The 5 Basic Types Of Welding: Metalworking Information From Greenville Steel
When you're getting started working with steel and other metals, learning to weld is one of the best places to start. It's often the most practical way to bond two pieces of metal. Whether making auto repairs, fabricating huge steel structures or crafting intricate metal pieces, welding is an essential tool in your arsenal.
At Greenville Steel, our team of knowledgeable experts can help you get the materials you need from our huge selection of everything from steel beams to welding supplies. Need helmets, gloves, clamps and other welding accessories? We've got you covered! On this page, we'll help you get started by introducing you to five of the most common types of welding. There's a huge variety of welding devices and methods, but the ones mentioned below are the most typical. We think beginners might find success starting with stick or MIG welding, but take a look below to learn which welding methods will work for your project.
5. Oxy-Acetylene Welding
While most modern welding methods use a sophisticated machine to generate an electrical arc that welds the metal, oxy-acetylene welding is old school. It simply uses a mixture of oxygen and a flammable gas, usually acetylene, to create a powerful torch flame.
Sometimes known as oxy-fuel welding, gas welding or torch welding, oxy-acetylene welding basically uses two gas cylinders, a pressure regulator and a torch. Filler material is added with your other hand. As the flame from the torch melts the filler metal and the base metal, a molten weld puddle forms. When this puddle hardens, the resulting weld has bonded the filler material permanently with the base metal. Oxy-acetylene welding is one of the oldest and simplest forms of the skill.
An oxy-acetylene torch can also be used for things like cutting pipe, so it's a versatile tool, but it can be unwieldy and slower than more modern welding methods.
4. Stick Welding
Sometimes called shielded metal arc welding, stick welding is a simple and straightforward way to weld ferrous metals like iron and steel. It might be the most commonly used form of welding. In this method, an electrode is hooked up to a machine that generates an electrical current. An arc is formed between the base metal and the electrode, creating an intense heat that begins to melt the metal.
Stick welding requires only one hand, leaving your second hand free to hold material in place or move things around. That's because the electrode itself is also the filler metal. The arc consumes the electrode little by little. Surrounding the electrode is a flux coating. The flux coating melts and covers finished welds, protecting them from oxidation and impurities in the air. This flux can be later removed to reveal a strong, clean weld.
Stick welding works in almost any environment, and an expert can use this method to weld overhead, upside down and even under water!
3. MIG Welding
In MIG Welding, also called gas metal arc welding, a spool of filler wire is fed through a line and into your welding gun. This wire serves both as your filler metal and your electrode. As you weld, filler material is added to your weld puddle using the gun. An inert gas (the IG in MIG welding) creates a shield that protects your work area from impurities in the atmosphere. The resulting welds are strong and clean. Many find MIG welding to be the easiest for a beginner to learn. In addition to a wire feed power supply, you'll also need a cylinder of inert gas for best results.
Best of all, MIG welding is one of the fastest ways to weld since you rarely have to stop to get more filler material. Just feed more into the gun!
2. TIG Welding
When welding exotic, nonferrous metals like aluminium and copper, TIG welding is the best way to go. However, it is a slightly more challenging method and can be used in a wider variety of niche applications. Also known as gas tungsten arc welding, TIG welding is more similar to oxy acetylene welding than MIG welding. TIG welding creates an arc between the base metal and a permanent tungsten electrode. You'll have to add filler metal using your other hand -- making TIG welding a bit trickier. Just like in MIG welding, welds are protected from impurities with an inert gas shield.
TIG welding can be slow, but it's also extremely precise and can allow an expert to create tight, strong and beautiful welds in a wider variety of materials compared to MIG and stick welding.
1. Exotic Welding Methods
At the end of the day, welding simply means the fusing of two metals using heat, and there are a whole lot of ways this can be done! The ones above simply represent the most common ones. However, there are plenty of unusual welding tools and techniques used in construction, fabrication, repair and other industrial settings. We've only scratched the surface. Methods like friction welding, cold welding, laser beam welding, even x-ray welding can allow talented welders to create incredible things from steel. What could you do with a welding gun, a workbench and some metal? We can help you find out at Greenville Steel. We invite you to visit us for all your welding and metalworking needs.