Welding Terms | Most Important Processes, Methods and Welder Functions Explained

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Welding is an incredibly rewarding field, but there are a ton of different welding terms that make no sense to the outside world. If you wouldn’t know your arc welders from your top-quality MIG welders, then this is the article for you!

You will learn a lot of the basic and most common welding terms, as well as some of the different materials and processes involved with welding. By the end of the review, you will know what style of welding you want to do and be ready to look at some beginners' welder reviews!

Basic Welding Terms

We will go into more detail below, but the 3 basic types of welding you will hear most often are MIG, TIG, and Stick welding. These terms refer to the process and type of welder you will be using to perform jobs.

An arc is what is between the end of your electrode and your base metal. This resistance causes the heat you use to weld. Arc blow is when your arc goes places you don’t want it to be. This happens more frequently when you weld corners.

A bead is the filler metal that is deposited on and in the surface of your work when the wire or electrode melts. Stringer beads are narrow and created with drags or oscillation of your welder. A weave bead is wider and uses much more oscillation to create.

A bevel is an angle that has been cut or grinded into the edge of your work piece. This allows more penetration and makes a stronger weld.

A joint is the intersection of 2 different sections of metal.

There are several different types of joints. A butt joint is 2 pieces of metal that are butted up against each other. In this joint, only the top and bottom of the surface can be welded. This joint needs great penetration or it won’t be strong enough.

Corner joints are when the edges of 2 plates come together at a 90-degree angle. Edge joints are when the outer edges butt up 90 degrees parallel.

Filler metal is what gets added to a weld pool to help with weld projects.

Fillet welds are the most common type of weld. They are used in tons of different applications, and usually take a tee joint.

Intermittent welds can be staggered or chain. Although beginners tend to think the more weld, the better, this is not true. A few inches of intermittent welding will often hold as well as continuous welds. Chain welds are mirrored on each side. Staggered welds don’t meet up at the joint. Rather, one side starts and the next weld is on the other side.

Porosity refers to the pockets of gas that get trapped in a weld. Usually, this is because you don’t use enough shielding gas or clean and prepare you metal ahead of time.

Your puddle is also called a weld pool. It’s the molten filler that mixes with your parent metal to form a good weld.

Slag is when the flux on a welding rod melts and produces shielding gas. This hardened protective coating that forms over the weld ahs to be chipped off and cleaned. Slag incursion is what happens when you don’t clean the slag off your bead and it ends up as part of your weld. 

Welding Processes

There are a lot of different welding processes to learn, so don’t let that intimidate you. The most common types of welding, and the best one for beginners to learn, are MIG, TIG, and Stick welding. 

MIG Welding

MIG welding, or gas metal arc welding, uses a process that continuously feeds an electrode through your welding gun.
You will pull a trigger to feed the wire through the gun.
This process heats your material to the melting point that lets it join up with another piece of metal.

This type of metal welding requires shielding gas that is externally supplied. Common gasses are stainless and carbon steel, magnesium, copper, nickel, aluminum, and silicon bronze.

MIG welding is significantly less wasteful than other forms because the electrodes are far more efficient. This welding requires minimal cleanup and low heat, and produces less fumes. It is also the easiest technique to learn, so beginners should start here.

Unfortunately, MIG welders cost a bit more than other varieties. It also requires external gas shielding, and that limits the positions and techniques available. For example, you can’t use this for overhead and vertical welding, and it is unable to weld together thicker materials.

This is the most common form of welding in the automotive industry. It provides a very strong weld that can handle huge amounts of force. It is best suited to jobs that need strength and versatility. Robotics and maritime vessels also prefer these welds.

The key thing to know about MIG welding is that it is critical to have properly adjusted power settings before beginning. You also need a steady pace, because your speed will heavily affect the penetration of your weld.

TIG Welding

TIG welding, or gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) is occasionally referred to as Heliarc welding. This uses a tungsten electrode to heat the base metal. It is not consumable, so It creates a puddle of molten metal for your weld.
This also allows you to add a filler rod to your puddle to create beads and enhance the mechanical properties found innately in the metal.

This method also uses an external gas supply to power it. The most common form of supply for this technique is argon gas, or a mixture of argon and helium. TIG welding is commonly used for piping systems, motorcycles, and aeronautics.

This method is preferred by experienced welders and professionals because they are able to weld together very thin materials with beautiful and aesthetically pleasing beads. This also allows for welding of more metals than MIGs, and lets you get completely clean and spatter free finishes.

Although all of the best TIG welders in reviews are pricier than MIG welders, they are still far more popular these days. They can create extremely pure welds that even the best welders have trouble attaining with other techniques. This process is even suitable for welding tubing, bikes, and nonferrous metals. 

Stick Welding

Stick welding, or shielded metal arc welding, uses an electrode to provide the weld metal by carrying an electric current.

 This electrode uses a core wire coded influx and an electric arc is created each time the tip of the electrode is removed from the work piece. It uses 6500F degree temperatures.

This process protects the molten metal from atmospheric contaminates like nitrates and oxides, so it is safe for pipeline welding, heavy equipment repair, construction, and steel. The advantage to this technique is that the equipment doesn’t cost very much and it is extremely portable.

Unlike TIG and MIG welding, the stick technique doesn’t require any shielding gas, so you can take this with you and weld in the train or heavy winds. This technique will also provide strong welds even if you’re working with dirty or rusty metal, so it will work even when TIG and MIG welding can’t handle the project.

Unfortunately, this is one of the least efficient methods of welding. It cerates a ton of waste and requires a lot more skill. It will take a long time for a beginner to fully master stick welding technique, especially since it’s already difficult to use on thin materials. 

Welding Materials

Naturally, you’ll be using specialized welding materials to complete your projects. Here are the terms you’ll need to know for consumables and equipment gathering.
Welding Materials

Welding Consumables

Welding consumables largely depend upon the type of welding you will be doing.
These vary between cored wires, solid wires, and rod electrodes, and these can draw energy rom different ways.

Shielded metal arc welding uses an electrode that will shied the weld from oxygen as it burns off, and filler metal can speed the process. MIG welding uses a wire consumable with a spool to feed it into the joint.

Welding consumables are categorized based on arc welding (click here to find a list of our favorites), resistance welding, oxyfuel welding, ultrasonic welding, and others. The types include stick electrodes, solid wires, flux cored wires, SAW wires, fluxes, and other materials like gases.

Welding Equipment

Naturally, you need a great welder when you get started. This isn’t the only equipment you will need, though. Here are a few necessary pieces of equipment ad why you’ll need them.

A welding table can be adjusted to the right height for your need. It will keep your material held tightly while you work, so your quality doesn’t suffer because your material moves around.

Welding helmets are critical to your job. They will protect your eyes from flyaway sparks ad the really bright lighting that can burn your retina. These, when paired with ear muffs, will also protect your ears. If a spark punctures your eardrum, the heat will automatically cauterize it as it passes through, meaning you will never be able to heal from the wound. Auto darkening helmets are an especially great idea for beginners.

Clamps are often overlooked, but can really help you while welding. These will ensure that your metal remains in a perfect position. These clamps, if you buy specialized welding ones, can adjust to specific angles for any type of joint. Weld shavers are also great to have on hand. They are easy to use, and can remove flat (butt) joints and fillet welds from the work. 

Welding wire is also essential to some varieties of welding. It is very inexpensive, too.
Use a thin welding wire of thin material, and increase the wire’s diameter in proportion to the thickness of your material.
Most welders will take at least 2 different wire diameters. Just check your manual for techniques and recommendations. 

Welding wire is also essential to some varieties of welding. It is very inexpensive, too. Use a thin welding wire of thin material, and increase the wire’s diameter in proportion to the thickness of your material. Most welders will take at least 2 different wire diameters. Just check your manual for techniques and recommendations.

You also need the right shielding gas for your project. In order to buy the right gas, you first need to know what job you’re going to perform. Check your gun for recommended psi and gas type, but usually 15 to 25 will work. A lot of welders like using argon or an argon and helium mixture, especially in TIG and stick welding. You can probably get away with CO2 for starting out, then move to 25% argon for cleaner welds.

You will also need a carbide scribe, or awl. This is what you will use to mark your cut lines. Right angle grinders will grind and bevel your welds, ensuring flat and flush lines. Wire brushes and clipping hammers are recommended for cleaning up slag and spatter when you’re working. Welding pliers will remove any spatter from your gun’s nozzle.

Mitre saws are often great to cut down pieces of metal that you don't want to risk welding, particularly if they are very small pieces.

Welding Automation / Robotic Welding

Manual welding still offers the best quality for any project; however, automated robotic welding has become quite popular due to its efficiency. A lot of assemblers are using this new form of welding to reduce cost and standardize builds, because they can produce a baseline of good enough quality as much faster rates without relying on human welders.

Semiautomatic welding uses an operator to load parts into a welding fixture. The controller ensures that the entire process remains within preset parameters. When the weld is finished, the operator will remove the assembly and start over.

Fully automatic welding uses a set of machines to load the work piece, move everything into position, weld the project, monitor the quality of the joint, and unload the product at completion. 

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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