Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and events from TWI:

Subscribe >
Skip to content

What is Resistance Welding?


Resistance welding, sometimes called electric resistance welding (ERW),is a process by which metals can be joined together by applying pressure and conducting a strong electric current through the metal combination to heat up the welding joint and melt the metals, forging them together.

It has various forms and applications, and no other materials are needed, which makes it a highly cost effective process.


 Click here to see our latest technical engineering podcasts on YouTube.

How Does Resistance Welding Work?

Resistance welding is generally used to join two plain metal work pieces together. An electric current is delivered to the metal sheets (or any work pieces being joined) through weld electrodes which apply force to the sheets. This force is then converted to heat. The heat is generated so that it melts the metal at the point where they join – the point of ‘resistance’ between the faying surfaces. The electrode then extracts heat from the molten weld area which forms a weld nugget at the point where it solidifies. A force is applied before, during and after a current is applied, which confines the contact area.

Types of Resistance Welding

There are many resistance welding processes with different uses, such as spot welding, seam welding, and butt welding. Each one has a different specific welding application that makes it optimal for a particular situation.

1. Resistance Spot Welding

Resistance spot welding has been used extensively in the automotive industry for the joining of steel and in the aerospace industry for airframe components made from aluminium alloys. It is one of the oldest and simplest forms of resistance welding, in which a weld nugget is produced by passing an electric current between the two metal components whilst they are held together between electrodes, typically made from copper-based alloys due to its superior conductive properties.

2. Resistance Seam Welding

Resistance seam welding is a variation of the standard spot welding form, however instead of spot one nugget, a series of overlapping nuggets is produced. This is usually done by replacing the conventional spot welding electrodes with wheels, which turn as the parts are fed between them. The process thus produces a continuous welded seam rather than a single spot. Seam welding is often used in the production of thin sheet, leak-tight containers such as fuel tanks, and is generally unsuitable for welding aluminium.

3. Resistance Projection Welding

Resistance projection welding is a form of resistance welding where the electricity, force, and weld time are concentrated on raised ‘projections’ across the surface. Projection welding is generally used for welds using thicker materials than the thinner metal pieces that spot welding is usually required for, and often not metals. It is used primarily in the electrical, automotive and construction industries.

4. Resistance Butt Welding

Resistance butt welding is a process in which the two components of similar cross section can be joined together in one operation that takes place simultaneously across the entirety of the affected object, rather than just in small spots. The welding application of butt welding is often in wires and rods with small diameter measurements, generally up to about 16mm diameter.

5. Flash Butt Welding

Flash butt welding is similar, but in this case the energy transfer is primarily provided by the resistance heat arising from the parts themselves. This is a faster type of resistance welding where the welder joins the parts by applying some pressure, then by passing a heavy current through the joint which burns away surface irregularities. After the weld has generated enough heat, the parts are connected by applying heat and pressure simultaneously. This produces a forge butt weld with no melted metal remaining in the joint.


  • Similar and dissimilar metals are capable of being welded
  • Highly automated
  • Efficient with high production rate and high welding rate
  • Cost-effective
  • Environment-friendly, produces little waste or pollution
  • No need for filler metal or extraneous materials such as rods, fluxes, inert gasses, oxygen, or acetylene are required


  • Complex and often high-cost machinery – a resistance welding machine generally requires a high level of technically trained personnel to use
  • The thickness of the work piece is often limited
  • It is less efficient for high conductive materials
  • High electric power required

For more information please email: