Choosing the Right Welding Machine

Welding in process with worker standing over in protective gear

 

Modern-day welding is still very much a skill and can be physically demanding. Tried and tested processes are the norm and ones that most welders (and indeed their employers) feel comfortable with. However, when we stand back a bit and analyse what the result needs to be, sometimes new processes and methods become more attractive, read on…

With last month being National Welding Month, we’re as grateful as ever for the clients that we strive to provide quick, cost-effective and high-quality support and products to. Our vision is to put peak calibre tools into the hands of welders so that we can help to keep the industry productive and profitable.

At PWP we know how important it is to perform tasks to the highest standard which is why we acknowledge how important it is to choose the right welder to get your jobs done.

 

What to consider when choosing a welding machine

There are plenty of things to consider when it comes to selecting the correct welding technology. First and foremost, it’s important to know the requirements of the job you will be using a welder for. This can include materials, location, spatial impacts and the skill available.

Welding machines and technology have advanced enormously over the past 20 years. This complicates and simplifies the selection process. Professional welding personnel are advancing from being highly skilled craftsmen to being highly competent associates to the elevated technical status of the current generation of welding machines.

With most welding machines making the conversion from dial to digital, welders in the profession must consider their adaptability to new easy-to-use interfaces as their own advantage.

Being able to trust the qualities of your welding products allows security and confidence when performing a job. Fronius manufactured machines provide the adaptability that welders need in this modern age to create bold and well-finished projects that exceed expectation.

 

Types of welding processes

Welding is a skill. Not just anyone can walk onto a site and perform a welding job. Knowing the limitations, advantages and disadvantages as well as where to buy high-quality welding machines is always going to be pivotal to a project’s success.

Knowing the restrictions and advancements of your project will enable you to consider what you require from a welder, whether that’s efficiency, space or power. Being aware of the thickness as well as the components of a material that a job will require is also imperative as not all welders are appropriate for all metals.

There are three main welding processes (not the only three exclusively) but for most projects, these are the most adaptive and efficient.

 

MIG Welding machine in action

 

What is MIG Welding?  

MIG welding (also referred to as Gas Metal Arc Welding GMAW) in reality stands for Metal Inert Gas welding and this in itself is misleading because most MIG welding is, in fact, MAG welding (Metal Active Gas) and is therefore sometimes called MIG/MAG welding!! (follow that?? – more information on the differences is listed below). It is currently the most frequently used welding process and enables high speed, good quality welding. The process can be used as a manual, mechanised or robotic process.

So how does MIG welding work? In MIG welding, a filler metal or wire ignites the welding arc when it comes into contact with the workpiece. The consumable wire is advanced by a feeding mechanism and is transferred to the weld pool at the rate it is melted. When correctly adjusted, the advancing of the wire maintains a stable arc length i.e. a constant distance of the solid wire end from the workpiece. The molten weld pool is protected from reactive oxygen in the air by a ‘shielding gas’ flowing through the torch nozzle and over the workpiece. As a result, oxygen/air is displaced with this shielding gas during welding and therefore prevents oxidation of the components.

There are three common shielding gas mixes used in MIG or MAG welding and all are generally based on the inert gas, argon.

  1. Pure Argon (actual MIG welding!) – mainly only used when MIG welding aluminium and its alloys.
  2. Argon/Co2 Mixes – welding of steel is generally performed with argon/Co2 mix shielding gases, this makes the actual process MAG welding (Metal Active Gas) as the Co2 content influences the welding process, reducing spatter and increasing arc stability
  3. Argon/Helium Mixes – Adding helium produces a wide, deep penetration profile, Helium works well with thick materials, and is usually used in ratios between 25 — 75 percent Helium to 75 — 25 percent Argon. Adjusting these ratios will change the penetration, bead profile and travel speed. Helium creates a ‘hotter’ arc, which allows for faster travel speeds and higher productivity rates.  With stainless steels, Helium is typically used in a tri-mix formula of Argon and CO2.

The advantages of MIG welding are:

  • It’s easy to learn
  • High welding and deposition rate<
  • Low filler metal costs and suitability

However, MIG welding can be problematic in exterior settings as the wind can blow away the shielding gas causing porosity in the weld due to exposure to oxygen in the air.

PWP Industrial offers a range of high-quality MIG welding machine packages which provide solutions to many welding scenarios that are come across in production. With touch screen options available now on some of the range, the MIG welders we supply are at the forefront of welder technology with its adapted usability and ease, ensuring this already speedy method goes even faster with greater repeatability. The Job functions on the Fronius machines allow you to store the parameters once they are established in a named format for easy retrieval and reuse.

 

What is TIG Welding?

Tungsten inert gas welding – or TIG welding – is a gas shielded welding process. It is also one of the fusion welding processes and can be used wherever optimum quality and spatter-free weld seams are required.

TIG welding is suitable for application on stainless steels, aluminium (an AC arc is required for aluminium welding), copper, titanium, tantalum, tungsten and nickel down to very thin sheet metal. It is most prominently used in sheet metal, pipeline and contained construction as well as aerospace applications!

When it comes to TIG welding, the current is emitted from a tungsten electrode held in the torch. The electrode emits an arc to the workpiece that rises in temperature and liquefies the surrounding material (TIG welding torches have a nozzle for directing shielding gas that surrounds the electrode and flows over the weld pool). It is important to ensure the tungsten electrode is protected because tungsten “flares” burns very readily at these temperatures in the presence of oxygen.

The inert shielding gas ensures the workpiece is primarily protected from reacting with oxygen in the surrounding air and allows for the production of high integrity welds.

The tungsten electrode that sits at the heart of TIG welding is impressive. With a melting point of 3380ºC, tungsten has the highest melting point of all pure metals in the periodic table. This ensures that the electrode does not melt when the arc is emitted to melt the workpieces.

Fronius TIG welders are all built to the highest quality to ensure fantastic and smooth welding results every single time. With a variety of packages to choose from, selecting the right TIG welder is down to your requirements. The Fronius MW230 MV package is an AC/DC machine that is portable which makes it a fantastic addition to a constantly developing site so it can be moved wherever it’s needed.

Our Fronius TT230i DC package offers the same portability and features the same bright LCD screen to provide instructions and set parameters, ensuring a great relationship between human and machine.

The advantages of TIG welding are:

  • No welding splatter
  • High visual quality appearance of weld seams
  • Its versatility for positions and general outstanding finish calibre
  • Many materials can be welded without the need to change the gas type (Argon) and simply choosing the correct filler wire.

However, TIG welding requires a high degree of skill and takes more time to complete compared to its counterparts. It’s also not suitable for thick workpieces and requires smooth rustless surfaces before use. However, with the right degree of skill and craftsmanship, TIG welding provides outstanding results.

 

What is MMA Welding?

MMA welding, or stick electrode welding, traditionally was the first arc welding technique that workers were introduced to and taught. There is a skill to it that comes with practice but it offers further insight into other welding processes so that progression is smooth.

This rod electrode process offers numerous advantages in comparison to the processes previously mentioned. In principle, all materials can be welded using electrode welding except for a few.

This process is predominantly used for steel and pipeline construction but is also used widely across the metal trade and industry. MMA allows for a variety of diverse weld seams and position, irrespective of whether this is vertical or overhead welding with high integrity of the finished weld.

Another bonus is that MMA welding does not rely on a shielding gas so this method of welding can be used outside, even in weather such as wind or rain.

For this process to move, contact between the rod electrode and workpiece ignites the arc. From this, a short circuit is created for a split second between the two poles which maintains that the current can flow. The arc burns between the two which creates the necessary fusion heat, the metal core of the rod is melted into the weld and the flux coating melts and floats on top to prevent oxygen making contact with the molten metal.

The low voltage and high amperage required for MMA welding make it favourable. This regulated and adjustable power source means that factors can be easily monitored. The amperage is the most important parameter for the quality of the welding. Therefore, it must remain as constant as possible even if the arc length changes.

Because of the versatility of this welding process and the weld quality of the finished joint, it’s no wonder it’s used so much. The MMA welding machines supplied by PWP Industrial are designed to emit low amounts of noise and to make the welder’s life as comfortable as possible with features like hot start where the power is increased for a short burst to help start the welding process.

It must be noted that MMA welders should be used in locations with plenty of ventilation or air extraction as lots of smoke can be produced. This welding option is known as the slower of the three but is particularly suited to thicker sections. With forethought and planning, this process doesn’t lose its usability.

 

TIG welding machine in action

 

Why choose Fronius welders?

Fronius offers high-quality welding solutions that have the range and diversity to meet the demand for an assortment of projects and requirements. With each welder having unique qualities it’s important to conduct thorough research to ensure you select the machine that will suit the limitations of your project.

Fronius considers itself to be a pioneer in the digital age because they are technology leaders. Fronius find, develop and implement innovative methods to monitor and control energy for welding technology, photovoltaics and battery charging. They forge new paths, try something difficult and succeed where others have failed in achieving what seems to be impossible.

This means that every bit of technology is designed to be at the head of regulations and specification with every step, even forging steps its way into the digital world.

With all that in mind, you may be wondering whether Fronius welders are worth every penny. Simply put, Fronius machines offer a full range of advanced features, and with their robust and durable designs and high specifications, you can trust that they won’t give up and are there to get the job done.

 

Where to buy welders and welding consumables?

PWP always goes the extra mile to ‘make something better’. That’s why we stock high-quality products that we trust to get your jobs done. We cover the United Kingdom using a devoted courier network that provides an unprecedented service that gets your welding materials to you when you need them.
With extensive stock lines that range from welding torches to welding consumables, PWP provides the equipment for you without all the issues.

Don’t hesitate to check out our range of welders today. For further questions or enquiries, contact us on 01234 34511 or email [email protected] to talk to our friendly, knowledgeable team.

 

Bio of Author:

This article was written by Richard Fryer, a partner at PWP Industrial with 24 years of experience.

Richard

Passionate about supporting the professional welder and a demonstrated history of supplying products to the welding and fabrication industry, Richard is an invaluable asset to PWP Industrial and contributes toward the end goal of providing innovative solutions. Connect with Richard on Linkedin.