Whether you are starting a career in welding or a seasoned one that wants to improve your skills and understanding of the trade, an excellent place to start is knowing the different welding process types. You can use dozens of welding processes for your projects, and each has its merits and demerits. However, here we provide an overview of at 7 most popular ones.
1. MIG Welding
MIG or the GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding) process is one of the most commonly used for both professional and armature welders. This welding process involves feeding a higher welding electrode through your welding gun.
The electrode will form an arc on your base metal when using this process, which heats it until it starts melting. The melting metal becomes easier to fuse with other metals or even other materials that can be welded.
One of the key reasons MIG is very popular is that it provides a highly durable weld. Also, many welders prefer this process over others because it gives a cleaner look, and hence very little work is required to clean up the weld afterward.
What’s more, the MIG welding process works well for both thin and thick metal plates. Additionally, you can use it to weld various metal types such as carbon steel, stainless steel, nickel, and aluminum.
When to Use: MIG is the best process for beginner welders as little precision is needed to ensure you get exceptional welds. Also, it works best for automotive repairs, such as catalytic converter repairs, where versatility and strength are crucial.
Read More: The Best MIG Welder for Beginner
2. TIG Welding
TIG or GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) welding process uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode, and it makes it possible for the welders to make the weld without having to use a filler metal. When using this process, only the two metal pieces you want to weld are needed since the electrode provides more than enough heat.
However, if you can still add a filler metal by feeding it by hand if you want despite this not being necessary. Moreover, like MIG welding, you need a constant gas supply to shield the weld, and hence it is better to do it indoors, where you never have to worry about wind.
What many welders seem to love most about TIG welding is it creates an exceptionally clean weld that hardly ever needs any cleanup. The weld you get is often very aesthetically pleasing and can hold well even on thinner metals.
When to Use: You can use TIG when welding materials like magnesium, copper, aluminum, and nickel. Typical jobs that entail TIG welding are motorcycle welding, pipe systems welding, and aerospace welding, given these industries deal mainly with non-ferrous metals.
Read More: The Best TIG Welder
3. Flux-Cored Welding
Flux-cored welding is quite similar to MIG welding, and hence any welder that can work with the latter process should find this one relatively easy to master. For this process, you need an uninterrupted electrode feed. However, unlike MIG that uses a solid wire, flux-cored requires a tube-shaped wire with full flux.
What makes this welding process stand out is that it provides greater electrode efficiency to ensure minimal waste when welding. Also, you do not need any external shielding gas when using this method. Moreover, no matter what metal type you are welding, you get minimal fumes emission. Since you do not have to deal with a lot of debris, this process is cleaner.
Flux-cored is an extremely easy to learn welding process, and it is also highly affordable. Therefore, it is often perfect for beginner welders.
When to Use: Flux-cored welding generates a lot of heat, and so it is ideal to use when welding thicker or heavier metal types. Hence, in most cases, this welding process is used to repair heavy machinery or equipment. But, welders looking for a more cost-effective welding process will also go for flux-cored.
Read More: The Best Flux Core Welder
4. Stick Welding
The stick welding process is also referred to as SMAW (Shielded-Metal Arc Welding) and is more like plasma welding. A replaceable electrode stick acts as the filler material for this welding process. Once the welding arc is created, it will connect the electrode’s end to the metal, which then melts the filler to form a weld. Since the electrode stick is flux coated, it creates a gas cloud once hot to help prevent oxidation on the metal.
Stick welding is often the first technique or process that most welders learn when starting. Hence, it is one of the most popular welding processes, and low cost since no external shielding gas is needed. However, the weld requires more cleanup since this method is not the neatest.
When to Use: Because this method does not require gas, it is one of the best outdoor welding options and welding in inclement weather. Better yet, it is the ideal choice for welding dirty, rusted, or painted without corrupting the weld.
Read More: The Best Stick Welder
5. Laser Beam Welding
As the name suggests, laser beam welding entails using a laser as the heat source to make the weld. Here two metal pieces are fused by a concentrated heat source from a laser focused on a cavity between the two metals you are welding.
What makes laser welding stand out from the many other more conventional welding processes is that it promises high precision, performance, and quality. Besides the welds being top-quality, they have low deformation and distortion for a cleaner look. Additionally, welders love that laser beam welding is high speed and more flexible as you can use it for almost any metal.
When to Use: Laser beam welding is among the most popular welding processes for thermoplastics. Also, you can use it for welding carbon steels, HSLA steels, titanium, and most grades of stainless steel. Additionally, this welding process is easier to automate with robotics, meaning it is prevalent in manufacturing processes such as in the automotive industry.
6. Electron-Beam Welding
Electron-beam welding is one of the most complicated welding processes, and it is often performed in a vacuum. With this welding process, a controlled beam with high-velocity electrons is fired towards the material you are welding.
Energy from these high-velocity electrons transforms to the heat required to melt the materials, coalesce and fuse them. All this happens super-fast and more efficiently than when using most other welding processes.
Since this welding process is vacuum-based, it is ideal when you want to seal pre-evacuated housing and other things like electrical components. Additionally, this welding technology makes it possible to join metals with different properties such as divergent melting points and thermal conductivities.
When to Use: Electron-beam welding is a popular welding method in industries such as aircraft engine manufacturing and the automotive industry. Additionally, this welding process is ideal for making bimetal saw blades and transmission assemblies.
7. Plasma Welding
Plasma welding is a similar process to gas arc welding, and it is quite an old method despite not being as common as others like TIG or MIG as it has been in use since 1954. With this welding process, electrical current passes through a small nozzle and then goes through the protective welding gas. While this process can seem more complicated, it helps ensure high accuracy.
This welding process’s high accuracy means you can still weld with ease, even in confined spaces. However, the high precision also means this welding style requires a highly skilled welder to make the welds. Many welders still prefer this method when they want to penetrate deeper into the metal as they can heat it to extreme temperatures.
When to Use: Plasma welding does not have many uses for DIY and enthusiast welders, so most have never even heard of it. However, it is fairly a common welding process in the aircraft manufacturing industry.
Read More: The Best Plasma Cutter
You can use several types of welding processes for your projects, but the 7 types above are the most common ones and what you are likely to encounter. While they are all effective at fusing metal, gouging, or brazing, the right one for you depends on the specific metal and your level of experience or welding skills.
- 4 Main Types of Welding Processes – New England Institute of Technology
- What Are the Different Types of Welding and Which Is the Best? – Interesting Engineering
- Most Popular Types of Welding – Tulsa Welding School