There are three main popular welding processes in use today, MIG, TIG, and stick welding. Each has its unique benefits and disadvantages. And while they are all used to weld metal, they differ in how they function.
Knowing which method to use is crucial to the success of your welding project. In this article, we will be comparing tig vs stick welding. These two welding techniques are very different and are used to perform very different welding tasks.
To better understand how different they are and their similarities, if any, it is crucial to understand how each technique works.
Introduction to STICK Welding
What is stick welding?
The technical name of stick welding is shielded metal arc welding. In this method, a wire electrode is used to create an arc with the base metal. An electric current from a power source passes through the electrode and heats the arc.
The heat causes the base metals to melt as well as the electrode, which provides filler material. The wire used in stick welding is usually coated with flux materials. The flux coating is made up of mineral compounds and metal powder.
The purpose of the flux coating is to create a shielding gas. As the coating burns, it produces gases that protect the weld pool from oxygen in the air.
Equipment used in stick welding
How does stick welding work?
The working procedure of stick welding is relatively straightforward. An electrode passes electric current to create an arc with the base metal. The arc heats the metals, causing them and the electrode to melt.
The melting electrode provides filler material. When the molten pool cools off, it leaves a uniform joint between two metals. While the wire melts, the flux material covering it creates a gas the covers the molten pool.
The gas protects the molten weld pool from atmospheric contaminants as well as oxygen. The power source used can either be direct or alternating current.
Stick welding applications
When comparing tig vs mig vs stick, the one obvious thing is that stick welding is the more rugged welding process of the three. Stick welding can be used to weld dirty, rusted, and painted metals.
As such, stick welding has many applications. It is used in outdoor welding applications as well as overhead and vertical welding applications.
Why choose stick welding
- Compared to TIG welding processes the equipment used in stick welding is easy to use and inexpensive
- Is more portable compared to TIG welding since there is no need for an external shielding gas tank
- Unlike TIG and MIG welding stick welding can be done on rusted, dirty or painted metal surfaces
- Can be carried out outside in rainy or windy conditions
- Can be used on a wide variety of metals and alloys
Disadvantages of STICK welding
- It is not ideal for welding certain thin metals
- Compared to TIG welding stick welding leaves slag after welding which requires cleanup
Introduction to TIG Welding
What is TIG welding?
Of the three common welding processes, TIG welding is the most complex and challenging to master. So what exactly is TIG welding? TIG welding refers to Tungsten Inert Gas welding. And as its name suggests, this method uses a tungsten electrode.
Tungsten is a unique metal that requires a lot of heat to melt. In fact, it has the highest melting point among all metals in pure form. Therefore, the tungsten electrode used in TIG welding does not melt to provide filler material.
Instead, a separate filler rod has to be used to provide filler material for the weld pool. Unlike in stick welding, the electrode only works in TIG is to pass an electric current. The wire does not have any flux coating.
As such, a separate gas bottle is required to provide the shielding gas. In most cases, a mixture of helium and argon is used.
Main equipment used in TIG welding
By now, you probably have an idea of the equipment used in TIG welding. First, are the power source and the welding machine. In addition to these, you will need a gas tank as well as a filler rod.
The filler rod is separate from the electrode. The filler rod is usually made from the same material as the metals you are welding. On the other hand, the wire is made of tungsten.
How does TIG welding work?
TIG welding has the most unique functionality of the three. In this welding method, an electric current passes through the tungsten electrode to create an arc with the base material. The arc produces heat that melts the base material.
However, as mentioned above, tungsten has a very high melting point. Thus, the electrode does not melt in TIG welding. Instead, you have to use your hand to feed a filler rod into the weld pool.
Mostly you hold the TIG torch with one hand and the filler rod with the other. This is why TIG welding is considered a bit more challenging than the other two.
TIG welding applications
When you think about stick vs. tig, the first that comes to mind is which process is used for what. TIG welding requires a clean surface. Thus before welding, you have to clean the metals. Also, it is best suited to welding thinner metals.
Therefore the main applications of TIG welding are the welding of metallic ornaments. Also, it is used in the fabrication of small intricate components. This can be in the automotive, shipbuilding, or even airplane industry. As a matter of fact, TIG welding was developed for the aircraft manufacturing industry.
Why choose TIG welding
- Compared to stick welding it can be used on extremely thin metals
- Produces very delicate and aesthetically pleasing welds with minimal spatter
- Is fantastic in welding projects that require precision
- Produces high quality and robust welds
Disadvantages of TIG welding
- Is not beginner-friendly and takes time to master the art of TIG welding
- It requires a clean surface and can thus not be used on dirty, rusted or painted metals.
TIG vs STICK Welding: The Main Differences Between Stick and TIG Welding
TIG and stick welding have very few things in common. Meaning they are as different as two welding processes could be. Thus a comparison of tig welding vs stick welding cannot be complete without looking at the differences.
The metal type used
The one awesome thing about TIG welding is that it can be used on virtually all types of metals. The same cannot be said about stick welding. Stick welding is not ideal for welding aluminum and other non-ferrous metals.
While TIG welding can work almost all metal types, it is not suited to welding metals of a certain thickness. Stick welding, on the other hand, is suited to welding thicker sheets of metal. In essence, TIG welding is ideal for welding thin metal but struggles when it comes to welding thick metal. Stick welding is suitable for welding thick metals and not thin metals.
both require a certain level of skill to implement. However, due to the intricate nature of TIG welding, a higher skill is needed comparing to stick welding.
Stick welding is notorious for producing unpleased weld finish. This is mainly due to the flux coating of the electrode. In terms of strength, stick welding can produce some strong welds. TIG welding produces high-quality welds with no slag; thus the weld finish is usually beautiful.
Of the three popular welding processes, stick welding is the cheapest. The equipment used in stick welding is affordable. TIG welding, on the other hand, is the most expensive of the three. However, the electrode cost is a bit higher in stick welding than TIG welding.
When it comes to cost, these two processes are on different sides. TIG is the most costly, and stick welding is the cheapest.
The shielding gas used in stick welding is created as a result of the burning of the flux coated electrode. For TIG welding, the shielding gas is supplied from an external gas tank.
Stick welding relies on a wire electrode with a flux coating. For TIG, however, a tungsten electrode with no flux coating is used.
Indoor vs outdoor use
No tig welder vs stick welder comparison can be complete without looking at their indoor and outdoor use. TIG welding is best done indoors away from windy and rainy conditions. Stick welding can be done outside in rainy or windy conditions.
As already stated, stick welding is designed to handle dirty, rust, and paint on metal surfaces. TIG welding is not and requires an extremely clean surface.
Weld penetration depends on several things key among their current level. Thus the higher the amperage, the more the penetration. Nonetheless, stick welding offers a deeper penetration compared to TIG welding.
Which One Is Better?
Between tig welding vs stick, which one is better? Honestly, it all depends on the welding task at hand. Stick welding is used mainly in projects where you have to weld dirty, rusted, or painted surfaces outside.
TIG welding is a more intricate process and is used in welding projects that require precision and finesses.
Ultimately, as this tig vs stick comparison reveals, these are two very different welding processes. They both have their pros and cons and are suited to various welding applications. Thus, choosing one over the other depends on what you are welding and in what kind of environment.