pipelines

2. Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)

Gas Metal Arc Welding, informally known as Metal Inert Gas welding, uses an arc welding process. An electric arc is created between a MIG wire and the metal you’re working on which then heats these base metals. Once they’ve melted then they can be joined together. 

GMAW welding is easy to learn and can be done quite fast, which means it’s one of the most commonly used forms of welding and is a great place to start for beginners. You feed the filler metal through a wand and, in the process, gas is emitted around it to shield it from outside elements and air. 

You can use MIG welding to join a wide variety of metals together, such as mild steel, stainless steel and aluminium, of all different sizes. It creates quite visually appealing and neat weld joins. 

Pros

  • Easy to learn
  • Can be used to weld a wide variety of metals, including thicker metal
  • Can create neat welds

Cons

  • Not suited to outdoor use

Applications

  • Home DIY
  • Factories 

3. Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding, also known as Tungsten Inert Gas welding or Heliarc welding, uses an electrode made from tungsten which is non-consumable.

What’s unusual about this kind of welding is that you don’t need to use a filler metal. All you have to do is simply join two metals together directly. However, you can still use a filler metal if you want to.

Compared to other different types of welding,GTAW needs a gas tank to give you a constant flow of gas, which means that it’s ideal to use indoors. The benefits of this kind of welding is that it’s quite clean, so you won’t need to tidy up much afterwards and the weld will turn out very neat.

This welding works by using a tungsten electrode that gives an electric current to the weld pool and uses an inert shielding gas like Argon to protect the weld metal from the air. It’s typically used for welding stainless steel and non-ferrous metals like magnesium, copper alloys, brass, nickel alloys and aluminium.

Pros

  • Creates neat welds
  • Can be used on ferrous and non-ferrous metals
  • Ideal for delicate work
  • Don’t need a filler metal 
  • Requires a gas tank

Cons

  • Not ideal for welding outdoors
  • Requires experience 

4. Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)

Flux Cored Arc Welding requires a continuous flow of consumable electrode tubes with a flux core as well as a constant power supply. It can also be used with a shielding gas. However, not all cored wires can be used without gas, so you’ll need to check to see if the wire you plan to use needs gas or not. 

FCAW is often used in the construction industry, shipyards, and heavy fabrication work. This type of welding is quite versatile and can be done indoors or outdoors. It’s a similar process to GMAW welding, but differs in that there’s no wand or welding gun that feeds the filler metal and you don’t need an external gas supply.

This type of welding is quite cheap and requires little cleanup. It’s best for working with heavy and thicker metals because it uses high temperatures. 

Pros

  • Versatile and can be used outdoors or indoors
  • Affordable
  • Can be used on heavy and thick metals
  • Not much cleaning afterwards
  • No separate gas supply needed
  • No wand or filler needed

Cons

  • Requires more skill than other types of welding
  • Not as good for thinner, more delicate metals

Applications

  • Construction industry
  • Shipyard repairs and construction
  • Heavy fabrication work

5. Plasma Arc Welding

Plasma Arc Welding creates a very neat and precise weld by using a torch that generates very high temperatures. It does this by using gas that’s pressurised inside the wand which then creates plasma that gets ionised. All of that together is then able to conduct electricity.

This type of welding creates very strong and sturdy bonds. You can also perform this type of welding fairly quickly. 

This welding technique isn’t typically used by beginners or for DIY repairs. It’s mostly used by the aircraft industry since airplane parts need to be very tightly bonded together in order to ensure safety at high altitudes and under low pressure while flying at high speeds.

Pros

  • Can be done quickly
  • Don’t need a filler
  • Creates very strong, high-quality welds

Cons

  • Can only be used by expert welders
  • Requires specialist technology

Application

  • Aircraft carriers
  • Aerospace industry 

6. Submerged Arc Welding (SAW)

With Submerged Arc Welding, you cover the pieces of metal, the welding wire, and the arc with a blanket of flux to protect you in the welding process. That’s because in this process there are no fumes created!

A benefit of using this method is that it’s very fast and safe, which makes it perfect for those industries with fast production needs.

This type of welding also creates strong, deep welds which are sturdy and you don’t need to spend much time preparing to weld. 

Pros

  • Don’t need strong arc lights
  • Fewer safety risks involved
  • Can be done quickly
  • Versatile
  • Creates strong welds
  • Not much preparation needed

Cons

  • Limited to certain ferrous base metals
  • Not great for thin metals
  • Not as good for precision or very fine or difficult welds 

Application

  • Many industries, especially those where speed and efficiency are required

7. Atomic Hydrogen Welding

Formerly known as arc atom welding, Atomic Hydrogen Welding uses hydrogen gas as shielding gas for two tungsten electrodes in the welding process. 

You can do this kind of welding without using a filler metal because it reaches very high temperatures. However, this kind of welding has mostly been replaced by GMAW welding. Due to the extreme heat conditions, proper safety equipment is an absolute necessity. 

Pros

  • No filler metal required
  • Best for thinner metals
  • Can be done quickly

Cons

  • Many safety risks
  • Preparation can take longer
  • Can be expensive
  • Requires a skilled operator

Applications

  • Welding steels that contain tungsten and nickel
  • Joining and respiring of tools

8. Electron Beam Welding

Electron Beam Welding is a modern form of welding that uses a beam of electrons in order to create heat to weld materials together. It’s usually done by machines in a vacuum and can be quite expensive. However, it creates very strong, accurate, and neat welds. 

Using an electron beam for welding means that you can make very precise welds that are strong and high quality. This welding process works by using a tungsten filament that gets heated and then produces electrons that are focused with lenses to create a stream of concentrated energy that can melt metals. 

It’s fairly complicated to operate an electron beam welding machine as it has to be done in a vacuum and be controlled to avoid radiation. You don’t usually need to use a filler with this method.

You can use this type of welding to join many different base metals and even dissimilar materials. 

Pros

  • Good for deep penetration welding
  • Best for dissimilar metals 
  • Very regulated form of welding with many specifications for operating EB machines
  • Highest quality and most precise form of welding
  • Can be used for high production speeds
  • Can be used to weld dissimilar metals

Cons

  • Expensive to operate and maintain EB machines
  • Requires a vacuum (not all will fit into the vacuum)

Applications

  • Automotive industry
  • Aerospace industry
  • Aircraft industry

9. Laser Beam Welding

Laser Beam Welding uses a laser beam to create the heat that creates the welds between two metals. You can use it with a variety of base metals, such as stainless steel, titanium, and aluminium. It’s often used by robots in the manufacturing industry, automotive industry, aerospace, and aircraft engine industries.

It’s a popular way to fuse dissimilar metals together since it’s so versatile and it can be used on thin and thick metals. It’s also good for creating very neat and precision welds, and can be done quite quickly. There are many different types of lasers that have varying capacities in terms of the power they produce. 

Laser beam welding is probably one of the most superior forms of welding available nowadays because of its precision; it’s often used for welding electronics with sensitive components. 

Pros

  • Doesn’t require welding in a vacuum
  • Generally less expensive than EB welding
  • Creates strong and precise welds
  • Can be used to weld dissimilar materials

Cons

  • Can be quite expensive
  • Not as regulated as EB welding
  • Can be very dangerous if safety precautions aren’t followed

Applications

  • Automotive industry
  • Aerospace industry
  • Aircraft industry

Conclusion

There are many different types of welding processes, some are suited for beginners, while others take a lot of skill, preparation, and safety equipment. Depending on the base metal, your production needs, timeframe, and budget, you have lots of different welding processes to choose from!

Now that you know about all the different types of welding, you can decide if you want to invest in expensive equipment and energy sources or if you want to outsource all of your welding needs.

 

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