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  • Stick vs Mig cost

    So, I've seen many analyses that show GMAW is a cheaper process for production when operator wages are considered. What about when wages are left out? I mostly build things for myself, so it would be nice to have some estimate of the cost of the two processes themselves.

    I know time cannot be completely discounted, but I want to consider that seperately.

  • #2
    If you're just building stuff for yourself, and you already own the equipment, mig welding will make you happier for most things. It's cleaner, less clean up and generally looks better.

    Other considerations are: welding inside or outside, welding on new steel or scrap iron, what it is you're actually welding, your skill/experience level....just to name a couple obvious ones.

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    • #3
      Agree with Ryan's thoughts. For the average home user, go MIG. I think it's far more versatile for a "hobby" welder. But we're not answering your basic question--which process costs less? If you don't already own the equipment, and aren't concerned about welding sheet metal, I would think you could get into stick welding a lot cheaper, and the process itself is less expensive in the long term in my mind if you're not counting the time. For far less than the cost of a mig welder, bottle, cart, and wire, you could buy one of the new Hobart inverter Stickmates and be in business. 160i will run on 120 or 240 v (which is why I bought that one, since it's at or under 20 lbs and you just sling it over your shoulder and go weld anywhere). The 210i is 240 volts only but has higher capacity. If you want to do body metal on a car, just buy mig. You can do it with stick but it's not something I would ever recommend to anyone. In my opinion, from simply a cost of supplies viewpoint, stick will win out. Others may disagree, but that's my thought.

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      • #4
        And you can find a used stick machine for little or nothing.

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        • #5
          I worked in a heavy fab shop for 8 years. Not a stick machine in sight. It was all dual shield wire. So much faster...Bob
          Bob Wright

          Spool Gun conversion. How To Do It. Below.
          http://www.millerwelds.com/resources...php?albumid=48

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          • #6
            All dual shield...Bob
            Bob Wright

            Spool Gun conversion. How To Do It. Below.
            http://www.millerwelds.com/resources...php?albumid=48

            Comment


            • #7
              I decided to take a stab at calculating it myself. Please argue with me if you disagree, I love to learn!

              Executive summary:

              GMAW: $10.80/lb
              SMAW: $5.83/lb

              Long nerdy justification:

              This article https://www.thefabricator.com/articl...-save-a-dollar estimates that about 4 CF of argon are used per pound of mig wire deposited. I would say that I am less efficient than that, probably around 5 CF per pound. Hobart MIG wire is about $3.30/lb and Airgas charges about $1.50/CF for shielding gas. That makes the total cost per pound of MIG $7.50+$3.30 or $10.80 per pound.

              The ever-reliable internet, (e.g. https://weldingweb.com/showthread.ph...Operating-Cost) suggests that 60-70% of the weight of a box of stick electrodes actually ends up in the metal. For an incompetent hack like myself, this is likely closer to 60% than 70%. Hobart 7018 or 6011 is about $3.50/lb, which assuming 60% deposition efficiency comes to $5.83 per pound. At 70% deposition efficiency, this would be $5 per pound

              This page https://weldingweb.com/archive/index.php/t-8546.html shows 3114 feet of MIG wire are on a 10lb spool, of which ideally all but all but 12 go into a weld, making a deposition efficiency of about 99.6%. If we allow for 10 birdsnests of 20 feet each in a 10lb spool, that becomes 94% deposition efficiency.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ryanjones2150 View Post
                Other considerations are: welding inside or outside, welding on new steel or scrap iron, what it is you're actually welding, your skill/experience level....just to name a couple obvious ones.
                I weld outside, though to be fair many welding codes specify that GMAW can be done outside under the right wind conditions. I weld both new steel and scrap, ranging from auto body thickness to 3/8". I have no experience or skill with welding.

                These are relevant considerations, but do not affect the cost of the process itself

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                • #9
                  MIG will have more out of pocket expense than stick and if you are considering auto body metal stick really won't play well there. Maybe you should consider a multi-process machine like the Millermatic 215. It will let you do both. You could start wire-feed welding with flux-core but it is still not as easy on sheet metal as Gas shielded MIG.

                  ---Meltedmetal
                  ---Meltedmetal

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lewis Hein View Post
                    I decided to take a stab at calculating it myself. Please argue with me if you disagree, I love to learn!

                    Executive summary:

                    GMAW: $10.80/lb
                    SMAW: $5.83/lb
                    Interesting. I bought a bunch of welding wire and rod the other day and should check those number. My gut tells me that the stick rod is a lot more / pound. Lots to consider though, like you said your probably only deposit 60% of the weight of the rod. The mig wire is definitely cheaper per pound but would have to calculate in the cost of gas. Theres also a big difference in quality of stick rods so I wouldn't consider cheap rods. I like esab for 7018 and lincoln 6p for 6010.

                    As Aametalmaster said there are even faster methods the solid wire mig, Dual shield and metal core have the highest deposition besides SAW.
                    None of this really has anything to do with what your really asking. If you have no welding experience then a mig welder is the way to go. For a home hobbyist it doesn't really get any easier. As another said alot of mig machines now are actually multi process so you can stick weld with them aswell.

                    Now as a professional welder I never had a mig machine at home till just recently as Im setting up my own shop. Reason being is like others said a stick machine can be had for cheap upfront. Even with a cheap 110v stick welder inverter you can weld 3/32 7018 (although somewhat on the cold side) which you could actually use to weld pretty much anything thickness of metal you wanted. But its slow and smokey and the rods/flux make a mess everywhere. And if I ever needed to weld something thin I would just tig weld it. This all takes more skill though and with tig you still need a bottle of argon so the savings upfront aren't really that great.

                    Bottom line. If your new to welding and wanting to do it at home get a mig welder.
                    www.silvercreekwelding.com

                    Miller Trailblazer 325 efi
                    Miller extreme 12vs
                    Thermal arc 186 ac/dc
                    Lincoln power wave 455m/stt with 10m dual feeder

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                    • #11
                      Of course it effects the cost of the process, relevant or not, because if it's relevant to your job, it will most certainly reflect in your cost.

                      But I agree that mig welding occurs outside all the time, with given consideration to the wind. For me, and since I can control the wind, I ignore that as a factor.

                      Sounds like you got it all figured out though, relevant conditions notwithstanding.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ryanjones2150 View Post
                        ... what it is you're actually welding,...
                        Big time.

                        Cost is irrelevant if the process won't do the job at hand.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MAC702 View Post

                          Big time.

                          Cost is irrelevant if the process won't do the job at hand.
                          Very true. If your welding thicker steel for farm equipment or something a stick welder is going to serve you a lot better. Your not going to be doing any sheet metal / body work with one though.
                          www.silvercreekwelding.com

                          Miller Trailblazer 325 efi
                          Miller extreme 12vs
                          Thermal arc 186 ac/dc
                          Lincoln power wave 455m/stt with 10m dual feeder

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Maybe I didn't explain my question well enough. The question was about the cost of running the two processes, supposing that someone was already set up to do either, on a job that either process would be able to do. Of course the cost of the equipment matters and the application matters, but there are good reasons to consider each piece separately.

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                            • #15
                              I'd say you pretty much answered the question in the analysis you did in post #7. While the cost you used for stick rods may be a little light, it's certainly not anywhere far enough off to change the conclusion--stick is cheaper. When you leave out the labor cost, as you suggested, I think you have a very valid conclusion that it costs more to mig.

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