The process of welding is an art. But as with art, there are many forms, and each form is best used in certain situations. Some types of welding are more versatile than others, but all forms have their pros and cons. Comparing MIG welding vs stick welding, for example, is like comparing the new with the old. And sometimes the old still has its advantages in the modern industrial world.
Stick welding, as it’s known informally, is the oldest form of welding. Those who learned how to weld a long time ago most likely learned this process, and gave it the name of stick welding because the electrode was thick, long and did most of the work. There is a lot of versatility with stick welding if you are familiar with the various electrodes, what amp ranges are best with those electrodes, and how to choose the correct electrode/amp combination for the type of welding job you are doing. Stick welding equipment is easy to travel with and is best for use in windy conditions. The most popular electrode classes for stick welding are E6011 (all purpose) and E7014 (low penetration but faster speed.) The electric current is passed through the pieces to be joined, and the consumable electrode (coated in flux) is placed near the surface. An arc is created, and the electrode will lay into the weld. A welder has a lot of choices and has more control over their welding.
When MIG welding, you use a welding gun that supplies a continuous feed of electrode and a shielding gas. You still need to use the appropriate power source and strength for your application, and that can be constant or alternating, with constant being the most common. While stick welding is versatile in its own ways, comparing MIG welding vs stick welding, MIG welding can be done using a variety of techniques that also give it a versatility for welders. The short-circuiting technique is most commonly used for thinner metals as it reduces the amount of distortion due to lower temperature. There are modified versions of short-circuiting that are proprietary to the manufacturers of the equipment used to create these types of welds. For thicker pieces, welders can use the pulse or spray pulse techniques in which spatter is reduced by creating the weld quickly, but with higher temps.
Most people agree that stick welding requires more knowledge of the electrodes and the currents required for it. No matter what kind of welding you are doing, you need to have an understanding of the metals you are trying to weld. However, MIG welding can offer techniques that even those with minimal training can use to get started. It comes down to choosing the correct type of welding for your application and your experience, something you need to assess before buying a MIG or Stick welder.