Starting Your Welder’s Vocabulary

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Welding is a field that requires not only specialized skills but also an understanding of the background knowledge to put these skills to good use. As with any industry, welding has a language all its own, and adept welders must have a groundwork to build from. So if you’re considering welding as a career path, how about starting with a crash course in industry terminology? There are understandably too many essential concepts to name, so let’s stick with 10 welding terms related to types of welding and processes.

Welding Concepts to Know
Knowledgeable welders have a specialized dictionary stored in their very own minds. Let’s get started on yours.

  1. Annealing – The annealing process deals with the heating and cooling cycle of solid steel. Generally speaking, annealing involves slow cooling, but the rates of heating and cooling are affected by composition, size and shape of the steel and the reason for conducting the process. Some such reasons may include removing stresses, inducing softness, altering toughness or removing gases.
  2. Critical Temperature – Each metal has a temperature threshold that it can withstand before the material becomes altered. Critical temperature is the meeting point between metal’s solid and liquid states. As metal is heated during welding, it transforms, going from solid and melting to liquid with increased temperature.
  3. Fusion – Fusion is the actual end goal of welding—to join or make metal parts coalesce. A metal part, be it steel or another material, melts onto the primary piece that’s being welded (aka “base metal” or “parent metal”). In the end, two pieces become one.
  4. MIG Welding – Also known as Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), MIG welding is a method that involves using an electric arc to heat and fuse the area between a metal electrode and the metal to be welded. During the process, shielding gas, like inert gases helium or argon, are used to keep atmospheric contaminants out of the melting metal (aka “weld pool”). Students enrolled in a welding program engage in MIG courses and have the chance to earn their MIG welding certification.
  5. Machine Welding – Just as the name implies, a device does the heavy lifting during a machine welding process. While the machine conducts the operation, a welder acts as a spotter to ensure that the job is done correctly and that no mechanical malfunctions occur. Upon the completion of each project, the qualified technician will double check the work.
  6. Porosity – Porosity involves defects in a complete welded project. Specifically, these take the form of gas pockets stuck within the weld site, which could be the result of insufficient shielding gas or too much moisture in the flux cleaning agent that was used on the metal.
  7. Soldering – One of many ways to create fusion, soldering accomplishes the task by heating given metals to their necessary temperatures and using an additional filler metal to join the materials. The filler, which must have a solid state temperature below that of the base metals involved in the work, is added between joints.
  8. Tension Test – Each metal object must be assessed for its strength. In a tension test, metal is judged on its tensile strength, or resistance to stress, by gradually increasing loaded weight onto the ends of the object until it breaks. The maximum tension it took to damage the metal is recorded as its ultimate tensile strength and the pieces of the item are examined for any other distortions that may have occurred.
  9. TIG Welding – Also known as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), TIG welding is a process of fusing metals by using a tungsten electrode to heat and melt them. Tungsten is a useful metal in welding, as it has the highest melting point of all metals, so the material will gather and use heat during the process without becoming damaged itself. TIG welding is accomplished without filler metal (in contrast to soldering) or with a rod that is gradually fed into the weld. Like MIG welding, it also benefits from the use of argon or helium for shielding. TWS students gain a strong working knowledge of this method through extensive TIG welding training.
  10. Weld – Aside from the process of welding, knowing what an actual weld is may perhaps be the most important thing for a welder to know. A weld itself is the individual fusion of metal parts achieved through heating. As we’ve observed, the fusion of the weld may or may not be accomplished with the help of a filler metal or it may be aided by explosive, pressure, or laser processes.


As we said, welders must have a breadth of industry knowledge to be successful at what they do. Did you read this and find yourself scratching your head, or did it intrigue you even more? If the latter is the case, a career in welding might be the right call for you! Come explore what Tulsa Welding School has to offer!


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