In the coming weeks, we’ll be talking with a welding instructor at Linn Benton Community College. His name is Marc Rose, and he knows a lot about welding, how to get the best results whether you’re in the shop or out in the field, and how to stay safe doing it. This week, we’re covering the basic types of welding, along with a quick introduction to welding safety.
Knowing how to weld and the types of welding that are available makes it possible for a farmer, rancher, or average person to repair just about anything. Here are the main types of welding you might consider.
SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) also known as “stick” welding is perfect for small shops and farm needs. It uses a consumable stick electrode that becomes part of the weld. The equipment used in the process are typically less expensive and easy to set up. SMAW equipment works great in the field as it does not require external accessories and can be supplied using a generator. It’s an inexpensive way to get into welding. With practice, you can produce quality repairs and create sound welds.
GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding) also known as “MIG” welding has quickly become the standard in lighter material thickness manufacturing, construction, repairs, and hobbies such as metal work and auto body fixes. The wire is fed from a spool, which means you won’t likely get caught short. This process is primarily used in shop settings and uses an external cylinder with shielding gas to protect the weld area while welding. When working outdoors with this process, any windy conditions can impact the shielding gasses ability to do its job and is not recommended. This process, with the required additional shielding gas along with other consumable parts, make it more expensive than SMAW. Once a person learns how to set up the equipment, it often becomes the easiest type of welding to master.
FCAW (Flux-Cored Arc Welding) is normally used on materials thicker than ¼” and runs hotter than most GMAW welds. An additional shielding gas is used to minimize contaminants during the welding process. This process is very similar to GMAW in terms of equipment and accessories. However, the filler material has a core of flux that produces slag and creates additional shielding to the weld area. There is also some flux core wire available that will allow the user to produce welds without the additional shielding gasses, making it possible to weld outdoors in windy conditions. Overall, this process is ideal when a high-quality weld is necessary in an efficient manner or shop setting.
GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) also known as “TIG” welding is for advanced welders. That’s because while you’re welding with one hand, the other will be adding filler material. Plus, your foot will be pushing on a pedal to regulate heat. It’s the cleanest of all welding types with no slag, but does take a fair amount of practice, patience, and expertise.
Gas or Oxy-Acetylene Welding and Cutting is a way of mixing oxygen and acetylene gas to create a flame that can melt steel. It’s great for small maintenance projects, brazing soft metals, and more. In addition, oxy-acetylene gas cutting and plasma cutting machines make it possible to precisely trim metal for artwork or other needs.
Get Started at Coastal
You’ll find a full line of welding gear and welders from Lincoln Electric & Hobart, including safety equipment, fire-resistant clothing, and more at your nearby Coastal. Plus, there are people there that know a thing or two about the equipment and can steer you in the right direction.
When welding, it’s important to follow some key safety tips.
- Read the instruction manual. You’ll find it packed with safety information and manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Cover up completely. Any exposed skin could be damaged by the effects of ultraviolet and infrared rays. Additionally, it’s important to button up every pocket to ensure sparks do not smolder and catch fire.
- Wear protective gear. Never wear shorts or short-sleeve shirts when welding. Be sure you always wear safety gear, including a helmet, gloves, and fire-resistant clothing such as denim pants and shirts made from tight-woven materials. Yes, welding jackets are heavy, but they are designed to keep you safe.
- Pull on the right boots. High-top leather shoes or boots are best. Never wear tennis shoes that can melt to your foot and cause permanent damage.
- Breath safely. The fumes and smoke given off while welding can be hazardous. Use an exhaust hood to remove fumes or a respirator when welding in an enclosed space.
- Cover your eyes. The flash that occurs when welding can cause short- and long-term vision pain and complications. Wearing a welding helmet fitted with the proper filter shade for your type of welding should protect your face and eyes. Under the helmet, be sure to wear safety glasses (including side shields and ear protection).