Not only is it important to choose the right tool for any job, using the right process is as important. With the wrong welding process, you can end up with unsatisfactory results. For different metals, different materials and techniques are more suited than some others. So, it is important to determine the right welding method that will give you the best results. The three most commonly used welding processes are TIG, MIG and stick welding and it is a good idea to understand all the three processes so that you can determine the one that is best for you.
This is quite an easy technique to learn. The two most important factors of MIG welding is the selection of the right shielding gas and setting the parameters correctly on the machine. Once you take care of these two factors, then the process is fairly straightforward.
In MIG welding, a spool gun is used, which feeds the spooled wire electrode at a continuous, preset speed. While the weld is laid, the shielding gas is also emitted by the gun, which helps to protect the weld area from the oxygen and nitrogen gases present in the air that can cause problems if they come in contact with the arc, the welding metal or the electrode.
MIG welding is used to produce a weld that is of greater strength, has a better appearance and does not require a lot of cleaning or sanding. Since the shielding gas is used, you can weld continuously and very fast. Also, MIG welding can be used for any metal.
MIG welding is difficult if done outdoors due to the gases. Although MIG welding can be used for all kinds of metals, you need different gases and wire for different materials. Also, you require knowing the different combinations and settings of the machine for varied materials.
Among all the three processes, TIG welding is the most efficient and clean, and produces the best welds. This welding process is preferred by welding professionals and artists, as TIG welding produces a clean and precise look. In TIG welding, a non-consumable tungsten electrode is used. However, the tungsten must be heated to a very high temperature before it melts and so you need to use a filler metal for IG welding, which is fed into the weld area by the operator.
TIG welding produces the cleanest and most aesthetic work. The IG welding process allows excellent control over the welding process, which produces tough and high-quality welds.
TIG welding is more difficult to master compared to the other welding methods. You need to be very skilled and you need to have good coordination as TIG welding requires the simultaneous use of both your hands and feet. Also, compared to stick and MIG welding, TIG is much slower and the surface of the workpiece must be extremely clean and any rust, debris and paint must be removed before you attempt to weld.
Shielded Metal Arc or Stick Welding
This is the simplest, oldest and most cost-effective form of welding and is one of the most popular methods of welding that is used by beginners and hobby welders. The process of stick welding makes use of an electrode that is flux-coated in order to lay the weld. Both the metal workpiece, as well as the electrode melt and form a weld pool, which cools and solidifies to form a joint between the two metals.
The process of stick welding is quite versatile and it can be used to weld aluminium, steel, iron, copper and nickel. Stick welding can be done outdoors, even if the conditions are windy and the welds formed are quite effective even if it is applied to surfaces that are not clean or rusted. Also, in stick welding, there is no requirement of a shielding gas unlike TIG and MIG welding, as the flux-coating on the electrode melts during the welding process and emits vapours which protect the weld from being contaminated by the gases in the atmosphere.
The biggest drawback of stick welding is that the finished product is not very neat and it produces molten splatter which needs a considerable amount of sanding and cleaning which results in more time and cost. The stick welding process is also not very efficient.
All the 3 methods of welding, MIG, TIG and stick welding have their benefits and drawbacks and each method is suitable for specific applications. So, the choice of the welding process really depends on the job at hand and the efficiency required.