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2. Choose a Process

    Welding Processes   Cutting Processes
Process   MIG Flux Cored Stick TIG   Carbon Arc Cutting Plasma Cutting
Type of metal it can weld   Steel, stainless, aluminum Steel, stainless Steel, stainless All weldable metals   Steel All electrically conductive metals
Metal thickness   24 gauge (.025") and up 1/8" and up 1/8" and up .010" and up   Unlimited Up to 1-3/4
Speed   Very fast Very fast Slow Very slow   Fast Very fast
Skill required   Low Low Moderate High   Low Low
Operating cost (time & materials)   Low Low High High   Moderate Low

A brief comparison of the welding and cutting processes.

The most common welding processes are Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW or Stick electrode), Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW or MIG, a wire welding process), Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW, also a wire welding process) and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW or TIG). The two most common cutting and gouging processes are Air Carbon Arc Gouging (CAC) and Air Plasma Arc Cutting (plasma).

Note that:

  • MIG and flux cored welding usually can be performed by the same machine (and sometimes pulsed MIG)
  • TIG machines can usually Stick weld (and vice versa)
  • Higher output Stick machines can also air carbon arc cut and gouge
  • A multiprocess welding machine might be able to perform all of these processes!

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