Welding is a process in which two or more pieces of metal or any other thermoplastic material are joined together by use of heat and pressure. Just as a blacksmith uses heat to soften the iron he’s working on, welding softens the material and enables it to join two parts together when a certain amount of pressure is applied. The concept of welding is not new and it has been used for centuries now, but as the years go by and new technologies emerge, welding has been a subject of some subtle changes that have speeded up the process significantly. There are many ways of steel structure welding, but which of them are the fastest?
The journey to speedy welding methods
The concept of welding was first introduced in the middle ages. Back then, it simply meant the use of a flame to heat metal to extremely high temperatures and then hammering pieces together until they became one. Since them welding has come a long way.
Electric and gas flame heating methods proved to be much safer and faster for welders and since they were introduced in late 19th century, they have revolutionised the welding industry. Gas and electric flames are used by welders to this day, although newest forms can also involve laser beams.
Stick/Arc Welding (SMAW)
A popular and low-cost way of welding, where an electric current is used as the heat source. The device that creates the current enables it to move through materials which are normally not conductive. The electrical current that is created between the welding device and the material to be welded can give an arch-like appearance, which is where the method takes its name from. Arc welding is effective and quick, and is best used on heavy metals that are 4mm or thicker and is used in repairing heavy equipment. It can also be seen in pipeline welding and construction industry. But there are also other, much quicker methods.
Flux-Cored Arc Welding
Flux-cored welding is, on the other hand, an automatic form of welding and many construction workers use it on the job, because it is suitable to many different materials and eliminates the necessity to use different welding methods. It uses a tubular wire-filled flux in place of a solid wire (which would be used in the SMAW method).
Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding (GMAW)
This common method of welding uses a gun that is continuously fed with a consumable electrode. It uses an external gas to shield the welded metal from all environmental factors, such as oxygen. The gas shield makes the job continuous and quick, and the method itself is easy to learn, doesn’t produce much welding fumes and is highly efficient. MIG welding works best with stainless steel, aluminium, magnesium, copper and nickel. It is mostly used in automotive repairs, constructions, plumbing, and robotics.