This process is also known as manual metal arc or “MMA”
welding. It is also informally called "Stick Welding". SMAW uses a consumable electrode
to support the arc of the weld, while the outer flux coating on the
electrode is what acts as the shield when melted. The core of the
electrode then becomes the actual filler metal when joining the items
together. SMAW is best suited for doing welds where both the conditions
around you as well as the metal itself, are not the best (i.e., welding on rusty or dirty metal or in windy outdoor conditions). This
type of welding takes more practice than others and may be for a
moderate to intermediate experienced welder. We offer a versatile stick
welder from Firepower that can tackle most any stick welding you want
to do from 18-gauge up to 3/16” steel.
This type of welding is sometimes referred to by its subtypes
as metal inert gas or “MIG” welding, and metal active gas or “MAG”
welding, which uses a shielding gas to eliminate oxygen and impurities
from forming in the molten weld or puddle. The gas is typically 75%
Argon/25% CO2. MIG welding uses a welding machine that feeds the wire
to the welding surface in either an automatic or semi-automatic manner.
MIG welders continuously feed a consumable wire
electrode and shielding gas through a welding gun. MIG welding is
generally found to be one of the easier welding processes to learn.
With practice MIG welding can be much easier to control on thinner
metal (think body panels on a car) than some of the other welding
processes. MIG welds often provide cleaner welds that require less
clean up. Many MIG machines have the ability to also do flux-cored
welding as described below. Our Eastwood MIG 135 and 175 welders can do
both types of welding effortlessly. Check out the specific differences
between these machines here:
MIG 135 Welder
FCAW is an automatic or semi-automatic welding process in
which continuously fed consumable electrode wire containing a flux and
a constant voltage are used to join metals together. An externally
supplied shielding gas is sometimes used, while more commonly the flux
itself is relied upon as the proper protection from the atmosphere.
This process is most popular in the construction industry because of
its portability and high welding speed. As with stick welding, windy
conditions or dirty, rusty metal are not as much of a concern when
using the flux-cored wire only. The welds as well are similar in that
cleaning the welds afterwards can be quite time-consuming. When using a
separate shielding gas, this form of FCAW is often called “dual shield”
welding. This is mostly used in heavy-duty welding such as seen in the
industrial fields. Our Eastwood MIG 135 and 175 welders can do both types
of welding effortlessly (FCAW and GMAW). Check out the specific
differences between these machines here:
MIG 175 Welder with spool gun
and here: MIG 135 Welder
GTAW, commonly referred to as “TIG” welding, is an arc welding
process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to produce the
weld. This welding process uses an inert gas (normally 100% argon) for
the shielding gas to protect the weld from the atmosphere. A filler
metal is used to input in the weld joint. Also, most TIG welding units
contain a high-frequency generator. GTAW is most commonly used to weld
thin sections of stainless steel, aluminum, magnesium, copper alloys
and other non-ferrous metals. GTAW gives the operator much more control
over the settings to produce the weld. This normally can produce
stronger, cleaner, higher-quality welds. On the other hand, GTAW is far
more complex and is best-suited for experienced welders. This process
is also much slower than other types of welding.
Spot Welding is a process in which two contacting
metal surfaces are joined by the heat obtained from the resistance to
electric current flow. Spot welding uses two pointed copper alloy
electrodes to concentrate the welding current to a small “spot” and to
clamp the workpieces together at the same time. Forcing a large
current through the two pieces will melt the metal and form the weld.
The nice feature of this process is that the welding process happens so
quickly (normally about 10 milliseconds), and to such a small area,
that the heat generated to the panel is very small, and thus keeps the
panels from warping. The amount of heat delivered to the spot weld is
determined by the resistance between the electrodes amplitude and
duration of the current. Applying too little energy won’t melt the
metal or will make a poor, weak weld. On the other hand, applying
too much energy will melt too much metal and often times make a hole in
the metal, rather than a weld.
Welders are designed for certain
applications, depending on the output, duty cycle, and other factors.
For instance, if you plan to do the majority of your work outside on
“weathered” metal, you may want to consider a welder such as a stick
welder or flux core welder that does not require a shielding gas that
can be blown out by wind.
Buy a welder that will meet or
(ideally) surpass your needs. (Do not “under buy”!). If you could ever
see yourself having a need for a unit that has some features you do not
currently need, it's best to step up to that unit. There is always
room for growth. This is most notable when it comes to entry-level flux-core welders that do not allow for gas-shielded MIG welding. If you
need a flux-core machine, it is often better to step up to the model
that allows for both.
Do you need it to be portable? Will you be able to move the
object you are welding to the welder? Running a long 220V extension
cord across your yard to weld something can often decrease the voltage
and produce inconsistent welds. If an electrical hook up isn’t going to
be near the work area, you may need to consider a welder that can work
with a gas-powered welding generator. A 110V unit may suit some better
since 110V outlets are more plentiful around the house. The same is
true if you plan to weld more than just around your own property. Perhaps a friend may not have a dedicated 220V outlet you can access
when helping him with some welding in his garage.
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