The Ultimate Guide Of Welding For Beginners
This guide to welding for beginners seeks to give enough information to get a beginner started while trying to keep things really simple.
Metal is undoubtedly one of the most robust materials with a wide variety of applications. That said, the metal industry is an essential pillar in the construction industry among others. However, metal would be useless if there was no way of joining the different pieces together, and that is where welding comes in.
In simple terms, what is welding? Is it a critical process in joining the metals together?
In layman's language, welding is the glue that sticks two pieces of metal together. It uses a significant amount of heat to melt a section of the metal and bond the two parts together. During the welding process, melting has to occur to allow the pieces of metal to join together and become one structure when they cool.
But you have to understand that the welding process is not for the metal materials only, it can be used successfully on thermoplastics. Another interesting fact is that heat is not always necessary. Pressure and ultrasonic welding can still have the same effect.
There are different welding processes, and each of them is appropriate for a particular application. No one single welding process is suitable for all applications.
As a beginner, it is essential to understand the different processes of welding and the applications in which each one is applicable.
Table of Contents
- 1 A Brief History of the welding process
- 2 Benefits of welding
- 3 Types Of Welding Processes
- 4 Welding Safety equipment for beginners
- 5 Conclusion
A Brief History of the welding process
There is evidence of pressure welding in the bronze ages. The old fabrications are said to have been formed through the hammer between 1000 and 500 BCE, and of course, it was not an easy process.
Forge welding where the metals were heated and bonded together under high temperature and then hammering away by the blacksmith rose in the Middle Ages. At this time, iron-making was a profitable venture when there was mass production of shields, spears and arrows
The electrical arc was discovered in 1800 by Sir Humphrey Davy. 8 decades later, arc welding was created, and the process became more straightforward and faster.
The Arc method improved in the 20th century, and other innovative welding methods came up. In particular, gas tungsten arc welding, plasma arc welding, and other developed techniques all came during the same period.
Benefits of welding
You don't have to comb very far to notice the positive impact that welding has brought in contemporary Society. Essentially, it creates the most durable bond between two pieces of metal. The construction of high-rise buildings would not be possible without the welding process.
Welding is also faster and cheaper compared to bolting and riveting. In particular applications, it is possible to automate the welding process to reduce overhead costs. It is also apparent that strong joints are safer, and you experience fewer accidents.
Types Of Welding Processes
While developed in as far back as 1903, gas welding is one of the oldest welding methods. The concept is straightforward and it involves connecting the flame to two gas tanks; the oxygen tank and the fuel gas tank.
The presence of 100% oxygen raises the temperature significantly to melt the metal and form the weld.
The benefit of oxy-fuel welding is that no electricity is required. You can be in remote places and still weld comfortably. The method is quite famous for the home-based business, and the equipment is quite cheap.
Oxyfuel method can negatively affect the integrity of the metal because it heats the surrounding area. Its application is low, and you can only use the welding method on mild and moderate steel.
Gas tungsten arc welding (TIG)
The primary source of the weld is the non-consumable tungsten electrode. Mainly, filler metal and shielding glass are often used to protect the welding spot from the environmental contamination.
TIG welding is the go-to method for the sheets of aluminum, steel alloys, copper alloys, and stainless steel. The process is quite efficient on non-ferrous pieces of metal.
Unlike the other welding processes, gas tungsten arc welding gives you a significant amount of control and you can get the results that you want. Unfortunately, TIG welding is a bit sophisticated and slow and can be a difficult process for beginners to start with. It may take some period to get the hang of it.
Stick welding (SMAW)
Stick welding is undoubtedly one of the most popular welding machine for beginners, given the fact that it is easy to learn and fast to use. The arc welding electrode or the welding stick is the primary material.
It is easy to use stick welding on metal joints and alloy. Even better, you can use the process outdoors and indoors. Stick welding is convenient, and you can use it on rusty as well as dusty surfaces.
However, you cannot use stick welding on pieces of metal thinner than 18 gauge. And even though it seems simple, stick welding is a bit complicated to learn, and you may take some time to produce perfect welds.
Gas metal arc welding (MIG)
MIG welding is versatile and you can use the method on both thick and thin pieces of metal including steel, aluminum and stainless steel. The wire welding electrodes are the consumables used in MIG welding.
The wire electrodes are fed at a consistent and a predetermined rate to melt the wire to create a strong bond between metal pieces. As a result, gas metal arc welding creates one of the strongest bonds, and is also one of the cleanest.
Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW)
Flux-cored arc welding uses a method similar to MIG welding. But unlike MIG, Flux-cored arc welding does not require a shielding gas. In its place, flux-cored wire protects the gas from environmental contamination.
The method is efficient and straightforward, and therefore one of the most popular for beginners. It is excellent in outdoor conditions. It is no big deal whether it is windy or not, and you can use it on rusty surfaces as well.
The high welding portability of flux cored arc welding combined with its speed makes it the most appropriate for construction works. You don't need to work tooth and nail to protect the weld.
As a beginner, MIG and Flux-cored welding processes remain the simplest to learn. You can as well create clean welds on stainless steel, aluminum and steel. You can use the methods to weld as much as 26 gauge comfortably.
Welding Safety equipment for beginners
Welding has its hazards, and it is always essential to wear the correct protective welding gear to be on the safe side. The exposure of the eyes to ultraviolet rays can cause arc eye. There is also the possibility of combustible burns where your clothing catches fire. Also, inhaling the fumes and chemicals can cause respiratory problems.
You can as well get an electrical shock when two pieces of metal touch.
The purpose made clothing is the most appropriate for welding, and it protects your skin from the ultraviolet rays.
The welding goggles protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays, and the side shields prevent the rays from sneaking in through the side. The welding helmet is for full-face protection.
The respirator is one of the most ignored welding safety equipment. There's so much awareness on the dangers of smoking, and little attention is given to the harmful fumes produced when welding. The effects of welding can range from short-term to long-term respiratory repercussions. Ideally, you should always wear a respirator when welding.
This guide is by no means an exhaustive resource. You will learn more as you start putting the theory into practice and begin building a welding library of information.