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What is Welding?

Published by Rapid Metals on

One of the most common processes that are applied to metal is welding. Whether you’re a hobbyist or DIY enthusiast, or if you’re a professional working within the construction industry, welding is something you have more than likely come across. Welding involves joining two pieces of metal together to form one solid structure. Although it seems simple in principle, there are multiple types of welding for different applications, and it’s often confused with other processes, including soldering and brazing.

How Does Welding Work?

The basic principle of welding is to join two or more pieces of metal together. The way in which that is done can differ greatly, but there are generally two parent types of welding: pressure welding and fusion welding.

Fusion welding involves heating the two pieces of metal to beyond their melting point (sometimes with the use of filler metal or inert gases), and pressure welding involves pressure being applied to the two pieces of metal below their melting point.

Pressure welding is used for:

  • Joining sheets of metal, electrical components or wiring through cold pressure welding
  • Joining pipes through induction welding
  • Joining different types of metal together through explosive, friction of percussion welding
  • Joining thin sheets of metal through ultrasonic welding
  • Joining high strength alloys through inertial welding

Fusion welding is arguably the most common form of welding and encompasses multiple types. Broadly speaking, fusion welding is used across all sectors, including within the aerospace, automotive and construction industries. These are the parent styles of welding, but there are multiple other branches of welding that can be used.

Types of Welding

Aside from pressure and fusion welding, there are various ways you can get two pieces of metal to form one structure, but the method you use will depend on the object you are making, the metals you are using and the finish you are looking for.

There are six main types of welding and they are as follows:

  • MIG welding
  • TIG welding
  • Stick welding
  • Arc welding
  • Laser welding
  • Gas welding

What is MIG Welding?

If you are learning how to weld, this is a good option for you because it doesn’t require advanced and expensive equipment. Metal hobbyists; this is the option for you. MIG stands for ‘metal inert gas’ and, put simply, uses electricity to create joins. A short circuit (sometimes referred to as an electrical arc) is created. The short circuit melts an electrode wire, and when the melted wire is cooled, it forms a welded join.

What is TIG Welding?

If you’re a beginner, TIG welding (also known as tungsten inert gas welding) is not for you. This is a more advanced method that gained popularity for being incredibly successful at aluminium welding, particularly to magnesium. TIG welding is stronger than MIG and it produces cleaner joins. A tungsten electrode is heated and the weld puddle is protected from contaminants in the air by a gas (usually Argon). TIG welding can weld more metals than any other form of welding.

What is Stick Welding?

The most widely used welding technique of them all is stick welding. Stick welding is more commonly known as shielded metal arc welding, and it joins MIG welding in its suitability for beginners. Learning how to stick weld is relatively simple. A metal stick – called an electrode – is coated in a binding substance which, when exposed to an electric current, creates a weld pool. Combined with filler metal, a join is made.

What is Arc Welding?

Arc welding is an umbrella term given to other types of welding, including stick welding. There is gas metal arc welding, flux-cored arc welding and arc stud welding to name but a few.

What is Laser Welding?

Laser beam welding – as the name suggests – entails using a laser to create a concentrated heat source which joins metals and plastics using deep welds. It is one of the most precise and successful methods of welding.

What is Gas Welding?

Gas welding is arguably one of the oldest forms of joining metals together. It doesn’t cost much and is extremely easy to pick up. It uses a combination of flammable gases, including oxygen, gasoline, butane and propylene. When the gases mix, they create intensely flames which melt the metals and fuse them together.

Commonly Welded Metals

Almost all metals can be welded. Knowing how to weld stainless steel and how to weld aluminium are key skills because these are among the most welded metals, but it is worth noting that not all metals can be welded together. Due to the properties of the metals, it is extremely hard to weld titanium and steel or aluminium and copper, and because it’s a chemical property issue, it’s not something that can be gotten around easily. Before you begin any welding project, you should check that the two materials can be fused together successfully.

Buy Metals for Welding

If you’re looking to buy metals for welding – no matter what type you might be undertaking – we can help. Feel free to browse our website or contact us to find out more about buying metals for your welding project.

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