Finish Architectural Knowledge Base

Guide to Sheet Metal Welding: Methods Explained


Welding is a process that joins metal pieces together, and it is the most common method used for this purpose. Among the many types of welding, sheet metal welding is significant in fabricating metal structures, piping, tanks, and much more.

Understanding different welding processes and acquiring adequate knowledge can help with projects. Welding ensures durable and strong joints and can save precious time.

What is Sheet Metal Welding?


Sheet metal welding is a fundamental process in the manufacturing industry. It involves heating two pieces of metal to their melting point and fusing them together using a torch, forming a solid connection. This method is reliable and effective, widely used across various industries worldwide, including aircraft, cars, trucks, machinery, boats, ships, and other industrial equipment.

6 Types of Welding

MIG Welding (Gas Metal ARC Welding / GMAW)


Metal-inert gas (MIG) welding is typically the better option when working with thin materials like sheet metal and tubing. This process employs an electric arc to melt filler material while joining two or more pieces of metal.

The shielding gas, typically a mixture of argon and carbon dioxide, protects against contamination during the welding procedure. The filler material, provided by means of a consumable wire feeder, is propelled through a welding gun, and as it melts, it forms a bead at the end of the joint, creating the weld.

MIG is a very efficient and versatile procedure, which is why many welders prefer it. When using the right technique, MIG welding is a dependable procedure for sheet metal projects.

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TIG Welding (Gas Tungsten ARC Welding / GTAW)


TIG welding, also known as gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), is a precise welding method that uses a tungsten electrode to create the weld. Tungsten is an element found in minerals like wolframite and scheelite, as it offers a high melting point and low vapour pressure. An electric torch is used in this process, not an oxyacetylene flame. Argon or helium are the common gases used for creating the arc.

A filler rod is fed into the puddle manually for reinforcement or building up seams. The ability to softly start and stop the heat makes TIG welding ideal for sheet metal. It's often referred to as “out-of-position” welding, providing more flexibility.

Stick Welding (Shielded Metal ARC Welding / SMAW)


Stick welding, also known as shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) is a common arc welding process used in shipbuilding, construction and steel fabrication.

This process uses an electric current to melt a metal rod onto the base material. The key to SMAW is the three electrodes: positive consumable electrode, negative base material electrode and ground or shield plate. This plate gives the electric current a path back to the source.

Stick welding is versatile and can be used in any position, making it suitable for welding thick materials. Not as precise as TIG but efficient and cheap, which makes it the preferred choice for many applications.


Plasma ARC Welding


Often used in industries ranging from shipbuilding to aircraft manufacturing, plasma arc welding uses an electric current to melt metal wire, which is then blown through with gas to form a plasma, creating a powerful arc that melts the base material and forms a weld.

Unlike TIG welding, it doesn't need filler materials, leading to high-quality welds. It requires less power and operates at faster speeds than TIG welding. For those seeking precision, speed, and quality in welding jobs, plasma arc welding is a method worth considering.

Electronic Beam and Laser Welding


When considering advanced welding methods, electron beam welding (EBW) and laser welding stand out as high-precision techniques utilised in various industries.

EBW uses a concentrated stream of electrons to melt filler metal, effectively joining two pieces of material. This process utilises a high-velocity electron beam to generate the heat required for welding. The speed and precision of EBW make it ideal for complex or sensitive materials that can't tolerate intense heat.

Laser welding, on the other hand, employs a highly focused laser beam to melt and join materials. It's renowned for its pinpoint accuracy, making it excellent for precise operations. Both methods are typically automated due to their high energy density and speed, ensuring consistent, high-quality welds.


Gas Welding


For those looking to join thin sheets of various metals, gas welding is an economical and highly effective method to consider. This technique is perfect for fusing steel, aluminium, copper, brass, stainless steel, titanium, and other alloys.

Unlike other methods, gas welding doesn't require electricity, making it a cost-effective choice. It's even handy for uniting small components like nuts, bolts, screws, washers, and springs.

What Metals Are Suitable for Sheet Metal Welding?

Carbon Steels


When it comes to sheet metal welding, carbon steel is the most economical and popular choice, despite its vulnerability to rust and corrosion. It's the cheapest and most commonly used metal, and for good reason. Its strength and ease of welding make it an excellent choice for many jobs.

However, it's susceptible to rust and corrosion, so it's not ideal for every application. If the welded piece will be exposed to water or harsh weather, a layer of protection like paint or a rust-resistant coating is needed.

Stainless Steels


For welding stainless steel, MIG welding is a reliable choice. The shielding gas used in this method safeguards the weld area and reduces contamination risk. TIG welding can also be used, but it's generally less efficient. So, when dealing with stainless steels in sheet metal welding, attentive handling and method selection produce the best results.



The process of joining aluminium is similar to welding steel. However, pure aluminium necessitates an AC (alternating current) welder, while alloys require a DC (direct current) welder. Precision is required when welding aluminium as it conducts heat rapidly, and any mistakes can easily warp or crack the metal.

Copper and Iron


Copper, surprisingly, is the easiest of all metals to weld. The process involves TIG welding, with the only necessity being a clean, oxide-free surface to guarantee proper bonding. This is usually achieved by using a copper wire brush to cleanse the material. Copper is also often used in electrical components, which further attests to its suitability for welding.

Iron's versatility and strength make it a common choice for welding projects. Both copper and iron offer unique benefits, but it's important to understand the requirements of each to achieve the best possible results. Thorough preparation and understanding of the material being worked with is key to a successful weld.



Gold is the most expensive yet challenging material to use in sheet metal welding. Despite its value, gold's properties make it a difficult contender. It's incredibly tough and resistant to corrosion, making it a durable choice for specific projects. However, its high melting point and exceptional conductivity add complexity to the welding process. Precision and patience are required, as mistakes can be costly.


Factors influencing the choice of welding process


Choosing the right welding process can be a complex decision. It's important to take into account factors such as the types and thickness of the materials being worked with, the position of the welding, the design of the joint, and the specifics of the project.

Above all, welding speed and productivity are key components in making the choice.

Material Types


Understanding the type of material being worked with is essential, as different welding processes are tailored for specific materials. For instance, MIG welding, known for its versatility, can handle a variety of materials, making it a go-to for many welders. On the other hand, if dealing with thinner materials and non-ferrous metals, TIG welding is the best bet. It shines when precision is critical.

Material Thickness


Material thickness is an important determinant in the choice of welding process. For instance, for thinner materials, processes like TIG and MIG welding are helpful. These techniques allow for precision and control, preventing burn-through on thin sections. If dealing with thicker materials, stick welding or flux-cored welding may be more appropriate. These methods provide deeper penetration, making them ideal for thicker sections.

Welding Position


Another essential aspect to take into account is the welding position, whether it's flat, vertical, horizontal, or overhead. The choice of welding process can greatly depend on this. Some welding processes are better suited to specific positions due to their ability to control the weld puddle efficiently.

For instance, when welding in an overhead or vertical position, a process that can effectively prevent the molten metal, slag, or spatter from falling into the weld is necessary. This can be a real challenge. So, it's important to select a process that guarantees a strong, high-quality weld, regardless of the position. Finish Architectural's expertise in welding and selecting the correct welding position can answer any queries clients may have.

Joint Design and Project Specifications


Just as the welding position plays a significant role in the choice of welding process, so too do the joint design and the specific project specifications. Certain joint designs, like fillet welds or groove welds, might dictate the need for a specific welding process. It's crucial to grasp the project requirements and the desired weld characteristics, as these can greatly influence the selection.

Should a project require a high-strength weld, for example, a method that guarantees this characteristic would be preferred. If working with a tight deadline, a process that is quick but still gets the job done right might be chosen. In short, it's important to take into account every aspect of the project before settling on a welding process.

Welding Speed and Productivity


When selecting a welding process, it's important to consider the speed and productivity of each method. For high-volume production, MIG or flux-cored welding might be preferred due to their high deposition rates, making them efficient and quick. These methods can boost productivity and ensure that project deadlines are met.

However, speed isn't everything. If a project requires high precision and clean welds, TIG welding might be the best bet. It's slower than other methods, but the quality of the welds is often superior. Ultimately, the choice will depend on striking the right balance between speed, productivity, and the specific requirements of the project.

Environmental Conditions


Taking a welding project outside or into windy conditions significantly shifts the choice of process. Techniques less vulnerable to atmospheric interference, such as flux-cored arc welding or stick welding, are necessary. These methods are more robust in the face of environmental changes, allowing the quality of the weld to be maintained despite the weather.

The environment in which welding occurs directly impacts the choice of method. The same techniques cannot be relied upon in all conditions. Understand that each welding process has its strengths and drawbacks, and these can be amplified by environmental factors. So, before starting a project, assess the surroundings and make a well-informed decision that will safeguard the success of the welding task, even in less-than-ideal conditions.

How to Decide on the Right Welding process

Understand the Project Requirements


To select the best welding process for a sheet metal project, it's important to first get a solid grasp on the project's specifications. Understanding these details helps narrow down the options.

Start by identifying the material type. Different metals require different welding methods. Next, consider the thickness of the sheet metal. This dictates the amount of heat needed and, therefore, the welding process. The joint design affects which process should be used too, as some methods might not be suitable for certain designs.

Finally, think about the environmental conditions where the welding will take place. Some processes need a controlled environment.

Speak to Our Team


After gathering all the necessary project details, it's essential to consult a trained professional to help choose the best welding process. That's where our team at Finish Architectural comes in. Our experts can kickstart the project with extensive knowledge to identify the most suitable technique for the specific job, whether it's MIG, TIG, or stick welding.

Factors like the type and thickness of the sheet metal, the desired strength of the weld, and the overall project goals are considered. Each welding method has its own unique advantages and potential drawbacks, so asking questions and getting answers will help with the project.

Understanding why a specific process is recommended will boost confidence and knowledge about the project. Contacting us is a step towards ensuring the success of the welding project. Don't hesitate—reach out today for expert guidance and support to get started.

Review Cost and Efficiency


When reviewing welding processes, it's important to weigh the cost and efficiency of each method against the project's specific needs. Don't solely focus on price. While a cheaper process may seem appealing initially, it might not be the most efficient or suitable for the specific project.

Consider the cost implications in the long run. An efficient process, though slightly pricier initially, could save time and effort, ultimately making it more cost-effective. Sometimes, this efficiency can outweigh the initial cost difference.

Choose Finish Architectural for Your Bespoke Aluminium Fabrication Requirements 


At Finish Architectural, customers are at the heart of everything we do. We take pride in being a friendly and approachable team, ready to support with extensive industry knowledge and experience.

We understand the time constraints a project may face, which is why our service is designed for a fast turnaround. With just-in-time facilities and lights-out manufacturing, our machinery can operate around the clock to meet deadlines efficiently.

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