Welding is one of the most common, and versatile, forms of industrial construction. Whether it’s being used to build a skyscraper, an airplane, or a bridge, welding is a huge part of industrial manufacturing. While there are several different welding processes, Shielded Metal Arc Welding, or SMAW, is one of the oldest and most versatile processes.
This process is capable of welding many different materials, including aluminum, steel, and stainless steel, making it one of the most useful and versatile methods of welding. In 2020, the global SMAW welding market was estimated to be worth approximately
5 billion USD, and shows no signs of slowing down. Let’s take a closer look at this unique and helpful welding method.
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What is SMAW Welding?SMAW welding, also known as Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), is a process used for welding various metals including steel, stainless steel, and aluminum.
The process involves the use of an electric arc between an electrode and the material being worked on, which melts and fuses the materials together. This welding method is one of the oldest and most commonly used processes in the industry.
Overview of the ProcessThe process of SMAW welding involves three components – the electrode, power source, and protecting shielding gas.
First, a flux-coated or solid electrode is selected depending on the material to be welded and the application. Once the electrode is selected, it is connected to the power source.
A shielding gas is then used to protect the arc and the weld puddle from the atmosphere.
Advantages and Disadvantages of SMAW Welding
- Easy to use: One of the major advantages of SMAW welding is that is it easy to learn and easy to operate. As it does not require extensive pre-welding set up, it can be used by novice welders who are still learning the art of welding.
- Versatile: SMAW welding can be used on most metals including steel, stainless steel, and aluminum.
- Mobility: The equipment is small and lightweight, making it ideal for use in welding applications in tight spaces.
- Slower than some other welding processes: SMAW welding, especially when compared to gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) or gas metal arc welding (GMAW) is relatively slow.
- Higher cost: The cost of purchasing welding machines is usually higher than other processes.
- Inaccurate results: If the weld is not performed correctly, the weld may be weak and prone to cracking.