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Whether you’re just getting started with the wide word of welding, or you’re an experienced welder, one of the first things you should learn about the trade is the types of welding machines that are available for different applications and preferences.
So, whether your thinking about how to become a welder or you’re already up to speed on the nature of welding and all the crucial safety precautions involved in this great work, you’re ready to look at buying your own welder!
In this brief guide, we’ll go over the three primary categories of welding machines, their various uses, and some suggestions on deciding which ones best fit your personal needs. The three types of welding machines we’ll cover in detail are TIG welders, MIG welders, and arc welders. While this is nowhere near an exhaustive list of the types of welders available, they are by far the most common types you’ll encounter
As we mentioned above, to determine the best process to suit your particular welding project needs, the first thing you need to do is determine the kinds of applications you intend to pursue, as well as the base metals you plan on implementing in your welds.
Before you go out and start purchasing welding equipment and materials, it is imperative that you make these initial considerations. Failure to do so could leave you with a bunch of unusable (and expensive) equipment and otherwise useless metal components.
To make your life a bit easier, we’ve listed here the three most common welding processes, along with the various metals and alloys that can be manipulated with those processes.
There are several factors that you should take into account when determining the types of welders that are best for your needs. First, you need to consider the primary applications you will be using your welder for.
That is, what kinds of projects and—equally important—what kinds of metals you will be undertaking with your welder. The types of metals and applications will have significant weight in determining which welders will be appropriate.
Second, you need to keep in mind your budget. Welding machines are not the cheapest pieces of equipment out there, and they range widely in price. So, it is important to do some research on costs and determine how much you are willing to shell out for your welder.
Finally, you’ll want to consider the level of difficulty involved with the various types of welding. If you are just starting out, you don’t want to jump right into buying a welding machine that requires a higher level of expertise. This will just promote frustration and buyer’s remorse. Conversely, if you are already a more experienced welder, it may be time to check out your options for more advanced welding processes and machines.
Two of the most common welding machines out there are TIG and MIG welders. We’ll consider each of them in turn.
A TIG welder produces welds through a process involving a tungsten electrode (non-consumable) and the use of argon gas to protect the weld from contaminants in the atmosphere. Often, a filler metal is used to produce the weld. The welder introduces energy along the arc in a stream of plasms—which is composed of ionized gas and metallic vapor.
This type of welding is especially appropriate when working with thin pieces of stainless steel or nonferrous metals (e.g., magnesium, aluminum alloys). One of the primary benefits of using this method is the increased control the welder has over the joint compared to other welders—this promotes durable, quality joints.
The downside to using one of the top-rated TIG welders? It’s not for beginners. Compared to other welding methods, it is rather difficult and involved, so it should probably be left to more experienced welders
MIG welding involves feeding a spooled wire electrode at a constant speed, creating an arc (electric current) between the wire electrode and your base metal. This arc melts the wire, joining it with the base metal.
The great benefits of MIG welding over other types of welding are that it is an easier process to learn for beginning welders, it produces strong and attractive joints, and it can be used to join metals of varying degrees of thickness.
Indeed, if you’re just getting your bearings with welding processes and want a solid choice for a first welding machine, you’ll definitely want to check out some high-quality MIG welders.
If TIG and MIG welding machines don’t seem like the right option for your needs or preferences, arc welding (aka stick welding) might be the best way to go. Arc welding has long been a popular process used by experienced and novice welders alike.
The process involves passing an electric current between a welding stick (an arc-welding electrode) and the base metal. One of the great things about using one of the best arc welders is that the process is both affordable and produces strong joints. Further, stick welding can join almost any metal alloy effectively, even if the base metal being used is dirty or corroded with rust.
However, there are some downsides to using the arc welding process. For instance, you won’t be able to use an arc welder on very thin metals and it often produces a lot of spatter.
Also, arc welding can involve a rather difficult learning curve, much like TIG welding. So, if you’re a true novice, you might want to start out with MIG welding to get your bearings.
While we are well aware that budget is often a primary concern for any customer looking into purchasing a welding machine, we want to be sure and emphasize some important points that should weigh more heavily on your decision than your bottom line.
That is, while you might want to simply purchase the most economical option and run with it, this is not an advisable approach if you already have specific welding applications in mind. For instance, you might decide just to purchase an arc welding machine, since they tend to be less expensive, and the process is also more affordable. However, if you do so with the intent to weld, say, aluminum alloys, you are sure to be sorely disappointed, as arc welders are not suited to welding this type of material.
That is all to say, quite simply, unless you are just buying a welding machine at random with no specific application or material in mind for a particular project, you should let your intended uses be your guide for which welding machine to buy.
The bottom line is simple: the welding machine that is best for you is the welding machine that meets the following criteria, in basically this level of importance:
Further read: Welding Tips and Tricks.
Hi, my name is Gregory! I have been welding practically all of my life and love it. As I have gotten older I have started to weld less and less, so in order to continue my love for welding I created this website. I like to write about my experiences and help you all become welders. I hope that you enjoy the site!