Welding is a practice that has been around since 3000 BC, tracing back to ancient welding techniques carried out in Egypt. However, it was not until the 1800s when the first practical arc welding method came about, and many forms of welding have since been invented leading into the present. With a variety of techniques and tools now available to welders, it is crucial that they understand when each method is best used to ensure quality work and reliable welded joints.
Stick welding, commonly referred to as Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), is a practice in which a welder manually creates a weld using a stick that forms an arc with an electric current. SMAW methods are quite popular for constructing steel structures and to join pieces made from iron or steel. To utilize SMAW techniques, the welder must be able to pass a destructive bend test, though it is not too difficult of a process to learn the basics of. While stick welding cannot create uniform or beautiful finishes like other methods, it is a very easy option for repairing equipment, rusted surfaces, and more.
Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding or Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) is a technique where a shielding gas is present along the wire electrode to heat metals that are to be joined together. As the most common method for industrial welding, MIG welding can be used to attach thick metal plates in a horizontal fashion. Nevertheless, it is important to note that MIG welding needs a constant voltage with DC power sources.
If you are working with thick pieces that are made from non-ferrous metals or stainless steel, the Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) is the best method to utilize. GTAW methods utilize arcs, and the weld is produced with the help of a fixed, consumable tungsten electrode. It is important to note what type of base material one is working with before conducting a GTAW operation, as this welding method cannot be used for filler metals, and the ratio of chromium in the piece will also affect the melting temperature. While GTAW methods allow for beautiful finished products to be established, it is a harder process to learn and master.
Flux-Core Arc Welding (FCAW) is the final welding method we will discuss, and it is often used in lieu of shield welding practices. Due to FCAW presenting high portability and speed, it is regularly relied on in construction sites and operations. FCAW systems should only be used outside or with a ventilation hood as they will create ample smoke and fumes when an operation is carried out.
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