Submerged arc welding, often abbreviated SAW, is a specific and popular type of arc welding where the area being melted and welded is covered by a blanket of flux. This provides welders with several advantages, from reducing UV radiation to providing a higher quality weld. Traditional arc welding uses an electric current to create an arc of electricity between an electrode and the metal being worked on. This electrical arc melts and joins the materials together, and the electricity can be provided by either a direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC).
The difference between traditional arc welding and submerged arc welding is the layer of flux that covers the materials. Flux is a material that, when melted, creates a pathway for the electrical arc to travel through. The arc travels from the electrode, through the flux, and to the material that needs to be welded. This method can also use either a direct or an alternating current.
There are many advantages to this type of welding. Since the weld is submerged, it prevents hot materials from splattering and splashing back. The flux also helps prevent high levels of UV radiation from being emitted. Pressure is not needed to create the weld since the electric current does the work. Not only does it provide these advantages over other forms, this type of welding is excellent for quickly joining thin metal sheets and creates good fusion between materials.
This process can be performed both indoors and outdoors, wherever it is most convenient to place the equipment. To ensure the flux stays in the proper position, the welding must be done on a flat and horizontal surface; otherwise, the flux might move and cause an improper weld. When done properly, submerged arc welding will produce results that are both high in quality and look good.
There are disadvantages to this method, however. While it helps prevent splattering and radiation, the materials it can be used on are limited. Steel and stainless steel are the most common types that work with this type of welding, along with certain nickel based alloys. There is also some concern about the safety of the flux, since potentially dangerous residue can be left behind.