The Role SMAW Plays in Industrial Fabrication

The Role SMAW Plays in Industrial Fabrication

Stick welding or SMAW is one of the oldest methods of welding. It has been around for over a hundred years, and it is still one of the most common processes in industrial fabrication. Technological advances have made it even better throughout the years for more types of manufacturing and fabrication. Learn more about SMAW, and how STI Group ensures that we always use the best welding process for the fabrication materials, time frame, and budget of any project.

Understanding SMAW

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) uses an electric arc to join two metals. Because it has the ability to come in different sizes and types, SMAW is highly adaptable to a variety of applications. It uses alternating current or direct current, based on the electrode required for your specific process. Larger electrodes use higher currents, but can yield higher deposition rates.

The skill of the welder is an important factor in SMAW. However, fortunately most welders get trained in SMAW in their first stages of education, meaning that most skilled welders are familiar with the process. It is also one of the most trusted processes in welding, because of its simplicity and versatility. It can be used with carbon steel, stainless steel, cast iron, and more. SMAW can be also be done in any position, as well as on different thicknesses of materials. Many times, the skill of the welder determines what can actually be accomplished and where it can be used.

The Benefits of SMAW

SMAW is a standard in most industries, because it has so many benefits over other types of welding. Some of these benefits include the following:

  • It is highly portable.
  • The equipment is simple and affordable.
  • SMAW is not sensitive to wind.
  • There’s no requirement for a separate gas shielding.
  • It can be used in many different environments, in a fabrication shop, or outdoors on a construction site, or even on a ship.
  • It has different power capabilities, gas, diesel, and electricity, allowing it to be used in places that do not have electrical setups.
  • It can be used with many different metals.
  • Welders often train in SMAW first, thus it is widely familiar and prevalent across industries.
  • Many industries are already equipped with knowledge and technology to easily perform SMAW.

Some Disadvantages of SMAW

Although SMAW is a popular and common process, it does have some limitations which makes it less desirable for some projects. Some of the disadvantages of SMAW include:

  • The lack of automation means that the productivity rates are lower than other more automated processes.
  • SMAW has lower deposition rates than some other processes.
  • It relies heavily on the skill of the operator.
  • It isn’t suitable for titanium or zirconium.
  • It can require more cleanup due to spatter.

Does SMAW Fit Into Your Setting?

SMAW is the most common welding application for multiple reasons. Many welders have trained in SMAW, making it easy to find qualified craftsmen, the equipment is also portable and affordable. In addition, the equipment doesn’t have as many intricate parts as in other types of welding, which makes it reliable and reduces the chances of mechanical breakdown. Newer technologies are continually advancing the capabilities in the welding industry, which increases the productivity even when it comes to stick welding.

It is important to look at all the variables of your project, from the materials to the budget. Knowing how to pin down the most efficient process that fits the goals and design of the project, while ensuring that all regulations of the industry are met is top priority. Considering safety, reliability, and productivity is crucial.

STI Group Provides Reliable Industrial Fabrication and Welding Services

STI Group has the solutions for a full range of industrial fabrication and welding needs including SMAW services. For over 38 years, we’ve worked with the oil and gas industry, energy companies, chemical plants, and more to provide dependable industrial fabrication and welding services. We know how to get the job done safely, while meeting all requirements and industry regulations within a time frame and budget. Let us help you determine which applications will meet the needs of your project most effectively. We can handle large and small jobs, on site at a facility or within our state-of-the-art fabrication shops.


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