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Working principles of SMAW, its advantages and disadvantages

Today I will be discussing the working principles of shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), its advantages and disadvantages. Previously, an article was published on SMAW. Check out!

Read more: Understanding shielded arc welding (SMAW)

Working principles of SMAW

Working principles of shielded metal arc welding SMAW

SMAW is carried out closely just as other arc welding processes. It also uses an AC or DC power supply that transfers current to the electrode holder in order to produce an arc leading to intense heat to melt the tip of the electrode and the joining portion of the workpiece with the arc. This arc length is maintained by the welder by holding a consistent space between the electrode and the weld pool that is a form on the workpiece. This workpiece bonds as soon as the arc is taken off it. then the joint is obtained.

Read more: Understanding metal inert gas welding (MIG)

Watch the video below to learn the working of shielded metal arc welding (SMAW):


The followings are the advantages of SMAW;

  • Operation results can be readily and reliably obtained.
  • Filler and shielding material is provided on the electrode
  • SMAW equipment is inexpensive, relatively simple, and portable
  • Auxiliary gas shielding or granular flux is not required
  • Ability to weld a variety of metals such as; carbon and low-alloy, steel, high alloy steel, coated steel, tool and die steel, stainless and heat-resisting steels, cast irons, copper and copper alloys, nickel and cobalt alloys
  • The process is flexible and can be applied to a variety of joint configuration and welding positions

Read more: Understanding tungsten inert gas welding (TIG)


Despite the benefits SMAW offers, it also has some disadvantages. The following are the limitations of SMAW:

  • Unable to weld metals with low melting temperature such as lead, tin, and zinc, and their alloys cannot be welded. This is because they have a low boiling point and for this welding process that produces intense heat. It will cause immediate vaporization from the solid-state.
  • The grip end of the electrode (stub-loss) that will be thrown away with a small portion of flux can affect the deposition rate. The longer stub-loss change directly into lower deposition efficiency
  • Too much high current and too long electrode generate excessive heat within the electrode. This will cause a premature breakdown of the flux when the welding starts. This breakdown triggers a deterioration of the arc characteristics and reduces the level of the shielding
  • It is not stable for welding reactive metals such as titanium, zirconium, tantalum, and niobium, due to the shielding provided is not sufficiently inert to prevent contamination of the weld.
  • It yields lower deposition rates than other welding processes like gas metal arc welding (GMAW) and flux core arc welding (FCAW) process. This is because the maximum useful current is limited.

Read more: Understanding plasma arc welding

That is all for this article, where the working principles of shielded metal arc welding SMAW, its advantages, and disadvantages are being discussed. I hope you enjoyed the reading, if so, kindly share with other students. Thanks for reading, see you next time!

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