Sticking with stick?
Sticking with stick?
Will the SMAW (Stick) welding process be around in the future? That's a common question you may hear among welders and people in the trade debate on lunch break or around the coffee area. Even, going to some welding website forums like Everlast Welders own forum, you will see it hotly contested. Given the relatively antiquated slower pace of stick welding, and its relatively crude process it may seem like stick welding will be replaced completely in the future with other processes like MIG, Flux-core, or evenTIG. In reality, it is not likely to happen anytime soon or if at all. The strengths of Shielded Metal Arc Welding are too great to ignore, and hard to replace.
- Stick welding offers the advantage of being able to go anywhere without a large package, or having to drag extra equipment with you, especially in the case of the lighter inverter welders. There are no cylinders to rent or buy. One torch will typically handle nearly all welding conditions. Additionally, stick welding equipment is relatively inexpensive to purchase.
- The flux covered electrodes, though bulky and seemingly expensive priced by the pound are still fairly economical when compared to the cost of welding wire, consumable, and gas cost of the GMAW (MIG) or GTAW (TIG) processes. The efficiency of transfer is not as great, with the ends of the electrodes discarded, unable to be used, but the overall cost is manageable.
- Stick welding can be conducted in almost any environment, indoors or outdoors, regardless of wind or drafts. TIG and MIG process must have careful consideration paid to shielding the process from drafty conditions.
- The feature of having, flux, filler, and electrode in one package, and a neat storage system makes stick a highly convenient way to weld.
- While not intended for the thinnest materials, Stick welding is capable of making an excellent weld in both appearance, and strength on many common thicknesses of steel or stainless steel. Though not probably the best solution for regular manufacturing, the process can make a passable weld on aluminum with special aluminum electrodes. Add to that the fact that it is also a preferred method for welding cast iron, and for joining wrought, or artistic mixed iron/steel structures together, it offers premium versatility.
- The skill set required in Stick transfers to other processes. Stick is excellent for developing welding skills compared to a process like MIG. Puddle recognition is much better with stick, and generally most people who start with stick will excel quickly with other processes. However, MIG welders may experience much more difficulty transferring their skill set over to another process.
The Stick process has been around longer than most other processes with the exception of gas welding. Technical understanding of stick welding is greater probably than any other process. A lot of money and time is still being invested in electrode and power source technology to carry the stick welding process through the rest of this century. Very little evidence exists that would suggest it will be going any where soon. If it does eventually fall out of fashion, be sure it won't go quietly.