Learning to weld is a very versatile skill and opens you up to a whole host of trades and professions, these different trades will generally require specialized forms of welding.
The principle in essence remains the same, but the methods and materials used to power the torches changes, these different torches will allow you to weld with a variety of materials depending on the fuel type.
All of this could appear confusing to the beginner welder, however with a little patience and commitment to remembering which torch and method to use for the material you are welding then it will eventually become second nature to choose the right torch, every time.
MIG (Gas Metal Arc Welding)
The strangely abbreviated MIG welding is quite possibly the most common kind of torch you will find on site. It has a massive amount of applications from manufacturing, engineering and automobile repair, to more residential applications.
It is a very easy method to learn and its purpose it to weld thinner and lower gauge metals without the risk of over melting. The process involves feeding the welding material through the mechanism to apply to the intended surface; in addition, it also generates a shield layer of gasses that protect the weld from natural elements which is ideal for outdoor applications.
Its efficiency has made it a go-to for welding large amounts of aluminum quickly and is a favorite of humble mechanics and groundworks engineers alike.
TIG /GTAW (Tungsten Inert Gas)
A highly specialized form of welding that requires a highly skilled and qualified operator to use as intended.
TIG welding is generally used in applications where a higer quality of finish is needed in an area that is unsuitable for post-weld sanding or blasting and also where an extremely strong weld is required such as in aircraft and superlight bicycles.
Apart from perhaps plasma welding, TIG is the most technically challenging kind of welding that can be learned and TIG welders are in great demand.
Shielded-Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)
The most popular, easy to learn and most widely used in home applications, SMAW welding’s beauty is in the simplicity of operation, at the expense in quality of weld with splattering of the molten weld material.
SMAW is generally used by the construction industry using steel materials that require a simple, easy to teach solution that is also not too budget heavy. And unlike MIG and TIG welding, it is very easy to use outside even in slightly windy conditions that would make TIG or MIG very difficult. The downside being it is significantly slower than other forms of welding mentioned.
Oxy-acetylene Welding and Cutting
The only type featured on this list without a catchy abbreviation, Oxy-Acetylene welding uses a mixture of oxygen and acetylene gas to create an extremely hot and intense burn capable of melting even the hardest grades of steel, it is also commonly used to braise and melt softer metals.
And can be used for extremely delicate applications such as in air conditioning piping and refrigerator outlets. The downsides of this method being that initial investment in equipment can be of a higher cost as well as again being a highly specialized skill.
Plasma Arc Welding
Sounding like something out of star trek, is easily the most time consuming and technical kind of welding method available and is often automated to save on training costs however it is equally suited to manual applications and praised for its high level of precision and a lower current levels.
The applications for plasma welding are seemingly endless and are used in many different ways, from onboard automated repairs of jet turbines to extremely precise assembly of specialized surgical instruments.