welders welding in an industrial automotive factory

The Different Types of Welding Explained

Binding two pieces of metal together has been possible for hundreds of years. However, it has only been in the last few decades that the welding process has evolved, providing different types for different situations with easier application.

Five main types of welding are available today, each with its own pros and cons. Let’s take a look at all the options to give a clear understanding of which is more suitable for every situation.

Introduction to Types of Welding

welding metal beam outside at building site

Welding is a method used in manufacturing to fuse two parts together, typically metals and thermoplastics. However, you can also use this process on wood in some cases.

The welding process uses heat, pressure, or the combination of the two and bonds two substrates together, enabling them to flow together. Sometimes, welders use a separate substance as a filler to help create a stronger hold.

There are various forms of welding, each important for a specific task or material, with five main types used most often.

  • Stick Welding
  • MIG (Metal Inert Gas)
  • TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas)
  • FCAW (Flux Cored Arc Welding)
  • SAW (Submerged Arc Welding)

Stick Welding

Stick welding, also known as shielded metal arc welding, is the most common approach to arc welding and one of the first forms of this trade. Stick welding is simple, versatile, and affordable, making it a popular option.

This welding technique requires a stick-like electrode to join materials with electric currents. Essentially these electric welding currents create an electric arc between the materials you are welding together.

You will frequently see stick welding or shielded metal arc welding with heavy-duty metals such as carbon steel and cast iron in industrial settings.



  • Affordable
  • Easy to learn and use
  • Versatile
  • Portable
  • Safe to use
  • Cannot be used on thin materials
  • Not effective for non-ferrous metals
  • Hard to use in overhead positions
  • Produces more smoke and fumes than other options
  • Slower welding process


Uses and applications

Marine welding, underwater welding, mining, steel fabrications, pipelines, structural welding


MIG Welding

Like stick welding, MIG welding uses the arc welding process to fuse two pieces of metal. However, unlike stick welding, MIG is released on a continuous wire electrode and is delivered into a weld pool along with a flow of shielding gas (such as helium or argon) through a handheld welding gun or torch.

Once the end of the electrode and the metal meet, the base metal will melt, forming a joint.

MIG welding is ideal for thinner materials and often used for auto repairs or assembly.  However, you can also use this process for some thicker materials, too.



  • Faster than other options
  • Electrodes efficiency is higher than most
  • Great for spot welds
  • Easy to clean
  • Can be used in all positions
  • Works well on most metals
  • Equipment is affordable
  • Not as precise as other options
  • Cannot be used outdoors
  • Cannot be used underwater
  • Disturbances and hot spots
  • Frequent gas charging
  • Prone to undercutting and burn


Uses and applications

 Automotive industry (repairs and assembly), piping systems, sheet metal welding, home and building repairs


TIG Welding

Another popular arc welding process is TIG welding or tungsten inert gas welding. This process was designed in the 1930s by aircraft industries to weld magnesium.

TIG welding requires using a non-consumable tungsten electrode to create a joint weld. When you use a TIG welder, you create an arc between the non-consumable (will not melt) tungsten electrode and the base metal. A weld pool will form from this interaction, and a thin metal wire is hand-fed to the same spot, causing it to melt and create a joint.

An inert shielding gas is also released at this time to protect the welding pool and electrode from oxygen, steering clear of corrosion and slag.



  • Offers a high amount of control and precision
  • Works well on thin materials
  • Versatile and can switch from one size of metal to another
  • Provides low-profile weld beads
  • Weld is free from slag or corrosion
  • Uses non-consumable tungsten electrode
  • Requires excellent hand-eye coordination
  • Needs a high level of concentration and focus
  • Process is time-consuming
  • Can be expensive
  • Excludes many metals like aluminum
  • Requires a clean surface


Uses and applications

Manufacturing, construction work, automotive repair, metal fabrication, repairing industries, aerospace

Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)

Flux cored arc welding uses a continuously fed tubular-shaped electrode that is filled with flux and constant voltage to create a joint between two metals.

This type of welder implements the same kind of equipment as MIG welders with a welder, welding gun, wire feeder, and ground clams.

Unlike MIG welders, flux welding machines use different types of wire, “soft-wire,” which is not completely solid. Instead, this wire has a flux core; this material rises to the top of the weld when exposed to create a protective casing while the weld cools. This solidified casing, also known as slag, can be chipped off after the weld is sound.



  • One of the most accessible welding forms to learn
  • One of the most efficient welding processes
  • Can weld through rust
  • Can be used outdoors
  • Versatile and portable
  • Known for creating defects in the metal (beads, slag, spatter)
  • Electrodes can be costly
  • Creates fumes
  • Not ideal for thin metals



Uses and applications

Machine parts, DIY projects, farming equipment, automotive, bridge construction, structural steel erection

Submerged Arc Welding (SAW)

The submerged steel arc welding process involves creating an arc of electric current between metal and a continuously fed electrode (using flux and filler metal). This type of welding is often used in steelwork with stainless steel, low alloy, carbon steel, and high-strength steel.

SAW is most frequently used for long welds or when welding thick steel sheets. Like flux cored welding, the flux wire feeds the metal onto the targeted welding joint. Once melted, it becomes a conductor and can be removed once cooled.



  • Easy clean up due to lack of spatter
  • Almost no fumes or radiation
  • Runs at a faster pace than other options
  • Creates a high-quality weld bead
  • Very high heat to penetrate thick metal
  • Easy to learn
  • Flux can be hard to control
  • Can be hard to judge quality due to low visibility
  • Requires high-quality (more expensive) flux
  • Higher material limitation than other options
  • Requires clean edges for welding
  • Not very versatile for positioning


Uses and applications

Large welding projects, building oil and gas tankers, vessel construction, surfacing applications


wall made of metal squares welded together

What is the difference between stick welding and MIG welding?

The most significant difference between MIG and stick welding is the shielding gas and the type of electrode used to create the arch. MIG welding requires a consumable solid wire fed by a machine with separate shielding gas. Stick welding uses a coated electrode that creates its own gas.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of TIG welding?

The benefits of TIG welding include high precision, versatility, and produces no slag. The disadvantages of TIG welding include needing excellent hand-eye coordination, the time it takes to do it, and the high cost of the materials.

Can I use MIG welding on thin metal?

Yes, MIG welding is one of the best options for thin metals. However, you must have great precision and patience to create a clean weld.

What type of welding is best for outdoor use?

The best type of welding for outdoor use is stick welding. This is a good choice because it can weld in poor conditions, the wind won’t affect the weld, it can weld rusty and dirty materials, and no preparation is required.

Is it possible to switch between different types of welding during a project?

While it is possible to switch between two types of welding during a project, this can be very time-consuming since it would require different welding equipment, and not all types of welding are accessible in all spaces or on all types of metals.

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