Welding is a metal joining technique (also used on thermoplastics) that uses high heat to melt and fuse base materials. In addition to melting the base material, welders also apply a melted filler which helps to bond the pieces together once cooled.
Whereas other types of metal joining depend entirely on the filler ‘adhesive’ to hold joints or parts together, welding involves high enough heat to also melt the base material, thereby creating a seamless, super-strong bond.
All originating from the same basic techniques, welders today employ a wide range of techniques to create everything from large industrial machinery and equipment to the most delicate technology. Welders may work in volatile, high-risk environments, or can be found working in highly-controlled labs and manufacturing facilities.
Different types of welding – which we’ll be covering in this guide – are designed for different tasks, and the one you’ll use will depend on your facility’s specific needs.
Because of the variety of welding techniques, there are also several different types of welding machines, and welders themselves are required to choose the appropriate welding safety equipment to prevent injury and to safely and efficiently finish projects. At OnePointe Solutions, we help our clients design, build, and install lab and industrial furniture for high-impact work like welding, and are proud to offer custom welding tables and accessories to our clients in a variety of industries.
Here, we’ve created a simple overview of the most common types of welding to help you make an informed decision for your needs.
1. Atomic Hydrogen Welding
Atomic hydrogen welding utilizes extremely high-heat, reaching temperatures far above a typical acetylene torch to thoroughly melt heavy-duty metals. Because atomic hydrogen welding can efficiently melt base materials, some atomic hydrogen welding is done without the use of a filler.
The process of atomic hydrogen welding involves shielding two tungsten electrodes using hydrogen gas, thereby producing an arc that can reach temperatures of more than 3500 degrees Celcius.
Today, few welders practice atomic hydrogen welding, since this method has been widely replaced by MIG welding thanks to a greater availability of inert gasses. When atomic hydrogen welding is utilized, it is typically for bonding tungsten, which has an extremely high melting point and a reputation as being difficult to work with.
2. Electroslag Welding (ESW)
Electroslag welding (ESW) is typically an automated process used to bond two thin metal plates vertically. In many typical welding processes, the welder applies filler to the outside joint, running their heating tool/welding machine along this outer edge to make the pieces join as one. With ESW, the weld is applied to the inward-facing edges of the two plates.
Rather than using a typical hand-held probe, the ESW process involves threading a thin copper electrode through a metal tube made from filler. The filler tube is carefully placed between the plate edges before a technician introduces electricity to the copper electrode.
The addition of electricity creates a small arc, which melts the filler tube and creates a solid seam between the two plates. The electrode is slowly moved along the length of the seam by the automated machinery, creating a seamless final-result between closely placed plates.
Although ESW is a relatively delicate process, it is ideal for welding thicker pieces of metal and is safer than other types of welding that involve the use of an exposed arc.
3. Electron Beam Welding (EBW)
Electron beam welding (EBW) does not involve the use of a filler metal or material and depends entirely on the melting and bonding of two base materials to create a strong weld. Typically an automated, machine performed process, EBW involves the use of a high-energy beam made from high-velocity electrons.
When shot at a metal, the beam creates concentrated kinetic energy which is then converted into thermal energy, thereby heating the metal.
When applied to a metal-to-metal joint, electron beam welding turns the edges of the plates to a liquid state, thereby bonding them. Upon cooling, a joint/seam has been created without adding bulk from filler materials.
4. Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) is a fast, efficient, relatively low-cost type of welding typically used on construction sites or by industrial engineers/manufacturers to perform repairs to equipment and machinery or other items made from thick, heavy metals. A consumable wire electrode containing a rod of metal filler is used to heat the area of application, which can be done safely thanks to the electrode wire’s unique flux core.
As the probe heats, the flux creates a gas shield, which means technicians can achieve the same strong, durable weld without the use of an external gas.
5. Gas Welding
Gas welding is a relatively simple method of bonding metals that involves the use of a high-heat gas torch tip applied to the surface of adjacent plates or components. The gas flame melts the surface of the metals, forcing them to flow together and thereby creating a single, continuous surface once the joint has cooled.
6. Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) – MIG Welding
Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), sometimes called metal inert gas welding (MIG), is one of the simplest types of welding and is commonly taught to new/amateur welders and students. MIG welding involves the use of a consumable wire made from filler metal which is manually fed through a wand, allowing the technician to control the speed and accuracy.
An arc is created from the top of the wire to the base of the metal tube, heating the components and melting the filler. To protect the filler from the atmosphere, inert gasses must be steadily expelled over the surface throughout the process.
As the wire electrode is squeezed out of the welding wand, the heat from the consumable filler also heats the edges of the base materials, helping to create a stronger bond. Generally an easy method to master with easy to use materials, MIG welding produces an extremely even, smooth, visually appealing weld.
7. Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) – TIG Welding
Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), also known as tungsten inert gas welding (TIG), is a method of arc welding that does not utilize a filler metal or material. Rather than utilizing a consumable electrode, GTAW uses a tungsten electrode, which is extremely durable and capable of melting the surface of metals to bond them together. Because tungsten has an extremely high melting point, the non-consumable electrode is not affected by the high-heat and can be used to bond thick sections of stainless steel and similar metals.
To protect the weld from the atmosphere or environmental contaminants, a steady flow of inert gas must be applied to the area during the process.
8. Laser Beam Welding
Used both for metals and thermoplastics, laser beam welding does not utilize a filler and instead creates a welded joint by melting and joining base materials. Commonly used to weld carbon and stainless steel, aluminum, and thermoplastics, laser beam welding is particularly favored by robotics engineers and members of the automotive industry.
Without the need for a filler material, and thanks to the precision of a laser, laser beam welding is used in applications where additional bulk may hinder the final product.
9. Plasma Arc Welding
Plasma arc welding involves heating a non-consumable wand to extremely high temperatures, thereby creating pressurized gases within the wand which convert to plasma, thereby creating a small, precise welding arc. Like gas tungsten arc welding, plasma arc welding does not require the use of a filler metal and instead involves melting the base metals to form a strong, seamless bond.
Particularly useful in applications where efficiency is required, plasma arc welding can be used to bond base metals like copper alloys, nickel alloys, and aluminum.
10. Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)
Another relatively easy method of welding, shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) – sometimes called ‘stick welding’ – was first developed in the 1930s but remains a popular method for beginners today. Low cost, efficient, and simple in terms of operation, this method of welding is ideal in quick applications where a high degree of visual appeal is not necessary.
Because this method can be a bit messy, SMAW is also not ideal in highly precise or detailed welding applications.
A consumable electrode and filler metal are melted using a simple arc, then applied to a joint to bond two pieces of base material together. In SMAW, the filler rods are coated in flux, which creates a gas to protect the weld site from the atmosphere.
Because the gas is created during the process of welding, SMAW can be accomplished without the use of external gas, making it more affordable and excellent for quick, easy repairs to industrial equipment.
11. Submerged Arc Welding (SAW)
An early form of welding, submerged arc welding (SAW) utilizes a continuous tube of consumable filler, melted and applied to a surface or joint using a traditional welding arc. Unlike other methods of welding which require the use of an inert gas to protect the hot weld from oxidation or atmospheric contaminants, SAW involves a physical ‘blanket’ of granular flux surrounding the weld site.
The weld site and filler are fully submerged in the granular flux, both protecting the weld joint and keeping sparks, spatter, and debris from flying through the air.
Welding tables are used as heat-proof platforms on which to perform various welding tasks and processes. Designed specifically to withstand high-heat, exposure to gases and chemicals, and the strain of changing loads, welding tables provide welders with a safe, stable place to carefully complete their work.
At OnePointe Solutions, we build premium welding tables for clients in every industry, outfitted with custom features and accessories to suit the particular needs of our customers.
No matter the type of welding you do, our design team can help create an optimized solution that will not only help you to perform the work you already do but also can help to enhance your results while keeping you feeling safe and comfortable during the process.
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