Stick Welding vs. MIG Welding. Which is stronger?


Stick vs MIG or TIG

There is always a confusion with most of people- Does MIG or TIG is stronger than Stick welding or SMAW Welding? or Stick welding is stronger than MIG or TIG?

Are you one of that person, looking answer for this query.

First, let us know difference between stick welding & MIG welding

Both Stick welding or MIG welding are the type of fusion welding process. Fusion welding processes are type of welding process where heat for welding is generated by welding arc and material is melted to produce a weld fusion.

Difference between stick welding and MIG welding is the type of welding electrode either solid or flux cored rod. In stick welding, the welding electrode is a coated rod with flux usually having length of 10 inch to 18 inch (depend on type of electrode, carbon steel or stainless steel and electrode diameters). The electrode is held in a electrode holder connected with the welding machine. In stick welding, arc is started by scratching the electrode on the work-piece and than maintaining a arc gap to complete the welding as shown in the below diagram.

smaw welding equipment setup
Stick welding

In MIG welding, the arrangement is different. Here the electrode is in the form of a spool of small diameter solid wire. This spool is fitted to a wire feeder connected with the welding machine and fed to the work-piece via a welding torch connected with the wire feeder. When the welder press the switch on the torch, wire is supplied from the wire feeder to the work-piece where it get melted and produce a weld joint by fusion as shown in the below picture.

Equipment setup

Stick Welding vs. MIG welding strength

As stated earlier, both the stick welding and MIG welding are type of fusion welding process i.e. weld is formed by melting the welding wire in the weld pool and surrounding base metal. So, the strength of weld will depend on the filler wire or electrode strength and will not depend on what welding process you are using.

For example, you have carbon steel material of 30 Ksi strength and you welded it with a stick welding electrode of 40 Ksi strength, so the strength of the weld will be 40 Ksi. Now, if you weld using same material with a MIG wire of 40 Ksi strength, then also it will produce same 40 Ksi strength weld metal. As both the stick welding and MIG welding producing the weld by melting the filler wire or electrode or welding rod and nearby base metal.

So practically, both stick welding and MIG welding or TIG welding are equally strong. In general, the strength of the weld metal is depends on two factors:

  1. Welding rod strength
  2. Welding quality, for example weld free from any defect will be stronger than weld with defects.
weld macro

So, it is the strength of the welding rod and the soundness of a weld deposit that decide the strength of a weld metal and not the welding process.

Selecting a welding process for welding application

Selection of the welding process is depends on

  1. type of material,
  2. available welding machine,
  3. welding location either site welding or workshop welding,
  4. availability of the welder,
  5. type of welding joint
  6. Weld productivity requirements
  7. size of the part to be welded

There can be other factors too, that can decide the type of welding process that can be used for welding applications apart from listed above.

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