The welding process which uses electricity to create heat to melt the metals and lead on to joining of these metals. The stick welding has many disadvantages like lower efficiency, need skilled user, and unsuitable for thin metals. There are some very common issues with the stick welding like spatter a common and unwanted side effect with porosity, undercut, deformation, cracks, slag inclusions, incomplete fusion & penetration, and wire delivery delay.
The new welders who do not weld every day the stick welder known as shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) machine is really a difficult process to learn. The experienced welder once working makes the stick welding looks easy welding process.
The beginner and the welder who wish to deliver better result with stick welding needs to pay attention to the basic five rules for the betterment of the welding results. They are the current setting in machine, length of the arc, angle of travel, speed of travel, and manipulation of the electrodes.
Preparation for Stick welding –
To begin with, stick welding first cleans the surface by wire brush or grinder for the better results. There should be a clean spot for the work clamp. A stable, solid and good electrical connection is required for the maintenance of the better quality of the arc. Keep an unobstructed view of the weld puddle by keeping your head to the side out of the weld fume. You ensure while welding in the joint keeps the arc on the edge of the welding puddle. Keep yourself placed such, to support and manipulate the electrode. We have to stick to the following point strictly to improve with our welding process continuously with every next arc welding process.
Step 1, Current Setting in Machine –
The electrode manufacturer supplies different electrodes, so the current setting will depend upon which electrode you choose to weld. The choice of the electrode will decide whether you choose a DC positive (DCEP), DC negative (DCEN), or AC/ alternating current. The different machines have the ability to weld one or both of these modes, so you choose the electrode as per the machine specification and compatibility to weld.
Both the current types produce different arcs characteristics and used for different purposes. The thicker material needs DC+ as it gives more penetration while AC+ is good when we are welding the thin materials due to less penetration with the same ampere.
Once the current is set in your machine then amperage is needed to set. The starting point for the ampere seems 1 amp/.001 inch of electrode diameter. You are required to set the ampere as per your arc characteristics need. You may increase or decrease the ampere depending upon the need.
Step 2, Arc Length –
The definition of arc length is the distance between the electrode and weld puddle. The arc welding is also known as a constant current welding process as the control of your welding voltage is proportional to arc length. To maintain a steady arc is the hallmark of the stick welding and a rule of thumb is to keep the arc length as same as the diameter of the electrode. If one observes that the electrode got stuck in the weld pool means arc length is short. In the case of long arc, one may get excessive spatter, low deposition, undercut and porosity.
To the beginner in stick weld, it happens generally a longer arc to better visualize the weld puddle. In case of trouble seeing the weld pool, it is better to tilt the head than to increase the length of the arc. One can develop a stable, tight and controlled arc to make better bead, narrow bead and minimum spatter.
Step 3, Travel angle –
A drag or backhand technique of welding is used while doing stick welding in flat, horizontal and overhead positions. It is customary to hold the electrode in a perpendicular position and then tilt the top in the travel direction by 5 to 15 degree. The best result may be achieved when 10-15 degree of drag or pull is used in the stick welding process.
Step 4, Electrode Manipulation –
The welding is an art and everyone evolves his own way from run a steady line to whip & pause motion etc. One does experiment and develop a method which suits him better. Sometimes a slight wave arc is required to weld the gap so the manipulating electrode is required to produce a stable, small and strong bead with very few spatters with minimal porosity and slag inclusion.
Step 5, Travel Speed –
We should try to set the travel speed in such a way that arc to be in the leading 1/3 of the weld pool. The too-slow speed will produce a wide, convex bead with shallow penetration and cold trapping as well. The slower speed instead creates a narrow, undercut, crowned bead and inconsistent.
All the above tips and patience and practice will move you in the right direction to improve in stick welding and produce a better, strong, stable bead.