welding techniques

4 Fundamental Welding Processes and Procedures [That Every Welder Must Master]

Welders fabricate and form metal products by compressing and using high heat to combine two separate parts into one. Once the welded material cools, a welding process called “fusion” occurs, merging the metals and creating a final product.

Are you a prospective welder seeking insight into this innovative career path?

In order to break into the welding field, postsecondary training is recommended. Aspiring welders often attend a welding bootcamp or a welding certificate program to gain hands-on experience in the field, and to learn the fundamental welding processes and techniques needed to land a job.

Today, most employers prefer to hire welders with some knowledge and practical experience under their belts. For this reason, welding programs focus on teaching the ins and outs of advanced manufacturing technology and welding processes like MIG welding and TIG welding, among numerous other welding techniques.

Read on to discover four crucial welding procedures and processes required for real-world welding careers.

1. Gas Metal Arc Welding

Gas Metal Arc Welding is the most common welding process. It is often referred to as Metal Inert Gas welding or “MIG” welding. Essentially, MIG welding is an arc welding process ideal for thinner to medium metal. Requiring a constant voltage and a direct-current power source, MIG welding uses a hand-held torch containing shielding gas and a continuously fed wire electrode.

MIG welding is performed on metals like aluminum, copper, carbon steel, nickel, silicon bronze, and stainless steel.

Advantages of MIG Welding

MIG welding is a perfect welding method to practice for beginners, and its benefit enables welders to quickly fuse a strong weld between thin materials.

Drawbacks of MIG Welding

A disadvantage of MIG welding is the cost of obtaining shielding gas and the inability to perform vertical (overhead) welds. In addition, MIG welds are not as accurate or strong as TIG welds, and working materials must be completely clean.

Industries that Implement MIG Welding

Mainly automotive and construction industries practice and benefit from MIG welding. Gas Metal Arc Welding is also implemented in projects pertaining to fabrication, maritime repairs, plumbing, robotics, and more. Again, this is the most common welding process utilized in manufacturing today.

2. Gas Tungsten Arc Welding

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding, also known as Tungsten Inert Gas or “TIG” welding, is an arc welding process that uses a stable tungsten electrode to produce a weld. Unlike other welding processes, TIG welding has a non-consumable tungsten electrode, which does not require routine replacement parts. However, a shielding gas — an external argon or hybrid argon/helium supply — fed through a separate rod is still needed to formulate the weld.

TIG welds can tolerate higher temperatures and are ideal for thin sections of stainless steel or non-ferrous metals like aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, lead, magnesium, nickel, stainless steel, steel, tin, titanium, and zinc.

TIG welding is known to work specifically well with non-ferrous metals.

Advantages of TIG Welding

With TIG welding, there is no contact between the electrode and the fused material. As a result, the electrode and metals are connected by a steady electrical arc, creating a more precise and polished outcome than a MIG weld.

TIG welding enables complete control over the heat input and the welding arc, permitting welders to fuse several small and thin materials.

Drawbacks of TIG Welding

TIG welding is more talent-driven and time-consuming than MIG, stick, or flux cored arc welding. Considered one of the most challenging welds to learn, the ability takes keen attention to detail and solid fine motor skills to produce a smooth finished product. Due to the long project lead times, TIG welding is a slower process with more significant production costs.

Industries that Implement TIG Welding

Predominantly, aviation, aerospace, bicycle manufacturers, pipe welders, and sheet metal mechanics implement the TIG welding method. TIG welding is also applied to produce door handles, fenders, and more.

3. Shielded Metal Arc Welding

Shielded Metal Arc welding, commonly known as “Stick welding,” is a manual process that uses a rod with electric current to construct an arc between the rod and joining metals.

Stick welding can join thick alloyed steel, carbon steel, cast iron, ductile iron, and stainless steel. Shielded metal arc welding can also combine some non-ferrous metals like nickel and copper. Stick welds are rarely used on aluminum.

Advantages of Stick Welding

Most popular among home-shop welders, shielded metal arc welding is portable, works well on dirty and rusty materials, and requires minimal equipment and cost. Stick welding does not require shielding gas and can be applied outdoors amongst rain and wind elements. This versatile method is also easy to learn.

Drawbacks of Stick Welding

The stick method is less durable and slower than other welding techniques. The shielded metal arc process is also prone to cracks, porosity, and shallow welds.

Industries that Implement Stick Welding

Stick welding is often applied in industrial iron fabrication and steel construction projects like piping.

4. Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)

Developed as an alternative option to shield/stick welding, flux cored arc welding produces a semi-automatic arc weld using a continuous hallowed wire electrode fed through a rod.

Flux cored arc welding is designed for thicker metals and deep welds and is known for its high speed, portability, and adaptability to diverse welding projects.

FCAW can be used on carbon steel, cast iron, nickel, and stainless steel. However, aluminum cannot be used with the flux cored arc welding process.

Advantages of FCAW Welding

FCAW does not require shielding gas and can be implemented outdoors in windy conditions. Flux core arc welding is efficient and enables the newly joined metal to cool faster than other methods. FCAW can also be used on materials that do not need to be cleaned.

Drawbacks of FCAW Welding

The filler material found in flux cored arc welding is more expensive than other types of arc welding. In addition, this method is notorious for generating more fumes and smoke than other methods and is advised to be applied outdoors or under industrial ventilation.

If the welder uses a flux cored wire, they should consistently monitor the possible porosity of the joint, as this defect is common among flux cored arc welders.

Industries that Implement FCAW Welding

Flux cored arc welding is used in agriculture, artistic projects, commercial construction, equipment repair and maintenance, manufacturing, mining, and wholesale trade.

Getting Welders Workforce-Ready at Goodwin

Now that you know the most essential types of welding processes, it’s time to learn to weld. A career-focused welding school like Goodwin University can teach you fundamental welding techniques and help you adhere to essential safety standards required for welding today. Goodwin graduates leave well-prepared for entry-level welding careers.

Goodwin’s industry expert instructors guide learners in gaining practical and professional trade experience. Students in the welding program learn the fabrication procedures, safety protocols, and repair processes for numerous metals.

At Goodwin, completing a welding certificate is convenient, and students can study for their careers on their schedule. With open enrollment, no waitlist, and day and evening classes available, learners can take full or part-time courses and obtain their welding certificate in as few as eight months.

Welding Career Projections

Skilled welders are vital to advancing manufacturing and the economy, from molding everyday appliances to making essential, life-saving tools.

As such, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that employment for welders will grow from 2021 to 2031, creating roughly 47,600 new job openings each year.

Careers are available in this field, as is a strong salary potential. In 2021, the median annual wage for welders nationally was $47,010, while welders working in Connecticut made an average yearly wage of $55,530.

Are you ready to fuse your way to your future career? Beyond these fundamental welding techniques, learn what else it takes to become a skilled welder today!