The basics of welding

At the end of this Lesson, students will be able to;

  • Name the three most common welding processes
  • Explain the basic characteristics of each welding process
  • Name some of the advantages and disadvantages of each welding process
  • Identify the types of metals that can be welded in each system.


Before you watch the video, scan the words below. If there are any new vocabulary terms, you may want to find them in your dictionary before you watch.

aluminum alloys
base metal
cast iron

deposition rate
filler metal
heat source
shielding gas
spool of wire
stainless steel

Hi, I’m Steve Christena from Arc Academy. The Arc Academy is a small, beginner level welding school here in Chicago, Illinois. What we do, is we teach beginners how to weld but everybody who comes through our door usually does not have any idea what welding actually is; which is the liquification of a base metal with heat and then they fuse together. And there are three common systems that do this; MIG, stick, and TIG. 

And what we are going to do before we jump in is have a review of all three of these processes. Before we get started, let’s talk about the common characteristics of each process. In welding you have three basic elements, you have your heat source, your filler metal and your shielding gas or your flux. So, let’s talk about MIG welding. The filler metal is your electrode and it is on a spool of wire. It is also a shielding gas process so the advantage to this is it is going to be much easier to learn because you preset all of your parameters, it is going to be much cleaner because you don’t have any kind of slag process and you can hit a wide variety of metal thicknesses. So, if you are in a garage or in your shop, that is a great process to use.

Stick welding. Because it is a flux-based process it works awesome outside. Wind does not affect it as much and it can also work on thicker metals really well. Another advantage of it is if your metal is dirty. If you’re working on farm equipment or a gate or in your driveway. Rust and debris don’t affect it as much as the other processes. A few of the disadvantages of stick welding are that you are going to have a lot of spatter, a lot of vapor off-gassing, and fumes, so it is not something you want to do indoors too much. Another thing is if you are working on an automotive frame metal it is not the prettiest or cleanest weld. Usually if you are working on some sort of frame, you are going to pick MIG or TIG.

Another thing is if you are working on an automotive frame metal it is not the prettiest or cleanest weld. Usually if you are working on some sort of frame, you are going to pick MIG or TIG.

Some of the advantages of TIG welding are that you are going to get the highest quality weld. It is going to be aesthetically more pleasing. You get a pretty bead. It also works great on thinner metals. The only problem is that it is very difficult to control because you are controlling all three of your elements in process. Your leg is controlling your heat, your opposite hand is typically controlling your filler metal deposition rate and then, of course, you have a non-consumable tungsten electrode that is creating your arch as you move through the bead. This is a considerably slower process as well. So, usually when you are working on TIG welding, you are going to be working on stuff like a frame for a motorcycle, automotive sheet metal, something in that regard.

We have highlighted the advantage of each welding process. Now we have to talk about what you are going to do.
All of my students that come up to me that are about to buy a welder they ask me which one should I get. Well, it really depends on what you are going to be doing most. If you are going to be outdoors working on farm equipment, you are typically going to go with a stick welder. 

Thick metal welding, dirtier material. If you are working on thin metals, hvac, doing frame-outs, go with a TIG welding process, if you want a wider range and you are going to be working indoors, MIG welding is probably what you are going to want. Now let’s get a little bit more specific about what metals you can use for each process.
MIG will typically have the ability to weld steel, stainless steel, and aluminum alloys.
Stick has the ability to weld on steel, stainless steel, and cast iron.
Whereas TIG pretty much runs the gamut. You can weld on any metals that conduct electricity; steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass, chromoly and exotic metals such as magnesium and titanium.

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