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Welding is a vast industry that can feel a bit daunting when you first enter it. Luckily, if you take some time to learn the ropes, welding can quickly become a rewarding and understandable process. One of the first questions you'll most likely have is “What is arc welding?” The definition and uses below will fill you in on how this process works and why it’s so popular.
Arc welding earns its catchy moniker because it involves forming an electric arc between two objects—the electrode and the base metal. In some cases, the electrode will heat an additional "filler metal," which will melt so you can use it to fuse pieces of metal.
For the metal to successfully fuse during arc welding, you'll need to supply shielding gas. The shielding gas protects your weld from the air, specifically from the effects of oxygen and nitrogen. These elements can hinder the quality of welds, but a shielding gas will ensure that doesn't happen.
The current powering the electric arc comes from an AC or DC welding machine. Luckily, there are plenty of welding machines that come with AC and DC compatibility. Thanks to those versatile machines, you can switch to whichever option suits each task and your personal preference as you gain more experience.
There are two general arc welding methods that themselves contain separate subgroups—consumable electrode and non-consumable electrode welding. Consumable electrode arc welding methods include MIG, stick, and flux-cored arc welding.
Non-consumable arc welding methods include TIG and plasma arc welding. Which method you use ultimately depends on factors such as the specific metals you’re working on and your comfort level with a particular method. For instance, MIG welding is a great go-to method for beginners because it’s easier to learn than others.
Thanks to the various types of arc welding available, welders who use this method can work within a diverse group of industries, including the automotive, aerospace, construction, and manufacturing fields. Non-consumable methods like TIG and plasma arc are popular in the automotive, aerospace, and construction industries thanks to the precision and strength they provide in the right hands.
However, MIG welding is popular in the automotive and construction industries since it's the best choice for welding thin metals like aluminum. Thanks to the durable and clean results TIG welding can create, it's also a popular choice for anyone artistically welding to create sculptures, décor, and other products.
Hopefully, if you initially wondered, "What is arc welding?" the definition and uses above will successfully teach you the basics. As you dive deeper into these welding methods, there will be more to learn, but this breakdown will give you a good overview of arc welding. Once you know which type of welding is right for you, then you can finally begin gathering the proper MIG welding accessories or the appropriate gear that applies to the specific method you’re using.