Stick welding

TIG vs Stick Welding: What’s the Difference?

Stick welding and TIG welding are well-established techniques used in many workspaces, from large construction and building sites to small warehouses, home-based projects, and job sites.

The main difference between TIG vs stick welding is the weld's quality, the welding process's speed, and the types of shielding gas used. Stick welding, also called arc welding, is one of the oldest and most specific types of methods for beginners and anyone new to the welding process.

Arc or stick welding is also known as SMAW, shielded metal arc welding, or manual metal arc welding, as it produces an electric arc that heats and melts metal materials that are joined or fused. Filler metal is also used to create a bond between two metals, including stainless steel, thinner metals, and thicker metals. Electric arc welding is one of the most popular techniques used in work settings.

The TIG welding process is another standard method that creates clean, seamless welds and uses filler metal to create a strong joint. This type of welding, known as tungsten inert gas arc welding or GTAW, uses shielding gas to prevent oxidation and protect the weld puddle from natural atmospheric gases.

When considering which welding method is the best fit for your next project, reviewing the similarities and differences between both techniques is essential.


TIG Welding (Pros and Cons)


The TIG welding process is a great technique when working with various metal types and in different positions, including areas or worksites with small or unique spaces. There are significant advantages and drawbacks to using gas tungsten arc welding when deciding whether to use this type of machinery.


The Pros of TIG Welding


TIG welding is ideal for many customized projects and metals, which is why this technique is often chosen for unique projects. 

  • TIG welding is ideal for use with many metals, including nickel, titanium, copper, magnesium, aluminum, and alloys
  • You can use TIG welding in any position, without compromising the end result of the weld, including vertical, horizontal, upside down, and overhead positions
  • TIG welding’s precise results are ideal for specific industries, including aerospace, ships, oil pipes, and automotive manufacturing
  • High-quality welds that are seamless and durable
  • It’s a versatile type of welding that allows you to work with or without filler material, thin or thick metals, including very thin areas that other welding methods don’t handle
  • Tungsten inert gas shields molten metal, which means no flux is required, so you won’t see any slag or splatter after a weld is completed
  • TIG welding can be done manually and automatically
  • Welds and joints are seamless and clean, so no finishing or touch-ups are needed. Electrodes are non-consumable, which means they continue throughout the project, and do not have to be constantly replaced, which reduces downtime

TIG welding offers a clean finish that’s professional and impressive. You’ll also notice fewer sparks and flames, which allows for a safer environment, and less distortion because of a smaller, more confined heat zone.


The Cons of TIG Welding


While tungsten inert gas welding is a highly precise process that produces some of the best quality welds, some disadvantages are worth considering before choosing this technique.

  •  TIG is complex and time-consuming since the welding process is slower than other techniques due to the lower filler deposition rate
  • TIG welding equipment is best suited for professional, experienced welders familiar with this process
  • It’s a costly setup when you begin using TIG welding equipment and materials, which may not fit within the budget of a small company or manufacturing facility
  • While TIG welding is versatile with very thin and thicker metal materials, it’s typically not best for very thick sheets of metal
  • The intensity of light used in TIG welding may present a safety issue, especially with long-term exposure


Stick Welding (Pro and Cons)


Stick welding is commonly referred to as SMAW, or shielded metal arc welding, and uses a welding rod or electrode to weld ferrous metals. This welding technique uses a flux-coated wire to transmit the current and produce a weld as the electrode tip contacts the metal surface. Stick welding heats the welding rod and metal base, which creates a solid weld. It’s a popular welding method for beginners and simple welding tasks.


The Pros of Stick Welding


There are distinct benefits to using stick welding, which is one of the oldest and most common techniques.

  • Stick welding is portable, making it easy to set up in various spaces for equipment repairs, pipeline welding, and construction sites
  • No external shielding gas is required, which is cost-effective and less time-consuming to set up
  • It’s an inexpensive welding method, as the equipment is affordable for most operations or projects and doesn’t require a major investment
  • Stick welding is versatile in various environments, including in rainy or windy weather outdoors
  • Ground clamps don’t have to be attached too close to the weld and can be fastened further from this point
  • During the welding process, it’s simple and quick to change rods when you need to switch to another type of metal or welding material
  •  Stick welding is adaptable to materials with dirt, rust, paint, and other residues, making it easier to use on various surfaces


The Cons of Stick Welding


Stick welding is an inexpensive and beneficial process, though some drawbacks are essential to consider when you decide to use arc welding for your upcoming project.

  • Stick welding is slower than other methods in comparison to TIG and MIG welding. TIG is moderate in speed, and MIG is fast and efficient
  • Arc or stick welding is more complex, requiring more skill and experience to operate successfully
  • It’s not easy to use with very thin metals, and often a slag is left on the weld, which requires a bit of finishing to clean the surface
  • Welding rods in arc welding require more frequent replacement, which can be time-consuming, and further slow the process
  • Stick welding doesn’t always produce a clean joint or weld and may include rough or uneven surfaces, splatter, and other inconsistencies that require sanding or finishing to improve the appearance


What Do TIG and Stick Welding Have in Common?


Arc or stick welding and TIG welding share some properties in common. Both welding techniques use an inert gas, which often includes helium or argon, during the welding process. TIG and arc welding work well with various types of steel, including stainless steel.

The process tends to be slow to medium in speed, which is a stark comparison to MIG and automated types of welding methods, which are fast and highly efficient. Both welding methods can be used for customized welds and materials and are generally used in many types of projects.


How Are TIG & Stick Different?


There are significant differences between the two welding methods. One of the most common differences is the type of electrode used in TIG and stick welding. Tungsten inert gas welding uses a non-consumable electrode, which produces an arc between the metal workpiece and torch with extreme heat while remaining intact in the welding torch as you work on a project.

As a result, TIG welding is easier to control and provides a stable electrical current that gives you a clean, smooth, and robust weld without residue or unevenness.

In stick welding, the electrode contains an inert gas, which means no external shielding gas is required. However, the splatter resulting from the arc welding method will change the outcome of the weld, which requires additional work to smooth the surface and remove any slag left behind.

Stick welding, in contrast to TIG welding, has a consumable electrode, which metals and acts as the filler metal to become a part of the weld in the process. It also provides a barrier of protection against contamination from area gases in the atmosphere.

While stick welding is a slower, manual process that’s cost-effective and ideal for highly skilled welders, TIG welding offers excellent options for a wide variety of metals and positions. However, there is a significantly higher cost for this equipment's initial setup and use.

Ideally, TIG welding is the preferred option for higher productivity and a cleaner weld. In contrast, stick welding is a good option for smaller projects, either in a manufacturing environment or for a home-based project.


Want to Learn Where to Get Welding Equipment?


Do you require welding rods, power cables, and various types of welding machinery for your upcoming project or building construction? Sunbelt Rentals offers a wide selection of plasma cutting equipment and welding machine rentals for any type of commercial or residential project.

Our team can provide you with the best equipment, with the highest quality and performance, to meet all your worksite needs without compromising productivity or making a significant financial investment in purchasing machinery and tools.

We offer extensive support through our customer service team and on-site repairs and replacements to minimize downtime and keep your site productive.