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Home > Metal Fabricating Tips & Facts > Stick or MSAW Welding

Stick or MSAW welding

Advantage Fabricated Metals performs a number of welding processes. The two most common welding processes we use include TIG, an acronym for Tungsten Inert Gas welding and MIG, an acronym for Metal Inert Gas welding. TIG is also referred to as GTAW (Gas T ungsten Arc Welding) and Heliarc®. MIG also is referred to as GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding). We also provide stick or MSAW welding.

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) is frequently referred to as "stick" or "covered electrode" welding. Stick welding is among the most widely used welding processes.

The flux covering on the electrode melts during welding. This forms the gas and slag to shield the arc and molten weld pool. The slag must be chipped off the weld bead after welding. The flux also provides a method of adding scavengers, deoxidizers, and alloying elements to the weld metal.

When an arc is struck between the metal rod (electrode) and the workpiece, both the rod and workpiece surface melt to form a weld pool. Simultaneous melting of the flux coating on the rod will form gas and slag which protects the weld pool from the surrounding atmosphere. The slag will solidify and cool and must be chipped off the weld bead once the weld run is complete (or before the next weld pass is deposited).

The process allows only short lengths of weld to be produced before a new electrode needs to be inserted in the holder. Weld penetration is low and the quality of the weld deposit is highly dependent on the skill of the welder.

Process characteristics of Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW/Stick)

SMAW welding:

  • Uses a electrode rod that is quickly consumed,
  • Uses equipment that is simple, inexpensive, and highly portable,
  • Uses an electrode that provides and regulates its own flux,
  • Provides all position flexibility,
  • Is less sensitive to wind or drafts,
  • Yields a weld with a variable quality and appearance based on operator skill,

Stick welding process - illustration

During the SMAW welding process the arc is established, the flux coating on the rod disintegrates and then forms a gas that shields the weld from the atmosphere. The slag that is produced by the flux coating prevents the weld metal from oxidizing.

Equipment required to perform the SMAW welding process includes a constant current power source that supplies the power to the consumable rod electrode.
The SMAW welding process typically is capable of producing three types of welded joints. They are:

  • Butt joint
  • Lap joint,
  • T-joint, and
  • Fillet weld.

The illustration below shows these four common welded joints.

Common SMAW stick welds - illustration

Flux-coated electrodes are available in many core wire diameters and lengths. Matching the electrode properties to the base materials as a general rule for choosing the type of electrode. Available electrodes types include aluminum bronze, bronze, mild steel, nickel, and stainless steel.

Materials commonly welded using the SMAW process include mild steel, cast iron, and stainless steel.

View an overview of our welding services and any of the metal forming processes offered by Advantage Fabricated Metals by clicking the links above.

For more information about Advantage Fabricated Metals and the metal forming, metal fabricating, and welding services we provide, please fill out our contact form or call us at 1-815-323-1310.


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Advantage Fabricated Metals
We invest in our customers.™
3575 Morreim Drive • Belvidere, Illinois 61008
Phone: 1-815-323-1310 • Fax: 1-815-323-1317