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The Different Types of Welding
There are 4 main welding techniques, each with their own advantages. Let our experts explain where and when each should be used.

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What are the 4 most common welding processes?

When looking into welding services, there is a wide variety of techniques available. These techniques range from gas welding to plasma welding, however 4 techniques stand out as the most common. These techniques are:

  • MIG – Metal Inert Gas Welding
  • TIG – Tungsten Inert Gas Welding
  • SMAW – Shielded Metal Arc Welding
  • Oxy-Acetylene Welding

Each of these processes offer their own unique advantages and disadvantages and are ideal for specific applications. Fortunately for you, our experts at California On-Site Welding are here to explain when and why they are used.

MIG – Metal Inert Gas Welding

metal inert gas (MIG) welding equipment isolated on white background

MIG welding, often called wire welding, is a process that continuously feeds an electrode current through a thin wire. This current creates an electric arc when it comes in contact with the metal it is welding that heats up rapidly. Once the metal reaches its melting point, it can be joined together with another metal, along with the wire rod that serves as a filler metal. The efficiency of the electrode makes this welding process a great choice when you need a welding service with minimal cleanup that creates very strong welds. 

Of course, there are also disadvantages to using MIG welding. The first is that it requires a shielding gas. This gas is used to prevent the base material from being exposed to chemicals within the atmosphere that could potentially lead to holes within the weld. While this gas serves the purpose well, it makes it difficult to use this welding process in a windy environment. The weld created by this process, while very strong, is ineffective when it comes to welding thicker pieces of metal.

MIG Infograph

The advantages of MIG welding are numerous as well. First, the process is very versatile and can be used in a lot of applications. In fact MIG welding is capable of being used on almost every metal. MIG welding is also one of the fastest types of welding that does not sacrifice the quality of the weld. Some of the more common applications for MIG welding are: pipe repair, automative repair, sheet welding and more.

TIG – Tungsten Inert Gas Welding

tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding equipment isolated on white background
TIG Infograph

TIG Welding is very similar to MIG welding. Both types of welding rely on an electrode current being run through a conductor, in this case tungsten. This electrode then creates an electrode arc with the base metal and rapidly heats up. Unlike in MIG welding, TIG welding requires a hand held welding rod to serve as a filler metal. The tungsten rod produces a small, but very strong electrode arc making it ideal for precision welds. 

The disadvantage to TIG welding is similar to that of MIG welding, the requirement of shielding gas. This shielding gas makes it hard to use in outdoor situations where it may be too windy. It is also more difficult to use, given the high precision of the electrode arc.

There are multiple advantages to using TIG welding. First and foremost, the precision allows for a very clean weld with a high degree of purity. The welds made through this technique are highly aesthetic, and it can be used with very thin metals. Some of the more common applications of TIG welding include bike repair, vehicle repair, and machine repair.

SMAW – Shielded Metal Arc Welding

Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) equipment isolated on white background

SMAW welding, also referred to as stick welding, is another type of electrode welding. In this process, an electrode current is ran through a metal wire rod with an exterior flux coating. As the electric arc heats up, the flux coating melts creating a gas shield, similar to the gas shields being used in the previous techniques without the need of an external gas tank. The wire metal melts as well and is used as the filler metal to weld the base metals together.

The disadvantages of SMAW welding, compared to the previous two, is the quality of the weld. The weld is is generally not as strong as the MIG or TIG welding processes. SMAW welding also requires more cleanup than the previous techniques. It leaves a layer of slag on the welding metal, and needs to be removed once the process ends. This process is also slower than the previous two.

SMAW Infograph

The primary advantage of SMAW welding, is the lack of gas required. SMAW welding is easily portable, and can be used in a windy environment without the same issues that TIG and MIG run into. It is also able to be used at every angle, making it the best option for hard to reach places. Some of the more common applications for SMAW welding include maintenence and repair.

Oxy-Acetylene Welding

Oxy Acetylene Infograph

Oxy-Acetylene welding is our final welding technique, and the only one that does not feature an electrode arc. This technique features a flame created through a handheld torch. This flame is fueled by a combination of oxygen and acetylene, and can reach temperatures of up to 3200 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is hot enough to melt most commercial metals. As the base metal heats up, a filler rod is supplied by hand.


Gas welding, just like SMAW welding, produces a layer of slag when used. This layer should be removed once the process is done. This type of welding also provides a less precise weld line and may not look as neat as the previous techniques. Oxy-Acetylene also creates large heat affected zones, so it may not be the right choice for repairing machinery that is heat sensitive. 

The advantages to Oxy-Acetylene welding come primarily from the high heat it is capable of reaching. This welding technique is able to melt virtually every commercial metal, and can be used in just about any welding situation. The flame can also be used to cut the metal. Some of the more common applications of Oxy-Acetylene welding are: shop fabrication, pipe repair, and joining high carbon steel. 

Deciding which technique to use can be difficult. Fortunately, California On-Site Welding is here to make it easy for you. Our team of experts has been providing expert craftsmanship to Southern California for over 25 years. We have the knowledge and experience to know which technique is right for any job. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you. For more information about the services we can provide for you, check out our services page!