How many types of welding machines are there and their uses?

When it comes to welding there is no one size fits all method. Every welding process fits a certain need or industry. They all tend to use a different machine.

There are machines that benefit one technique while others offer multipurpose functions. Here are 5 types of welding machines:

1. Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) or Stick Machine

These machines can be found with both AC and DC current capabilities. Welder uses flux covered electrode rods (sticks) in varying sizes.

Since the machine does not use an added gas shield there is no tank to carry around. The rods are covered in flux which provides protection for contaminants. Welding can take place outside or indoors.

You can use a stick welder on painted or rusted surfaces. This can be a benefit to saving time. The quality to SMAW welding is not always the best and can produce more waste since close to 20% of the rod goes unused.

When compared to other machines SMAW welders are considered budget friendly and affordable. The cost can still vary depending on what features are included with the machine.

Although it is a flexible option for both beginner and advanced welders most experts do not advice using stick welding with thin materials.

2. Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) or MIG Machine

A MIG machine is known for its ease of use. Although there are some variables with this type of welder the techniques are often picked up quickly.

A MIG welder needs a clean surface to properly weld; does not do well on rusty or painted material. This process can weld material as thin as 26G.

The process uses an external gas shield meaning you will need a gas tank, usually Argon. Once you gain experience, and knowledge of how different gases react, you can use other gases to work on a variety of metals.

3. Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW) Machine

A FCAW welder can work both indoor and outdoor thanks to a flux filled electrode. There is no need for an external gas shield. The electrode is continuously fed so there is no need to stop and restart.

These machines have less fumes and less electrode waste. They have been known to produce some smoke when in operation.

Some machines can be expensive but do offer clean, quality welding. FCAW works best with thicker metals, in fact it is not recommended on any material thinner than 20G.

The FCAW is similar to the MIG process except it is considered more powerful and uses a different gas shield. Some FCAW welders can run extremely hot, reaching close to 1000 amps.

4. Gas Tungsten-Arc Welding (GTAW) or TIG Machine

This type of welding can be complicated and requires some multitasking. TIG welding requires you to hold the welding torch with one hand while feeding the filler with the other. To control amps (temperature) a welder uses a foot petal or remote to either increase or lower what is needed during the current weld.

TIG might seem intimidating at first but it does offer precise welds that work well in a variety of material. You can use TIG with a wide range of metal thicknesses.

This welder has an external gas shield that protects the molten pool from contaminants. This gas is usually Argon or an Argon/Helium mix. One of the key differences with TIG is the non-consumable tungsten electrode.

GTAW needs a clean surface with no dirt or rust. A user can always clean away the surface by sanding off paint or with proper cleaning.

Some of these machines can be costly but it depends on what you need and how much power it has. Learning how to use this welding process is known to help people earn welding certification.

5. Energy Beam Welding (EWB) Machine

A benefit to EWB is it can weld thick metals to thin. It also joins metals of different makes.

EWB can target specific points on metals. There is little to no heat distortion in welded areas.

Since you must perform this type of welding in a vacuum because the electron beam would be absorbed by air, this type of machine is not for home use.

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