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Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)

 Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)

  • Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) is the most common type of welding and is usually referred to as “stick” welding. The equipment consists of a metal wire rod coated with a welding flux that is clamped in an electrode a holder that is connected by a heavy electrical cable to a low voltage and high current in either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC), depending on the type of welding being done.

  •  An arc is struck between the rod and the work and produces heat in excess of 10,000 °F, which melts both the material and the rod. The welding circuit consists of a welding machine, two leads, an electrode holder, an electrode, and the work to be welded.
  • When the electrode is touched to the metal to be welded, the circuit is complete, and the current flows. The electrode is then withdrawn from the metal approximately 1⁄4-inch to form an air gap between the metal and the electrode.
  •  If the correct gap is maintained, the current bridges the gap to form a sustained electric spark called the arc. This action melts the electrode and the coating of flux.
  • As the flux melts, it releases an inert gas that shields the molten puddle from oxygen in the air to prevent oxidation. The molten flux covers the weld and hardens to an airtight slag that protects the weld bead as it cools.
  • Some aircraft manufacturers, such as Stinson, used this process for the welding of 4130 steel fuselage structures. This was followed by heat treatment in an oven to stress relieve and normalize the structure a typical arc welding machine with cables, ground clamp, and electrode holder.


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