Types of Arc Welding and Their Benefits

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Arc welding is a style of welding that melts and joins metals with the use of heat that is created by an electric arc. There are several types of arc welding, each with its own benefits and preferred uses. Keep reading to learn more about arc welding and which type best suits your needs. 

Consumable Electrode Methods 

  1. Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)

GMAW is also known as metal inert gas (MIG) welding and metal active gas (MAG) welding. This type of arc welding uses argon, helium or other gases to shield the arc. It can also use a gas mix. The electrodes contain deoxidizers to allow for the welding of multiple layers. Ultimately, this process is used to protect the base metals from contamination. GMAW is simple, versatile, low-cost, works in low temperatures and is easily automated. It is ideal for welding thin sheets and sections. 

  1. Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)

SMAW is one of the most popular types of arc welding. It is also known as manual metal arc welding (MMA or MMAW), flux shielded arc welding and stick welding. It has been around longer than most types of arc welding. Plus, it is simple and easily adaptable. The arc is created when the coated electrode tip touches the welding area and then withdraws to keep the arc intact. The heat then melts the tip, coating and metal and then the weld is formed when the alloy solidifies. This is a great method for pipeline work, shipbuilding and construction. 

  1. Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)

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This arc welding method was created as an alternative to SMAW. Flux-cored arc welding uses tube-shaped electrodes that are filled with consumable flux and a constant voltage power supply that provides a constant arc length. This type of arc welding is perfect for welding dense sections that are at least an inch thick because of its higher weld-metal deposition rate.

Also Read: Different Types of Electrodes

  1. Submerged Arc Welding (SAW)

Submerged arc welding is a technique that uses a granular flux that creates a thick layer of welding that covers the metal and disallows sparks and splatter. Using this method allows for deeper penetration, as it acts as a thermal insulator. This method of arc welding can be automatic or semi-automatic and is ideal for high-speed sheet or plate steel welding. However, keep in mind that it can only be used for horizontal welds. 

  1. Electro-Slag Welding (ESW) 

This vertical type of welding is used to weld thick plates in a single pass. This process requires an electric arc to start and a flux addition to extinguish the arc. When the flux melts, the wire is fed into the molten pool and creates molten slag. The process ends with water-cooled copper shoes that prevent the molten slag from running off. 

  1. Arc Stud Welding (SW)

This arc welding process is similar to flash welding. This process joins a nut or other fastener with a flange with nubs. The pieces melt to create a join with the other piece. 

Non-Consumable Electrode Methods 

  1. Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)

GTAW is also known as TIG welding. This type of welding is considered to be more difficult than the others. The arcs are created by tungsten electrodes and the shield is protected by inert gasses like argon or helium or by a combination of the two. If necessary, molten materials can be added by filler wires. This method of arc welding is “clean”, as it does not produce slag. So, it is ideal for jobs where the appearance of the final product needs to be considered. It is also excellent for welding thin materials. 

  1. Plasma Arc Welding (PAW)

Plasma arc welding uses ionized gases and electrodes to create jets of hot plasma that are aimed at the area to be welded. Because of the high heat of the jets, this method is perfect for narrow and deep welds. PAW is also ideal for welding at fast speeds. 

This overview of arc welding types will help you determine which process will best suit your needs. If you would like more information or need help determining which arc welding process is best for you, contact us today.


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