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Manual welding is a type of welding using a welding rod clamped into a holder that is used to fuse two pieces of steel together. It is most commonly known as stick welding and is often referred to as a buzz box because of the tell-tale buzzing sound the welder makes as it is turned on. The welder uses electricity in either AC, alternating current, or DC, direct current, to melt and fuse the steel together.
A welding rod is covered with a flux coating. This coating melts as the rod is burned into the gap between the two pieces of steel. This flux creates a shielding gas to aid in the bond of the two steels.
Manual welding uses different flux coatings designed to work with specific types of steel and welding applications. Amperage is increased or decreased in manual welding depending upon the thickness of the steel and the intended uses of the welded product. Unlike manual welding, wire welders often use a cylinder of shielding gas that is applied to the weld area by the welding gun. The gas is required to protect the fresh weld from contamination both from the atmosphere as well as any contaminates on the steel itself, such as oil or paint.
In applications such as ship building, manual welding techniques would differ from those used in the construction of sky-scrapers. While the practice of joining two pieces of steel together appear to be the same, there are differences in weld speed, the rod and flux used as well as overall style methods. In one application, a welder may use a weaving style of laying down a single welding pass, while another might require the welder to run a succession of beads, overlapping and laying on top of each other to complete the job.
There is also more individual input in manual welding than other forms. Manual welding relies on the welder's skill and expertise to move his or her hands at the correct speed toward the weld to keep its puddle at a uniform size. This technique also requires a welder's hands to advance forward to control the speed of the weld. The welding equipment used to wire weld, however, can be set to control the speed at which the wire is fed into the puddle, the rate of shielding gas used to protect the weld, and the heat range used to create the weld.
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