Wire or electrode welding. Which is better?
Welding is a task for which we have different techniques and machinery. The problem is that we don’t always know which one is the most convenient. Something that is usually common especially between the wire welder and the electrode welder.
Welding is a process by which it is easy to join different metallic materials together, either to build structures and other elements or to carry out repairs of all kinds. This technique is carried out using different systems, which often have similar applications. This is what happens with electrode and wire welding equipment, whose characteristics and applications are so similar that many times we are not sure which one is best for us to use.
However, if we carry out a somewhat more detailed analysis, we will see that there are considerable differences between both systems, which should be known. These affect such important aspects as the welding process itself, the finishes or the materials that can be worked with each technology.
What is electrode welding
Electrode welding is the gateway for practically all people who have started in this world. And it is that this technique, also known as arc welding, is very easy to put into practice. To proceed with the welding, it is enough to choose the appropriate electrode according to the work to be carried out, place it in the welder, adjust the power and proceed with the welding, being necessary to create a suitable cord that correctly joins the materials.
This system has the advantage that it can be applied to practically all materials , simply adapting the electrodes to the size and characteristics of the work to be carried out. As we have mentioned, it is also very easy to do, with a very short learning curve. The process does not require the use of additional shielding gases and it is also possible to work outdoors, even in difficult weather conditions. So the advantages of this classic technique are more than evident.
What is wire welding
Compared to the simplified environment, wire welding, or Mig-Mag welding , is a process in which heat is generated on the object to be welded by means of an electric arc. This operation is carried out in an environment in which a protective gas must be used, which prevents oxygen and nitrogen from coming into contact and generating defects during the welding process. Depending on the gas used, we obtain different results, influencing both the final appearance of the bead and the resistance or time required for welding.
Among the advantages of this system, we have a much more interesting and finer finish than in electrode welding, due to the lower contribution of material. Something that does not affect the resistance of the welded parts. It also has the advantage that we can weld all types of parts, in almost any material and also from any position, without the risk of the material sagging. All this without forgetting the high productivity of the process, once it is mastered, due to the amount of material added in each welding step.
Once we know what each technology consists of, it is time to compare them. For this, we have chosen some aspects that we consider of interest to carry out this task.
Ease of use : In general, the use of electrode welding is much easier than that of wire welding. This first technique requires little learning and almost anyone can use it, even if they don’t know much about welding. For its part, wire welding requires greater precision and a well-educated pulse when working.
Working time : This section is won by the thread model. This welding mode is much faster both in its execution and in its subsequent treatment. Thanks to the amount of material that is poured and its precision, it is hardly necessary to brush the pieces to remove the remains. It is also not necessary to over-process the edges, for the same reason.
Finishes : Another point in favor of the wire welder. Due to their way of working, these models are capable of achieving higher quality and more homogeneous finishes than electrode ones. So if you need a fine finish, this would be your option.
Initial costs: In general, the acquisition cost of an electrode welder is a little lower than that of a wire welder. However, in recent years, this difference has been reduced, thanks to the popularization of these thread models.
Operating costs : Regarding operating costs, both the welding wire and the electrodes are quite cheap, so there are no differences in this regard. There are also no cost problems with the gas of the wire models, since its consumption is less and less and, therefore, its cost is reduced.
The time has come to answer the question we asked ourselves at the beginning of this article. However, we are not going to give a closed answer, since each technique has its advantages and disadvantages.
In general terms, if you are looking for a welding solution that is economical, does not require a large investment and does not have to spend a lot of time to master, then your option is the traditional electrode welder. This would be the most recommended solution for occasional use and for people who are not specialized in welding tasks.
However, if you do a lot of welding work, especially in the workshop, you need a high-quality finish and you want to save time processing metals, then your choice is the wire welder. A machine that, although it requires learning, will be of great help to obtain the best results in the jobs that require it.