Different Kinds of Welding

  1. Stick
  2. TIG
  3. MIG
  4. FCAW

There are multiple names used for the same process in welding because they have become commonly accepted slang terms. It does not matter what you call it, as long as you understand they are the same. Let me explain.

Stick welding is a slang term for “Shielded Metal Arc Welding” and is commonly abbreviated, or referred to, as “SMAW”. The slang term comes from the rod that is used because it is looks like a stick. This is a process that uses a power source that produces constant amperage to create an arc. This type of welder uses a rod, or electrode, made of metal with a flux coating on the outside that protects the weld area from the air while the rod is burning. SMAW is mostly used in the field because it is a practical welding process that is cheap, works great on most metals, and allows for welding thick materials. This makes it an excellent joining process for most industrial construction needs. SMAW is also the most basic form of welding that is taught in the majority of schools as foundation to learning other types of metal joining processes.

TIG welding, or TIG, is an abbreviation for “Tungsten Inert Gas” but its proper name is “Gas Tungsten Arc Welding” commonly abbreviated and referred to as “GTAW”. Back in the day, it used to also be known as “HeliArc”. GTAW is a joining technology that uses a constant current power supply just like Stick welding. What changes is the way filler metal is deposited into the joint. TIG uses a torch that has a piece of tungsten to produce an arc. The torch also has shielding gas flowing through it to protect the weld area from air. Characteristics of tungsten allow arc temperatures to reach more than 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The way TIG works is that the arc is created and then a filler metal is added to the joint. Filler metals for this process come in wire form and are simply cut to length. The most commonly used shielding gas is Argon, which is used for welding more than 90 percent of metals. TIG welding is used for welding exotic metals or anywhere that requires high quality welds. This process is one of the most difficult types of welding to learn.

MIG welding, or MIG, is an abbreviation for “Metal Inert Gas” which is more formally known as “Gas Metal Arc Welding” or “GMAW”. The term MIG comes from the original shielding gasses used that were the inert, or Nobel, gasses. Today the gases used vary, so the name has officially been changed to “Gas Metal Arc Welding”. MIG welding is the slang term that is commonly accepted. It is also known as “Wire Wheel Welding”. This process uses a wire feed to feed solid filler wire to the weld joint. The wire feed is connected to a constant voltage power supply that creates the arc to melt the wire when it hits the weld joint. Before the wire creates an arc there needs to be a shielding gas feed through the system. MIG welding is done through a MIG gun that combines the wire, electricity and shielding gasses all at the same time. The MIG gun has a trigger that, once squeezed, starts the metal joining process. This process is considered semi-automatic because the filler metal is continuously feed to the weld joint. This metal joining process is typically used in factories where high production is needed. MIG is easy to operate but setting up the equipment can be troublesome for a less experienced operator.

FCAW, or “Flux Cored Arc Welding”, is technically considered a different type of welding process. The truth is that FCAW is a different type of electrode or filler wire used in a MIG welding machine. The electrode is a hollow tube that has flux in the center. What this does is allow the electrode to weld without using an external shielding gas. There are two types of electrodes used in FCAW; self shielding and dual shielding. Self is an electrode that does not need any shielding gas. It is very much like a Stick welding electrode turned inside out. What this does is allow welding in windy conditions. The down side of MIG welding is that wind or drafts cause welding defects. A self shielding FCAW electrode solves that problem. Dual shielding electrodes need shielding gas to work properly. The benefit of this type of electrode is the amount of weld it can deposit. FCAW is typically used in shipyards or anywhere that needs lots of welding to be done on thick metals.

There are many more different kinds of welding that are used. Some examples are:

  • Oxy Acetylene
  • Lasers
  • Brazing
  • Soldering
  • Plasma
  • SAW or “Submerged Arc Welding”
  • Friction
  • Plastic
  • Electron Beam
  • Explosive
  • Thermite
  • Forge
  • Ultra Sonic

And the list goes on! In the end the most commonly used processes are Stick, TIG, MIG and FCAW. These are the processes that have become popular because they are what industry needs. They produce welds ranging from mass production to x-ray quality.