Types of Welding

The Different Types of Welding
The Different Types of Welding

There are various types of welding processes (equipment) available. Each have their pro’s and con’s. Some processes are more suited to a particular type of material to be welded, and some types of machine are more suited to a location, or thickness of material to be welded. It also comes down to the cost of buying the equipment, the cost of consumables, etc…

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Types of Welding Process:

For the purpose of this article, I’m looking at the most widely used welding process:

Arc Welding:

One of the cheapest methods of welding. You will need:

Equipment:
  • A stick (electric arc) welder.
Consumables:
  • Arc Welding Electrodes (can be purchased in differing quantities):

Available in a variety of different materials and sizes. The welding electrodes are covered in flux, so no need for a shielding gas when welding. Don’t store you’re arc welding electrodes in a damp place, as the flux around them can absorb moisture.

Different names and abbreviations used for ‘Stick Welding’:
Arc Welding – Names UsedAbbreviations
Arc Welding
Electric Arc Welding
Stick Welding
Stick Electrode Welding
Manual Metal ArcMMA
Manual Metal Arc WeldingMMAW
Shielded Metal Arc WeldingSMAW
Usage:

Electric arc (stick) welding, tends to be used for more heavy duty welding, such as metal plate and box sections. It is a bit too brutal on thin materials. Typically used on steel and cast iron.

MIG (or MAG) Welding:

A more expensive process than stick (arc) welding (in terms of equipment and consumables). You will need:

Equipment:
  • A MIG welder.
  • A valve (regulator) for the gas bottle, for controlling the gas flow.

The difference between MIG and MAG welding is the type of gas used. With MIG the ‘I’ is for Inert gas, and with MAG the ‘A’ is for Active gas.

Consumables:
  • MIG Wire (purchased as a spool):
  • Shielding Gas:

Available in different size spools, size wire and materials.

Different names and abbreviations used for ‘MIG Welding’:
Mig Welding – Names UsedAbbreviations
MIG
Metal Inert GasMIG
Gas Metal Arc WeldingGMAW
MAG
Metal Active GasMAG
MAG welding uses active shielding gas constituents such as carbon dioxide or oxygen.
Usage:

With MIG welding, you can weld thinner materials. Generally used on steel and aluminium. It can be used on other materials, but the gas type and the complete spool of wire has to be changed to the correct type.

Flux Cored Welding (or Gasless MIG):

Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW/MIG). A more expensive process (in terms of equipment and consumables) than stick (arc) welding. You will need:

Equipment:
  • A Flux Cored Welder (FCAW), or MIG (gas1 or gasless).

1 a gas MIG welder may need tweaking to take flux cored wire.

Consumables:
  • Flux Cored Welding Wire (purchased as a spool).

Available in different size spools, size wire and materials.

Different names and abbreviations used for ‘MIG Welding’:
Flux Cored Welding – Names UsedAbbreviations
Flux Cored Welding
Gasless MIGMIG (gasless)
Flux Cored Arc WeldingFCAW
Flux Cored ArcFCA
Usage:

You can weld thinner materials. Generally used on steel. It can be used on other materials, but the complete spool of flux cored wire has to be changed to the correct type. Gasless Flux Cored Arc Welding is useful outdoors in windy conditions where the shielding gas can be dispersed by the wind. The equipment is also more portable as you don’t have a gas bottle.

Gas Welding:

One of the least common DIY tools for welding. I suspect this is because you need to hire two gas bottles, purchase two regulators etc. You will need:

Equipment:
  • A gas (welding) torch.
  • Two valves (regulators), one for each gas bottle, for controlling the gas flow.
Consumables:
  • Filler Rods (for gas welding):
  • Oxygen and acetylene gas bottles (There are other gas mixes – See the table below).

Filler rods for gas welding can be different to TIG filler rods. For instance, gas brazing rods may contain zinc which boils off and causes a mess with TIG welding, so check you have the correct type. For TIG you need silicon bronze (with no flux).

Different names and abbreviations used for ‘Gas Welding’:
Gas Welding – Names UsedAbbreviations
Gas Welding
Oxy-Acetylene Welding
Oxy-Gasoline Welding
Butane/Propane Welding
Hydrogen Welding
Methylacetylene-propadiene-petroleumMAPP
When gas welding, the fuel used is generally assumed to be oxy-acetylene, unless otherwise stated.
Usage:

Gas welding can weld thin material, but you can have issues with heat distortion. Generally used on thin steel and for brazing (it can also be used for cutting (burning) and heating processes). Typically used on steel and brazing alloys.

TIG Welding:

One of the more expensive methods of welding, (more than stick welding and MIG, in terms of equipment and consumables). You will need:

Equipment:
  • A TIG welder.
  • A valve (regulator) for the gas bottle, for controlling the gas flow.
Note:
  • Beware, a DC TIG welder is a different machine to an AC/DC TIG welder (and usually costs more). AC is used for welding aluminium and magnesium.
  • A foot pedal (for additional control) is a useful extra when welding aluminium. Some AC TIG welding machines don’t offer this option.
Consumables:
  • A shielding gas (of the correct type for the material to be welded). Note: Pure Argon can be used for multiple materials when used with TIG welding (steel, stainless steel, aluminium (aluminium & copper alloys)).
  • Filler Rods (for TIG), can be purchased in differing materials and quantities.
  • Tungsten electrodes (different types are used for different processes).
  • Nozzles and Cups

Filler rods for TIG welding can be different to gas filler rods. For instance, gas brazing rods may contain zinc4 which boils off and causes a mess with TIG welding, so check you have the correct type. For TIG you need silicon bronze (with no flux).

Different names used for ‘TIG Welding’:
TIG Welding – Names UsedAbbreviations
TIG Welding
Tungsten Inert GasTIG
Gas Tungsten Arc WeldingGTAW
Usage:

Tig welding is versatile, as you can weld thinner materials and have more control over the welding process. It’s a bit like an electric version of a gas welder (where you use filler rods). Often tig welders double up as stick (electric arc) welders. So you get the best of both worlds. It can be used on steel, stainless steel, cast iron, aluminium and various alloys.

  • AC and DC TIG machines weld different materials
  • Some TIG machines are also able to perform plasma cutting.
What Type of TIG Welding equipment can be used for Which Material?
What Material can be Welded With a TIG?
Material Types of TIG Welding Machine
DC AC ARC (MMA) Plasma5 (Cutting)
Steel Y Y Y
Stainless Steel Y Y Y
Aluminiun Alloys Y Y1 Y
Chromoly Y Y2 Y
Copper Y3 Y3 4
Brass Y3 Y3 4
Cast Iron Y Y1 Y
Nickel Y Y Y
Magnesium Y Y
Titanium Y Y
In all cases, the correct consumables, and shielding gas (if needed) must be used.
References:
  • 1 You can, but it may not be the best method?
  • 2 Tig appears to be the preferred method?
  • 3 Brazing may be a better method (lower heat), as ref 4 may apply with higher temperatures on recycled copper or brass.
  • 4 Zinc can evaporate and produce highly toxic fumes.
  • 5 Sometimes offered as an option.

Welding Processes – Where can They be Used?

In many cases, there will be claims that you can weld X with method Y. This can often be true, but it may be a more difficult process, or the quality of the finished weld may not be as good?

The table below gives an idea on what the best process is for the type of material to be welded.

What Welding equipment can be used for Which Material?
Welding – What Material can be Welded?
Material Type of Welding
Stick MIG MAG MIG (Gasless) GasTIG
Steel Y Y Y Y Y Y
Stainless Steel Y Y Y Y Y
Aluminiun Alloys Y1 Y Y Y Y2
Chromoly Y3 Y3 Y3 Y3 Y
Copper Y4 Y4 Y4 Y4 Y4
Brass Y1,4 Y4 Y4 Y4 Y4
Cast Iron Y Y1 Y1 Y1,6Y
Nickel Y Y Y Y
Magnesium Y Y Y7Y2
Titanium Y Y Y
Power ⚡ Required Y Y Y Y N Y
In all cases, the correct consumables, and shielding gas (if needed) must be used.
References:
  • 1 You can, but it may not be the best method?
  • 2 Use AC TIG welding.
  • 3 Tig appears to be the preferred method?
  • 4 Brazing may be a better method (lower heat), as ref 5 may apply with higher temperatures on recycled copper or brass.
  • 5 Zinc can evaporate and produce highly toxic fumes.
  • 6 Use stick electrodes (for cast iron) as filler rods.
  • 7 This is more likely to be a ‘brazed’ joint.

Welding – What Gas do You Use?

Welding gases provide a shield around the welding arc to prevent oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen (contained in the air around us) from affecting the quality of the weld.

Some processes use a flux instead of a shielding gas. For instance, stick welding uses a flux covered welding rod. For this reason, stick, gas, and flux cored wire welding are omitted from the table…

What is the best Welding Gas to Use?
Welding – What Gas do I Use?
Sugested Gas Mixture Material
Carbon Steel Stainless Steel Aluminium (Alum’m & Copper Alloys)
Type of Welding
MIG TIG MIG TIG MIG TIG
Argon (100%) *** ** * **
Argon/Helium (70/30%) * * *** ***
Argon/Helium (98/2%) ***
Argon/Helium/Carbon Dioxide (68/20/12%) ***
Argon/Carbon Dioxide/Oxygen (90.5/7/2.5%) ***
Argon/Carbon Dioxide/Oxygen (82.5/15/2.5%) ***
Argon/Helium/Carbon Dioxide (63/35/2%) ***
Argon/Helium/Carbon Dioxide (63/35/2%) ***
Argon/Carbon Dioxide (98/2%) ***
The more asterisk there are, the better it is.
Notes:
  • Each gas supplier, might have their own slightly different mix of gases (and their brand names for each different type of gas mixture). The table is intended to give you an idea on what gas you may need, and if a particular gas can be used across multiple types of materials.
  • MAG welding is where the majority of the gas mixture is an ‘Active’ gas, such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, or hydrogen.

With TIG welding, the table above highlights that pure argon, can be used with three different materials (with a 2 or 3 star rating). Whereas MIG welding (in most cases) needs a different gas for each material.


Welding – Things to Consider?

What Welding Tasks do you Need to Complete?

If you are buying welding equipment, you may need to consider what other welding tasks you want complete, (as this may influence the type of welding equipment you use)..? E.g. Some TIG welders can also work as a stick welder and as a plasma cutter.

How Much do You Want to Spend?

You also need to consider if you want professional grade, or general DIY equipment, as the cost can be vastly different.

Reliability?

Where does the welder come from? If you are using a welding set for a business, you may not want to wait weeks for a repair, so purchasing a cheaper Chinese welder may not be your best option. Not because of reliability, but where you have to send it to get it repaired?

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