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Welding Processes

2.1 Arc welding processes
2.1.1 Shielded metal arc welding
2.1.2 Gas metal arc welding
2.1.3 Flux-cored arc welding
2.1.4 Gas tungsten arc welding
2.1.5 Plasma arc welding
2.1.6 Submerged arc welding
2.1.7 Other arc welding processes

Arc welding processes

Arc welding processes use a welding power supply to create an electric arc between an electrode and the base material to melt metals at the welding point. They can use either direct (DC) or alternating (AC) current, and consumable or non-consumable electrodes. The welding region is sometimes protected by some type of inert or semi-inert gas, and filler material is sometimes used as well.

Shielded metal arc welding

Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), also known as manual metal arc welding (MMA) or stick welding, uses electric current to strike an arc between the consumable electrode rod and the base material. The electrode is made of steel and is covered with a flux that protects the weld area from oxidation and contamination by producing CO2 gas during the welding process. The electrode core itself acts as filler material, making a separate filler unnecessary. The process is very versatile, requiring little operator training and inexpensive equipment. However, weld times are rather slow, since the consumable electrodes must be frequently replaced and because slag, the residue from the flux, must be chipped away after welding. Furthermore, the process is generally limited to welding ferrous materials, though specialty electrodes have made possible the welding of cast iron, nickel, aluminum, cooper, and other metals. It is one of the most common welding techniques, and is used extensively in construction.

Gas metal arc welding

See main article at gas metal arc welding

Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), also known as metal inert gas welding (MIG), is a manual or automatic welding process that uses an automatic wire feed as an electrode and an inert or semi-inert gas mixture to protect the weld from contamination. Since the electrode is continuous, welding speeds are greater for GMAW than for SMAW. However, because of the additional equipment, the process is less portable and versatile, but still useful for industrial applications. The process can be applied to a wide variety of metals, both ferrous and non-ferrous.


Flux-cored arc welding

See main article at flux-cored arc welding

Similar to GMAW, flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) uses the same equipment but use wire that consists of a steel electrode surrounding a powder fill material. This cored wire is more expensive than the standard solid wire and can generate fumes and/or slag, but it permits higher welding speed and greater metal penetration.

Gas tungsten arc welding

See main article at gas tungsten arc welding

Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), or tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, is a manual welding process that uses a non-consumable electrode made of tungsten, an inert or semi-inert gas mixture, and a separate filler material. Especially useful for welding thin materials, this method is characterized by a stable arc and high quality welds, but it requires significant operator skill and can only be accomplished at relatively low speeds. It can be used on nearly all weldable materials, though it is most often applied to stainless steel and light metals. It is often used when quality welds are extremely important, such as in aircraft and naval applications.

Plasma arc welding

See main article at plasma arc welding

Plasma arc welding uses a plasma gas that flows around the electrode (usually made of tungsten), while a shielding gas protects the welding region from contamination. The arc is more concentrated that the GTAW arc, making transverse control more critical and thus generally restricting the technique to a mechanized process. Because of its stable current, the method can be used on a wider range of material thicknesses than can the GTAW process, and furthermore, it is much faster. It can be applied to all of the same materials as GTAW except magnesium, and automated welding of stainless steel is one important application of the process. A variation of the process is plasma cutting, an efficient steel cutting process.

Submerged arc welding

Submerged arc welding (SAW) is a high-productivity welding method in which the arc is struck beneath a covering layer of flux. This increases arc quality, since contaminants in the atmosphere are blocked by the flux. The slag that forms on the weld generally comes off by itself, and combined with the use of a continuous wire feed, the weld deposition rate is high. Working conditions are much improved over other arc welding processes, since the flux hides the arc and no smoke is produced. The process is commonly used in industry, especially for large products.

Other Arc Welding Processes

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Welding Encyclopedia

1 History of Welding

2 Arc Welding processes

2.2 Gas welding

2.3 Resistance welding

3 Welding costs

4 Safety issues