We are all aware of the significance of selecting the proper tool for the job. When it comes to welding, the process you use is just as important as the tools. Using the incorrect welding process for a given task is akin to attempting to saw a 24 with a screwdriver. Best of luck with that.
If you’re new to welding, there’s a lot to think about before you dive in. Different metals will necessitate various techniques or materials, and some methods are far better suited to specific jobs than others. How do you know which method is best for a particular job? This is where this post comes in handy.
Stick, MIG, and TIG are the three most common welding processes today. Each process has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right procedure will save you a lot of time and frustration.
To get a better idea of which process will be most beneficial to you in any given situation, you must first understand each process thoroughly. Let’s take a look at each of these three processes to see which one is best for you.
If you’ve been welding for a while, you’ve probably learned how to use an arc welder. It entails using a charged metal stick to create a high-temperature arc. To form metal joints, an electric current flows from a gap between the welding stick and the metal.
For many years, stick welding was the dominant and most popular method of welding. Small, home-shop welders and electricians prefer this type of welding. It is regarded as an effective method for welding most metal alloys or joints.
The stick welder is suitable for use both indoors and outdoors, as well as in draughty and confined spaces. Stick welding is the most cost-effective method of welding and allows for the formation of effective joints even on rusted or dirty metals.
Stick welding has some limitations as well. It generates a very powerful arc that can heat metal to extremely high temperatures. Stick welding is therefore difficult to use for metals thinner than 18 gauge. Stick welding also necessitates frequent rod replacement. It produces a lot of spatter, so welds must be cleaned after the welding process is finished.
Stick welding is also more difficult to learn and use for a beginner. The ability to strike and maintain an arc is particularly difficult, but once mastered, it becomes much easier.
Stick welders are currently available in AC, DC, and AC/DC currents. AC-powered welders are the most cost-effective. These welders are designed for welding thicker metals with widths of 1/16 inch or greater. Stick welders are perfect for farmers, home maintenance, DIY hobbyists, and home improvements projects like fencing and grill joints.
The Benefits of Stick Welding
- Stick welding can be used regardless of paint or corrosion at the welding point.
- You can use a ground clamp to keep the metal away from the welding point.
- Stick welding produces a large arc that is unaffected by wind or temperature.
- It is very simple to change or replace rods to weld special metals such as cast metals, stainless steel, and so on.
- Provides efficient welding both indoors and outdoors.
- Welders using direct current (d/c) can change the polarity of the electrode to reduce the possibility of burn-through on thinner metals.
MIG Welding (Metal Inert Gas)
MIG welders produce a wire welding electrode on a spool that is fed into the welder at a constant speed. An arc is formed when an electrical current flows between the base metal and the wire. The highly charged current melts the wire and the metal’s base together, forming a joint. This technology produces a very strong weld that requires little cleaning.
MIG welding is thought to be easier to perform and clean up afterward. It can be used on a variety of metal plates, both thin and thick. Mastering the basic MIG technique takes only a week or two of welding.
The selection of the proper shielding gas and the setup of the machine parameters are two of the more complicated aspects of MIG welding. Once you’ve taken care of these two components, it’s essentially a “point and shoot” process, also known as a “hot glue gun of welding.”
This welding process can be used to create high-strength welds with a great appearance that requires little cleaning or sanding. The use of a shielding gas allows the welder to generate an arc at a uniform rate, simplifying the process. MIG welders can be used on any metal surface and can weld materials as thin as 26 gauge for delicate, precise work.
MIG welding has some drawbacks. To begin with, the equipment is somewhat difficult to use when working outside due to the gases involved in welding. Although the MIG welder can work with any metal, some materials require different spool wires and gases.
Furthermore, someone using a MIG machine must understand the various combinations that should be used for the project and set up the machine accordingly. You can avoid this by using machines with auto-set features, which can save you a lot of time.
To achieve the best results, the MIG welding process should be carried out on a clean metal surface. Before laying down any welds, the welder must scrape any paint, rust, or other debris from the workpiece’s surface.
The Benefits of MIG Welding
- MIG welding is extremely precise, allowing you to weld metal as thin as 24 gauge (0.0239′′).
- MIG welding is very clean, and you can produce welds that are beautiful, smooth, slag-free, and almost spatter-free.
- Because MIG welding uses a spool, you do not have to stop welding to replace the stick rod.
- MIG welding is simple to learn and apply. Even a novice can master MIG welding in a matter of weeks.
- It enables you to create outstanding, intricate welding designs.
- It is possible to achieve very fast welding speeds, and MIG welding is frequently regarded as the most productive.
- MIG welding equipment can also be used for flux-cored welding projects.
What is the Difference Between MIG and Stick Welding?
Although both MIG and Stick welding can produce a high-quality weld, their setups, advantages, disadvantages, and applications are quite different. In general, MIG welding is the easiest type of welding to learn and the easiest torch to use.
While stick welding can also be learned quickly, it is more difficult to master. Stick welding is the oldest form of arc welding, dating back to the 1930s, and is still the only option for many veteran welders.
Quantity & Quality
Both MIG and Stick welding systems can produce high-quality welds, but the type of metal used determines which machine performs best. MIG welding is the better choice for creating a clean, strong joint with thinner metals. The Stick performs better on thicker metals (over 38 inches).
Because of the MIG gun’s ease of use, it can produce a large volume of work with little downtime. As a result, it is frequently used in fabrication and is also the preferred material for robotic welding operations. Stick welding takes longer because there is a warm-up period when first turning on the gun and more frequent downtime when changing electrodes.
When it comes to cleanliness and cleanup, the MIG and Stick welders have opposing advantages and disadvantages, with one requiring more work upfront and the other post-weld. Because a Stick welder can form a strong joint on even the dirtiest or rustiest surface, the pre-weld prep of cleaning the workpiece that is required with a MIG setup is unnecessary.
However, the electrodes used in Stick welding are covered in flux, which causes a spatter during the weld that must be chipped off after it cools. However, with MIG, the shielding gas not only protects the weld as it cools but also blows away any spatter. The result is much less cleanup.
One of the most significant advantages of Stick over MIG is its ability to weld outside, in windy conditions, or anywhere the shielding gas in a MIG setup would be compromised.
In fact, unlike the MIG welder, which is limited by the length of its cable, it can be wheeled to wherever you need it. A Stick welder also can change the angle of the nozzle to weld in tight corners or obtuse angles.
Maintenance and Cost
Stick welding is one of the least expensive types of welding, whereas MIG welding is more expensive due to the large number of consumables required (and downtime required to change them.)
However, the long welds made possible by the MIG gun’s continuously feeding wire may offset some of the cost. Even though a stick welder uses no consumables other than the electrode, a weld can only last as long as the length of the stick before needing to be replaced.