1. Welding is a fabrication or sculptural process that joins materials, usually metals or thermoplastics, by causing fusion, which is distinct from lower temperature metal-joining techniques such as brazing and soldering, which do not melt the base metal.
2. In addition to melting the base metal, a filler material is often added to the joint to form a pool of molten material (the weld pool) that cools to form a joint that can be as strong as the base material.
3. Pressure may also be used in conjunction with heat, or by itself, to produce a weld.
4. Some of the best known welding methods include:
5. Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) - also known as "stick welding", uses an electrode that has flux, the protectant for the puddle, around it. The electrode holder holds the electrode as it slowly melts away. Slag protects the weld puddle from atmospheric contamination.
6. Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) - also known as TIG (tungsten, inert gas), uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to produce the weld. The weld area is protected from atmospheric contamination by an inert shielding gas such as Argon or Helium.
7. Gas metal arc welding (GMAW) - commonly termed MIG (metal, inert gas), uses a wire feeding gun that feeds wire at an adjustable speed and flows an argon-based shielding gas or a mix of argon and carbon dioxide (CO2) over the weld puddle to protect it from atmospheric contamination.
8. Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) - almost identical to MIG welding except it uses a special tubular wire filled with flux; it can be used with or without shielding gas, depending on the filler.
9. Submerged arc welding (SAW) - uses an automatically fed consumable electrode and a blanket of granular fusible flux. The molten weld and the arc zone are protected from atmospheric contamination by being "submerged" under the flux blanket.
10. Electroslag welding (ESW) - a highly productive, single pass welding process for thicker materials between 1 inch (25 mm) and 12 inches (300 mm) in a vertical or close to vertical position.