Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), is also called “stick welding.”
It has been used on many job sites for a long time. SMAW is a relatively easy process that can be done on a variety of surfaces. And also in a variety of environments. It can also be done with relatively inexpensive equipment, which can mean a smaller investment.
It is still necessary to know and comprehend stick welding. Even though wire procedures and newer technologies are becoming more popular because they boost production,
Basic welding concepts like travel speed, travel angle, and work angle are important for success, and just changing these parameters will make a big difference. Because of this, learning the basics of stick will help you become a better welder.
If you are just starting to learn how to weld and are having trouble, it will help if you follow some simple tips and best practises.
No. 1: Picking the Right Machine
The first step to being successful is to have the right machine for the job. When choosing a welding power source, it’s important to think about the duty cycle and amperage draw needed for the job.
It’s also important to think about how much power the machine needs, how big it is, and whether or not you need it to be portable. The power hookup may be 120, 240, or 480 volts, so make sure to choose a machine that works with either single-phase or three-phase power.
You might want to choose a machine that can do stick, gas metal arc welding (GMAW), and gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), among other things. In the future, different applications may need different types of welding. Buying several single-process machines would be more expensive and take up more space than buying a multi-process machine. People who are just starting out can learn how to do more than one thing by using these machines.
No. 2: Choosing which electrode to use
Which electrode you choose will depend on the type of material you are welding and the needs or requirements of the job. Using an alternating current (AC) machine also limits the best kinds of electrodes that can be used.
Before you choose an electrode, check to see if the material you’re welding has rust, oil, or any other kind of surface contamination. Some electrodes can handle this better than others. Also think about where the weld is. For instance, a vertical-up weld will most likely need a different electrode than a flat weld. If there are code requirements for an application, the specifications may list the type of electrode.
Most stick electrodes are made of:
6010: This deep-penetrating electrode can handle surface contaminants like rust or oil, but it might need a lot of grinding after the weld.
- This electrode makes it easy to weld. It has a smooth, stable arc and works best on a clean surface.
- This low-hydrogen electrode is often used in industry for code work. To keep it from getting wet, you have to be careful with how you handle and store it.
If you have questions about which electrode to use for a certain job, talk to the company that makes the filler metal or the welding equipment.
No. 3: Put your machine to work
Once you’ve chosen your electrode, make sure you pick the right polarity. Setting up a machine often goes wrong because the wrong polarity is chosen.
Most of the time, the right polarity is written on the packaging or on the material data sheet. Most electrodes come with a data sheet that tells you the right polarity, angles, and ranges of current.
If you set the current range too high, there will be a lot of splashing and the arc will be unstable. If you set the current too low, it will be hard to start an arc and keep it going.
No. 4: Striking an Arc
In stick welding, brush or scrape the end of the electrode against the base material to get the arc started.
Some types of electrodes, like 7018, get a hard slag shell on the end after welding. Before you can start the arc again, you have to break off this shell to get to the bare electrode. To do this, take the electrode out of its holder and tap the end with the slag on it against the base material or the concrete floor. Be careful not to break off too much, as this can leave the electrode too exposed and make it more likely to stick to the base material.
Once the arc is made, the distance between the end of the electrode and the workpiece is usually kept between 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch. The right arc length depends on the type of electrode, and it is usually written on the material data sheet for that electrode. The position of the welder can also affect the right length of the arc. For example, a vertical-up weld usually needs a tighter arc to help control the weld puddle.
If the electrode is too close to the workpiece, it can snuff out the arc by getting buried in the pool of molten weld. If the electrode is too far from the workpiece, it will make a wide arc. This means that not enough metal will be deposited into the joint, which will cause it not to be welded well.
When you stick weld, you should always drag the arc toward you at an angle of 10 to 30 degrees. If you push, you’ll get a lot of slag and an uneven weld.
Mistakes to Avoid
When stick welding, avoiding some common mistakes can help improve quality and productivity, save time, and cut down on the cost of materials. Think about these common mistakes:
When the arc length is too long, the arc becomes wide and erratic. This makes more spatter, which takes more time to clean and grind after welding. It also makes it hard to penetrate and fuse welds.
If you’re going too fast during the weld, you might not be able to watch the feet of the weld to see when the sides are done. Remember that the right travel speed for your job depends on the size of the weld.
Changing the travel angle while welding can make the weld not fuse or go deep enough. Make sure that the travel angle and the work angle stay the same for the whole weld pass.
Loss of and Disposal of Stubs
Stick welding causes stub loss because part of the electrode must always be in the electrode holder. There is a fine line between wanting to use as much of the electrode as possible to save money (since electrodes are sold by the pound) and being careful to get rid of an electrode once the shielding gas coverage has been compromised.
Some codes, like the ones for 7018 electrodes, say that each one can only have one arc start. In some operations, parts of the electrode that aren’t used in the first arc strike can’t be used again after the arc strikes again.
When code requirements are not a problem, most electrodes can be struck more than once. After the first start, each new arc may have less shielding gas coverage. This is because the flux may not cover the end of the exposed electrode in the same way. For stick welding, the flux that covers the electrode is burned off to make shielding gas. When restriking electrodes, it is important to have enough flux covering the electrodes.
Some stick electrodes can only be used within a certain amount of time after the package has been opened. The purpose of this shelf life is to stop the product from absorbing moisture. It can cause cracking or welding to fail due to hydrogen. Again, this is because of what the code says about certain applications and electrodes.