How Welding Works
(Words and Photos: By Louis B, Eastwood.com, March 2014)
The more you get involved with automotive work, the more you will need to learn how welding works. Welding is commonly used for making a modification or repair last for a long time and look professional. In order to do this, there are three primary systems of arc welding you can use: stick welding, MIG welding and TIG welding. Below, we learn about all three methods, how they work and what they are used for.
There are three most common welding systems that can be used in automotive work: stick welders, MIG welders and TIG welders. A stick welder is your most basic type of welder. It is an arc welder, which means that it uses a high voltage electrical current to create heat substantial enough to join pieces of metal together. Both the welding material and the flux, which creates the gas shield, come in the form of a stick that is attached to your welder by a metal clamp. When electricity is passed through the clamp to the stick, it makes a weld while simultaneously expelling sputtering gas from the flux material. This is the cheapest form of welding, and therefore it is less precise than the other systems. However it is a tried and true method of welding and a good start for anyone first learning how to weld, particularly one who is dealing with minor welds and metal working jobs.
One of the more high-precision welding systems involves Metal Inert Gas welders, or MIG welders. A MIG welder emits a cloud of gas from the welding torch that keeps impurities from compromising and eventually damaging the weld. MIG welders use a wire feed that supply the well material. A spool of wire is fed through a long cable and out of the welding torch, whose trigger controls the feed of the wire. When the wire hits the metal that you are working on, an arc is created and you are now welding metal. Entry level MIG welders can be reasonably priced, but they can also be very expensive, depending on the make and model.
MIG welders are typically the go-to method for doing any kind of sheet metal work. Jobs like repairing a fender or replacing an O2 sensor will call for the use of a MIG welder. MIG welders can also be used for thicker metals, but welding metal with a higher gauge can often times be time consuming and overall not ideal.
The inner workings of TIG welders are very similar to MIG welders in many respects, but they are generally more precise, made for the professional welder. TIG stands for Tungsten Inert Gas, and because of that, the heat of the welding arc is very tightly controlled using the same kind of gas shield around the weld that MIG welders use. TIG welders are particularly great to use on aluminum metal pieces both on the inside and outside of your car. Though they may take longer to master, TIG welders can produce some highly clean, precise and beautiful welds that surpass those of other welding systems.
To learn more about welding and for more DIY car tutorials, be sure to visit our Technical Articles page.
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