A common method used to join sheet metal, spot welding works through a combination of low-voltage electrical currents and pressure.

Despite its popularity in the industry, spot welding presents several complications and limitations you should consider before choosing this as your sheet metal fastening method

This article outlines the spot welding process, examining how it works and the common areas of application before evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of the spot welding method. We’ll then consider valid alternatives to spot welding, including self-clinching fasteners. 

What Is Spot Welding? 

Spot welding is a type of resistance welding used to join sheet metal by applying pressure and passing an electric current through the joined materials. 

In the spot welding process, the heat required to join two or more pieces of metal together is generated due to the metal’s internal resistance to the electric current being applied. 

How Does Spot Welding Work? 

In spot welding, copper alloy electrodes are placed on either side of the joined metal pieces and an electric current is passed between them. 

This subsequently creates heat and melts the metal at the point of contact while the pressure from the electrodes squeezes the molten metal to form a weld. 

What Is Spot Welding Used For? 

Spot welding is a common joining method used in the production and manufacture of automobiles and electric vehicles, with the body panels of one vehicle typically featuring over 1,000 spot welds. 

Resistance spot welding is also common in aerospace, rail, manufacturing, electronics and construction industries, with most spot welding work carried out by robots in large industrial settings. 

When completed manually, spot welding is favored by engineers as it can be used to create complex shapes with much less effort when compared with TIG or MIG welding methods. 

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Spot Welding?

Like any other joining method, spot welding has advantages and disadvantages. 

Advantages of Using Spot Welding 

Disadvantages of Using Spot Welding 

What Are the Alternatives to Spot Welding?

Some alternatives to spot welding include using adhesives or mechanical fasteners. As with spot welding, each method has its advantages and disadvantages, outlined below. 

Read our article to learn more about the viable alternatives to welding. 

Self Clinching Fasteners vs. Spot Welding: An Overview 

Although spot welding is commonly used to join sheet metal, self clinching fasteners will be equally familiar to most. 

Self clinching fastener technology affords design engineers several key benefits, including: 

Cost Savings

Self clinching fasteners have a single-step, in-die installation process which eliminates the need for secondary operations, increasing throughput and, ultimately, cutting costs. 

Join Dissimilar Materials 

One of the critical disadvantages of spot welding is that both metals being joined together need to be conductive. 

Self clinching fasteners don’t present this problem — they can be fastened into common steel, HSS, hot-forming steels, aluminum and a host of other materials. 

Produce Water-Tight Seals 

While water-tight seals are difficult to achieve in spot welding, leading to water damage and/or corrosion, self clinching fasteners can create a reliable, leak-proof seal in aluminum and steel applications. 

Create Stronger Joints 

As spot welding produces a lot of heat to fuse the metal pieces, this thermal effect can produce weak points, leaving the parts vulnerable to thermal stress or annealing. Self clinching fasteners combat this challenge, as no heat is required for their installation. 

Zero Impact on Coating of Components 

The welding process can put components at risk of corrosion because pre-applied coatings are usually burned off during the welding process. 

When using self-clinching fasteners, it’s possible to install a coated fastener into a panel without damaging the coating or KTL of either component. 

Learn More About the Benefits of Self Clinching Fastener Technology 

Strong and straightforward to install in various applications, self clinching fasteners offer a versatile and reliable alternative to conventional spot weld fasteners. 

Learn more about this technology and the wide range of PEM® self clinching fasteners.

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