Difference between Arc and Wire Welding

Hi all,
I am new to welding and have signed up to take a welding class at a local community college. I plan on buying one of these small home use 110 volt
welders. Just for use around the house. My question is what is the difference between an arc (stick) welder and a wire fed welder, other than the obvious. Which one welds better? Which one is a cleaner weld? Is one stronger than the other? The prices I've been looking at are $200 and under for a 90amp or so welder. If I get wire fed, should I invest in the mig or gas conversion kit too?
Any advice to lead me in the right direction is greatly appreciated.
Bob
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I would wait until you have taken your welding class then you will really know what kind and size of welder you really want. Can't really get a very good welder new for $200. Can buy yugo quality new MIG welder for $200. Can buy a good used stick welder for $200. Nobody can say a stick welder is better than MIG welder or MIG welder is better than stick welder as you ask your question. They each have things they are better at depending which welders your talking about and what you want to weld. They both can make good strong welds as the person doing the welding (weldor) is able to produce. Each weldor often has type of welder they like to use better than other types that will influence opinion of which welder is better.
Need to know your best guess what types metal and thickness you will be welding. What types of projects you will be doing to do more than state wild guess which welder would be best for you.
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Take the course first then you will know what is right for your intended use and you will have a good source of info - your instructor. The key to getting the correct machine is knowing what welds you need to perform. To help define that, write down just what it is you think you would be welding (angle iron for shelves, car body panels, metal sculptures, ...) along with thickness of material and type of material (mild-steel, aluminum, stainless steel, other). Billh

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I have to agree with the others. Take the course first, then decide. Keep in mind what you want to use it for and pick the welder better suited to what you want to do. I find my 220 volt arc welder has the penetration I need for welding thicker metals. The MIG on the other hand in a lot easier for beginners to learn and is a good choice for welding thinner metals. With the gas conversion you can get nice clean welds with no slag as well as being able to weld even thiner metals.
I use both myself depending on the project. I'd also advise you to think about spending a little more for your welder. ($350 and up) Lincoln, Hobart, and Miller are all good welders. I'd stay away from the cheaper ones. You want something that is going to last.
says...

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I think this person is looking for some general answers
I am not a pro , just a hobby welder, but try to answer a few of your question. since you mentioned you will be using it around the house , I guess we can safely say your welding material will be surely under a 1/4 inch most likely under 1/8 of an inch. most likely mild steel, since aluminum is harder to find an expensive and require specialty welding equipment.
with the being said, for home use 110 V MIG/fluxcore is good because you can plug it in just about anywhere, but you will be limited to 90 amp of welding power , don't get fooled by number on the welder like 135 on the MIG machines. 220 V mig is the best but you are limited where you will be able to weld if used around the house, and it cost a lot more to get a 220V MIG.
do not buy a 110V arc welder, you will be sorry.
difference between arc (stick) and MIG ?
arc welder CC= constant current)pros: 1; cheap to buy, a new lincoln 220V 225amp AC welder (buzzbox) is around $220, readily available, popular. 2; a variety of electrodes can be purchased in small or large amount for different kind of metal. 3; it can weld different type of metal, like mild steel , cast iron, stainless steel. 4; requires some skill for a good weld.
cons: 1; you are using a foot long stick held by one end and trying to hold it steady and point the other end to your work piece, 2; you have to stop when A "stick" is used up. 3; must use up your electrodes "sticks" or store it at a dry location , or it will accumulate moister and will be junk in a short time. 4; your welding will have "slag" must be cleaned "chipped off" , (also the slag could contaminate your weld .) machine is always "hot" when turned ON.
MIG or FLux- core; ( CV constant voltage ) fairly similar to the stick, your electrodes are not cut up to foot long pieces , but is fed from a spool of wire through a "gun" which is controlled by a trigger. Only " hot " when the trigger is pulled.
advantage: 1; easy to use ( after you read through your manual you will have the basic concept down) point the gun pull the trigger and weld ! 2; it can weld thin material and will have much better control . 3; with MIG no slag, but have to buy shielding gas cylinder, MIG also requires a clean work piece. Flux core no gas required, will have slag , the flux will cleaning power on some dirty metal . on a same machine MIG +shielding as can weld very thin material, flux can weld thicker material than MIG, because flux welding process burn hotter.
these are some basic answers , there is a lot more to it , just trying to give you some rough idea.

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That is generally only true for LoHi (low hydrogen) electrodes. Most of the others will survive years boxed up in the average garage... at least as long as a bare piece of wood can survive outdoors in the same area. Electrodes with paper (or cellulose... like the XX10 - XX11) in the flux work better with a bit of moisture. If I may borrow a quote I've seen here, "they're tougher'n a boiled owl". (Fried may be more tender as fried Condor or Bald Eagle certainly is.)
Here's what Lincoln has to say on the subject: http://lincolnelectric.com/knowledge/articles/content/20faq.asp#20 20. Do I need an oven to store low hydrogen electrodes?
All low-hydrogen consumables must be dry to perform properly. Unopened Lincoln hermetically sealed containers provide excellent protection in good storage conditions. Once cans are opened, they should be stored in a cabinet at 250-300F (121-149C).
When the electrodes are exposed to the air, they will pickup moisture and should be redried. Electrodes exposed to the air for less than 1 week with no direct contact with water should be redried as follows:
E7018: 1 hour at 650-750F E8018, E9018, E10018, E11018: 1 hour at 700-800F
If the electrodes come in direct contact with water or have been exposed to high humidity, they should be predried for 1-2 hours at 180-220F first before following the above redrying procedure.
Standard EXX18 electrodes should be supplied to welders twice per shift. Low hydrogen electrodes with the suffix "MR" have a moisture resistant coating and may be left out up to 9 hours or as specified by code requirements.
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Choosing a welding machine will depend on the work being carried out. For example; The mig would be good for large production work, as the welding speed is extremely fast. however the stick(MMA) is commonly used for site work as it is easily transported from site to site. Both have there advantages and dissadvanges. so really it comes down to which set is fit for purpose.
Paul.

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Thanks guys for your input. I have a better understanding of the different welding machines and types.
Bob

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I would never by a 120 volt welder .They are too limited , get access to a 220 volt machine . If I was to have only one type of welder it would be a stick welder and preferably have " DC ". With stick welders you can by rods to cut and gouge . You also can by aluminum rods too . they are very versatile . Those spools of wire get rusty when they sit around too When your wire machine messes up you HAVE A HEAD ACHE . The consumables for these machines cost more too , so you better keep all the dust , dirt and moisture of of them . Put a cover over the spool of wire if it is exposed . use a felt pad on the wire and clean it every day . How much and how often do you plan on welding . As far as a clean weld , the puddle has to stay molten long enough for the impurities to float out , caused by too much wire speed and too cold of a weld . Fluxes can make for a better weld , that would be a stick rod of a flux core .
Over the years I spent a lot of time trying to find the best weave, only now that I have a constant shake do I feel content !
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I think this person is looking for some general answers
I am not a pro , just a hobby welder, but try to answer a few of your question. since you mentioned you will be using it around the house , I guess we can safely say your welding material will be surely under a 1/4 inch most likely under 1/8 of an inch. most likely mild steel, since aluminum is harder to find an expensive and require specialty welding equipment.
with the being said, for home use 110 V MIG/fluxcore is good because you can plug it in just about anywhere, but you will be limited to 90 amp of welding power , don't get fooled by number on the welder like 135 on the MIG machines. 220 V mig is the best but you are limited where you will be able to weld if used around the house, and it cost a lot more to get a 220V MIG.
do not buy a 110V arc welder, you will be sorry.
difference between arc (stick) and MIG ?
arc welder CC= constant current)pros: 1; cheap to buy, a new lincoln 220V 225amp AC welder (buzzbox) is around $220, readily available, popular. 2; a variety of electrodes can be purchased in small or large amount for different kind of metal. 3; it can weld different type of metal, like mild steel , cast iron, stainless steel. 4; requires some skill for a good weld.
cons: 1; you are using a foot long stick held by one end and trying to hold it steady and point the other end to your work piece, 2; you have to stop when A "stick" is used up. 3; must use up your electrodes "sticks" or store it at a dry location , or it will accumulate moister and will be junk in a short time. 4; your welding will have "slag" must be cleaned "chipped off" , (also the slag could contaminate your weld .) machine is always "hot" when turned ON.
MIG or FLux- core; ( CV constant voltage ) fairly similar to the stick, your electrodes are not cut up to foot long pieces , but is fed from a spool of wire through a "gun" which is controlled by a trigger. Only " hot " when the trigger is pulled.
advantage: 1; easy to use ( after you read through your manual you will have the basic concept down) point the gun pull the trigger and weld ! 2; it can weld thin material and will have much better control . 3; with MIG no slag, but have to buy shielding gas cylinder, MIG also requires a clean work piece. Flux core no gas required, will have slag , the flux will cleaning power on some dirty metal . on a same machine MIG +shielding as can weld very thin material, flux can weld thicker material than MIG, because flux welding process burn hotter.
these are some basic answers , there is a lot more to it , just trying to give you some rough idea.

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I don't agree with that, just about "every" homeowner/hobbiest type welder I have ever encountered, in person or on the internet, comes up with a wide variety of projects and they are definitly not limited to 10 ga. or less. Trailers (either utility or car hauler) are a common project as is farm equipment (in rural areas of course), lifting devices (engine hoist, ect.), go carts, gates, and on and on we can go, often involving material bigger than 1/8".

Having done time & motion studies for some pretty big companies as well as my little company, I've observed that VERY few welders put down a longer bead with wire than they do with stick. There is a limit to how long a weld can be made without the welder repositioning him or herself. Fatigue plays a large part too, welders just flat stop and look around or scratch their nose or adjust the hood, few if none make a 5' long weld just because the wire feeder allows it. Even if they did, it would be in effect immaterial to the hobby welder.

This really doesn't apply to the welding rod used by the vast majority of hobby welders. If he is using LoHi, and needs an oven, he won't be posting here about what is the difference between arc and wire.

Man this has to be the biggest misconception in the welding world, and potentially the most dangerous. Not trying to be harsh, but missinformation can lead these newcomers to wrong conclusions, equipment and a false sense of security. This idea isn't dangerous when building a fence or gate, but when these guys start making things with the potential to hurt people it starts to really matter.
JTMcC.

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John I agree with you. IMHO, Learn O/A then stick then Mig, but if you want to leave one out, start with stick. I believe you can learn to USE a Mig quicker than stick, but I also believe it takes longer to get good quality welds. The manufacturers have done hobbyist weldors a dis-service with all the hype of easy to use Mig.

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cope wrote:

I learned rather quickly (and embarrassingly) years ago how easy it is with MIG to make what I called "Lawyers' Welds," very pretty beads that aren't stuck to anything or are stuck just to one side of the joint.
Since I modify adaptive equipment for people with disabilities, wheelchairs, etc, the chance of generating work for attorneys is non-trivial.
I've been welding ancillary to my work for many years and I'm still learning, still asking stupid questions, and still doing practice welds if using an unfamiliar or lately unused technique -- and expect to be until I depart this mortal coil. :)
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I knew my 1/2 hour of typing, trying to answer this mans questin "Difference between Arc and Wire Welding" in the simple way , will byte in the butt , because some ofthe pros will not agree with it. Well i was not trying to out smart you ! I am just a hobby welder.

I am not about to argue with you JTMcC, how ever there is diffrent kind of "home owner and hobbyist" yes if you are a "home owner" and your home is on a farm, on 1000 acre, with farm machines, end engine hoist, and what not, then you are right , the person may need more than a 110V mig.
on the other hand if you are home owner like my self, in a suburban area , an just want to be able to fabricate / join metal parts , for your home use, and hobby enjoyment, than a 110V Mig will do just fine. as you need more than that , it can be added later on. I have not needed anything more than it just yet. I got it as a hobby welder.

well... I have to agree, no one welds a 5' long weld at ones,(normally) my point was...... with a stick welder , you have a given size of stick to work with. say ....you are stiching 2 long pieces of metal, when you are done stiching it, and ready to wled the long bead , you only have 4-5 inch left on the electrode , you are limited to work with what ever is left or get an other electrode. with a "wire feed" there is no -only 4-5 inch left - scenario. that is why i was favoring a continuos wire feed wleder.

ok , my fault on that. correction on my post .. ------moisture and stick electrodes are just fine together.

I agree welding is dangerous, no question...... but out of all the welding I have done so far , A/O , stick , and MIG/wire feed,...... wirefeed was the easiest and safest. point the wire exactly to where you want to weld , the wire can touch the work piece, close your welding hood/face shiled and pull the triger. you can't do that with stick or A/O
practice will be the key element, I never said that when a person buys a welder , he or she automaticly becomes an experienced welder, of course , he needs to practice, .....with which ever welder he buys.
JTMcC, are you trying to confuse Bob, (original poster)?

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welder I

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I'm trying to see that Bob, and every one else reading your reply don't take incorrect information as the gospel.
JTMcC.

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JTMcC,
the information is not incorrect, how ever you are knit-picking through my post, you are an instigator aren't ya???
and yes MIG is the easiest , and yes it is easy to make a clod lapweld with the MIG , but just with any welding, practice is the key to success.
the person wanted genaral info between arc and wire feed. not why the MIG is wrong for a beginer, he is taking a welding class, so he will know.
On Thu, 25 Sep 2003 14:48:58 GMT, "JTMcC"

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wide
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true , I do. I am expending my horizon, I don't have noting to weld with it yet , but I always wanted to buy one. Now that I have it, I will find use for it. I am just a succer for tools.

ok , my fault on this one, I based my info on what i read in the welding books where it states all welding rod should be kept dry, when not used.

lets finalize this post, you are right , and i am ...maybe, maybe not. I am just a hobbyist , and it was my humble opinion.
I am here to learn more.
have a good day JTMcM,
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On Thu, 25 Sep 2003 18:37:01 GMT, "JTMcC"

The limiting factor here is the 90 AMP power supply not the electrode chosen for use. To suggest in general that wire is inappropriate or inferior to stick for material above 10 gauge is both inaccurate and misleading.

The welders you are referring to have stopped because they *want* to not because they *have* to, BIG difference. The length of a stick electrode is a difference of distinct disadvantage when compared to the length of a spool of wire. If you still don't 'think' that's a factor, ask a qualified welder.
(By the way, welders that work for me and with me do not stop as often when running wire. This is the major reason for using it in the first place. Maybe you need to get around more.)

The low hydrogen properties of 7018 are lost once the rod is exposed to the atmosphere in a matter of hours even in a "dry" climate. I am not aware of a similar limitation on any wire electrode of any type.
In spite of this it is a widely used rod because of it's superior properties in comparison to other types that are not similarly limited by storage/use conditions. It's a mystery to me how you can think you know what "most" people do about anything.

In the end that is all there is to it. Just pull the trigger and move your hand. In comparison with SMAW, which was the original question, MIG requires a significantly LOWER skill level. This allows more people to reach a higher level of proficiency in a shorter length of time.
Your disagreement is with the Lincoln Electric Company and Miller also, as well as myself and anyone I know of that has trained people to do both. http://www.millerwelds.com/products/basics_hints/

I read about rod becoming contaminated in a short time and it is an absolute lab-certified fact. I couldn't go so far as to call it junk but it isn't the same rod you bought 24 hours ago.

[...]
If I were forced to limit myself to one type of welding in a home setting it would be stick, but not because of any of the things that you have suggested.
Bruce
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Hi Bruce,

yourself
No, it's the truth when you are talking about 110 volt machines, a hobby type buzz box has a deposition rate much greater. I did not suggest "in general that wire is inappropriate or inferior to stick for material over 10 ga" I certainly suggest that a 110 volt feeder is. We sometimes run 232 wire, in sizes to 5/64" at amperages between 200 and 300, 10 to 12 hours at a whack. I've been around when others were running .120 wire, NS3M (?) with 600 amp Lincolns maxed out. I really do have a good idea of the capabilities of wire, but that just doesn't apply to what we are talking about, a 110 volt machine.

don't
burning
Maybe, but as I said, I base my observation on documented time and motion studies, done for large contractors, they agree with what we casually observe, and I time just about everything we do : ). I disagree with you on that being the major reason for using wire, deposition rate, IMO is the main factor.

Of course they are, that's why we use ovens, but few use LoHi rod in the hobby world, and that can of 6013 (what seems to be a very popular rod with hobby welders) thats been on the bench in the garage for a couple of years is still just fine.

at
Well, if that's all there is to it, you aren't working on the type of things we are, in many fields that just might BE all there is to it.
In comparison with SMAW, which was the original question,

See the comment above about LoHi vs. hobby type rod. You are taking my comments outside the context of the conversation. There is a lot I don't know, and I don't comment on topics I don't understand, but how to store different types of rod, and the limitations of a 110 volt feeder are not hard questions. These are real basic.
JTMcC.

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