There are various types of welding processes to suit different needs. No single welding process is better than the others, they simply have their own advantages and disadvantages depending on the specific application. We will take a closer look at MIG welding vs stick welding to demonstrate the difference between the techniques.
Basics of a MIG Welder
The MIG welding process consumes electrodes that are fed from a spool system. When the trigger is pulled, the spool delivers wire at a pre selected speed and current is passed through. This melts both the base metal and the electrode wire to create the weld.
Most MIG welding uses DC or reverse polarity which is positively charged electrode and negatively charged base metal. But, in both cases a molten weld pool is created, and this is protected from atmospheric contamination with a shielding gas.
The MIG and stick welder processes may seem complex, but MIG welding is easier to learn.
The MIG welding machine requires three settings
- the voltage,
- wire speed
The spool gun is easy to use, it has a trigger assembly and a power switch. MIG welding is highly regarded because it’s a flexible technique that can be used to weld a wide range of metals.
As a bonus, this process has a shallow learning curve to get a new welder up and running quickly. MIG welding is possible in different positions, and it works with thick and thin metals equally well. It’s also possible to weld reactive metals, such as: aluminum, magnesium, copper, nickel, carbon steel and stainless steel with a MIG welder.
Basics of a Stick Welder
Stick welding uses an electric arc in combination with a metal rod or stick of filler material. The rods are coated with flux material in various lengths and diameters. To create strong welds, it’s essential to select the correct flux core welding stick for the application. This process is typically used to weld iron and steel with a DC or reverse polarity current.
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When you look closer at the MIG welding vs stick welding comparisons there are similarities.
- The arc is created between the welding stick and the base metal.
- Intense heat melts both materials and filler material droplets flow into the work piece.
- These form beads which fuse the metal pieces together and during this process some flux is vaporized. This creates a shielding gas that stabilizes the arc and the remaining flux forms slag on the surface of the molten pool. This protects the weld from oxidation and contamination, and therefore no external gas supply is needed.
Because stick welding doesn’t require gas like MIG welding, it can be an effective process to weld together larger materials. This is also a good option for indoors and outdoors use because the electrode flux prevents contamination and oxidation.
Stick welding is well suited to a wide variety of applications
- gas and oil pipelines
- large scale construction
- outdoor welding jobs
- and more.
The weld surface doesn’t need to be entirely free from paint or corrosion to create a stick weld. This is also a great technique for maintenance and repair work because gas cylinders can be cumbersome, and they add weight.
MIG Welding vs Stick Welding
The Quality of The Weld
MIG welds are generally more aesthetically pleasing than stick welds which have more spatter and slag. But when it comes to welding thicker metals, the amperage needs to be higher and the surfaces need to be completely clean to create a good MIG weld penetration. A skilled welder can create stronger stick welding joins than MIG welding under ideal conditions.
Locations Of Where You Can Use Each Welder (Indoors or Outdoors)
MIG welding requires a shielding gas which means that it’s not a suitable process for outdoor use, where the weather could affect the weld. Stick welding is both wind and water resistant and it can even be used underwater.
But the stick welding arc can produce a lot of smoke and toxic fumes and good ventilation is a must.
Metal Types and Thicknesses:
MIG welding can be used with different metal types, but the surfaces must be clean. A MIG welder can be used for thinner metals, including brass, carbon steel, mild steel, stainless steel, copper, aluminum and magnesium.
But MIG welding is not suitable for thick metals and this application is better suited to stick welding which can fuse thicker metals together. But stick welding is not very effective when it’s used with thin metals, and it can burn through quickly.
Ease of Use of a MIG Welding vs Stick Welding:
When you compare the MIG vs stick welder process, it’s interesting to note that MIG welding is easier to learn. This process only requires the welder to operate a single element at once, which is to press the trigger to spool the wire and start welding. Stick welding is more involved because the arc must be accurate to prevent damage to the weld metal. But stick welding is not difficult to learn and with practice it’s easy to become proficient quickly.
Is Stick Welding Stronger Than MIG:
Some welders believe that stick welding creates stronger welds than MIG welding because the penetration is superior for thick metals. But MIG welding can create strong welds on thinner metals with a great finish and limited burn through issues.
Costs of the Welders:
Stick welding equipment is less expensive than MIG welding gear. But when the requirements are scaled up, MIG welding is a more cost-efficient method. The productivity is greater, but operations will be limited to indoor work.
How Portable are the Welders:
Because stick welding does not require an external supply of shielding gas it’s far more portable than MIG welding equipment.
Is One Type of Welder Better to Learn On?
As we mentioned earlier, MIG welding is easier for beginners to grasp when compared to stick welding. But the equipment is more complex and there are variables, such as: gas, contact tips, nozzle type, wire size and other factors to consider. MIG welding creates clean welds which require less cleaning, and this can be useful for new welders that need to focus on their technique.
Conclusion-MIG Welding vs Stick Welding
As you can see, the MIG vs stick welding comparison is complex and there are key differences to consider. The thickness of the metals, the desired weld quality and the ease of each technique may affect your decision on the process that suits your needs. MIG welding is easy to learn but stick welding can be used outdoors in poor weather conditions. Stick welding is a bad choice for thinner metals and MIG welding is not ideal for thicker welds. Each welding process has its own advantages and disadvantages that makes them viable options in different applications.