What is the Best Welding Process for Structural Steel Fabrication?

30 June 2020

Structural steel fabrication has helped industrial sectors like construction, manufacturing, and automotive in producing their needed structural steel products. The processes involved in structural steel fabrication include cutting, bending, and shaping of steel workpieces into different structures, sizes, and shapes. Some products that are made from structural steel fabrication include beams, steel plates, industrial stairs, ladders, and various components of an automobile engine.

When it comes to structural steel fabrication, the welding process you will use can typically affect a product’s quality and overall outcome. Welding processes like stick welding, self-shielded flux-cored arc welding (FCAW-S), gas-shielded flux-cored arc welding (FCAW-G), submerged arc welding (SAW), and metal inert gas (MIG) welding have their own set of characteristics that make them suitable to different types of structural steel products.

Stick Welding

Stick welding, which is also known as shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), is a type of welding process that utilises electricity and a fixed-length electrode to join different pieces of metals. This type of welding process is best used in the field by welding operators because of its portability and simplicity. However, due to its numerous consumption and changeovers of the stick electrode, this welding process can be slow. So, this welding process is best for places and applications that only require minimal welding.

Self-Shielded Flux-cored Arc Welding (FCAW-S)

Another welding process that is used in the field is FCAW-S. This type of welding process can significantly enhance productivity as it can be used for applications that require a large number of welding works. Large, heavy, and multi-pass welding tasks can also maximise the capabilities of FCAW-S. Despite its ability to improve productivity, FCAW-S can only work in mostly stationary applications. It also requires appropriate training due to the complexity of its requirements and operations.

Gas-shielded Flux-cored Arc Welding (FCAW-G)

As for indoor structural steel welding, FCAW-G can be performed by any welding operators because of its ease of use and all-position capabilities. It also has deeper penetration, the ability to join plates even with the presence of contaminants, and a wider choice of electrode materials. One downside of FCAW-G is the production of slag out its wires, which must be eliminated between passes and after welding to avoid its accumulation on the floor, equipment, and fixtures.

Submerged Arc Welding (SAW)

SAW can also be used for indoor structural steel welding. This welding process typically requires huge capital expenses. However, it can boost productivity rates on structural steel applications, especially with long, continuous, and multi-pass welds. SAW can also use solid or metal-cored wires since they have a higher deposition rate, which can increase travel speeds in making similar size weld and reduce welding duration. Given these advantages, the need for expensive straightening processes is reduced.

Metal Inert Gas (MIG) Welding

MIG welding is also a great option for indoor structural steel welding. Unlike FCAW-G, MIG welding does not produce any slag, which makes grinding or chipping activities not necessary anymore. The absence of these post-weld activities allows weld operators to save resources like time and money. MIG welding, however, is not easy to use, especially for some welding operators. Welding out of position with this welding process can also be complicated and slower.

The best welding process for structural steel fabrication will totally depend on your needs and existing working conditions. If you want to know more about these processes, feel free to contact us at Sharp Welding and Crane Hire Services. We understand how to provide top-quality welding, structural steel fabrication, maintenance, erection, and crane hire services to a wide assortment of clients.

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