The world we have built is a machine that does not stop, and not only in the figurative sense of the word. Can you imagine what highly productive processes would be like without machines? And to create the machines, you need to weld parts and, above all, know what type of welding is most convenient in each case. That is why today, from Talleres MAF, we bring you the differences between wire and electrode welding.
As this is a technical and precise world, we are going to go step by step. Before seeing the differences, we will see what each one is, as well as its applications, advantages and disadvantages.
What is wire welding
Direct wire welding, also known as MIG-MAG welding, is a process in which a continuous current of heat is generated that creates an electric arc from the wire to the metal object to be welded.
In order to produce a homogeneous weld with this system, it is necessary to use a protective gas that avoids the contact of oxygen and nitrogen. This is the reason for the name MIG-MAG, which stands for MIG (Metal Inert Gas) and MAG (Metal Active Gas).
This welding process has, among others, the following characteristics
- Direct current (DC) must always be used for MIG-MAG welding. This ensures that the formed electric arc is stable.
- Depending on which gases are used in the process, some factors will be altered such as the energy input, the welding speed, the final appearance of the seam and the projections and spatter.
- For the MIG procedure, gases such as argon, oxygen mixed with it and helium can be used; and for MAG, carbon dioxide and its mixture with argon.
Wire Welding Applications
Wire welding is not only used in repair shops, but is also suitable for many processes in the welding industry.
For example, it is widely used in pipeline construction, hydraulic tank construction, metal construction, and even in the shipbuilding and sheet metal processing industries.
Advantages and disadvantages of wire welding
As you will see, the advantages of continuous wire or MIG-MAG welding are numerous. These are as follows:
- You can weld all kinds of parts in any position (even making the bridge pine is not the best option, but it could be).
- The finish is magnificent, as it leaves very few splashes.
- Few polluting and toxic gases are formed during the process.
If the welder is experienced it can be an automatic or semi-automatic process, so it is easier.
- It is a very productive process, has a high rate of added metal, by eliminating the downtime used in replacing the electrodes consumed.
But not everything was going to be pink. Wire welding has the following disadvantages:
- Its cost is high due to the price of the equipment.
- Its cooling system is faster than in other working methods.
- Its use is not so easy in areas of difficult access or delicate.
What is electrode welding
Electrode welding, also known as manual electric arc welding, is the first welding process taught to welding apprentices.
In electrode welding, the electric arc is created by contact between the electrode and the workpiece. A short circuit is produced between the two poles which allows the consequent flow of current. The arc burns generating the necessary heat of fusion.
The characteristics you need to know in a first approach to this type of welding are the following:
- Electrode welding requires low voltage and high current.
- In this process you must be very aware of the intensity of the current as it is the most important thing for the quality of the joints. Therefore, it should be kept as constant and high as possible.
Electrode Welding Applications
Electrode welding is mainly used in pipeline construction and steel construction, although it is also widely used in the metal industry.
Advantages and disadvantages of electrode welding
The advantages of the famous electrode welding are mainly the following:
- It can be applied to practically all materials. However, you don’t want to weld two pieces of plasticine!
- The welder does not need any protective gas during the process.
- You can work outside without any problem, even if there are adverse weather conditions such as rain or wind (if there is a tornado or a hurricane we do not recommend it).
- It admits any type of welding position and also any type of bead.
- The acquisition costs are reduced.
- It does not make so much noise, so the noise pollution is less.
- As we have said, it is the first thing the trainees work with… so yes, its handling is simple.
- Teachers always want to be healthy (and they do well).
- The welding seams are of high quality.
- They have high mechanical properties and resistance to impurities such as corrosion, oils and greases.
But of course, in this world goodness lies in balance, so electrode welding also has a number of drawbacks:
- The welding speed is low, so it is not a very productive process.
- A large amount of smoke is generated.
- Set-up and downtimes are high.
- It cannot be machined.
- The finish is not so perfect.
- A large number of errors can occur in relation to the final craters and welding start points.
Differences between both
Once we have seen the characteristics of both types of welding, we will do a review exposing all their differences. With them exposed, you will have it easier when choosing one or the other (our job is to make your life a little easier).
- While wire welding is a little more complicated and difficult to access certain areas, electrode welding is much simpler, even a child could do it! (well, that’s a bit too much).
- Electrode welding is much more economical than wire welding because of the initial investment in the production machinery.
- Wire welding is more expensive, yes, but of course, it is also much more productive than electrode welding.
And of course, it is more expensive because in addition to being more productive, the result is more professional because it has better finishes.
- Electrode welding can be done outdoors without the need for protective gases, whereas in wire welding you always have to use protective gases.
- While wire welding generates hardly any polluting gases, electrode welding does generate a large amount of smoke, but hardly any noise.
Now you know the differences between wire and electrode welding. You might not have expected the world of welding to be so vast. Well, this is nothing! There’s a lot more! Keep an eye on our blog so you don’t miss a single article if you’re as big a fan of the machining and welding world as we are. And of course, contact us if you have any questions or if you need a great wire welding service like MAF Workshops. See you soon!