What is a MIG welder?
A MIG welder is a tool that is used to weld metal together. MIG stands for metal inert gas. This process is also called gas metal arc welding or GMAW for short. MIG welding is an arc welding process that utilizes a continuous solid wire electrode that is fed through the welding gun into the weld pool. This is called a consumable electrode since it is used as filler metal in the welding process.
MIG welders use electricity to weld metal together. As such, they are very much like any other circuit in that the electricity needs to flow in a complete circle in order to operate correctly. To accomplish this, each welder comes with a clampable cable. This cable needs to be attached to your work to complete the circuit.
Another distinct feature for MIG welders is that they usually use a shielding gas, such as argon. The shielding gas surrounds the welding pool to make sure that oxygen or water vapor do not enter into the weld since these materials could ruin your work. Some MIG welders, like the Vivohome Portable MIG 130, can be operated without this shielding gas. You just need to be sure to utilize some flux wire to help prevent any unwanted issues with the elements.
MIG welders are great for beginners. Many folks say the process of using one is very similar to that of a glue gun. This ease of use makes MIG welders a great option for artists, farmers, gear heads, or weekend warriors. Even though these machines are great for beginners, they are still more than capable of welding materials up to ½ inch thick.
Features to consider when choosing a MIG welder
As you can imagine, there are lots of different features that you need to keep in mind when you are looking for a new welder. In this section, we will go through everything you need to know to find the best MIG welder for your home or business.
The input voltage of any MIG welder is how much electrical energy, or voltage, you will need to run your welder. Obviously, the more powerful the welder, the more voltage it is going to need. This is important for several different reasons. The first and perhaps most crucial reason that you need to pay attention to this is that you need to make sure your electrical system can handle your welder. The last thing you want is to get a powerful model like the Hitbox MIG250 and throw your breaker because your system can’t power it correctly.
The second reason that the input voltage is a good thing to keep track of is that this will usually give you a good idea of how powerful your new welder is and what applications it is meant to complete. If you are just looking to do small jobs, then a lighter duty welder like the Display4top Portable MIG 130 PLUS is a good way to go.
Something else that you need to keep in mind is the current range that you need for your new welder. The current range will determine the thickness of the material that you are able to weld together. Higher amperage levels are better for thicker materials, while lower ranges will work much better for slimmer pieces of metal. You need to think carefully about the type of work that you are going to be doing with your new welder. Are you going to do mostly small work, big work, or a combination of the two? The answer to these questions will help you to determine the range you need for your current.
If you are looking for a model for lighter duty jobs, then the Sungoldpower MIG Welder 140A is a good option since it operates at lower amperage rates. On the other hand, if you need to weld larger pieces, you should go for something like the Hitbox MIG250, which has a very high current rating. If you are looking for a good value machine to do both light and heavy-duty jobs, then the Hobart Handler 140 might be your best option.
Maximum material thickness
The reason that you need to take the current range and the input voltage into such a carful account is that these two numbers put together will determine how thick the material you can work on. Higher numbers, like those of the Forney Easy Weld 140 FC-i, will result in a machine that can work on thicker metal.
This ability to work on thicker metal will cost a bit extra, however, so be sure to keep this in mind before you make your final decision. If, for instance, you only want to work with thin pieces of metal, you can save a good deal of money and get a lighter duty machine. Of course, if you are looking to work on bigger projects, then you should probably go for something that has a bit more power, like the Lotos MIG140, which can be used on material up to 0.9mm in thickness.
Wire feed speed/speed options
Something that helps to set MIG welding apart from other forms of welding such as TIG is that it has a consumable electrode. This electrode, which is a wire, is fed through the welding nozzle as you are working. The electrode then gets used up and turns into filler metal to aid in the welding process. With a good MIG welder, you can set the speed at which the wire will come out of the nozzle to match your skill level and project needs.
Some welds, depending on what you are working on or the material that you are using, will require much slower speeds. This will especially be the case if you are new to the world of welding. Of course, as you gain experience and work on other projects, you might want to speed the process up, so it is a great idea to look for a model that has a lot of different speed options to meet your needs.
Another big consideration with any tool or appliance is the cord length. Obviously, the longer the cord, the easier it is to move your welder from place to place. This is essential if you have a lot of different workstations that you want to use your welder at and if you only have a few outlets in your work area. This is especially true if you only have one outlet that can handle the voltage needs of your welder of choice.
You also need to consider how long you will need the actual welding nozzle’s cord needs to be as well before you make your final purchase. Longer cords have their advantages. They allow you to move more freely about your projects and give you more flexibility in your positioning. Shorter cords, however, have their advantages as well. Short cords are much easier to store and are much less likely to get tangled underfoot as you move from place to place.
If you are a beginning welder, then odds are you might not understand that a welding tool, no matter how well-made it is, cannot be used continuously. This is due to the fact that these machines use a lot of electricity, which causes a ton of heat. To keep the welder from breaking down too quickly, they have a built-in rest period. This is known as the duty cycle. Basically, this describes how much recovery time each welder needs before it can be used again at a certain temperature. This is usually expressed as a percentage of time at 90 amps. The percentage will go down at higher amperage levels and up at lower levels.
If you are looking for a MIG welder that can be used for a long time with a limited amount of recovery time, then the Sungoldpower MIG Welder 140A is a great option. This machine only has a 60% duty cycle at 90 amps. This means that for every 10 minutes of welding, it will need to sit for about 4 minutes of recovery. This quick turnaround will allow you to keep on welding in comparison to other machines.
Another feature that you need to keep in mind when you are choosing a new MIG welder is just how large of a model you can house in your workshop. MIG welders come in many different sizes, as do storage spaces, so you need to make sure to carefully measure your storage options before you make your final decision.
If you have a smaller space, then you might want to go for a smaller model. That way, you can be sure to fit the welder in your shop without it being in the way. The last thing that you want is to get a model that is too big and has to be moved out of the way all of the time while you are working on other projects.
The weight of your new welder is also something that you will want to take into account before you make your final decision. Much like the dimensions, the weight of the welder you can handle in your work area is going to be based on how much you intend to move it from place to place. If you are going to always use your welder in the exact same place, then the weight really shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
On the other hand, if you want to take your welder from place to place, then a smaller model is a much better option. That way, you will be able to pick it up and move it whenever you need to switch positions or workstations. If that is what you are looking for, then the Display4top Portable MIG 130 PLUS is a great option, thanks to its lightweight and easy to move design.
Whenever you are getting something new, whether it be a drill, dryer, or welder, it is always a good idea to look for a model that comes with a good warranty. That way, you will be able to get anything that breaks down through normal use replaced without having to spend any extra money. Of course, you need to make sure that you read through the warranty information as carefully as you can.
Even though all of the companies on our list are respectable entities that have great reputations for making quality products, it is still a good idea to very carefully read through the warranty information for each machine since lots of companies will claim that the warranty is comprehensive, while only actually covering certain parts. That way, you will know exactly what is and what isn’t covered under warranty. This deeper understanding will help to keep you from any unexpected expenses should anything break down.
Unlike lots of other tools for your shop that only have very straightforward designs, MIG welders are perfect for innovation and new ideas. As such, there are lots of different features that you might want to keep an eye out for before you make your final decision. One such feature that you might want in your new welder is overload protection. Since these tools use tons of electricity, it only makes sense to get one that has this safety feature. Overload protection will keep the welder from pulling too much energy, which will help to keep it running correctly.
Another key feature that will make your life a whole lot easier is the variable speed dial. This dial will allow you to set your wire speed to match your skill level and project needs. This will result in much better welds and a better-finished project, which is, obviously, ideal.
You might want to look for a welder that comes with a built-in fan as well. This will help to extend the amount of time that you can weld without having to wait through a recovery period. By extending the time that you can weld, you will be able to get more work done.
You can also make your life a lot easier by getting a welder with an easy to use voltage dial. That will allow you to set the voltage with ease, which will, again, speed up the welding process and allow you to get more work done.
As is the case with many different tools, there are lots of considerations you have to keep in mind so that you can weld safely. Nothing will end your project faster than a trip to the hospital, so be sure to keep these important safety tips in mind so that you can weld effectively and, more importantly, safely.
- Protect Your Lungs – You should always weld in a place that is well-ventilated. The fumes from the welding process can be hazardous to your health, and should never be breathed in. If possible, you should always use a face mask or respirator when you are welding to protect yourself.
- Protect Your Hands – Welding is a job that requires you to use your hands. It also happens to be a job where you are melting metal together, so you need to make sure that your hands are covered properly. You should avoid thin work gloves that are made of synthetic fibers. Only use gloves made from leather or cotton, as these materials will not burn or melt from the heat of the arc.
- Protect Your Feet – Even though you are not going to be using your feet while you are welding, it is still possible for molten material to splash down onto your feet during the welding process. As such, make sure that you have leather shoes or boots to prevent any burns.
- Protect Your Face – The arc of a MIG welding torch is extremely bright and extremely hot. You must make sure that you have a high-quality welding mask before you attempt any sort of work with your new machine. Otherwise, you could do permanent damage to your eyes or face.