The first thing you should learn about how to choose a welder is that there is no single welding procedure that will work. To find out what welder is suitable for your project, we have to go over the various welder options, their capabilities and what meets your needs.
If you have done some welding before, you probably know what welder to use. If not, the following information will give you an idea of what each welder can do.
Please keep in mind that welding technology continues to improve, so their features and capabilities can change.
How to choose a welder by types of welders available
1.MIG Welders – A Good Choice for Beginners
These tools are the easiest to learn, and they’re capable of rapid welding speeds providing superior control over thin metals. These welders are ideal for beginners because they produce clean welds with very little slag to clean up. You can also use MIG welders for flux cored welding, car repair work, pipe joints, and hard facing.
How do they work?
MIG welders feed a wire electrode at a predetermined speed. The arc is produced by the electrical current between the wire and metal, and this fuses the metal. The result is a solid weld with little cleanup required. You’ll also find this useful if you work with thick and thin metal plates.
2.Flux-Cored Welders – Ranks High in Flexibility
Flux cored welders are effective for rusty and dirty material as well as stick welding. Flux cored welders are also more forgiving if you’re out of position, and it’s also great for penetrating thick welding materials deeply. Aside from better metal deposition rate, it’s also flexible.
Being a type of MIG welding. It doesn’t need shielding gas so the welding tool is often used in construction because of its flexibility.
Stick welding equipment can be used in a variety of settings, but they’re most effective outdoors. These welders are flexible and forgiving when used on rusty and dirty metal, and they’re also effective on thick materials and work well even if in windy conditions.
How do they work?
Stick welding relies on electric currents emanating from the space between the welding stick and the metal, and this makes it effective for joint and alloy welding.
It’s great for indoor and outdoor use, and stick welds are ideal for hobbyists, farmers, and home maintenance.
Arc welding has its limitations, however. You cannot use it only on metals as thin as 18 gauge and no more. There is also some spatter and the rod needs to be changed often. The weld also has to be cleaned once you’re done.
Compared to MIG, stick welders are harder to learn, in particular, maintaining and striking an arc.
TIG welding tools are the most complex but also produce the best results. They’re very accurate and great for weld beads. Another advantage of TIG welding is you can modify the heat input as you weld.
These tools are powerful, but they’re the hardest to master and more suited for industrial use than the home-shop.
Other Things To Know About When Choosing a Welder
Knowing each type of welder and how they work, is not enough. There are other things you need to consider when buying a welder.
Welder power is measured in voltage, and the higher the voltage, the thicker the metals you can weld. Welders less than 100 voltage is considered low power, but they’re still good for small and medium scale welding work. Another advantage is you can plug them into a standard power outlet.
Heavy duty welder runs at 200 voltages or higher. This makes them suitable for large-scale work and can handle thick and heavier metals than your regular welder. The problem is these units need a special power outlet and are more expensive.
For hobbyists and small shop owners, the standard welder will be sufficient.
Welder Duty Cycle
A duty cycle refers to the time you can let the welder keep going before you have to turn it off to cool down. The shorter the duty cycle, the less time you can run the welder.
The length of the duty cycle runs alongside the price, and some of the more expensive welding tools can run continuously.
If you work with thick metals over extended periods, you’ll need a welder with a long duty cycle.
On the other hand, if you’re a hobbyist, the length of the duty cycle is not that important. If you’re new to welding or don’t use the tool for large-scale industrial work, a standard welder will be more than enough.
Welding Applications and Metal Thickness
The following are the typical metal thickness used for various welding processes. This serves as a guide for the type of metal you will work with and what type of welder to use:
• 3/16 inches or less: automotive work
• 3/16 inches to 1/4 inches: heavy or general repair
• 1/16 inches to 1/8 inches: utility trailers and hunting stands
• 1/16 inches to 1/8 inches: motorcycles, cars, and boats
• More than 3/8 inches: thick components
• 5/16 inches to 3/8 inches: landscape, ranch and farm work
• 1/4 inches to 5/16 inches: fencing and trailer frames
Metals and Welding Processes
Here are the most common type of metals used by welders and which welding tools are best used for them.
• Steel: MIG, TIG, Stick
• Stainless Steel: MIG, TIG, Stick
• Titanium: TIG
• Magnesium: TIG
• Brass: TIG
• Copper: TIG
• Chromoly: TIG
• Cast Iron: Stick, TIG
• Aluminum Alloys: MIG, TIG
These are only general guidelines, and you have to remember that some of these metals combine one or more elements. TIG is the most versatile of the lot, but the fact is most of the time you’ll be welding steel, stainless steel or aluminum alloys, all of which MIG welders support.
For these reasons, MIG and stick welders are more than enough for people who want to use the tool for the first time.
In order to operate a welder, you need to consider, besides the cost of the welder itself, the costs for the accessories and supplies you’ll need to operate your new welder. This includes welding protection such as helmet, gloves, jacket, as well as gas and consumables.
Buying a welding tool is easier now than it’s ever been. However, it’s only going to work if you use the right one. With the information given here, you should have less trouble figuring out how to choose a welder for your next project.