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The Different Welding Processes

Mar 9, 2022 ·
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Welding is a process that’s used in a variety of industries, which means there are many potential career opportunities for those who are properly trained.1 To be a successful welder in the field, it helps to have hands-on experience and training working with the most common types of welding processes.

There are four main types of welding processes:

Learning the ins and outs of these arc welding types is important for anyone interested in becoming a welder. Keep reading to learn more about each one!

How Arc Welding Works

Arc welding is a fusion welding process used to join metals together to form new components or make repairs on existing parts and structures. An electric arc gets formed, which creates a high amount of heat to allow materials to melt and join together.

The arc is created between an electrode and the base material to melt them at the welding joint using either an alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC). The heat created reaches between 6,500 degrees and 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the arc is formed between the work piece and the electrode, it can be guided along the weld joint either manually or mechanically.

The Four Main Arc Welding Types

Welders who have experience and familiarity with the four main types of arc welding processes can feel confident when entering the workforce.

GMAW

Also known as metal inert gas (MIG) welding, GMAW features a continuous electrode that travels through the welding gun and uses a shielding gas that protects it from pollutants.

GMAW welds can be used on various thicknesses of metal, along with aluminum and nonferrous materials (metals that don’t contain iron). Since the GMAW process utilizes a shielding gas, welding indoors is recommended so wind doesn’t interfere with the gas and cause damage to the weld.

GMAW is commonly used because of its many advantages, which include an easier cleanup than other welding methods and the fact that it can be easier to learn. The process is considered a one-handed operation, which can help improve control.

SMAW

SMAW is often referred to as “stick welding” because it uses a flux-coated electrode connected to a power source to help produce the weld. The electrode can either be a metal stick or rod that is placed in an electrode holder. The flux works to form a gas that helps shield the electric arc formed during the process.

This method can be used to weld cast iron, nickel alloys, carbon steel and low- and high-alloy steels. Since there isn’t a separate shielding gas used, stick welds can be performed both indoors and outdoors.

There are several advantages to SMAW welds, including the fact that they can be done in many different welding positions and feature simple equipment that can be less expensive than other welding types.

GTAW

Also known as tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, GTAW is a process that uses a nonconsumable tungsten electrode. This delivers a current to form a welding arc, which melts metal to create a liquid pool. It’s similar to GMAW in that it utilizes a shielding gas during the process, but GTAW welds don’t feature a continuously fed wire that acts as filler material.

GTAW welds can be performed without the use of a filler, but many of these kinds of welds utilize them. Metal-to-metal welds are often performed using the GTAW method, and this is a process typically used on thinner metals. They can be ferrous or nonferrous.

Benefits to GTAW welds include their cleanliness, as they do not produce spatter like many other welds. TIG welds also produce strong welds that have high corrosion resistance.

FCAW

Often referred to as flux-cored welding, FCAW is comprised of two common processes used in the industry: FCAW-S and FCAW-G. With FCAW-S, a continuous hollow wire electrode gets fed through the welding gun. This electrode is covered with a flux compound that helps protect the weld pool and produce a gas that shields the weld from contamination.

FCAW-S welds are commonly used on thicker materials and metals, since the wire has the capability to penetrate thicker welding joints. Materials above 20 gauge, including cast iron, stainless steels, carbon steel and high-nickel alloys are commonly welded with the FCAW method.

Flux-cored welds are beneficial to use as they don’t require an external shielding gas, and the rate of deposition is the highest of any welding method, which helps to increase productivity.

FCAW-G welds utilize gas as a shielding agent, similar to the GMAW process. They are designed to achieve higher deposition rates due to the inner agents in the core of the wire.

Learn How to Perform Arc Welds at UTI

All four arc welding processes are taught at Universal Technical Institute (UTI) so students can feel confident as combination welders entering the workforce. Get an overview of how you can learn to perform these welds when you enroll in the 36-week Welding Technology program.


Welding Career Opportunities

Those who gain the knowledge and experience performing the different types of arc welds have the potential to pursue several different career paths. Some common ones for welders include:

  • Manufacturing: Industries worldwide use the skills of welders to help them create products, from agriculture to mining to car manufacturing.
  • Shipbuilding/ship maintenance: Welders who get into the ship and boat-building industries inspect and repair ship welds on a range of vessels. This path can give them the opportunity to travel to different shipyards and ports around the world.
  • Military support welder: The military industry requires skilled welders who can maintain the vehicles and facilities used by U.S. troops.
  • Welding inspector: After spending time in entry-level welding roles, and with more experience and time, welders could have the opportunity to become welding inspectors. A welding inspector helps ensure that jobs are free from defects and meet certain specifications.
  • Project manager: Becoming a welding project manager can be possible for someone with years of experience and demonstrated leadership abilities. Welding project managers help oversee welding projects from conception to execution and make sure things run smoothly.

Enroll in UTI’s Welding Technology Program

Interested in training to become a welder? With more than 49,000 estimated average annual welding job openings in the U.S., it’s a great time to get started.42

The 36-week Welding Technology program at Universal Technical Institute (UTI) teaches students how to weld using the four main types of arc welding. Students are also taught the methods for welding in horizontal, vertical, flat, and overhead positions for plate and sheet metal, as well as the rolling, overhead, and fixed positions used for pipes.

The program’s curriculum was developed in conjunction with Lincoln Electric, a leader in the design and manufacturing of welding technology. This allows students to train with industry-standard technology, including VRTEX® virtual welders.

After graduation, students are prepared for entry-level careers in the welding industry.2 Request more information today to get in touch with an Admissions Representative!

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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.

42) For Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an annual average of 49,200 job openings between 2020 and 2030. Job openings include openings due to net employment changes and net replacements. See Table 1.10 Occupational separations and openings, projected 2020–30, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, viewed November 18, 2021. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary. Updated on November 18, 2021.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

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