One of the most common processes in the metal and steel world is welding, and there are a variety of different welding formats that may be taken depending on the needs of a given project. One of the oldest forms of welding, and one of a few different processes that fall under the category of a fusion arc welding approach, is known as shielded metal arc welding, or SMAW for short.
At Wasatch Steel, we’re happy to discuss welding properties and any other important characteristics of any of our steel sheet, steel bar, steel plate and other steel products with any of our clients. We’ll happily advise you on which of our steel products might be best for shielded metal arc welding, a process that’s commonly used on several different kinds of steel. What exactly is the SMAW process, how is it carried out, and what are some of its benefits and drawbacks you should be considering for any job where you’re thinking of ordering this process? Here are some basic variables to be aware of.
As we noted above, shielded metal arc welding falls into the category of a fusion arc welding process, which means that it’s done to coalesce two or more metals together as part of the process. This coalescence creates metallurgical bonds, the type that are required to form a strong weld.
Generally, the SMAW process will use an electric arc to heat the metal to well above its melting temperature – this is what creates the coalescence needed. An electrode rod will be used here, sometimes called a “stick electrode” – for this reason, SMAW is often referred to as stick welding in some circles.
In addition, as the name indicates, this process is shielded. This means the weld pool is blocked from the atmosphere using a flux that’s coated straight onto the consumable stick electrode, a bit different from some other welding processes.
Here are the basic steps of how shielded metal arc welding will be carried out:
As we noted above, steel is a common metal that’s applied to the shielded metal arc welding process – but some other metals won’t work as well here. Specifically, non-ferrous metals don’t usually see this process done; aluminum may have limited use for this method, but it usually involves a different type of welding.
However, steel often works quite well for SMAW projects. In particular, carbon and tool steel are welded easily and commonly using shielded metal arc welding, and stainless steel also does relatively well. Other metals that are often used for this process include cast iron, copper and nickel.
If you’re wondering about whether a given steel is ideal for this process, contact our team. We’re experienced with a variety of welding processes and which are best for our steel products, and will be happy to guide you in the right direction.
There are a few key reasons why shielded metal arc welding will be used in several different applications and for varying metals. Some of this process’s key benefits include:
At the same time, there are some definite disadvantages of shielded metal arc welding depending on your needs. These include:
For more on the shielded metal arc welding process for steel, or to learn about any of our steel products or steel services, speak to the staff at Wasatch Steel today.