Welding can be used for a variety of projects, whether you are a hobbyist, a farmer, a DIY enthusiast, or anything in between. Welding can be used to repair cars, boats, etc., or to make everyday household furniture. Welding can provide a way to make money on the side, or serve as a full-time job. Getting started with welding can be relatively inexpensive and can cost under $1k. A list of inexpensive welders can be found in the Pro Welders Guide.
There are various types of welding; however, one is regarded as the most straightforward type for beginners. This article will dive deeper into the basics of MIG welding.
MIG stands for metal inert gas and is also sometimes referred to as GMAW or gas metal arc welding. It is the process of melting and joining metal pieces together using electricity. It is sometimes referred to as the "hot glue gun" process of welding because of its simplicity and ease. It is a flexible solution to making repairs and fabrications.
To get started with MIG welding, it is important to understand how to prep the metal that is going to be welded. It is crucial to note that the MIG wire does not fight against dirt, dust, oil, or other contaminants, as well as a stick or flux-corded electrodes. It is important to clean down to bare metal using a metal brush or grinder before striking an arc. You should also ensure that your work clamp connects to clean metal.
When prepping equipment for MIG welding, there are multiple things to check for. Cables should be checked before striking an arc. After the cables are checked, the electrode polarity should be selected. The gas flow should also be set, followed by a tension check. Lastly, consumables should be inspected, and excess and worn parts should be discarded accordingly.
In terms of wire selection, there are two types. An AWS classification ER70S-3 should be used for all-purpose welding. An ER70S-6 wire should be used when additional deoxidizers are needed for welding on steel containing dirt or rust. In terms of wire diameter, a .030-inch diameter is a good choice for welding a vast range of metal thicknesses in motorsports or home projects. For thinner material, a .023-inch wire should be used to reduce the input of heat. Thicker material with higher total heat levels should use a .035 inch.
As for gas, a 75% argon/ 25% carbon dioxide blend works well as an all-purpose shielding gas for carbon steel. Voltage can be figured out using a reference chart located inside of the door housing the wire feed system. Once that is determined, either the push or pull technique can be used. More information on push vs. pull can be found at millerwelds.com. It is also important to figure out the travel angle, as well as the working angle.
Once you have familiarized yourself with the basics of MIG welding, it is time to put your knowledge to the test. The most important thing to note with MIG welding is that it takes practice. Different techniques require varying travel speed, which can be perfected through trial and error. As your understanding of these techniques grows, so will your ability to weld using MIG.