The Main Differences Between Our Three Types of Welding

When you come to PennFab for your next fabrication project, you want a clear idea of our capabilities. Finding metal fabrication companies in Pennsylvania that utilize various welding techniques to bring your vision to life and understanding the tools they use during the construction phase is vital to having confidence in the final product.

PennFab utilizes three types of welding — flux core, sub-arc, and gas metal arc welding. Each offers unique advantages to your finished project, but you may not know why a welder uses a specific technique over another. We’ll break down the main differences between our three types of welding processes and help you better understand how we approach each job. 

How Does Each Type Use Electrodes?

No matter the welding technique you utilize, an integral part of making the process work involves what kind of electrode you use. This vital component establishes and maintains the electric arc that fuses the steel pieces together. Chief among the main differences between our three types of welding techniques is how they use the electrodes to create the final weld. 

Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) 

GMAW — also commonly referred to as MIG welding — utilizes a solid & tubular electrode as filler metal to bring two pieces of metal together to form a joint. This style requires an external supply of gas to create a protective shield to prevent potential contaminants during the process and is set to protect against any discontinuities. 

With a consumable version, it melts down during the welding process and deposits a molten weld bead that becomes a critical part of the weld joint. Gas metal arc welding features the consumable electrode as part of its setup and execution. 

Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)

While a flux cored arc welding (FCAW) process also utilizes a consumable electrode, their differences are noticeable. This style requires you or your welding machine to continuously feed a tubular consumable electrode with flux and a constant voltage for it to work properly. The combination of the flux and shield gasses offers protection from the atmosphere and liquid slag protecting the weld.

Sub Arc Welding (SAW) 

Sub arc welding also employs consumable electrodes, but their implementation sets them apart. Sub arc welds are performed underneath a protective layer known as a “flux blanket” to protect the weld puddle from contamination. The chemical structure and size distribution of the flux create a more stable arc and directly affect the weld metal’s properties. 

What Does the Cleanup Look Like?

Among the main differences between our three types of welding comes down to the cleanup. After completing any manufacturing and fabrication project, clearing the workstation is the next step in the process. Since GMAW doesn’t utilize a flux throughout the process, you’ll have far less cleanup to manage than the flux-centric FCAW and SAW methods. 

Can These Processes Be Automated?

The short answer is yes; these welding practices can be automated or semi-automated. GMAW and SAW lend themselves well to full automation. For high-volume projects requiring a steady supply of precision welds in a short time, an automatic welding process makes the most sense for your needs. 

Our automated welding machines can also use FCAW. However, our technicians can help monitor the welding process and ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible. 

Trust PennFab With Your Next Welding Job!

Now that you know the main differences between our three types of welding, you know that PennFab is the right team for the job. Founded in 1983, we have become the top welding and fabrication company, serving the Greater Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and Maryland areas for decades. Learn more about our welding processes, and let us bring your next project to life!

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