Types of Welding – TIG, Stick, and MIG Make Up 90% of All Welding

What are the different types of welding and what are they used for? If you are looking for a 20,000 foot view of the different types of welding along with applications, stick around for a minute, I think I can help.

Stick welding

Stick welding is often called Arc welding although that is kind of a misnomer because TIG welding and MIG welding are actually arc welding processes too. But ARC welding is what most people still call stick welding.  Stick welding is the old school kind of welding that grandpa used to do to fix his tractor in the barn. It uses a stick electrode like a 6013, 6011, or 7018 welding rod that is chucked up in an electrode holder that looks a little bit like a battery jumper cable clamp. The rod is struck like a match to get the arc going and the rod is fed into the puddle as it burns. Stick welding is pretty simple and the stick welding machine is simple too and also pretty cheap. You can buy a Lincoln 225 AC welding machine at any Home Depot for way less than 300 dollars.

MIG welding

Mig welding is considered one of the easiest types of welding to learn. Why? Because the rod does not have to be fed as it shortens like with stick welding. A wire is fed through a cable and out the end of the mig welding gun and all the operator is required to do is to pull the trigger and weld. Sounds easy right? Well it is not that easy. It is a little bit easier to learn than stick welding but only a little.

Mig welding actually kind of describes 2 types of welding…bare wire mig, AND flux core welding.

Bare wire mig is cleaner, and will weld thinner metal, but flux core is easier to use outdoors and does not require a cylinder of mig welding gas or a flow meter. Flux core welding is usually either used for cheap hobby welder s where the buyer does not want to spend the money for gas and a gas conversion kit, or for really heavy duty applications like earth moving equipment and heavy production welding.

TIG welding

TIG welding is considered one of the more difficult types of welding to learn…harder to master than mig or stick welding. That is because both hands are needed to tig weld. One hand holds a tig torch with a tungsten electrode that provides the arc and heat…and the other hand feeds the rod.  TIG welding equipment is generally more expensive and more difficult to set up because there is often a remote amperage foot pedal included and it takes a cylinder of argon or argon mix shielding gas to work.

Tig welding is the most versatile type of welding of all. Virtually all conventional metals can be welded with the tig process. Carbon and low alloy steels, stainless steel, nickel alloys, aluminum, magnesium, titanium, cobalt, and copper alloys can all be welded using this type of welding.

Plasma arc welding

Plasma arc welding is similar to tig welding except that the tungsten electrode is recessed inside a nozzle and the heat is created by ionizing gasses flowing around the arc. Plasma arc welding is used where high precision is required and in situations where a recessed electrode is beneficial.  Plasma arc welding is used extensively in aerospace applications for dimensional restoration of air seals and jet engine blade repair where thicknesses are often below .015″ and amperages used are often single digit.

Gas welding

Gas welding is one of the old school types of welding.  Oxygen and Acetylene is the most popular setup for a gas welding kit and gas welding is still used a lot for automotive exhaust applications, as well as by homebuilt airplane enthusiasts for welding 4130 chromoly tubing for airplane fuselages.  It works. It’s portable. And it is fairly versatile… There are still some people that swear by gas welding even for welding aluminum.

Some people believe that tig welding is much better than gas welding. I am one of those people.

Electron beam and laser welding. 

These types of welding are considered high energy welding processes because they pinpoint heat so much better than older more conventional types of welding. Electron beam welding can penetrate through 6 inches of steel without any bevel.

Laser welding can pinpoint heat so precisely that weld metal can be deposited on a tool steel injection mold cavity so precisely that heat treatments can be eliminated and only minimal machining is needed in order to restore dimensions.