SMAW Welding: What, How,Symbol, Diagram, Process, Parts,Electrodes

This article discusses about the topic SMAW welding. SMAW stands for Submerged Metal Arc Welding. The name of this type of welding gives us an idea that the metal electrodes is submerged in some kind of fluid.

SMAW employs a consumable electrode which has a protective coating on it. When the electrode starts melting, the coat starts wearing off and then protects the weld pool oxygen and other atmospheric gases. In this article we shall discuss about SMAW in detail.

What is SMAW welding?

SMAW or Submerged Metal Arc Welding is a process in which the electrode itself has a coating which melts and protects the weld pool from contaminating gases like oxygen and other atmospheric gases.

An electric arc will be forming between the tip of the electrode and the surface of work piece. The electric arc is formed when the electrode is touched and electric current is passed through it. The arc forms as soon as the electrode is lifted by some distance. Due to the electric arc, excess heat is generated which melts the electrode and the coating on it.

SMAW welding process

SMAW welding process is a type of welding in which the coalescence of metals takes place by the heat generated from the electric arc generated between the electrode and the surface of the work piece.

When an alternating current or direct current is applied on the electrode, an electric arc is formed between the electrode and work piece. The electric arc is formed when the electrode is lifted by a small distance from the work piece. The electric arc produces enough heat that can be used for welding two metal pieces.

SMAW welding diagram

The welding diagram of SMAW process is shown below-

smaw welding
Image: SMAW welding diagram

Image credits: Wikipedia

SMAW weld symbol

There are many types of symbols which represent different types of welds. The SMAW is represented by the following symbol-

Capture 3
Image: SMAW Welding symbol

SMAW welding machine

An SMAW welding machine is an assembly of certain equipment used to perform SMAW welding process. The machine requires a consumable electrode and electric supply.

The major equipment is the power source of SMAW process that may include- welding transformer, a dc rectifier or a dc generator set. A consumable electrode is used which has protective coating which melts when heat is produced on the weld area. When the coat melts, it provides shielding to weld pool from gases like oxygen and other impurities.

SMAW welding temperature

The SMAW welding process requires the electrode to reach a particular temperature to melt and for welding to take place. The electric arc will be generating the heat.  

On an average the SMAW process requires around 11,000 Degrees Fahrenheit or 6100 Degrees Celsius for the welding to take place. The temperature depends on the magnitude of electric current passed through the electrode.

SMAW welding electrodes

In industry there are four common types of electrodes used for welding. They are flat, horizontal, vertical and overhead.

These are further named depending on the material properties. In SMAW process electrodes named 6010, 6011, 6013, 7018 and 7024 are used. Their diameters range from 1/8 to 5/32 inches. These electrodes can work in all the positions except 7024.

SMAW welding technique

The SMAW welding process can be started by two techniques. They are listed below-

  • Scratch start technique– The name tells us that scratching of two things is taking place which in this case is electrode and work piece. The electrode will light up when an optimum distance between the work piece and electrode is made.
  • Tapping technique– As the name suggests, the electrode is tapped on the surface of the work piece. When an optimum distance is achieved between electrode and work piece, an electric is produced between workpiece and electrode.

SMAW welding circuit

The SMAW welding circuit includes the following parts-

  • Power source- It provides the necessary voltage difference to create the electric arc between the  work piece and the electrode.
  • Welding cables- The welding cables hold the electrode as well as provide current to the electrode.
  • Electrode holder- As the name suggests it holds the electrode firmly.
  • Ground clamp- Ground clamp fixed the work piece tightly so that it does not move while welding is taking place.
  • Base metal- The base metal is the metal on which welding is going to take place.
  • Arc welding electrode– Arc welding electrode is the electrode having a coating on it which shields the weld pool after melting.

SMAW advantages and disadvantages

The advantages and disadvantages of SMAW welding process are given in the section given below-


  • The equipment cost is lower than other conventional methods of welding.
  • Change from one material to another is easy.
  • Deposition rates are faster in SMAW
  • The apparatus is easy to shift from one place to another.
  • There is no need of shielding gas.


  • The deposition rate is still lower than GMAW
  • The cost of filler metal per length is higher
  • It needs more hand eye coordination
  • The slug must be removed
  • Production speed is lower

How to calculate travel speed in SMAW welding?

Welding speed is important to calculate so that we can know the time it will take to complete the welding procedure. The travel speed in SMAW welding can be calculated by the following formula-

Travel speed= Length of weld/ Time to weld

The units of travel speed are mm /s, inches /sec or cm /s.

Why is SMAW good for welding outdoors?

No special gas is required for shielding in SMAW welding process. The equipment used in SMAW process can be moved from one place to another.

The slug can be removed by light and medium winds. The weld area can be cleaned by the wind blowing outside. Hence it is recommended to perform the SMAW welding process outdoors.

SMAW welding vs TIG welding

The table below shows the comparison between smaw and tig welding

SMAW WeldingTIG Welding
The smaw process uses a consumable electrodeA non consumable electrode is used in this process.
The electrode is non reusableThe same electrode can be used again for another round.
Table: Comparison Between SMAW Welding and TIG Welding

SMAW welding vs GMAW

The table below shows the comparison between smaw and gmaw

SMAW WeldingGMAW Welding
The electrode used in the smaw process cannot be reused and it is consumableThe electrode used in the gmaw process is also consumable and cannot be reused like in SMAW process
The machine needs to be stopped to change the electrode.The machine need not be stopped because the electrode is automatically fed to the system by the spool
Table: Comparison between SMAW Welding and GMAW Welding

SMAW welding vs fcaw

The table below shows the comparison between smaw and fcaw welding process

SMAW WeldingFCAW Welding
The electrode used in the smaw process is covered with an inert gas used for shieldingThe flux will be filled only at the core of electrode. Unlike the electrode used in SMAW process.
Electrode used in this process is consumable.The electrode used is consumable like in smaw.
Table: Comparison between SMAW Welding and FCAW welding

SMAW vs Gtaw welding

The table below shows the comparison between smaw and gtaw welding

SMAW WeldingGTAW Welding
The electrode is consumableThe electrode is non consumable and re usable
The electrode has inert gas coating which keeps meltingThe shielding gas is fed externally from the cylinder
Table: Comparison between SMAW Welding and GTAW Welding


We have discussed about SMAW welding process in this article. We also discussed about various other welding processes. We saw that SMAW welding requires a consumable electrode which has a coating that on melting protects the weld pool from harmful gases. Gases can penetrate inside weld pool and affect the strength of weld.