What Are The Different Types Of Welding?

ToolTally is reader-supported and earns a commission when you purchase a product through our partner links.

Today we have four main types of welding: the MIG, TIG, Stick, and Flux — with several sub-types and nuances within each type, depending on the types of metals that you are working with. There are over 30 types of welding processes. 

Joining metals is a historic achievement. Welding was used in the construction of the Iron Pillar Of Dehli, which was built around 310 AD, and there are Greek traditions of welding that date back further than that. 

Today’s welding process involves using an electric current to create extreme heat. 

What Are The Common Types of Welding?

  • MIG – Metal Inert Gas/Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)
  • TIG – Tungsten Inert Gas/Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)
  • Stick – Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), sometimes called “arc welding.”
  • Flux- Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
  • Electron Beam Welding (EBW)
  • Laser Beam Welding (LBW)
  • Atomic Hydrogen Welding (AHW)
  • Plasma Arc Welding (PAW)
  • Submerged Arc Welding (SAW)

Today, MIG, TIG, FCAW, and Stick welding dominate the common use types. 

What is Mig Welding?

MIG welding forms the current backbone of American fabrication. Gas Metal Arc Welding uses a welding gun that is automatically fed a thin wire electrode when the trigger is pulled. This wire electrode also serves as the filler material and is melted during the welding process.

Inert gas is required for this welding process, and Argon, Carbon Dioxide, or Helium gas is generally used. Sometimes a mixture such as 25% argon/75% carbon dioxide is used. The finished product is a high-quality joint.

Mig welders can be used for nearly all types of metal, including stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum. Mig is considered to be one of the easiest welding methods for beginners<> to learn.

It’s speed, and low-cost operation makes it a favorite in the industry.

What is Tig Welding?

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding uses a small tungsten rod that is shielded by an inert gas to create a hot arc. Generally, a rod of filler metal is fed into the weld by the operator with one hand while the tungsten welding tip is controlled by the other.

TIG welding is an excellent choice when working on thinner materials and for aluminum work. The best welders take great pride in their ability to create the coveted “stacked dimes: look from their careful welding.

It is not as fast as MIG welding and is less preferred in industrial settings where MIG can be used instead.

What is Stick Welding?

Stick welding is one of the earliest of the modern welding types, and its usefulness makes it a commonly used way to fix broken metal.

SMAW welding uses a fixed-length consumable electrode rod that looks like a large firework sparkler. This rod forms an arc with the welded material and also serves to create the filler material.

No inert gas is needed for this welding process, and it has the added advantage that long welding cables can be used, making it ideal for working in those hard-to-reach areas.

It is one of the only consumer-grade weld types that can be used to weld cast iron and can weld partially rusted material. As a result, you’ll find arc welders on the farm, on ships, and in the oil field.

What is Flux Core Welding?

Flux Core Arc Welding is very similar to the MIG welding process in that it uses a small welder with automatically-fed filler wire.

The advantage with self-shielded flux core wire is that it does not require an inert gas supply to shield the weld. Instead, the flux core of the welding wire releases a gas that shields the weld sufficiently.

The flux also provides a cleaning mechanism to the welding surface, which allows for fast welds of less-than-perfect metal.

Flux core welding is one of the cheapest options for welding at home. However, it tends to create more spatter than MIG welding. It is, however, one of the easiest welding methods to learn.

These welding machines can commonly be used on 120-volt household currents, and the machines are lightweight, offering greater portability.

What is Atomic Hydrogen Welding?

This type is a highly specialized manufacturing welding process designed for situations where quick welds on flat material are needed.

In Atomic Hydrogen Welding (AHW), the workpiece is placed between two tungsten rods in a hydrogen gas environment. The arc from the two electrodes separates the gas, and when the atoms recombine, it releases a massive amount of heat, which creates the weld.

This process creates the third hottest known arc and is the only welding process that can be used to weld tungsten.

What is Electron Beam Welding?

Electron beam welding is a manufacturing welding process that uses the kinetic energy of a high-speed electron beam to super-heat metal and creates the fusion.

Because the atmosphere will scatter electron beams, a vacuum chamber is required for this process. The objects being welded are places inside this chamber, and computers control the entire welding process.

A high degree of control in the welding temperature, size, and beam width can be offered since nearly every parameter can be adjusted by computer. This wide range of options makes Electron Beam Welding a good choice for objects such as transmission planetary gears.

What is Laser Beam Welding?

Laser beam welding uses a high-energy beam from a Ruby or neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet crystal. This laser super-heats a small portion of the metal at the seam to allow the two pieces to fuse. It is very common in the automotive industry where and is normally used by robots as part of a computer-assisted manufacturing model. 

LBW can be used on stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium. It can also be used on carbon steels. However, due to the wide variation in temperatures between the heated seam and the non-welded part of the metal, caution has to be used to prevent cracking. 

Laser beam welding does not require a vacuum as electron beam welding does. It also creates a higher-quality weld. 

What is Plasma Arc Welding?

Plasma arc welding is an improved variation of Gas Tungsten Arc Welding. As with GTAW, it will use a tungsten electrode. However, with PAW, the electrode is recessed. Then, when heated, it creates a super-heated plasma that is forced through a tiny (fine bore) copper nozzle. 

PAW is favored in manufacturing situations for where high integrity is needed, but a lower welding speed is allowable. In most factory settings, laser welding is preferable since it is faster. However, in some medical and aerospace manufacturing, the higher integrity offered by PAW makes it a preferred method. 

While there are some high-level similarities between plasma cutters and plasma welders, they each require two, drastically different devices. A plasma cutter cannot be used for plasma welding. 

What Is Submerged Arc Welding?

Submerged Arc Welding processes are used for thick sheets of steel with a high-iron highly ferrous content. The arc is generated by a consumable electrode while buried under a pile of highly conducive electric flux. It is used in industrial processes for long welds of thick material.

What Is Welding, and Why Is It Done?

Welding is a process that uses high heat to melt the material and then allowing it to fuse as the material cools. It is most commonly used for plastics or metal. (For the sake of this article, we are focused on metal welding, only).

When welding metal, a high-temperature electric arc is introduced, along with some filler material. This weld pool fills the gap between the two pieces of metal, leaving a solid bond when it cools.

How Are Brazing And Welding Dissimilar?

Brazing and soldering is a similar process, with one key difference: Brazing does not melt the base metal. Instead, it simply melts the filler material, which solidifies between the two pieces, forming a bond. It is generally a weaker bond than a weld would be but does allow for the use of a lower heat (such as when soldering around electronics) or for the joining of dissimilar metals.

What Is a Shielding Gas?

GMAW (MIG), GTAW (TIG), and FCAW welding all require the use of inert shielding gas to protect the weld pool from atmospheric impurities. Without a shield, the weld would react with Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Hydrogen in the atmosphere, creating excess spatter as well as holes and cracks in the welded joint as those molecules tried to escape during the cooling.

In the case of self-shielded FCAW welding, the flux contained in the welding wire releases a shielding gas as it melts, creating the required protection. The other two use types will require a bottle of shielding gas, generally Argon, Helium, Carbon Dioxide, or a mix of those gases.


Zachary Drumm

Hey! My name is Zachary Drumm! This site allows me to test new tools, piddle around in the garage, and share the insights I get from flipping cars and houses. When it comes to tools, home improvement, and being a “shade tree mechanic,” you’ve come to the right spot. If I’m not in the garage creating content, you’ll find me outside, running, canoeing, and traveling. My goal is to empower more people to be self-sufficient.