Option 1 – Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), commonly known as TIG welding
This process is commonly used to weld virtually any metal, which makes it the most versatile process out of these options; it is also an intricate welding process which is fantastic for small welding jobs. For the following reasons I suggest mastering another process first:
Option 2 – Manual Metal Arc Welding (MMAW), Commonly known as stick welding or arc welding.
Known as Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) in other regions. This process is one that I recommend that a beginner should master first. The welding electrodes are a solid wire core with a flux coating which shields the arc from the atmosphere while a weld is being deposited.
Points to consider
Cleaning slag off deposited welds required
Machines are cheap to buy ($500 AUD gets a good one)
Have to stop regally to change electrode
Electrodes are cheap
Takes some practise to master
No moving parts on machine to maintain
Amperage setting only machine adjustment to alter while welding
Can weld carbon steel, can weld stainless steel
Sound quality weld metal deposit
Can weld outdoors
Machines are light and portable
Before purchasing a MMAW machine please read article 2 which I explain about the different power source types available (must read).
Option 3 – Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), commonly known as MIG welding
This process is another one that I recommend a beginner considers as his or her choice to master first. This machine has a built in or separate wire feed roller (electrode wire), which supplies a constant wire feed for welding. The weld pool is protected from the atmosphere by a shielding gas.
Points to consider
Expensive machine to purchase ($1500 AUD gets a decent one)
Cleaner weld deposit
Additional expense of shielding gas required (Min of $400 a year)
Faster weld deposit
Not portable due machine size, weight & shielding gas cylinder requirements
More forgiving if joint to be welded is not perfectly aligned
More settings on machine which need to be adjusted correctly
Can weld carbon steel, can weld stainless steel (can also weld aluminium but with a different gas More cost)
Can only weld in doors
Speed and cleanliness come at a cost when using this process (just look at the figures in the table above). If the cost is not a concern for you then maybe this process is for you.
Note on “GASLESS WIRE”, by definition this is another welding process called FCAW which stands for “Flux Cored Arc Welding”. Often people buy a Mig machine with the idea great intentions to weld using gas but then realise they can’t live with the expense of running a gas cylinder so they substitute this with gasless wire, this alters the machine set up from GMAW to FCAW. At this point they often wish they purchased a MMAW machine due to the drop in weld deposit quality and the common trouble with wire feed issues.
Note also that the penetration of the weld into the base metal can often be lacking on a GMAW single phase circuit, this is much less of an issue when it comes to a single phase MMAW machine.
Soon I will release article 3 which discusses choosing a Gas Metal Arc machine, I will go into more detail about the difference between GMAW and FCAW.
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Metal Design, Industrial design
Freestyle Metal (FMA) Artis - Glen Jones Designer and Fabricator of unique metal products..