If you have been exploring the welding trade and thinking about going to welding school, you have probably run across the terms soldering and brazing. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics considers welding, soldering, and brazing to be part of one trade, along with cutting. Except for cutting these are all ways of joining two metals together, so what’s the difference between them? And which one is right for you?
Welding, soldering, and brazing are all ways of joining metal parts and pieces. This article briefly describes the differences between them.
Welding is the most commonly used method of joining metal parts. In welding, heat is applied to melt the two pieces to be joined and then they are fused together in a very strong bond. There are many ways to weld parts together. Today, the most common is arc welding, which uses an electric arc to melt the metals, but depending on the type of materials to be joined and the surrounding conditions, one of more than 100 processes may also be used.
Soldering and brazing are also methods of joining metal parts, but in these processes, the metal pieces themselves aren’t melted. Instead, an additional piece of metal, called a filler metal, is melted and then used to join the parts. The difference between these two processes has to do with the temperature and the types of materials. Soldering is done on materials that have a lower melting point, like electrical components and circuit boards. This is very fine work in which the pieces are very small and precision is crucial. Brazing is used on materials with a higher melting point, like copper. It is useful for thin metals, which may not be able to tolerate welding without warping.
So, in summary, welding involves melting the actual parts, while both soldering and brazing involve melting a filler metal and then using it to join the parts. These may sound like small differences, but the three methods all require specialized knowledge and skills to perform correctly. In fact, although they can be taught as part of the same vocational program, there is different training as well as different certification processes associated with each.
If you are interested in the welding, cutting, soldering, and brazing trade, enrolling in a welding school is a great place to start. There you will learn the basic science and mathematics that underlies all of the different skills, as well as further explore the different career options available to specialists in different areas. From there, you can pursue your certifications in any or all of the specific trades—the more you know, the more flexibility you will have in your future career.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers. Occupational Outlook Handbook.