When you first have a go at welding, it can be challenging to choose a suitable welding process, much less select a welder. MIG welding can be incredibly hard to learn for some, but it does hold the key to creating some superb welds.
That said, you’d need to pick a good MIG welder. Since there are tons of options to choose from where this type of welding tool is concerned, you want to focus on the purpose of your venture. For most people, it’s to repair vehicles. If this is what you’re inclined to do, keep these things in mind when buying a MIG welder.
What To Consider When Buying a MIG Welder
The fact that you’ve chosen MIG welding to dabble in is a good decision in itself. Let’s now guide you through the next steps of your journey so that you can be sure of future welding success.
Budget is what it comes down to for many buying ventures, and this one is no different. However, don’t expect all high-quality varieties of MIG welders to take a toll on your paycheck. Surprisingly, these tools’ low-cost options are actually pretty good. Although, you may choose to break the bank on high-specification models, too. Like we said, if you’re only “dabbling” in welding, you might not have much use for most of a high-end model’s functions.
Will it be the single-phase or the three-phase? If you plan to work at home or in a garage, the single-phase is the practical option. Don’t expect any exceptional welds from this machine, though, particularly when compared to the three-phase. It’s in the three-phase where the miracle welds truly happen, as it doesn’t create gaps in the cutting off of the AC to create the DC within the welding machine. On the other hand, the single-phase does, so it is a bit rougher around the edges than its streamlined counterpart. That said, you aren’t without solutions to address performance gaps in the single-phase welder. For instance, you can use a capacitor to smoothen the weld, though this might not be an option for cheaper welders. For these items, you likely have to endure the slightly coarse arc, especially for low-position welding.
The traditional AROs performed the way they did due to their transformers. Its open-circuit voltage was 15V, which made it exceptional for the body panels of thin cars. On top of that, it also had more settings to choose from. When a voltage switch has more settings, its voltage jump between settings becomes smaller. Nothing is worse than jumping from a barely-there voltage setting to a setting that has too much. Thus, you want to pick a welder with several settings so that you don’t have to encounter this problem.
In light of this, you want to go for thyristor-controlled welders, as their voltage adjustments run on the finer side. They are also classified as electronic, so it wouldn’t be too difficult for you to get them to the perfect setting. If thyristor-controlled welders are out of the question, get one with a low open-circuit voltage for the first setting and several switch settings.
4. Duty Cycle
If you’re welding a vehicle’s body panels, the duty cycle shouldn’t be too much of an issue. That’s due to the activity’s unlikeliness to result in overheating, which is the main problem addressed by a welder’s duty cycle. Even with a cheap welder, it would take continuous quarter-panel welding over a considerable period to result in overheating. While the duty cycle might not be as consequential in vehicle welding as other welding activities, you should still consider it when purchasing a MIG welder. After all, who knows where your welding journey could take you next?
5. Choke Setting
In MIG welding, you must absolutely not overlook choke setting. Keep in mind that this particular welding basically involves blowing a fuse, which is quite an aggressive explosion. Although fabrication needs exactly these kinds of blasts, vehicle welding could end up completely ruined by them. That’s what choke setting is for—it takes the aggressiveness of the blast down several notches so that it doesn’t blow a hole in the panel. Higher-quality choke settings also translate to smoother welding. The smoothness is especially apparent in the middle setting, where most manufacturers design the choke function to perform optimally.
Other Crucial Matters To Consider
MIG welding is arguably a riskier venture than most, so there are quite a few other areas worthy of consideration. The case, for instance, has to be of decent quality and come with excellent wheels for supporting a weighty gas bottle. It also has to have good technical support so that any problems that surface can be addressed immediately. Then, there’s the warranty, which speaks for itself but shouldn’t be prioritized over technical support.