Precision fabrication is the form of welding that is used almost everywhere. Almost every industry relies on welding to construct the materials to create their final products. Leading industries like automotive, construction, oil and gas, aerospace, medical, technology/electronics, telecommunication, defense, and many more need their materials welded at some point while being manufactured.
What is Precision Fabrication?
In the welding world, precision fabrication describes using processes to shape or mold metal materials into the product you designed. There are several fabrication manufacturing processes that welders can use, these include: forging, casting, folding, cutting, machining, shearing, punching, extrusions, and welding. Each of which start with stock metal components like sheet metal, or metal rods and bars. By fabricating these metals, what was once a raw or semi-finished stock material becomes a beautiful, finished product. Welding consists of combining both heat and pressure to secure joints together on two or more sections or pieces of metal to create a finished product. There are several welding processes and techniques, but we are going to shift our focus on the three most frequently used across the board: stick welding, metal inert gas, and tungsten inert gas. Each of these have their own applications and techniques that set them apart from one another. The following are the 3 most common forms of welding…
Formally known as Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), stick welding is used globally. Stick welding is used to join an assortment of metals by using an electrode and an electric current. The electrodes are either a solid metal rod or stick coated in metal powders or compounds that serve as a binding agent allowing them to bond with a surface. Electric currents are applied to conduct an electric arc when they come into contact with metal. As a result, the temperature of the arc melts becomes high enough to melt the stick, or binding agents, that are being welded to the metal surfaces. When the electrode melts, it creates a gas that shields the melt from contaminants that exist in the welding zone. Stick welding was one of the earliest arc welding processes and is known for being both simple and versatile, which is why it is one of the most popular and widely used welding methods. This form of welding is often used in the construction of heavy steel structures and pile welding. It is often used in the maintenance and repair industries. Stick welding can easily weld a variety of metals and alloys while also being able to be completed in any weather condition or environment. While the equipment is user friendly and affordable, welders must have some level of experience and skill to use effectively.
Metal Inert Gas Welding (MIG)
MIG, or Metal Inert Gas Welding, formally known as Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) is a fully or semi-automatic process used on aluminum and other metals. This form of welding was developed in the 1940s and has continued to progress to become a quite valuable and useful tool in industrial fabrication. It provides a faster, high quality workmanship while being able to implement automated systems, increasing production to assist in meeting the supply demands in the industry. MIG welding is done using a welding gun or tool. A solid steel wire is fed from the machine through a liner and then out of the contact tip of the MIG gun. When the wire is being passed through the welding gun, inert gas makes its way through the gun. This allows it to serve as a shield while keeping airborne contaminants out of the welding zone. In most cases, MIG welding is faster than stick welding but due to the inert gas, this method cannot be used outdoors. Precision fabrication utilizing MIG applications and processes are often used in the automotive, construction, maritime, plumbing, and robotic industries worldwide.
Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG)
TIG, or Tungsten Inert Gas, is formally referred to as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW). It was created in the 1930s and 40s in an effort to weld magnesium for the growing aircraft industry. In TIG welding, an arc is created between your base metal and a non-consumable tungsten electrode– non-consuming means the electrode does not melt. Tungsten electrodes create a short arc that is used to weld heavier metals, like in the fabrication of heavy, steel plates. TIG welding requires that welders are highly skilled and it can be used on the majority of metals, as well as for more complex projects. TIG welding also uses an inert gas shielding to prevent the tungsten electrode and the weld pool from any airborne contaminants. It forms a slag-free weld that shares the same corrosion resistance as the parent metal it is attached to. TIG welding is used with more metals than other welding processes because it is so versatile. It is used in the aerospace and automotive industries, including during the manufacturing of bikes and motorcycles, as well as tubing and anywhere that high precision fabrication is necessary. Creative artists are known to use TIG welding to create their sculptures– we weren’t joking when we said it was versatile.
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