Monday, June 27, 2022

Welding and Metal Fabrication: What’s the Difference?


a welder works on a metal bar

Welding and metal fabrication. Is one just like the other? Not exactly - even though many people use the words interchangeably. And, it’s not surprising since they are two of the most well-known processes of metal working. Welding is one of the many different operations that can be used in the fabrication of metal. And many welders know how to fabricate on some level just as many fabricators usually know how to weld. So, what sets these two apart? What is the difference between welding and metal fabrication? Let’s talk about it.

What is Welding?

Welding is a fabrication process that infuses two pieces of metal together. There are different ways in which this is done - using heat, pressure, or a combination of the two. Most commonly heat is used to melt the base metal while a filler metal is then melted to create a weld pool of molten metal. Once it cools, it hardens and unites the two pieces of metal together. Welding requires a lot of hands-on work and an understanding of the different types of welding tools and machinery, as well as metal and their melting points. Also having knowledge of filler materials and which will work well to bring the two metal pieces together is also required of the welder.

What is Metal Fabrication?

Welding may be one piece of the fabrication process - an essential piece - but it is not the only one. There are many other types of processes that don’t require the use of welding. In fact, metal fabrication encompasses the entire manufacturing process to create products made of metal or even large machines. And it is common for metal fabrication to take place in stages, having different groups create different parts of the process.

The Difference Between Welding and Metal Fabrication

Metal fabrication and welding are two very key parts of metalworking. However, as we are learning, they are two distinct processes. Here’s how they differ.

Fabrication Involves More Than Welding

Even though fabrication considers welding a major component in its processes, there are many more components, too. You cannot simply fabricate metal using solely welding. You will likely need to weld, yes, but you will also need other techniques, too. Fabrication starts with the drawing and planning of an idea for creation. It also involves things like machining, cutting, and forming pieces of metal. In other words, welding may be involved in fabrication at one step along the way, but there are many other metalworking techniques in play, too.

Fabrication and Welding Each Require Special Skills

As mentioned above, it is not uncommon for welders and fabricators to each know a little about the other. But those who have honed their skills will tell you that each one requires a specialized skill set. Many fabrication processes use a stable tool or machine to fabricate the metal. Welding uses many stationary tools, too, but they also perform a lot of their techniques by hand. They have to have precise skills and knowledge of the different types of metals. That is, of course, if they want to maintain a strong weld. So, even though all metal workers likely have a little knowledge of each technique that may be used, different skills are needed for each.

Both Fabrication and Welding Use Different Tools

The tools that both fabricators and welders use to get the job done are very different. Metal fabrication involves a lot of cutting, machining, and bending. To achieve the finished product you will need different cutting machines, such as laser cutters, plasma torches, and even mechanical saws. Welders, on the other hand, use very different tools, such as torches, welding clamps, and consumable electrodes. There is a lot of safety equipment involved in welding, too.

If you’d like to learn more about metals and how they can be used in the metal fabrication or welding process, contact the professionals at Atlas Bronze at 800-478-0887.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

How Do You MIG Weld Different Thickness Metals?


a welder works on sparking metal

There are many varying types of welding techniques - yet they each have their limits. Some will work well for certain metals and others not so much. MIG welding is one technique that can be used frequently and it covers a nice range of thickness of metals. Since it can work better for some metals than others, let’s take a look at what MIG welding is and how to use it with different thickness metals.

What is MIG Welding?

MIG welding, which stands for metal inert gas, may also be referred to as a couple of different things, including gas metal arc welding (GMAW) and wire welding. It is an arc welding process that uses a solid wire electrode pulled through the welding gun. It makes its way into the weld pool where it is met with a shielding gas. Many inexperienced welders find that MIG welding is a good place to start. It isn’t an intricate way to weld and is frequently used by all sorts of individuals who aren’t professional welders, including artists, at home DIY-ers, maintenance workers or mechanics.

How to MIG Weld Different Thickness Metals

There are many factors that need to be considered when MIG welding to ensure that you have everything for a good weld. But perhaps one of the most important is the direct correlation between the metal thickness and the voltage and amps that need to be used. Most MIG welding can suit metal that ranges from 24-gauge to ½-inch thick. To weld the thinner pieces of metal, it is going to require a lower amperage - and the required amperage will go up as the metal thickness increases. For example, MIG welding a piece of metal that is ⅛-inch thick may only require 125 amps whereas a ½-inch piece of metal may require 500 amps. But what this actually means is that the sizing is the maximum thickness you can use with that amperage. So for 500 amps, you can MIG weld a piece of metal any size up to and including a ½-inch piece of metal. Finally, it is important to keep in mind that even though MIG welding can accommodate some pretty thick metals, each welding tool is going to have its own capabilities. Take the time to get to know what you are working with - and what size thickness yours is capable of handling.

Tips for MIG Welding Various Size Metals

To properly MIG weld any size metal, make sure you follow the tips below for both thick and thin metals. For thicker metals:
  • Keep a clean surface. Welding thick metal can be challenging so stripping away all the unnecessary, such as paint, grime, rust, and the like can make it a little more manageable.
  • Preheat the metal. When working with thick metals, preheating the surface before you begin can make it easier for you.
  • Understand shielding gas. Getting the right mixture of shielding gas matters for the success of your weld. For MIG welding, one of the most common is a 75% argon and 25% CO2. But the greater understanding you have of them - and the more practice - the easier it will be to get the right gas for you.
For thinner metals:
  • Angle your torch right. Believe it or not, the way you angle your torch matters as to whether it not you will end up with burnout. For MIG welding, you want to make sure that there is a short amount of distance between the tip and the metal.
  • Use the pulsing technique. Rather than giving constant full heat, pulse your welding tool to avoid going too far and ending up with an unwanted hole.
  • Consider thinner filler metals. Those that are thinner require less heat - and pose less risk to the piece.
There is much to learn about the different sizes and thicknesses of metals. And at Atlas Bronze we know all about them. If you are MIG welding and have some questions about different metals - or which one would be best for your project - contact us today at 800-478-0887.