What Are The 4 Types Of Welding? TIG vs. MIG vs. Stick vs. Arc

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As of now, there are quite a few welding processes and types of welding. Understanding the differences between these welding processes is crucial if you want to choose the correct one for you. 

Some of them are very rudimentary, but some of them are very advanced. These welding techniques differ from relatively simple, to extremely complicated, so it's important you decide which type is right for you. 

However, for somebody working in a chop shop or looking to so some welding at home, there are four standard welding processes you need to know about: TIG, MIG, Stick and Arc Welding.

If you’re a beginner and looking to learn the basics, you’ve come to the right place.

Our little guide will take you through all the welding processes including  the four major of the welding types. We'll even go over mig vs tig welding. 

So, without further ado, let’s get going!

What Are The 4 Types Of Welding?

  1. 1
    MIG Welding
  2. 2
    TIG Welding
  3. 3
    Stick Welding
  4. 4
    Arc Welding

These are the main 4 types of welding techniques. Keep reading below for more info regarding the welding processes and detailed information about each welding type.

MIG Welding

What is MIG welding

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), most commonly known as MIG welding , is the process of continuously feeding a line of electrodes through a specialized “gun”. 

In the gas metal arc welding process the electrode forms an arc with the base metal you’re trying to weld and then melts, fusing the material together.

The entire MIG welding processes uses a protective gas bubble that protects the weld from the ambient air and the components within it.

It should also be said that, because a wire is being fed to the material, the pieces being welded together aren’t actually being fused, which provides you with the opportunity to weld different kinds of metals together.

Naturally, because the MIG welder uses a “consumable” you will have to replace the electrode after some time. Also, the gas that forms the protective bubble needs to be replaced occasionally too.

What Can MIG Welding Be Used For?

So, what do you use the gas metal arc welding type of welding for?

It should be said that the MIG welding processes can be applied in various situations.

A good MIG welder should be able to weld both thick and thin sheets of metal.

Quality machines have a wide power output range and a gauge that will let you adjust the power, allowing you to approach softer material without fear of burning through it.

At the same time they’re still powerful enough to weld thick steel pipes and provide a strong connection.

What Are The Main Advantages of MIG Welders?

  • Easy to use
  • Many uses
  • Simple to operate
  • Just need the welding gun
  • Easy to control
  • Start and stop with the trigger
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Good for sculpture

Disadvantages of MIG Welding

  • Works with limited materials
  • Not good if material is too thin or thick
  • Too weak for cast iron
  • Too powerful for thin aluminum
  • Requires clean materials
  • Not usable in windy or wet conditions

TIG Welding

TIG welding 101

HOW DOES IT WORK?

TIG welding is one of the more popular types of welding processes. 

TIG, Heliarc or GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) is a welding process where a non-consumable tungsten electrode is used to heat up the material and melt it, creating a weld puddle.

Unlike GMAW, gas tungsten arc welding is produced from a single metal type, because there is no filler metal used for the weld. These Welding processes have highly evolved in recent years giving it more everday uses and making it easier for the avarage person.

However, you can add another rod to provide a filler material for you, so that the welding process can be applied to more materials or different metals at once.

Just like GMAW, these welding processes requires a gas bubble to protect the weld from contaminants. The gases used with TIG are usually helium or argon, whereas you would use carbon dioxide for MIG.

Because there is no feeding involved, there is no need to replace the electrode, only refill the gas tank. That is a big advantage for gas tungsten arc welding.

What Can TIG Welding Be Used For?

Similar to other types of welding processes, GTAW (or gas tungsten arc welding) can be applied to many materials.

However, the thickness range of this welding type is more limited.

Though you can weld both steel and aluminum with the same ease, the materials you will be welding are going to be thinner.

The tungsten rod is much thinner than a stick rod, allowing you to make more precise but much thinner welds.

What Are The Main Advantages?

  • Most aesthetically pleasing welds
  • Highly precise
  • Good for car bodies, motorcycles, sculpture
  • Cleaners welding type; no splatter

Disadvantages of TIG Welding

  • For experienced welders
  • Steep learning curve
  • Beginners best learn with other welding types

Stick Welding

Stick welding

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) or stick welding is one of the oldest types of the welding processes.

It is very simplistic in how it works but produces exceptionally strong welds, and it can be used to weld the thickest of materials.

The way stick welding works is through a single electrode that also provides most of the welding material. The electrode gets heated, then melts, but the intense heat melts the workpiece and welds the two parts together. The rod is also coated in flux, which creates a shield around the weld, protecting it from contamination.

Stick welding uses a consumable rod, and this rod will need to be changed frequently as you continue to weld.

What Can Stick Welding Be Used For?

Stick welding is a type of arc welding, and is widely used in construction because of the strength of this weld.

It's the way to go for thick materials, including cast iron - which can be tough or impossible for other welding types.

But when you want to have two pieces of thick metal fused together, and to make sure the weld is going to last, this is the way to go.

Advantages of Stick Welding

  • Strong welds
  • Great for very thick materials
  • Often used in construction, heavy repairs
  • Works on cast iron
  • Equipment cheaper than other welding types
  • Can be done even in bad weather

Disadvantages of Stick Welding

  • Not usable on thin materials
  • Steep learning curve
  • Hard to strike an arc
  • Ugly and leaves slag
  • Requires finishing touches to make it look better

Arc Welding (Flux Core)

arc welding results

HOW DOES IT WORK?

At last, we come to our final welding type, arc, or flux-cored, welding.

This welding type is very similar to other types of welding, for example MIG welding. They both use a consumable wire that is being constantly fed to the weld. However, this is where the two begin to differ.

In arc welding, the wire used has a flux core that immediately generates a gas shield around the weld, whereas you need an external gas supplement for MIG.

There is also something known as dual-shielded welding, which uses another external gas supply to form a second shield for an even more secure weld.

Naturally, since there is a consumable, you will have to replace it once in a while.

However, unlike MIG, you don’t need to refill a gas tank if you don’t intend to use dual-shielded arc welding.

What Can Arc Welding Be Used for?

When using flux-cored welding style, you will want to use it with heavier and thicker materials. 

Flux-cored welding also creates more heath then types of welding and you will want to use it where there is enough base metal to withstand that much heat.

This type is primarily used for heavy steel construction and erection, heavy repairs and heavy machinery and other such equipment.

What Are The Main Advantages?

  • Highly efficient
  • Little waste
  • Shield and welding material in one

Disadvantages of Arc Welding

  • Not for thinner materials
  • Leaves slag, requires finishing

mig vs tig welding

Both MIG and TIG welding  use an electric arc to create the weld. However the one big  difference between them both is the arc process. ​

MIG welding uses a feed wire that continuously moves through the gun to create a spark. This process melts and this is what forms the weld.

TIG welding, conversely, uses longer rods to combine two metals directly together.

Conclusion

To reiterate, our goal here is to explain the difference between the four standard types of welding. Although there are other welding types, (flux-cored arc welding, gas welding, Plasma Arc Welding & Laser Welding) these are the most popular four.

As we said, MIG is the most versatile and the easiest one to learn; TIG is the most aesthetically pleasing; stick and arc produce the strongest welds and can operate under less than desirable conditions.

We also discussed the best beginner’s welder and the type that produces the strongest weld.

After all of this, the choice is, of course, yours.

Whether you want to start easy with an MIG welder, or you want to master game at the hardest difficulty with a TIG welder, you will go with the welder that interest you the most.

About the Author Gregory

Hi, my name is Gregory! I have been welding practically all of my life and love it. As I have gotten older I have started to weld less and less, so in order to continue my love for welding I created this website. I like to write about my experiences and help you all become welders. I hope that you enjoy the site!

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