Are you getting started with welding and thinking about starting with MIG welding? The good news for you is, MIG welding is the easiest, yet the most versatile welding solution you can start with. You can weld almost any type of metal with a MIG welder if you can select the right welder. As the MIG welders were first introduced to the world for the aviation industry, it also produces great welding bead quality.
However, choosing the right MIG welder comes with a lot of things to consider. You must get through the features and the specifications of your new welder that can help you get things done. I’ll talk about how to choose a MIG welder by discussing the considerable features that make a MIG welder perform better. Stay featured to know what to look for, especially if you’re a beginner in the welding industry.
Types Of Mig Welders
There are two basic types of MIG welders at first, which differ for the working style:
- Gas shielded welding: With this type of MIG welding, you will have to use gas to protect the molten puddle on the bead. Depending on different metal types, you can use 100% CO2, 100% argon, or a combination of both 75% and 25%.
- Flux core welding: You won’t have to use any gas shielding for this method; instead, you will use an electrode with flux inside. The flux creates a shield around the molten poodle to protect it from oxidizing.
The welding transfer type varies in 5 different types of MIG welding, such as:
- Globular Transfer: MIG welding with this method uses high-voltage current to hit up and melt the bases and the electrode into drips. While joining the metals with the drips, it uses 100% argon gas to shield it.
- Short Circuit transfer: Unlike the Globular, it uses a low-voltage current transfer method to join the metals, and it uses Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to shield the molten puddle.
- Spray Transfer: This MIG welding method uses high voltage current and melts the electrode into fine droplets and hits up the based. It joints both the bases using the droplets and makes a fine weld.
- Pulsed Spray Transfer: It also uses high-voltage current to melt the bases and the wire, and it’s mostly used for industrial purposes.
How To Choose A Mig Welder
There are some must consider features and technical terms that you must know if you want to know How to choose a mig welder. Here are the main things that you’d consider with utmost importance:
Welding is a versatile job and it requires you to have different types of welders to perform different types of weldings. If you’re planning on working with different types of metal, you must get a MIG welder that can weld in different methods. If your MIG welder can weld multipurpose, such as MIG, TIG, and Stick welding, you will be able to go mobile. You won’t have to bring a ton of welders to your workplace. With a multipurpose MIG, all you have to bring is the welding guns and the different consumables.
The Volt and Amp dilemma
The voltage is the power your welder draws from your current outlet, and the Amp is the power it works with. If you’re working with small DIY projects or amateur home repair jobs, a 115V machine is alright. But if you’re planning on working with bigger projects or doing a professional job, you must get a 230V machine. However, the best option is to go with the best dual voltage mig welder that can work with both. The Amps should be variable from 15-190 amps or in between for different kinds of metal and thicknesses.
Wire spool size
The wire spool size is severely important when you work with a bigger project or a sensitive metal. When you have to weld two big pieces of metals with a single pass, a bigger wire spool is important. A smaller wire feeding spool might get you in trouble and need you to change it rapidly. If your welder takes in a 2-pound wire reel, it may cause low quality on sensitive metals like aluminum. So, make sure the welder you’re getting can use a 10-pound wire feeding spool at least. It will help you get a better headache-free welding experience.
Get a higher Duty Cycle
The Duty cycle of a welder is crucial, especially if you work on bigger projects with longer and multiple passes. If your welder has a 20% duty cycle, you can use it for 2 minutes in a 10-minutes period. If the cycle is 30%, it will be 3 minutes in a row of 10 minutes. The welder has to cool down for the rest of the minutes, or it will overheat. The rule of thumb here is, the higher the price goes, the better you get a welder in terms of the duty cycle. So, try to get a welder that can get you a bigger duty cycle with higher Amps.
Every metal won’t need you to go with the same speed for the passes you’re getting through. The same applies to the voltage; you have to have control over the voltage for thin metals. That’s why the variable dials for both the wire feeding speed and voltage control are important. Make sure the welder comes with dual variable dials for the wire and the voltage, and they should be infinite. Then you can truly have control over your machine and the welding quality with custom penetration on different metals.
Lightweight or carrier-heavy
If you’re working in a welding shop where you don’t have to move the welder too often, you can go with a bulky MIG welder. But if you’re planning on moving it around, you must go for a smaller and compact welder. You can carry the lightweight MIG welders with your hand from here to there. A heavy MIG welder will require you to have a carrier to put it on and move around, which isn’t a mobile solution. It’s also important to note that you must check if the welder can weld both with or without a gas cylinder; if mobility is important for you.
A gas regulator indicates the pressure of the gas and the remaining gas inside the cylinder as well. It can be a bit pricey if you have to buy one separately. Make sure the welder comes with the gas regulator in the starter pack included. You also have to make sure the welder supports Gas regulators while working with the gas cylinder. Possibly, get a dual-gauge gas regulator for both Argon and Carbon dioxide for better accessibility.
Advantages Of Mig Welding
MIG welding is the most versatile welding solution, especially for beginners. Here are some of the main advantages of using MIG welders:
- Less slug: Welding produces slug behind, but with the MIG welding, the amount of slug goes to almost zero as it uses gas shielding.
- Gas or gasless: Although gas is an option, you can also use a MIG welder without using gas shielding as well, which is great for easy welding.
- Work in any environment: If you use the flux core wires with MIG welder, you can work in a windy situation or wet metal.
Visit this in-depth article based on the advantages of mig welding if you’re interested in it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions about MIG welding that you might have an interest in:
Do I need gas to MIG weld?
You can use a compatible MIG welder with or without gas shielding.
Can you mig weld aluminum without gas?
To weld thin 14 gauge aluminum, you need 100% argon gas shielding.
Can you mig weld stainless steel
Yes, a MIG welder will work great with stainless steel with the proper electrode and shield.
Choosing the right MIG welder takes in a lot of considerations, as you can see above in the buying guide. However, the rule of thumb is to go with the one that can keep you on work, no matter what metal you’re working on.
You must make sure it works with or without gas shielding and comes with as many peripherals as possible. It takes only a few hours to get familiar with MIG welding if you’re a newbie. Now, as you know, how to choose a MIG welder, best of luck with your next welding companion!