What are the Different Types of Welding?

By Prowelder87 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62865659

What are the Different Types of Welders?

There are several different types of welders available for purchase, and it’s important to understand what type of welder will best suit your needs. Certain welders work better on specific types of jobs and with different materials.

The four basic types of welding are:

  • MIG Welding
  • TIG Welding
  • Flux Cored Welding
  • Stick Welding

Each one has various advantages and drawbacks.

  • MIG welding is easy to learn works well with a wide variety of metals.
  • TIG welding might be a little harder to learn than MIG, but it allows for several specialized welding techniques that MIG can’t achieve.
  • Flux cored welding is very similar to MIG welding, and is ideal for outdoor jobs and jobs with rusty or blemished metal.
  • Stick welding is quite versatile, useful indoors, outdoors, and in many different circumstances. It can be a bit more expensive than other processes.

MIG Welding

Also known as GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding), MIG welding is the easiest type to learn quickly. MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding, in addition to being easy to learn, allows for quick jobs with various materials, including aluminum and steel.

MIG welders are useful for a variety of tasks; they are relatively inexpensive unless you want an industrial model; and they are easy to learn, even if you’re a beginner. They do have quite a few mechanisms that other welders do not, and that makes attentive maintenance more important with a MIG welder. Ongoing costs include replacement wire and welding gas.

What it’s Good For

MIG welders are great for generalized welding jobs. They have several key benefits.

  • This type of welding is versatile and works well on many materials and many thicknesses.
  • Allows for quick jobs.
  • Easy to learn.
  • Can be automated; used in car assembly lines and the like.


No welder is cheap, but it certainly is not very hard to find a decent MIG welder in your price range.

  • Most MIG welders cost between $400 and $1500.
  • The cheapest models are as inexpensive as $95.
  • High quality models might range from $2500 to $3500.

Remember that this initial cost does not include the cost of replacement wire, welding gas, and maintenance. See Hidden Costs below for more.

Difficulty of Usage

MIG welders are ideal for beginners.

  • Easy to learn.
  • Easy compared to the other types of welding.

How to Maintain it

A MIG welder does have more moving parts than other welders, and as such maintenance can be tricky. It is nonetheless crucial that you remain attentive to your MIG welder and maintain it regularly.

Remember to turn off and unplug your welder when cleaning it! If you recently did a job, be sure that you give the welder enough time to cool off before you attempt to clean it.

Because MIG welders use spools of metal wire in the welding process, MIG welders are more likely to induct dirt and debris into the machine’s inner workings. This does not cause permanent damage as long as you treat the machine properly.

To remove dirt and dust from your MIG welder:

  • Clean out the machine with compressed air
  • Use a wire brush to clean the machine

Focus specifically on the drive roll, wire feeder, and gun liner when cleaning, as these areas are most likely to experience the most debris buildup. It’s a good idea to clean your MIG welder about once per week.

Furthermore, store removable pieces of your welder – such as the gun nozzle – in packaging provided by your manufacturer. This will ensure that your welding pieces do not get dents and scratches, which will affect welding performance.

If you do not have the packaging from your manufacturer, storing a gun nozzle and similar welding equipment in individual compartments will mitigate the chance of pieces banging into each other and getting dents.

Hidden Costs

The two primary ongoing costs of a MIG welder are the replacement wire and welding gas.

Replacement wire costs between $3 and $15 per pound, based on the material that you purchase. Wire comes in spools, and may be bought in small quantities (one pound per spool) or in larger quantities (over thirty pounds per spool). Buying in bulk will usually reduce the cost per pound.

Predicting how often you will need to purchase replacement wire depends entirely on how quickly you go through a pound of wire. If you keep records of how quickly you tend to burn through your wire, it will be easy to predict how often you will need replacement purchases.

The cost of welding gas can fluctuate widely depending on where you live. Check with local or online welding suppliers to see what the welding gas price range is in your area.

TIG Welding

By Prowelder87 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62865659TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding is also known as GTAW (gas tungsten arc welding). GTAW welding uses a tungsten electrode to produce the welding arc. This electrode is nonconsumable, allowing for repeated use and negating the expense of replacement wires, as in MIG.

TIG welders work well with materials like steel and aluminum. They have adjustable heat settings and can get better results working with thin metals than MIG can. They do tend to be a bit harder to master than MIG, and are also more expensive initially. However, TIG welders have fewer maintenance costs than MIG welders.

What it’s Good For

TIG welding tends to work for more specialized jobs than MIG welding.

  • TIG welding works well with stainless steel, aluminum, and copper.
  • Most TIG welders have adjustable heat settings, allowing for fine control over a project.
  • Commonly used for welding thinner materials than MIG can handle easily.

In addition to these benefits, TIG welding does have one key drawback when compared to MIG welding. It takes a long time to complete a job using TIG welding; of the two, MIG welding is much faster than TIG.


  • It’s possible to find a miniature TIG welder for around $100 to $400.
  • Industrial grade TIG welders can cost as much as $22,000.
  • Most TIG welders are a bit more expensive than average MIG welders, ranging from $800 to $2000 on average.

Difficulty of Usage

TIG welding is harder to learn than MIG welding. That said, however, newer TIG models are fairly user friendly and do not take a great deal of prior experience or training to learn how to use effectively.

How to Maintain it

Maintaining a TIG welder involves many of the same processes as maintaining a MIG. TIG welders have fewer extraneous parts than MIG welders, but they still require frequent maintenance.

Again, ensure that the machine is off, unplugged, and cool before cleaning it. You can clean a TIG welder with compressed air or a steel brush as you would a MIG, and should clean it roughly once per week.

Hidden Costs

TIG welders do not require as many ongoing costs as MIG welders do. You will still need to purchase welding gas, and you will occasionally need to purchase replacement wire. When a specific part of a TIG welder breaks or wears down, you can purchase a new part for a reasonable price.

Wire feeders, guns, torches, cables, and connectors are all easy to find and purchase.

In general, TIG welders have far fewer “hidden” costs than MIG welders do.

Flux Cored Welding

Flux cored welding involves a hollow wire electrode. The process of flux cored welding creates its own shielding gas, which allows for welding in circumstances where MIG would fall short. Strong winds blow away the shielding gasses generated by MIG welding, but flux cored welding produces shielding gas that can withstand strong wind. As such, flux cored welding is ideal for outdoor jobs.

Flux cored welding does produce a less visually appealing weld than MIG, as it creates slag that has to be removed by hand after cooling. MIG welding, therefore, is an ideal solution for indoor welds, and flux cored welding is better suited for outdoor welds.

Flux cored and MIG welding are very similar, and it is not uncommon to find a welder that works both MIG and flux cored. There are two key differences between the two:

  • MIG welding requires an external gas tank, and flux cored does not.
  • Flux cored welding uses wire that is hollow on the inside, allowing for different types of jobs.

What it’s Good For

In addition to working well under strong wind conditions, flux cored welding is also well suited for jobs with damaged or rusty metal.

Flux cored welding has two key functions.

  • It is ideal for working outdoors in strong winds
  • It works well with rusty or blemished metals


Flux cored welders generally cost $100 – 400. Advanced models have features that allow for both flux cored and MIG welding. These models cost upwards of $700.

Difficulty of Usage

Flux cored welding is relatively easy to learn, comparable to MIG welding. It is easier to learn than TIG welding.

How to Maintain it

To maintain a flux cored welder, use the same process that you would to clean a MIG welder. Remember to turn off and unplug your flux cored welder, then check your wire feeder, drive roll, and gun liner. Try to clean your flux cored welder about once per week. As with a MIG welder, store your extraneous parts in individual storage units, ensuring that they will not get dented.

Hidden Costs

As with MIG welding, flux cored welding requires the purchase of individual spools of flux cored wire. Flux cored welding does not require external gas tanks, so purchasing additional wire is the only “hidden cost” that comes with flux cored welding. Again, sometimes you might need to purchase a replacement part, but the only ongoing cost you’ll come across with flux cored welding is replacement wire.

Stick Welding

Stick welding is also known as SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) or Covered Electrode welding. It uses a fixed length electrode coupled with an electric charge to join various metals together.

What it’s Good For

Stick welding is very versatile, allowing for jobs indoors and outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. This type of welding works well with many different types of metals.

Stick welding has a few key advantages.

  • It is relatively portable and good for remote jobs.
  • It’s not sensitive to wind, similar to flux cored welding.
  • Useful with most types of metals, though it will not work with reactive metals.


As with the other welders, stick welding comes with a wide price range.

  • Inexpensive models cost on average $200-500.
  • Higher end models range in the thousands.

Difficulty of Usage

Stick welding, unlike MIG, is difficult to mechanize. It must be controlled manually, though it is not difficult to learn if a welder is familiar with TIG.

How to Maintain it

Stick welding has significantly fewer moving parts than MIG, so maintenance is easier. It’s still important to keep your stick welder clean of grime and buildup, and a weekly cleaning of the gun liner, wire roll, and other sensitive parts should be sufficient to keep your stick welder working smoothly.

Hidden Costs

Stick welding does have drawbacks. It is a very slow process to deposit metal, slower than the other three types of welding. It is also more expensive per pound of deposited metal because of the low duty cycles.


MIG, TIG, flux cored, and stick are the four main types of welding. Each comes with specific benefits and drawbacks.

MIG welding:

  • Versatile and works well on many materials and thicknesses.
  • Quick and easy jobs.

TIG welding:

  • Works well with stainless steel and other hard metals.
  • Fine control over a project.
  • Commonly used for welding thin, fine materials.

Flux cored welding:

  • Ideal for welding in strong winds.
  • Useful for welding rusty metals.
  • Similar process to MIG welding.

Stick welding:

  • Portable; useful for remote jobs.
  • As with flux cored welding, ideal for welding in strong winds.
  • Useful with most types of metals, though not with reactive metals.
  • Slower process than MIG welding.
  • More costly per pound of deposited metal

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