Arc, Mig, and Tig Welding: Essential Processes in Precision Engineering

25 September 2019

Talking about precision engineering, all welding processes are not created equal. They form into a sort of hierarchical ladder. On the bottom rung, there’s stick welding. Next up, there’s MIG technology, which is then followed directly by TIG and Flux-Cored Arc Welding. That’s a lot of acronyms to remember, so we’d better stop fine-tuning this intro and get straight into the meat of this post. Let’s start with SMAW work.

Stick Welding Pros and Cons

Don’t get the wrong idea; stick welding, also known as SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) produces precise joints. It’s just that the coded influx electrodes generate copious amounts of thermal energy, and that’s a problem on thin-walled metals. Still, used on thick metals, the arc produces exceptionally strong welds. That’s not the whole story; unfortunately, this is a welding method that requires lots of training. Otherwise, the consumable rod will generate tons of ugly slag.

Moving Up to MIG Welding Work

Next up, we’re going to talk about continuous-feed MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding. Known also as GMAW (Gas Metal Arc) welding, this technique uses a special inert shielding gas to protect the weld pool. Considered the group “all-rounder,” MIG welders can join thin and thick metals. The equipment used to do this comes with a number of adjustable electrode settings, so the gear is easier to master. Well, it is as long as the welder is familiar with all of the power settings. If we were to list any application drawbacks, it would be the fact that it lacks power, accuracy, and MIG can only be used in a handful of welding positions.

Upper-Rung TIG Advantages

TIG, also known as Tungsten Inert Gas welding, which is then also known as GTAW or Gas Metal Arc Welding, provides the cleanest, most tidy seams. It generates smaller weld pools, so there’s less material distortion to worry about at the end of the day, too. However, this process is not designed to join thick sheets of metal. Although versatile and capable of fusing a wide range of different alloys, it’s rated a thin-wall welding technique.

Thus ends our welding processes primer. Do remember, even TIG and MIG welding can fall afoul of application conditions. A stiff breeze will blow away that oxidization preventing inert gas. If that’s the case, there’s a fourth candidate, one that sits close to the top of the weld quality ladder. This is FCAW (Flux-Cored Arc) Welding. This type of seam fusing also uses a high-current electrode arc to generate heat, but a solid flux replaces the airborne shielding gas. Additionally, the flux tube is accompanied by a high-efficiency electrode, a fitting that produces less seam waste.

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