In our previous article we discussed the different types of applications of MIG, TIG, FCAW, and SMAW. Today we are going to take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of welding methods mentioned above.
Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
Here are the pros and cons of the four (4) most popular welding techniques.
Metal Inert Gas Welding (MIG)
The main benefit of MIG welding is that it is considered to be the easiest method to learn out of the four. The other benefits of MIG welding are that it is highly productive and performs at a fast speed for a relatively low-cost welding process and can weld a wide range of metallic substances. MIG welding devices operate on heavy-duty cycles which facilitate high performance. The range of compatible filler metals is wide for both thin and thick materials and it produces a low amount of fumes. MIG welding also has advanced electrode deposition efficiency compared to other types of welding.
The drawbacks of this welding method include the cost and complexity of the required equipment as well as the lack of device portability in comparison with the other three methods. It is not suitable for welding very thin materials as they may be subjected to burns.
Tungsten Inert Gas Welding (TIG)
TIG welding is advantageous as there is no usage of flux and this makes it suitable for welding extremely thin and exotic materials. The device is portable which allows for its usage in various locations without a hassle. In addition, welds can be produced even in the absence of filler metals. The device also provides precise controls over variables which enables users to produce output specific to their requirements.
However, TIG welding equipment is priced at a high cost and compared to other methods, it has a slow welding process. This method also requires highly skilled operators in order to produce quality output as it is considered to be the most difficult method to learn and master. There is also a relatively high provision for weld metal contamination by the inert gas shield in the event that the filter rod end is removed in the process.
Flux Cored Arc Welding
Aside from high productivity, Flux Cored Arc Welding has a consistent reputation of producing high-quality output. It has a high deposition rate and can be utilized in all positions. Compared to the other three methods, it is more intuitive and therefore, easier to get accustomed to and master. FCAW also enables effective weld penetration.
Nonetheless, this type of welding also has its downsides. It produces a rather large amount of toxic fumes during the welding process which requires proper ventilation, possibly restricting the versatility of usage in terms of location. The equipment is also costly and is relatively susceptible to damage if mechanical disruptions are to occur. In addition, the range of metal types FCAW devices can weld is more limited than that of the other types of welding devices.
Shielded Metal Arc Welding (Stick)
Last but not least, we have Shielded Metal Arc Welding or “stick” welding. As it is the most common type of welding used by beginners, hobbyists and professionals alike, stick welding is the most intuitive out of the four methods discussed. It is especially easy to familiarize yourself with the process and kick-start your welding projects at a low cost using this method.
The equipment used for stick welding are inexpensive and as there is a wide variety of devices in the market, the affordability range is broad. The biggest advantage of stick welding compared to the other three types aforementioned is that it has no requirement for shielding gas which is cost-efficient for the user.
However, as with every other process, this too has its own set of disadvantages. Out of the four, stick welding has the slowest welding process and is considered to be more difficult to learn than FCAW and MIG welding. It is also less cost-efficient than the two due to the rods being fairly expensive. In addition, there is slag production during the procedure and the task of chipping the slag is time-consuming. Furthermore, the welding rods require frequent replacement and stick welding creates provision for excessive splatter, irregular surfaces as well as porosity.
What is The Difference Between MIG and Arc Welding?
A lot of people like to call stick welding as arc welding and One of the most common questions I get is what really is the difference between the arc welding and MIG welding.
Arc welding is the ancestor of MIG welding. With this method, you use filler rods, covered with flux to protect the welding pool from contaminants in the atmosphere. It is really a great method to weld thicker materials because it has greater penetration power. At the same time, the flux creates toxic gases that can be dangerous to your health
MIG welding, on the other hand, a more automated process which uses filler wire that is continuously fed to the welding pool, opposite to arc welding where you have to change the rods frequently. With MIG welding, to protect the welding pool from contaminants a shielding gas is used, meaning it does not produce a great number of toxic gases. It does have one minus though, you can not use this method in windy conditions.
To make it clear, arc welding is actually any welding method that uses electricity (MIG, TIG, FCAW, SMAW). The current used create an electric arc between the base metal and the filler metal, melting metal and fusing it into one.
As with everything else, so does each welding method have its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Before deciding on which welding method you would like to master, I would advise you to consider which method would suit you the best, before spending any money.
Here are some key things to ask yourself:
- Do you want to master welding delicate materials?
- Are you going to weld indoors or outdoors?
- How thick materials do you want to weld?
- Do you need a machine that is easily portable?
- Do you have a well-ventilated workspace?
- How much money and time you have, to invest?
Before You make final decision definitely take a look at my guide: How To Get Started With Welding. It might help to clarify things for you.