When you think of welding metal, what do you imagine is involved? Simply using a blowtorch against the edge of metal seams to weld them together? Do you also know think you can just use the same type of flame on any type of metal and cut it like you see in movies? The reality is that welding actually involves a lot of skill and knowledge and the techniques can take numerous years to master, says Adam from Arcrite, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of welding equipment. If you are still interested in learning though, there are some basic techniques you can practice. Once you have the basics mastered, you are then ready to move onto the more technical skills.
Before starting any project, safety should always come first. Remember that although supplies and equipment can be replaced, you can’t. Burning may seem like the worst that could happen to you. In actual fact, damage to your eyes caused by the intense light generated by welding is worse. Furthermore, there are many metal welding methods that involve high voltages of electricity in the process that make the risk of electric shock or death a possibility.
When starting a project, wear a high-quality helmet, along with clothing and gloves. You also need to make sure you read all the welder manufacturer’s instructions and safety procedures.
Oxyfuel or Oxy-Acetylene Welding
Oxyfuel Welding is probably the most commonly recognised form of welding. It is this form that is often described as using a blow-torch. It is though, the least used technique. However, it is also less expensive and complicated compared to other welding techniques. So, it is great for beginners, but one of the reasons it is used less now is that it is not as accurate as other options. The weld bead produced is not as clean as other techniques and has weaker joints due to its slow cooling. It is still a good place to start your foray into welding.
Arc Welding is an essential technique to master if you are wanting to weld metal. Instead of a gas torch, this method uses a high voltage of electricity and passes it through metal. The spark, or arc, jumps from one metal piece to the other, producing enough heat to melt the metal together, creating a weld. The reason for its popularity is due to it producing an accurate weld that is strong and clean.
The term Arc Welding is actually an umbrella title for a number of different types that can be used, depending on the metal you need to weld.
SMAW or Shielded Metal Arc Welding
This is best used when a rough weld is necessary. Electricity is passed through stick or electrode which melts and produces the joint.
MIG or Metal Inert Gas Welding (also known as Gas Metal Arc Welding)
If you are working on a welding project that needs to be completed quickly, MIG welding is a better option. Instead of rods, this method uses special equipment for sending electricity to a metal tip that doesn’t melt, while a separate and continuous piece of wire is fed through the tip which is melted and forms the joint.
TIG or Tungsten Inert Gas Welding
Though TIG is similar to MIG welding, it is best used when working with thinner materials where speed nor high quality is important to the weld.
Don’t try to remember all the different types of welding though, and instead stick to the one you are learning right now.