What is Welding?
Welding is the process by which high heat is used to connect two different pieces of metal at a seam. The base metals are melted together at the join with a filler material to allow the two parts to fuse together as they cool. In many cases, the weld can be stronger than the original materials that were bonded together. Welding is different from soldering and brazing in that the base materials are actually melted together.
Types of Welding
There are many types of welding, with some of the more common types including the following:
- Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) – also known as Stick Welding
- Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) – TIG (Tungsten, Inert Gas) Welding
- Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) – MIG (Metal, Inert Gas) Welding
- Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW) – Similar to MIG
- Submerged Arc Welding (SAW) – Sub-Arc Welding
- Electroslag Welding (ESW) – for thicker materials
Common Welding Processes
Are Welding uses an electrical power supply (either AC or DC) to create an electrical arc between the electrode and the material that is being welded in order to melt the material. The electrode can be either consumable (it melts along with the base material) or non-consumable (it does not melt). The length of the arc is directly related to the voltage of the power supply, where the heat is related to the current (Amps) of the power supply.
In arc welding, an inert or semi-inert gas is typically used to protect the welding area, commonly called a shielding gas. The polarity of the electrode can have a great effect on the weld depending on the type of welding being done. For example, using a consumable electrode with a negative charge will result in a shallower weld, while a positive electrode will result in a hotter and deeper weld.
Stick welding also used electrical power but instead of a direct arc it uses a consumable electrode that creates the join on the circuit. The electrode acts as a filler for the join so separate filler material is not needed. This electrode is coated in a protective flux which prevents oxidation of the weld and reduces the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the process.
Stick welding is typically a slower type of welding. Because the electrodes are used up, they constantly have to be changed out. Also, the process produces slag (flux residue) that has to be scrapped or chipped away from the weld at the end of the process.
Gas Welding is a less common type of welding today. It is one of the oldest forms of welding. Usually called oxyacetylene (or oxyfuel) welding, it is the process by which acetylene gas is burned with oxygen to create a flame of about 5600 degrees Fahrenheit. While very inexpensive, since it is less concentrated than an electrical arc, the weld cools slower which may make it less strong. Gas welding is still commonly used in applications such as welding tubes and pipes.
Gas Welding is also useful with high alloy steels as it can reduce the stress of the welding process on the materials. Oxyacetylene can be used to cut through metal (called oxyfuel cutting) if needed.
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