16 Essential Types of Welding Machines To Know About

Written By: Liam Bryant

Reviewed By: Russell Egan

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There are various types of welding machines out there, each with its own features that make it stand out in specific applications. 

Arc welding machines are the most commonly used types, but others are used for specific purposes like plastic welders, and others with a more generalized approach, like all-purpose welders.

If you want to learn more about the types of welding machines on the market, this guide will have you covered with brief overviews of each.

1. Shielded Metal Arc Welding (Stick) Machines

Let’s start with one of the most popular types of welding machines out there. The machine is commonly known as stick welders because they use consumable rods that look like sticks to create the weld pool.

These rods come in different gauges to suit different metal thicknesses, and they’re usually covered with a flux material.

As the rod melts under the high heat caused by the electric arc, the flux also melts to create a protective shield that prevents the weld pool from reacting with oxygen and nitrogen in the air.

Although this machine is relatively affordable with easy repairs and replacement parts, it produces a lot of slag waste and sputter, so the resultant weld usually requires further finishing and painting. However, it works very well with thick metals, even rusted ones.

Here are my recommendations for the best stick weldings.

Best Stick Welder
Amico 200 Amp Stick/TIG Welder

Amico 200 Amp Stick/TIG Welder

  • Powerful Capable of Welding up to 3/8 inch Stainless Steel
  • Almost Non-Existent Spatter and Post-Weld Cleanup
  • Dual Voltage Input - 110V/230V
  • 13 ft Torch Cable
Best for Advanced Users
ESAB MiniArc Stick Package

ESAB MiniArc Stick Package

  • 115V or 230V Input Supply Input
  • Extremely Lightweightt 18 lb with Adjustable Shoulder Strap
  • Roll Cage Design
  • Large TFT Screen
Best Value for Money
YESWELDER Arc Welder 205 Amp Stick Welder

YESWELDER Arc Welder 205 Amp Stick Welder

  • Powerful Up to 205 Amps
  • Automatic Compensation for Voltage Fluctuation
  • Extremely Portable at 10 lb Weight
  • Very Cheap Option to Test the Waters of Stick Welding

2. Flux Core Arc Welding Machines

Flux core welding is another welding machine that relies on high voltage electric arcs to generate enough heat to melt metals instantly.

Unlike the stick welding machine, this one uses a tubular consumable electrode with an inner core of flux material

Another distinction from stick welders is that the wire here is automatically fed by the machine instead of being manually guided.

As the electrode wire melts, the flux creates a protective shield that either fully protects the weld pool (self shielding flux core) or partially with the help of insulating gas (gas shielded flux core) that is typically a blend of Argon and Carbon dioxide.

Flux core welders are slightly more expensive than stick welders but still affordable. They’re also great for working in windy conditions as well as thick rusty metals, although they produce a layer of slag that needs removal.

3. MIG (Metal Inert Gas) Welding Machines

MIG welders are officially known as Gas Metal Arc Welding. This one has a lot in common with flux core welding, as it also relies on electric arcs for welding and uses a consumable electrode wire that is continuously fed by the machine.

The main difference between the two is that in this type, the wires are solid with no flux material inside or outside. 

Instead, a mixture of inert gasses (mostly Argon and Helium) is fully responsible for shielding the weld pool for oxidation.

This machine is quite easy to use and yields decent results, although it’s fairly pricey and not suitable for outdoor use and rusted or thick metals.

This table shows my recommendation for the top MIG welding machines.

Best MIG Welder
Lincoln Electric 180 MIG Welder

Lincoln Electric 180 MIG Welder

  • 180 Amps Can Weld 1/2" Thick Mild Steel
  • Aluminum Ready Spool Gun
  • 3 Year Warranty
  • Extremely Reliable and Durable
Best Value for Money
Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder

Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder

  • Can Weld Up to 1/4" Mild Steel
  • 20% Duty Cycle at 90 Amps
  • 115V Supply Only
  • Includes 10 ft MIG Gun and 10 ft Work Cable with Clamp
Best on a Budget
Forney Easy Weld MIG Welder

Forney Easy Weld MIG Welder

  • Infinite Voltage and Wire Feed Speed Control
  • Extremely Lightweight and Portable at 19 lb
  • Can Weld up to 1/4" inch Mild Steel
  • 30% Duty Cycle at 90 Amps

4. Thyristor MIG Welding Machines

Thyristor MIG welders are a variation of regular MIG machines that are produced with high end parts, including a thyristor that is designed to better control the current and electric power of the arc produced.

As a result, the thyristor MIG welders reduce the sparking significantly, making them highly precise and easier to use.

Durability and toughness are also noticeable advantages of these welders because they have high dimensional accuracy and work with various types of steel.

5. TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) Welding Machines

TIG welders are similar in principle to MIG welders (use electric arcs and similar shielding gasses). However, the main difference here is that this one uses a tungsten rod for welding.

Since tungsten has a very high melting point, the tungsten electrode here is non-consumable, saving you the extra costs of buying electrode wires.

Another advantage of the TIG welder is the aesthetically pleasing finish and the ability to work on extremely thin non-ferrous workpieces, such as aluminum, nickel, lead, and copper

The only drawback of the TIG welder is that it’s trickier than other types of arc welders and the welding unit can be quite expensive .

You can see my recommendations for TIG welding machines in this table below.

Best Stick Welder
Amico 200 Amp Stick/TIG Welder

Amico 200 Amp Stick/TIG Welder

  • Powerful Capable of Welding up to 3/8 inch Stainless Steel
  • Almost Non-Existent Spatter and Post-Weld Cleanup
  • Dual Voltage Input - 110V/230V
  • 13 ft Torch Cable
Best Value for Money
Everlast PowerTIG Welder

Everlast PowerTIG Welder

  • AC/DC TIG Welder
  • Can Weld Up to 1/2 Inch Steel
  • 12 ft Torch
  • Complicated User Interface
Best Premium Option
Lincoln Electric 200 Amp TIG Welder

Lincoln Electric 200 Amp TIG Welder

  • Powerful 200 Amp TIG Welder
  • Well Suited for Aluminum
  • 115 or 230V Supply Voltage
  • Premium TIG Welding Machine

6. Plasma Arc Welding Machines

Plasma Arc Welders are fairly similar to TIG welders, but they’re usually larger in size with more industrialized properties.

While they also use a tungsten electrode, the anode also doubles as the shielding material and surrounds the tungsten rod to create the arc in such a small gap, giving it pinpoint accuracy.

Plasma Arc welders are very expensive and are often used in advanced applications where higher welding temperatures are necessary, especially in aerospace and marine industries.

7. Spot Welding Machines

Spot welders are mainly used to join two or more overlapping metal sheets through heat and pressure generated through electric current between two cylindrical electrodes.

Spot welders are among the most cost-effective welding machines when it comes to power consumption and welding speed. 

For that reason, it’s commonly used in industries that don’t involve thick metals, such as the automotive industry.

Spot welding machines have a high initial cost, but they’re easily automated and optimized for large scale production with little maintenance. 

8. Multi-Purpose Welding Machines

Since a wide range of welding machines rely on generating a high voltage electric arc to weld metals at seams, choosing the right one for every application can be a little tedious, and that’s where multi-purpose welding machines come in handy.

These welding machines are designed so you can use them to perform various arc welding processes. 

For example, these machines are usually compatible with flux core, MIG, as well as TIG welding, and you can switch between these modes easily by adjusting the settings and electrodes.

Of course, the main advantage of these welding machines is the massive versatility that lets you work on various projects with the same machine, but they’re usually very expensive (but more cost efficient than buying each machine and its accessories separately)

9. Energy Beam Welding Machines

This process is a high energy welding technique that utilizes a highly focused magnetic field to weld specific points on metals.

Energy beam welding is also known as “electron beam welding” because it uses high velocity electrons to join two metals together. 

The advantage of this method is that it is highly versatile and can work with just about any type of metal regardless of its thickness. It can also bond two different types of metals together while achieving a beautiful weld.

The main drawback of this fusion technique is that it requires vacuum instead of gas shielding because it can’t work in the presence of any gasses, so it’s only used industrially.

10. Oxy Acetylene Gas Welding Machines

Oxy acetylene gas welders are machines that use a special fuel made of acetylene and oxygen to generate heat. 

This combination burns at temperatures that can reach as high as 5,800 °F to 6,300 °F, which is hot enough to melt and fuse metals together.

Since this welding technique uses the torch flame to weld, it’s fairly easy to use in comparison to arc welding. 

An oxy acetylene setup usually includes a few parts too, so it’s quite portable and suitable for outdoor use.

Another big advantage to oxy acetylene welding is affordability, as the initial cost of an oxy acetylene setup is usually much cheaper than MIG and TIG welders while achieving decent results on thin materials.

Not only that, but you can also use oxy acetylene flame to cut large sheets of metal, which adds to its versatility and cost effectiveness. 

Despite these merits, oxy acetylene flame is quite dangerous and requires utmost care while handling the torch.

11. Submerged Arc Welding (SAW) Machines

Submerged welding is a type of arc welding that involves using a consumable electrode that is automatically fed into the welding gun and melts upon contact with the workpiece. 

The main difference here is that a special granular flux material is specifically used for this type of welding, so the electric arc is usually “submerged” under that layer, hence the name.

Since this type of welding doesn’t involve a high pressure gaseous shield and cools down slowly, the resultant weld is usually much cleaner and of higher quality than other arc welders.

Another advantage of submerged arc welding is that you can use it while working on various materials, such as

  • Carbon steel
  • Alloy steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Nickel alloys
  • Copper alloys

Submerged arc welding machines have a higher penetrating power than TIG welders, so they’re commonly used while welding thicker materials (such as plumbing), although they’re quite bulky and not as portable as other arc welding machines.

12. Transformer (AC) Welding Machines

A transformer welder, also known as “AC welder”, is a type of welding machine that uses alternating current for welding.

The main component of this welding machine is the step-down transformer, which covers the low amperage (around 15 amp), high voltage (around 600 volts) input from the wall into high amperage (around 55 amp), low voltage (around 208 volts) output with enough energy to weld metals.

The main advantage of using AC welders is that they are compatible with a wide variety of electrode wires and a relatively simple design, so they’re also easy to maintain.

Transformer welding machines can weld a wide variety of common metals, but they can be used with special metals like tin, copper, gold, and silver. 

13. Rectifier Welding Machines

The rectifier welding machine is a subtype of the transformer welding machine. Similar to the original one, this one also operates using AC power input.

However, the main difference here is that this unit’s rectifier can convert this input into alternating and direct current (DC) output.

There are several types of rectifier welding machines out there, but they’re all similar in terms of construction, as they are usually composed of the rectifier cell as well as a moving coil reactor and a transformer.

14. Converter Welding Machines

Converter welding machine, also known as “Inverter welding machine”, is similar to transformer welders but features a solid-state electronic converter.

The presence of a single phase converter comes with several advantages, such as minimized energy loss, cleaner seam aesthetics, and a higher level of adjustability. 

But as you might’ve expected, these units are more expensive than regular transformer welding machines.

15. Plastic Welding Machines

As the name suggests, plastic welding machines are designed to join and stabilize the bond between plastic workpieces.

There are various designs of plastic welding machines, but they mainly depend on radio frequency waves to weld the plastic together. 

These high frequency electromagnetic waves will heat the layers of material from within, and then pressurize them to fuse together and create a permanent bond.

High end plastic welding machines will work with a wide variety of plastics and polymers, including PVC (chlorinated and non-chlorinated), polyethylene (low and high density), Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonates, and more.

16. Atomic Hydrogen Arc Welding Machines

The atomic hydrogen welder is a special type of arc welder that passes a high voltage current between two electrodes made of tungsten with a shield of hydrogen gas. 

As the electric arc passes, hydrogen is converted to its atomic form along with an extremely high temperature that allows for a relatively high welding rate.

The main drawback here is that the atomic hydrogen welder has limited applications (only used on flat surfaces) and is fairly difficult to use with high initial and operational costs.

As a result, these types of welders are gradually phased out and replaced with more affordable alternatives and faster alternatives, such as shielded metal arc and MIG welders. 

Wrap Up

As you can see, several types of welding machines are on the market. The most common ones for beginners are arc welding machines because they’re relatively easy to use and work for various purposes, such as stick, MIG, and TIG welders.

Luckily, many versatile models can be used for different welding applications, making them a great bang for the buck.