What Is “GMAW” - Gas Metal ARC Welding?
Nov 19, 2022
There are many different types of welding and different modes within each type. One such type is MIG arc welding which is a form of arc welding that uses protective gases to shield the welding pool from contaminates.
Going broader, GMAW encompasses two main types of arc welding. To fully understand it, it is best to first get a better understanding of arc welding.
What is ARC Welding?
The GMAW or “Gas Metal Arc Welding” is comprised of two main types of arc welding—Metal Inert Gas Welding (MIG) and Metal Active Gas Welding (MAG).
Generally speaking, arc welding is a fusion welding process where an electrical arc is used to join two metals. This electrical arc is created via a power supply and forms between an electrode and whatever you are welding.
Metal Inert Gas (MIG) vs. Metal Active Gas (MAG)
Both MIG and MAG welding use gasses as a shield to help stabilize the arch and to protect the welding pool from any air pollutants.
They differ in the type of shielding gasses used. MIG welding typically uses a mixture of helium and argon, whereas MAG welding typically uses a mixture of carbon dioxide, argon, and oxygen.
The insert gasses in MIG welding do not react with the weld pool or filler material. However, the active gasses in MAG welding are designed to affect the weld pool and change its chemistry.
So, depending on the type of material that needs to be welded together, welders can determine whether they need active or insert gas to effectively weld the two pieces together.
Types of MIG Welding
There are four main types or modes of MIG welding:
- Spray Transfer—A spray transfer uses a thin electrode wire that is continuously fed and melted/deposited on the base material. Unlike other modes, a spray transfer drops small and even droplets of molten metal at a continuous rate—producing a nice and even-looking weld.
- Pulsed Spray Conveyance—Similar to the spray transfer mode, an electrode wire is continuously fed and deposited on the base material. However, instead of having a steady current, the pulse mode uses pulses of voltage to melt the electrode. It is a more refined welding process that produces quality and precise welds.
- Short Circuit—The short circuit mode has a lower heat input where the welding cable must make contact with the base material. This contact will produce repeated short circuits that transfer the metal and produce a weld. The short circuit mode tends to be less expensive as it requires less shielding gas.
- Globular Conveyance—The globular conveyance mode is similar to the short circuit mode but uses high voltage to produce large and irregular droplets and the welding cable does not need to be in contact with the base material or welding pool. While this mode does result in spatter, it is less expensive and allows for fast welds to be made.