How Submerged Arc Welding works

Submerged Arc Welding is a welding process that uses a bare consumable electrode to produce an arc between itself and the work piece within a granular flux applied around the weld. Submerged Arc Welding (or SAW) is commonly used in industries where thick steel sheets of long welds are required. this weld process was discovered in 1935 by Kennedy, Jones and Rothermund.

How it works

In Submerged Arc Welding the flux starts to deposit on the joint to be welded. When the flux is cold it acts as an insulator. In this particular weld process, the arc struck remains under a thick layer of granular flux. The heat that is generated by the arc is how the flux melts.

Once the flux is melted it becomes very conductive. The current starts to flow in between the electrode and through the molten flux. From this, the lower melted flux change to slag which is a by-product of some arc welding processes.

At a constant speed, the electrode is fed to the joint to be welded. The positive of Submerged Arc Welding is that it can be used with automatic or handhold processes.

If set-up correctly, the appearance of the weld is often bright and uniform and the slag usually comes away by itself. As well as this, the flux masks the light from the arc and there’s usually no spatter from the weld which improves the working conditions for the operator tremendously. However, with Submerged Arc Welding you do have to handle the flux which can be a complicated factor.

To round off, here’s the advantages and disadvantages of Submerged Arc Welding:


  • High deposition rate
  • Suitable for both automatic and handheld
  • High quality weld structure
  • Improved working conditions when compared to other weld processes – No spatter and little to no smoke
  • High utilisation of electrode wire


  • Weld may contain slag inclusions – particles trapped in the weld metal
  • Limited applications
  • High-heat input can cause problems when welding quenched/ tempered steels

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