Choosing the Right Type of Welding For Your Project
There’s a welding component to your new project. What type of welding should you use?
Finding the best welding method for your project depends on your materials and skill set.
If you’re like many professional and hobbyist welders, you use one or two types of welding more than others. Sometimes, only going with what you know can lead to problems.
To help you make the right choice, here’s a quick refresher about popular welding methods.
MIG (metal inert gas) welding is popular for a few reasons.
First, it’s easy to learn and only requires one hand. Most people learn MIG welding before any others.
The filler metal is fed through a nozzle, allowing the welder to use two hands to steady the torch. Most other welding processes require the welder to use one hand to hold the torch while the other manages the filler metal.
Because of the wire feeder, MIG welding is fast.
With MIG welding, inert gas shields the weld. This keeps it clean of impurities. It also makes the process tidy and clean-up is easy.
For anyone new to welding, MIG is a great option. But only if the materials to be joined are suitable.
The sections to be joined don’t have to be the same material. Yet, the welds won’t be strong enough for heavy materials like cast iron. And they’ll be too strong for light materials like aluminum.
TIG (tungsten inert gas) or tungsten arc welding is great for the lighter metals.
Unlike MIG welding, the pieces to be joined must be the same material. This is because the two pieces will be fused together.
There’s more of a learning curve for TIG. The welder can only use one hand to hold the torch. The other hand holds the filler rod, which melts into the joint.
The filler rod is thinner than those used in stick welding. The result is thinner and cleaner welds.
This makes TIG welding ideal for thin, delicate metals. It’s popular for auto body repair and metal artwork.
Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
Like MIG welding, flux-cored arc welding uses a wire fed through the welder’s nozzle. It’s different because flux provides the arc shield.
The process doesn’t require external gas so it’s an efficient process that costs less in terms of supplies. Most MIG welding torches work for FCAW.
It’s a good option for working with heavier metals. But it doesn’t result in the most attractive welds. If weld appearance matters, be prepared for filing and polishing.
This is the most traditional type of welding. Sometimes called shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), it’s one of the most effective methods for fusing alloys and joints. But it’s not efficient.
Instead of wire filler or flux, this welding technique uses a consumable electrode. It can be done inside or outside.
The welding process is simple but does require more practice than other welding methods. Stick welding is a messy process but the pieces to be joined don’t need to be clean, which is a plus.
It’s common to use stick welding for metals like cast iron and steel. Learning to stick weld takes time, which makes it a sought-after skill.
Which Type of Welding Is Best?
The best type of welding is the one that best suits your project. Unless you need to weld underwater, one of these four types of welding should be appropriate.
Make sure you’re trained and that your materials match the type of welding.
Learn what protective gear is necessary and always use it properly.
Then go forth and weld! Use the comment section below to tell us about your project and which kind of welding you’re planning to use!