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Welding FAQs

General Frequently Asked Questions About Welding

Understanding the process and protective gear needed for welding is important. See below for a list of the most frequently asked questions about welding. Still have questions? Contact Technical Product Support at 1-800-874-4755 or send an email by clicking here.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is welding?
2. What are the different types of welding?
3. What personal protection is available for welding?


1. What is welding?
Welding is the process of combining two similar materials by heating both until the ends become molten. Filler material is then added into the molten material and the two ends are joined or welded together to form one solid piece when cool. Weld joints are usually as strong as or stronger than the base metals being joined.

2. What are the different types of welding?
Gas or MIG welding uses a gas flame, such as acetylene, MAPP gas or hydrogen to ignite the torch and provide a shield.  A wire feed is used as the filler to join the two work pieces together.  Gas welding is slower and easier to control than electric arc welding making it easier to learn.   It also allows for better control on thinner materials and provides cleaner welds with less slag.  Gas welding is often used in general maintenance applications and can be done on steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and cast iron.    

Arc or stick welding uses a consumable electrode to support an arc between the two metal pieces. The energy for the arc is provided by a power supply unit that furnishes the direct or alternating current.  The electrodes carry the current to form the arc, producing a gas that shields the arc from the atmosphere, and adds metal to control the weld shape.  When an arc is struck using a coated electrode the intense heat melts the top of the electrode.  The drops of metal from the electrode enter the arc stream and are deposited on the base metal.   Arc welding can be done in windy or outdoor conditions and is okay for use on dirty or rusty metal.  It is suggested for use steel, stainless steel, or cast iron.

Gas Tungsten Arc (TIG) welding is welding equipment with a high frequency generator.  The arc is created between a non-consumable tungsten electrode and the work piece.  Filler material may or may not be used, and argon or another inert gas mixture is used for shielding.  TIG welding produces very precise, high quality welds and can be done on aluminum, magnesium alloys, steel, stainless steel, copper, brass and titanium. 

Oxygen and arc cutting uses a flame or heat from an arc to cut metal.  The most common metal cutting processes are oxygen cutting, in which metal is heated by a gas flame and an oxygen jet does the cutting; or arc cutting in which the intense heat of an electric arc melts away the metal. 

Plasma cutters use a torch with an electric arc to create plasma, which is boosted by a gas such as nitrogen, argon or oxygen to a very high temperature.  This creates a stream or cone of plasma that is used to cut or fabricate metal, from thin sheets to thick material. 

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3. What personal protection is available for welding?
Eye and Face Protection varies depending on the particular welding task being performed.  OSHA requires that welders use a helmet, hand shield, goggles and/or safety glasses or a combination of these depending on the application.  Nearby employees who may also view the arc are also subject to wear proper eye protection.  All filter lenses and plates must meet the test for transmission of radiant energy as required by ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010, Practice for Occupational and Education Eye and Face Protection. 

Welding helmets with filter plates are intended to protect users from arc rays and from weld sparks and spatters that strike directly against the helmet.  They are not intended to protect against slag chips, grinding fragments, wire wheel bristles and similar hazards, which can ricochet under the helmet.  Spectacles, goggles, or other appropriate eye protection must also be worn to protect against these hazards. 

Protective Clothing is required and will vary with the size, nature and location of the work to be performed.  Clothing should provide sufficient coverage and be made of suitable materials to minimize skin burns caused by sparks, spatter or radiation.  Heavier materials, such as wool clothing, heavy cotton or leather are preferred because they don’t deteriorate easily.  Materials that may melt or cause severe burn due to sparks are not recommended.  Dark clothing works best to reduce reflection of welding rays. 

The ANSI standard requires that all welders and cutters wear protective flame-resistant gloves such as leather welder’s gloves which provide the heat resistance required for welding.  A gauntlet cuff offers additional arm protection and insulated linings should be used to protect areas exposed to high radiant energy.  Other protective clothing may include durable, flame-resistant aprons made of leather or other suitable materials that will provide protection to the front of the body when additional protection against sparks is needed, welding chaps and leather boots.


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