What are the different types of welding and which Is best?

Humankind has been welding pieces of metal together for centuries. But today, there are many interesting techniques and applications.
Christopher McFadden
  • Welding is an essential process used for centuries to combine two or more pieces of metal.
  • Over time, various welding techniques have been developed to cater to different applications and materials.
  • From gas welding to plasma arc welding, each technique has its unique advantages and disadvantages.

Our kin has been sticking pieces of metal together using forms of welding for thousands of years. But since the 19th century, many different techniques have been developed with advantages and disadvantages. 

Here, we explore what welding means and discuss which types are the best for what purpose. We'll also introduce you to some artists doing exciting welding work. 

Understanding the different types of welding and their uses can help you choose the most appropriate method for your project. So, get ready to don your welding helmet and dive into the fascinating world of welding.

What is welding, and why is it done?

Welding is a fabrication process that uses high temperatures to melt and fuse parts. However, it should be noted that pressure can also aid the process or be used exclusively to produce a weld.

According to brighthubengineering.com, "welding doesn't merely bond the two pieces together as in brazing and soldering. Instead, it causes the metallic structures of the two pieces to join together and become one through extreme heat and sometimes the addition of other metals or gases."

It usually differs from metal-fusing methods that use lower temperatures, like brazing or soldering, which typically do not melt the base metal. 

Welding usually also involves using a filler material or a consumable. As the name suggests, this provides a "filler" or pool of molten material that helps form a strong link between the base metals. 

What are the different types of welding and which Is best?
There are many different types of welding.

Most welding processes will also require some form of shielding to protect the main components and filler from being oxidized. 

Welding can be performed using various energy sources. Examples include a gas flame (powered by a chemical like acetylene), an electric arc (electrical), a laser, an electron beam, friction, and ultrasound. Various welding techniques fit open air, underwater, and even space settings. 

What are the types of welding?

Welding has been used in metallurgy for millennia. Although, forge welding, in which blacksmiths join iron and steel by heating and hammering, was the only viable technique. This changed in the 19th century when more advanced methods like arc welding and oxyfuel welding were developed. 

Welding equipment review platform Welder Station lists some of the most common welding processes:

  • MIG Welding - Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)
  • TIG Welding - Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)
  • Stick Welding - Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)
  • Flux Welding - Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
  • Energy Beam Welding (EBW)
  • Atomic Hydrogen Welding (AHW)
  • Gas Tungsten-Arc Welding
  • Plasma Arc Welding
What are the different types of welding and which Is best?
Source: Divers Institute of Technology

What are the different types of welding machines?

There are quite a few different types of welding machines knocking around. These machines generate heat that melts metal parts so they can be joined. However, there isn't a single welding machine suitable for all welding purposes.

Larger welding machines tend to be found in industrial sites like factories, while smaller ones are ideal for domestic or amateur purposes.

According to Welding Hub, there are five main types of welding machines. These are: 

  • Mig (metal inert gas) welding machines.
  • Thyristor Control Mig welding machines.
  • Tig welding machines.
  • Spot welding machines.
  • Shielded metal arc welding machines.
What are the different types of welding and which Is best?
Welding is a fundamental process.

  • MIG welding machines are best for most welding purposes at home or in a factory. They tend to be able to handle various metals, including mild steel, stainless steel, and even aluminum. MIG welding is an arc welding process where a continuous solid wire electrode is fed through a welding gun into the weld pool, joining the two base materials together. A shielding gas sent through the welding gun protects the weld pool from contamination. MIG welding is usually fast and provides a long arc time even when the electrodes are not fully charged.
  • Thyristor Type MIG welding machines are generally best for fixing or mounting objects on a suitable surface. These machines are of good quality and will last a very long time. Such welding machines produce a small amount of spark, which makes them easy to control. These machines are best suited for welding solid core and flux materials. They can handle mild, low carbon, alloy, etc.
  • TIG welding machines are more specialized than the others and provide a clean and pure weld without splatter, sparks, or fumes. These machines handle stainless steel, brass, gold, magnesium, aluminum, copper, and nickel alloys. TIG welding machines are generally unsuitable for fieldwork but are great for repairing damaging parts.
What are the different types of welding and which Is best?
Source:Julian Carvajal/Flickr

  • Spot welding machines tend to be used to join overlaps between things like sheets of steel. To do this, metal sheets are usually protected using a pair of electrodes by passing a current through them. Spot welders have many great advantages over others, like effective power utilization, high manufacture rates, simple automation, etc. These welding machines tend to be most commonly found in the motor vehicle industry. They are also generally a lot cheaper than their alternatives. 
  • Shielded metal arc welding, or stick welding, uses an electric current flowing from a gap between metal and welding stick. In this type of welding, an electric current is used to create an arc between the base material and the filler rod (also called an electrode rod). The filler rod is covered with a flux that prevents oxidation and contamination by producing carbon dioxide gas during welding. 

What is the strongest type of weld?

Answering this question is not as simple as it may first appear. The best weld depends on the base material and its intended use. From TIG to plasma arc welding, each technique has its unique advantages and disadvantages over the others. 

According to Crom Weld, stick welding is the strongest type of weld: "if pure strength counts and the thickness of the material that can be welded, then stick welding is the winner. As we said, the stick method is the only one capable of welding cast iron. It also works on dirty materials and under harsh weather conditions."

But that doesn't necessarily mean stick welding is the best choice for all scenarios. MIG can be applied to a broader selection of metals of varying thickness, while TIG welding produces the highest quality welds, especially when it comes to thin metals."

What are the different types of welding and which Is best?
An engineer welding.

It also depends on the metal you wish to weld. For example, welding aluminum can be tricky as it is a reasonably soft metal that can't cope with too much heat. For this reason, only two viable welding techniques can be used with aluminum, MIG welding, and TIG welding. 

Of these two techniques, TIG welding is widely considered to be the go-to technique for the best results. Stainless steel welding, on the other hand, is different, as it's a much beefier metal when compared to aluminum. For this reason, it can take much more punishment before compromising its strength. But, which welding technique provides the strongest weld depends on the thickness of the material.

MIG welding is generally considered the best technique for most steel applications. When it comes to thicker steel sheets, many bow down before the superiority of stick and flux welding. TIG and MIG welding can be used without real issues if the steel is mild and stainless. 

How do you choose suitable welding gloves?

Besides a decent-quality welding mask and machine, gloves are also essential welding gear. Their job is to protect your precious yet fragile human hands from potentially severe burns, so choosing a good pair is necessary. But there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to welding gloves. Factors like the welding you'll be using them for and how much skill you'll need are all considerations.

What are the different types of welding and which Is best?
Source: meredith_nutting/Flickr

The type of welding you'll be using will produce different amounts of sparks and other hazards. MIG welding, for example, tends to have a lot of sparks that need to be shielded against and cleaned up afterward. 

Gloves also come in a variety of materials too. For most users, leather is preferred as it is durable, non-conductive, and excellent at dissipating heat. But leather can be made from various types of animal skins. Some common examples include: 

  • Goatskin - This leather offers unparalleled abrasion and tensile strength while remaining soft and supple. This is ideal for TIG welding, where you need maximum dexterity.
  • Horsehide - Horsehide is tough a durable yet remains comfortable. While less popular, as leather gloves go, it is also great for TIG welding.
  • Pigskin - Pig leather is tough and performs well in wet and oily work environments. This leather is excellent for TIG, MIG, and stick welding.
  • Cowhide - Cow leather is one of the most common kinds of leather. It is durable, comfortable, and usually preferred for stick and MIG welding.
  • Deerskin - A soft and flexible leather, its freedom of movement makes it another excellent choice for TIG welding.
  • Elkskin - Elk leather tends not to harden as quickly as cowhide when exposed to heat. Elkskin is another excellent choice for MIG welding due to the high amount of heat it gives off.

What is the best welder for a beginner?

If you are new to welding, some techniques are much easier. MIG welding, for example, is widely considered to be the easiest to pick up and run with. But why?

What are the different types of welding and which Is best?
Is welding easy?

MIG welding has a high adjustability of power output. It also produces immaculate welds compared to most other techniques. It is also great as it is usually quick, a feature loved by beginners and masters alike. 

Other techniques also exist if your budget allows them. You could consider getting yourself something called a hybrid welder. This lets you try multiple methods with one tool. Yet despite this, many practicing welders endorse the simplicity and reliability of MIG welding for learning the ropes. 

What non-industrial things can welding be used for?

While welding is of great utility in many industries around the world, it can be used for other things too. One example is in the world of art. 

If you ever watched the timeless classic animated film, The Iron Giant, Dean McCoppin did just that. 

What are the different types of welding and which Is best?
The Iron Giant.

Tracing our steps back into the real world, many artists use the abovementioned techniques to produce magnificent works. Of those artists out there who use welding to do their job, one interesting example is Chain Breaker Welding

This chap uses old bike chains to produce extraordinary, aesthetically pleasing sculptures. You should check out his work on Instagram.

Another great welding artist is David Madero. This chap creates stunning works of art using plasma cutters and spot welding techniques. 

And that's your lot for today.

Welding is a necessary process that has revolutionized many industries, from manufacturing to construction. By understanding the different welding techniques and their applications, you can make informed decisions when selecting the appropriate welding method for your project.

Whether you're a professional welder or a hobbyist, welding offers endless possibilities and opportunities to create something truly remarkable. So, grab your welding gear and get ready to join the ranks of the skilled welders who have shaped our world.

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