If you plan any project where you intend to join two pieces of metal together. One of the first things that you need to consider is how to do it and with what method. We are going to compare soldering vs welding and what both methods are used for to help you decide on which one to use. . In some cases, it’s obvious which is the optimum process to use, but people new to metal fabrication can be confused by these terms.
In fact, many people use soldering and welding in an interchangeable manner which is strange because each technique is a distinct application. Choosing the right technique for your project will be determined by the strength of the join and what you’re joining together. In this article, we will take a closer look at the differences between soldering and welding to help you make informed choices.
Differences Between Soldering vs Welding
Welding and soldering are both used to bond metals together; they are fabrication techniques that require certain inputs and equipment. Let’s take a look at seven key characteristics and the differences between them:
1. Strength of the Joint
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to understand that welding joints are always stronger than soldering joints. For many projects, this simple fact will be sufficient to make a choice between these two techniques.
The melting point of different metals will determine how the bond is created. A steel variant used in the welding process will melt between 3,000ºC and 20,000ºC. In comparison, soldering will only require 350ºC up to 450ºC to create a bond.
The base metals used in the welding process require significant heat to melt and create a strong bond. During soldering, the base metal needs to heat, and melting does not occur during the bonding process.
4. Metal Properties
During welding, the base metal is changed to its mechanical properties because it is cooled and heated. The base metal properties have no significant effect on those same mechanical properties when you’re soldering.
5. Skills to do Welding or Soldering
Welders and solderers are both professionals that use their skills to fabricate metals. But, their skill sets are usually applied to different industries as needed. A welder typically works in the automotive, construction, and manufacturing industries. A solderer tends to work primarily in the electronic industry as a fabricator or to make repairs.
6. Preheating of the metals
No preheating of disparate work-pieces is required during the welding process. Soldering does require preheating before the process begins.
7. Heat Treating
Heat treating is where the physical and chemical properties of the metal are altered with heating and cooling to create a bond. This is common in welding, but it’s not used in soldering.
Soldering vs Welding Characteristics
|Filler Material||Filler rods used to seal potential gaps||Filler materials are melted at 450ºc or 840ºf|
|Temperature||Welding temperatures need to be very high||Uses lower temperatures|
|Materials||The metals must be similar||You can bond different materials|
|Strength||If done well, creates a very strong bond||Soldering does not create a mechanical connection, so it is not as strong|
What Is Soldering And How Does It Work Compared To Welding?
Now that you have a better understanding of the basic differences, let’s take a look at soldering vs welding as techniques:
What is Soldering
Soldering is a process that bonds metals together with a metal alloy with a low melting point which is known as solder. During this process, the solder acts at the base metal, and the pieces that are bonded together are never hot enough to melt.
The connection is created by the solder, and the temperature never exceeds 448ºC. Up to that temperature, there can be variances depending on the needs of the project and the metals you want to bond together.
Soldering is a common technique used in the electronic industry, but it’s used in other applications, such as plumbing, jewelry making, and more. Soldering is easier to learn than welding, and it’s a less time-consuming process.
What is Welding
During welding, two identical or dissimilar metals are bonded together with additional material and specialized equipment. There are two main welding categories: torch and Arc welding. When welding, the base metals are heated to high temperatures, and the joints that are created can be extremely strong with a high load-bearing capacity.
Welding is used in automotive, mechanical, construction, and other industries. It takes longer to learn to weld, and the process is more time intensive than soldering.
Pros and Cons Soldering vs Welding
|Pros||● Welding creates the strongest bond in comparison to other bonding techniques.|
● The welding process creates a permanent joint or bond between two metals.
● Dissimilar metals of various shapes and sizes can be bonded together.
● There is no requirement to drill a hole into parent parts when welding.
● The load-carrying capacity is unmatchable because no hole has been drilled.
|● High labor skills are not required for soldering.|
● Soldering requires lower operating temperatures.
● It’s easy to join together dissimilar base materials.
● Soldering is not a time-consuming process.
● The incidence of residual stress on joints is lower.
|Cons||● A welded joint can be prone to vibrations.|
● It’s difficult to inspect penetration, air pockets, and slag inclusion.
● Any uneven cooling and heating may cause residual stress in the welded assembly.
● A welder must be skilled and use suitable equipment to weld to a high standard.
|● The soldering fluxes may be toxic, and inhalation is dangerous.|
● Soldering is not a viable process to assemble larger structures.
● The load-bearing capacity of soldered joints is not as strong as welded joints.
FAQ’s–Soldering vs Welding
Which is better? Soldering vs welding
Welding and soldering are very different processes that have unique advantages and disadvantages to consider for every application. Welding creates stronger joints; it should be used for structural metal and load-bearing connections. The connection made by soldering will only ever be as strong as the solder used.
It is possible to weld two different metals together, but special techniques and specialized equipment are required. But, you can solder any two metals together with various different types of solder.
Can soldering replace welding?
No, welding creates stronger joints than soldering which makes it the de facto choice for structural metal and load-bearing applications.
Is soldering a permanent fix?
Soldering joins metal parts together with intense heat, but the metal parts are not heated together. The joint is created with the heated filler metal (solder), and this creates a strong and durable permanent bond.
Will solder hold metal together?
Yes, soldering is a tried and tested technique that has been in consistent use for centuries to join metal seams and joints together.
Conclusion: Soldering vs Welding
As you can see, there is no direct soldering vs welding comparison that can be satisfactorily made to determine if one is better than the other. These are two very different processes that are similar, but they have unique advantages and disadvantages to consider. For most applications, it’s pretty easy to determine which is the best process.
If you want stronger bonds, you’re more likely to choose welding and if you want to join electrical or plumbing components together, go with soldering.