Welding Terminology

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The Asylum uses informal terminology to describe various welding processes, both on this wiki and in our class descriptions. We do this because nonexperts usually use this same terminology, and our mission is to be accessible and teach the use of these tools---not necessarily to be pedantically correct for those who are already experts. However, you may see formal terms for these welding processes elsewhere, so to help you figure out what they're talking about, here's a cheat sheet.

Informal name Formal abbreviation Formal name
(per American Welding Society)
Welders at the Asylum
of this type
Stick SMAW Shielded Metal Arc Welding Category:Stick Welders
MIG (Metal Inert Gas) GMAW Gas Metal Arc Welding Category:MIG Welders
MAG (Metal Active Gas)
TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) GTAW Gas Tungsten Arc Welding Category:TIG Welders
flux-core MIG FCAW Flux-Cored Arc Welding Category:MIG Welders
Spot RSW Resistance Spot Welding Category:Spot Welders


Shielded Metal Arc Welding

From Wikipedia:

Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), also known as manual metal arc welding (MMA or MMAW), flux shielded arc welding[1] or informally as stick welding, is a manual arc welding process that uses a consumable electrode coated in flux to lay the weld.

Gas Metal Arc Welding

From Wikipedia:

Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), sometimes referred to by its subtypes metal inert gas (MIG) welding or metal active gas (MAG) welding, is a welding process in which an electric arc forms between a consumable wire electrode and the workpiece metal(s), which heats the workpiece metal(s), causing them to melt, and join. Along with the wire electrode, a shielding gas feeds through the welding gun, which shields the process from contaminants in the air.

Every GMAW machine is inherently an FCAW machine.

Inaccuracies of Informal Terminology

MIG is an especially inaccurate term, as the process no longer uses inert shielding gases exclusively -- CO2 is a component of most GMAW shielding gas mixtures. Also, GMAW and FCAW are separate processes, but they tend to get jumbled together (e.g. the term "flux-core MIG"; FCAW doesn't use a shielding gas at all, much less an inert one).

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding

From Wikipedia:

Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), also known as tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, is an arc welding process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to produce the weld. The weld area is protected from atmospheric contamination by an inert shielding gas (argon or helium), and a filler metal is normally used, though some welds, known as autogenous welds, do not require it. A constant-current welding power supply produces energy which is conducted across the arc through a column of highly ionized gas and metal vapors known as a plasma.

Every GTAW machine is inherently an SMAW machine.

Flux-Cored Arc Welding

Paraphrasing Wikipedia:

Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW or FCA) uses a continuously-fed consumable tubular electrode containing a flux and a constant-voltage (or, less commonly, a constant-current) welding power supply. The flux itself is relied upon to generate the necessary protection from the atmosphere. The process is widely used in construction because of its high welding speed and portability.

Resistance Spot Welding

From Wikipedia:

Spot welding (RSW) is a process in which contacting metal surfaces are joined by the heat obtained from resistance to electric current. Work-pieces are held together under pressure exerted by electrodes. Typically the sheets are in the 0.5 to 3 mm (0.020 to 0.12 in) thickness range. The process uses two shaped copper alloy electrodes to concentrate welding current into a small "spot" and to simultaneously clamp the sheets together. Forcing a large current through the spot will melt the metal and form the weld. The attractive feature of spot welding is that a lot of energy can be delivered to the spot in a very short time (approximately ten milliseconds). That permits the welding to occur without excessive heating of the remainder of the sheet.

See Also

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