The age-old debate, I don’t think that this post will be the end of it. But I am pretty sure that you can be certain of what needs when it comes down to deciding between the two. Yes, two of them look really similar, but they’re anything but similar.
Yes, you can do soldering in place of welding sometimes. Besides, soldering is the only option for the cases where the two metals can’t be welded. Soldering and welding, the two operations are quite similar, but their process and sub-techniques are different. However, welded joints are considered stronger.
Non-ferrous materials like copper and brass are better to solder than weld. For other cases, if it’s structural, it’s suggested to weld rather than to solder. If it’s non-structural, you can solder instead of welding. But the joint may not be the same.
Welding vs Soldering
Like most of the metal sheet terms, soldering and welding are used compatible. Both of the two terms are considered as the ways of joining metals. But the measures and techniques are contrasting. By knowing about the two terms properly, you’ll get a clear idea of which method is best for your need.
Types of Welding
Welding is a time-tested sculpting process of materials, mostly metals where high temperature is used to melt the base metal and fuse the parts. The process is used to make a joint between two metals. But instead of temperature, high pressure can also be used. There are different types of welding. The list is given below.
MIG welding is also known as Gas Metal Arc welding. It is a popular and easiest type and highly suggested for beginners. This welding includes two types. The first type uses open or bare wire and the later one is used the flux core. Bare wire welding is used to join different thin metals together.
On the other hand, MIG flux core welding is used for outdoor use as it doesn’t require any flow meter and gas supply. If you’re a hobby welder or a DIY enthusiast, this welding process is best to go for. In that case, note that there are specialized pliers for MIG welding.
TIG welding is known as Gas Tungsten Arc welding. It is the most popular and versatile type of welding. But this welding is for a professional level and is difficult to apply. You have to use both of your hands skillfully to do a good TIG welding.
One of your hands needs to feed the rod or the metal you want to weld whereas the other hand needs to hold a TIG torch. The torch produces heat and arch to weld most traditional metals including aluminum, steel, nickel alloys, copper, cobalt, and titanium.
Stick welding is regarded as Shielded Metal Arc Welding. In this type of process, welding is done in the old fashioned way. It is easier than TIG welding but harder than MIG welding. For stick welding, you’ll need a stick electrode welding rod.
Plasma Arc Welding
Plasma Arc welding is a careful and modern technology that is used mainly in applications of aerospace where the thickness of the metal is about 0.015 inches such as a blade of an engine or an air seal. The process of this welding is very similar to TIG welding.
Gas Welding is very rarely used now-days. TIG welding has taken its place largely. For this type of welding, oxygen and acetylene are used and they are very portable. It is used for welding bits of car exhaust back together.
Electron Beam and Laser Welding
It is a very costly welding type. But the result of this welding also comes very accurately. The type is considered a high energy welding technique.
Types of Soldering
Solder is a process of joining two or more metals together without melting the base metal. The work is done by placing a separate alloy called solder between the two metals and that solder is melted to join them. There are different types of soldering such as soft soldering, hard soldering, and brazing.
The hard soldering process is tougher than the soft one. But the bond created by this process is much stronger. High temperature is used to melt the solder of this soldering. Normally the solder used in this process is brass or silver and to melt them a blowtorch is needed.
Though the melting point of silver is much lower than brass, it’s costlier. Hard soldering is also known as silver soldering when used with silver. To join metals like copper, brass, or silver, silver soldering is used.
Brazing is also considered as a type of solder. It involves a solder material that has a very high melting point than that used in hard and soft soldering. But comparatively, it is more similar to hard soldering.
The base metals are heated and at that heated point, the solder which is called brazing filler material is placed in between. The solder is melted immediately after placing it. However, there are some differences between conventional soldering and brazing.
Things you Should Consider
Soldering usually needs lower temperature as the base metal is not melted and thus the melting point of the solder has to be lower than the base metal. But the bond created by soldering is not stronger like welding as in welding no extra metal is used between. Base metals are melted and joined together which is more reliable.
Welding is better for metals that have higher melting points. For joining thick metals, welding is best. If you need to completely fuse two large pieces of metal all the way across rather than at one point, welding won’t be a good option. For thinner metals and if you want a seamless finish, soldering will be better.
What is Soft Soldering?
The soft soldering process is popular in the electronics and plumbing industries. This method is used to create a bond between electrical components on a circuit. In this process, the solder is made of tin, lead, and other types of metal. To ensure a tight fit, you can use an acid substance called flux.
In soft soldering, either an electric or a gas-powered soldering iron is used. The bond created by this soldering is much weaker than hard solder. But because of its simplicity, this solder is common for beginners.
Is Soldering as Good as Welding?
As said before, soldering is not as strong as welding. but for some metals, soldering works as fine as welding. Even for some metals, like copper, brass, silver soldering works better than welding. For electrical equipment, plumbing and jewelry, soldering makes quick and neat connections.
How Strong is a Solder Joint?
A soldered 4-inch type L-joint usually comes with a pressure rating of 440 psi. a silver solder of low temperatures has a tensile strength of about 10,000 psi. But silver solders can have a tensile strength over 60,000 psi which is very hard to find.
Do solder Joints Fail?
Yes, the solder joint degrades over time and can fail. Mostly overloading, causing a tensile breach, long-lasting permanent loading and cyclic loading cause soldering to fail. The failure is commonly known as creep and is triggered by high temperatures. But for the above reasons, it can also happen at room temperature.
Is Brazing Stronger than Welding?
Proper brazed joints can be stronger than the metals being joints. But they can’t be stronger than welded joints. For welding base materials are joined and the base materials are stronger than the filler material. Filler materials have low melting points. So the temperature needed is low, but in strength, they are not the same.
Welding Vs Brazing
Welding joins metals by fusing the base metals whereas, brazing joins metal by melting the filler material. The filler material used is strong, but the temperature needed for brazing is much lower than that of welding. So, brazing consumes less energy than welding. But for some thin metals, brazing can be a better option.
Brazing Vs Soldering
The difference between them is the temperature. Usually, in soldering, the filler material has a melting point below 450C. But for brazing, the materials used have a melting point above 450C. Brazing has a lesser effect on the metals than soldering. The joint done by soldering is less strong than that of brazing.
Q: What metal cannot be soldered?
Ans: Generally, all metals can be soldered. But some are very hard to solder, so it’s best to avoid soldering them such as stainless steel, aluminum, bronze, etc. Well, soldering aluminum using soldering iron requires special care.
Q: . Is there a glue that works like a soldier?
Ans: Yes, MesoGlue is a metallic glue that can be used instead of solder. This product works at room temperature and the metallic glue that can stick the metal pieces together with hasty spontaneity with electrical control.
Q: Do I need to use flux to solder?
Ans: Yes, you need to use flux if it’s not added to the solder. Usually, most of the soldiers used for electronics use has an internal core of flux, in that case, you don’t need one.
Being a metal worker or a hobbyist, you have to know about welding and soldering. If you take them for granted, you may never get the result you expected. Though they are quite similar from the outside, some major aspects made them two prime ways of joining metals.
This article is focused on the accurate details of welding, soldering, and brazing as well. Hopefully, it will remove all the confusion on the terms, their differences, similarities, and fields of working.