The Importance And Versatility Of Welding

By: Reuben Cervantes

Welding as a metal or plastic fabrication process is one of the most important because it determines how strong a joint is and whether a product lives up to quality standards and expectations. This is done using the latest equipment and trust and tested processes.

The three most common types of welding processes are arc, gas and resistance. Since no one process can achieve specific results or be applied to all metals or thermoplastics, these several methods ensure that whatever the application and whatever the type of metal or plastics, welding can successfully create strong joints.

Arc welding: Using high current, a welding power supply allows for the process of arc welding which relies on an electric arc between the base material and an electrode to fuse the two together. Filler material may or may not be used along with shielding gas to protect the welded area.

Arc welding itself has many sub-processes. Shielded metal arc welding or SMAW is the most popular followed (in no particular order) by plasma arc welding (PAW), gas metal arc welding (GMAW), and submerged arc welding (SAW), among others. Each is applied to several types of products and requirements, for example, SMAW is most used in shipbuilding and pipeline work while PAW is applied for fast welding work and where deeper welds need to be made. GMAW and SAW allow for the welding of multiple layers and sheet/plate steel welding respectively.

Gas welding: Where arc welding relies on electricity to do the job, gas welding depends on a gas-fed flame. The process has the advantage of allowing for portability.

Oxy-fuel is the most popular type of gas welding and one of the oldest welding processes together with SMAW. However, advances in technology and changes in requirements have seen its popularity diminish. Butane or propane welding is another sub-process where acetylene (used in oxy-fuel welding) is substituted by either of the two gases. Hydrogen welding is another and is used in small applications like jewellery making.

Resistance welding: A little similar to arc welding in that electricity is used, resistance welding relies on electrically generated heat and pressure to bond materials together. It's fast and reliable if performed properly as mistakes can give way to cracking and cavities.

A common and popular sub-process is spot welding where materials are joined at particular spots. While great for small, quick applications, the welded joints are not as strong as with others. A second most common process is seam welding where instead of stationary rods, motor-driven wheels do the welding. This produces a stronger joint.

Because much of the success of welding depends on tools, only those equipments manufactured by reputed makers and sold through reliable suppliers should be used. Welding itself is a potentially risky job and any oversight can lead to ugly and fatal accidents. Further, because welding tools are not cheap, certain jobs may benefit more from renting them.

When comparing the three, no one process stands out for being the best. All continue and will continue to be applied because different industries have different requirements. This is to give you an idea of the importance welding has in commercial and industrial applications. Even the ordinary consumer can directly benefit by applying any one of the processes in DIY jobs.

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