4 Different Types of Welding Procedures and When to Use Them

August 16, 2020

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career as a welder, it’s important to identify the area you’d like to specialize in. There are over 30 different types of welding processes, from oxy fuel to more complex laser beam practices. Though, these varieties are typically broken down into four main types.

4 Main Types of Welding Processes

The four main types of welding are: Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW/MIG), Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW/TIG), Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), and Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW).


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In this post, we’ll detail the specifics assigned to each process and highlight the differences among them. Keep reading to learn all you need to know about the four main types of welding and what they’re used for.

arc welding

Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW/MIG)

Also known as Metal Inert Gas or MIG welding, this process uses a thin wire as an electrode. The wire heats up as it is fed through the welding instrument and towards the welding site. Shielding gas must be used to protect the weld from contaminants in the air.

Typically, this comes in the form of carbon dioxide, oxygen, argon or helium. This method is often used to work on metals such as stainless steel, copper, nickel, carbon steel, aluminum, and more. Of all the welding processes, this one is most popular across the construction and automotive industries.

Gas metal arc welding is believed to be one of the easier welding techniques to learn, which makes it a great area of focus for beginning welders. It also calls for minimal cleanup, offers high welding speeds and better control over thinner materials.

Some downsides associated with this type of welding process revolve around the costs of getting shielding gas along with an inability to weld thicker metals or perform vertical or overhead welding.

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW/TIG)

gas tungsten arc welding

This type of welding process, also known as Tungsten Inert Gas or TIG welding, is commonly used to weld together thin and non-ferrous materials like aluminum, copper, lead, or nickel. It’s commonly applied to bicycle or aircraft manufacturing.

Unlike other types of welding processes, TIG welding uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to produce the weld. You will still need an external gas supply, usually argon or a mix of argon and helium.

This is considered one of the most difficult welding methods to master, and one that produces the most high-quality welds.

Because there is only a tiny area between the arc and the area being welded, it takes an enormous amount of precision and skill to complete. Welds born of this method are known to be extremely strong.

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)

shield metal arc welding

This type of welding process relies on a manual technique using a consumable electrode coated in flux. This method tends to be most popular among home-shop welders. This process is also more informally known as stick welding.

The nickname references the electrode used to weld the metal, which comes in the form of a “stick.” Because shielded metal arc welding requires minimal equipment, it’s one of the most low-cost processes around.

This type of welding does not require shielding gas and can be performed outdoors in the wind or rain. It also works well on dirt and rusty materials. That said, downsides do exist.

Stick welds don’t typically produce the best quality products. They are prone to porosity, cracks, and shallow penetration. In general, stick welds are less durable than what other types of welding will produce.

Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)

flux cored arc welding

Similar to MIG welding, flux cored arc welding revolves around a continuous wire feed process. There are two separate processes associated with flux cored arc welding.

One involves the use of shielding gas while the other relies on self-shielding agents produced when fluxing agents decompose within the wire.

This type of welding is known for being inexpensive and easy to learn. Much like the MIG welding process, it’s a great way for beginning welders to kick off their careers in the field.

It also allows welders to perform their work outdoors (windy conditions won’t affect the weld). The semi-automatic arc provides high welding speed and portability, making it a popular process to employ on construction projects.

Begin Your Welding Career With the New England Institute of Technology

The associate degree in welding engineering technology at NEIT, one of the best welding schools in the nation, provides the intensive, hands-on experience needed to begin a career in welding.


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The program is designed to help students master their welding and pipefitting skills, introduce them to CAD, building design and teach them how to read blueprints. Additional theory and practice are also included in the curriculum.

Graduates will be prepared for a number of different industry positions including welding engineering technician, production welder, industrial engineering technician, quality control engineering technician, CADD designer, CADD technician, welding industry salesperson, and materials testing technician.

Students will also be prepared for future certifications through simulated welder qualification tests.

Apply to our welding program and graduate in less than 2 years.