Is Gas Welding Really Cheaper?
The answer is often no, and here’s why…
Gas (oxy-acetylene) welders used to be the rock stars of welding. From shipbuilding to automotive manufacturing to steel forging, but that was then. Arc welding is a modern welding method that outmatches gas welding in almost every respect.
Arc welders use electric current generated by a transformer or a generator to produce a uniform, clean welds that almost never require finishing. This is not the case with gas welding. Gas welding operates using the heat generated by the ignition of a gas mixture (oxygen and acetylene) to melt the welding material or to simply fuse two parts together. This process often results in a bad surface finish. Gas welding can require additional work involving hours of grinding and polishing the welds.
Gas welding produces a lot of fumes. It’s also worth mentioning that an incorrect gas mixture and/or burning time will produce toxic gases. Arc welding also produces fumes but these are the result of the welded metal, not from the arc itself. Some arc welding types such as submerged arc welding produce virtually no fumes of any kind. Oxy-Acetylene welding gases are kept compressed in cylinders, often above 300 Psi sometimes reaching 500 Psi. That’s more than 20 times the atmospheric pressure and poses a potential explosion hazard. Regular safety inspections are advisable.
Size and operational effectiveness:
An Arc welder’s main component is usually smaller than that of a Gas welder. Gas welders’ cylinders naturally need to be regularly recharged while many arc welders require nothing more than your standard single or in some cases three phase AC power plug.
Arc welding flame spots are tiny and concentrated compared to oxy-acetylene welding spots. There won’t be any problem with thick metals when using gas welding, but with thinner welds, uncontrolled heat can warp the metal.
Initial capital costs may be lower with gas welding, but the operating and additional expenses can tip the argument in favor of arc welding.
Red-D-Arc carries a number of stick welders which use flux coated welding electrodes that eliminate the need for shielding gases.