What is the best welding process…
It depends…After my apprenticeship had its oddball start, I went to work in heavy equipment repair. I was formally trained as a pipe welder and when I went to work in heavy equipment repair, I learned to make BIG welds. With the pipe it was mainly SMAW and GTAW with smallish electrodes. When it came to heavy equipment, the journeyman I worked for had very simple guidelines: Use FCAW if you can and use the largest wire you can; if you resort to SMAW then use the largest electrode you can.
This guideline and a time spent in a production shop where one’s worth is measured in quantity more than quality, really influenced the way I weld. I take a certain pride myself in using 3/16″ electrodes in all positions when many professional welders in the area have never even tried it, but sometimes there’s more to defining one’s worth as a welder beyond how many pounds of steel one deposits on a weldment in a day….
I’m doing some work for a client where even a littler spatter is intolerable so I’m using my GTAW (TIG or heliarc to you lot) machine to do it. The client wants a minimum of odours an fumes at their location, so the best process isn’t necessarily the fastest process; I’ll do what’s best but it still rubs me the wrong way on a couple levels.