It’s All About Productivity
Yes, the stick process still has its place in the welding world. But for structural applications where 7018 is still ubiquitous, it’s highly inefficient. 7018 is 65% efficient, meaning 35% of what you buy doesn’t go into the weld. It is painfully, unprofitably slow due to low deposition rate/travel speed.
Most importantly, arc-on-time is very low in comparison to a continuous wire feeding process. For decades, welding wire manufacturers and distributors have pushed self shielded E71T-8 wires with some success, the major drawback being poor operator appeal and a very unique operating technique that takes some practice to master. But in the last decade, new wires have been introduced like Hobart XLR-8 and Lincoln NR-233, and old wire formulations, like Lincoln NR- 232, re-formulated.
The result is a tenfold improvement in arc quality and operator appeal. You still have to run vertical up welds at a downward angle and be careful to maintain a consistent contact tip to work distance. However, this is a small price to pay to double “arc on time” and deposition rate and get 75-80% efficiency. And while you’ll need a constant voltage power source and (probably) a voltage sensing (VS) suitcase feeder, the feeder does not require a long, cumbersome control cable – just clip your stinger to the VS feeder pigtail, set a welding procedure and go. For any decent size job, the productivity gains achieved will likely give a reasonable return on the capital equipment investment.
Author: Bob Page