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Buying Your First Welding Machine

A beginner’s guide to buying a welding machine for light fabrication, maintenance, motorsports, home-hobby, farm/ranch, metal art, automotive and other DIY applications.

Understanding your Needs

While all welding machine let you accomplish many welding projects, there is one series of welding machine that gives users more flexibility than any other welding machine on the market: the Fabricator 3-in-1. This portable, integrated multi-process welding system lets you weld using the MIG, flux cored, Stick welding and TIG welding processes.

Portability, Size and Weight

In the days before inverter technology, getting the welding machine to the work site used to be a challenge in many situations. Small MIG welding machine weigh 70 lbs. or more, Stick welding machine typically weigh more than 100 lbs. and TIG welding machine are even heavier. Even moving one of these welding machine around a shop without a wheeled cart could lead to lower back strain.

Amperage and Metal Thickness

When someone asks, “What thickness of metal can that unit weld,” they are really referring to metal thickness that can be welded in a single pass while achieving full penetration.

Notes on Selecting a Stick Welder

Stick inverters make it much easier to learn to weld because they have a “hot start” function. During Stick arc initiation, the rod is prone to sticking because the voltage drops to zero when the rod touches the work piece. Hot start helps to free the rod and establish the arc by automatically boosting the welding current for a fraction of a second during arc starts. Once the arc is established, the hot start function shuts off.

Stick inverters also have the ability to adjust arc force or “dig” characteristics. Increasing dig creates a stiffer, more driving arc that helps prevent the rod from sticking when welding overhead or welding in tight fit-up situations. 7018 electrodes especially tend to run better with a little more arc force added, while 6011 and 6013 electrodes favor less or neutral arc force settings.

Note that some conventional Stick welding machine are built specifically to excel at welding with one type of electrode or in one particular application (it has to do with their volt/amp curve, which is an advanced topic). Because Stick inverters with arc force adjustment enable you to adjust the arc characteristics from soft to stiff, you always get the best performance in any situation.

People who grew up welding with a classic Stick buzz box and its AC output might be concerned about switching to a DC output. However, if you imagine an electric current flowing only in one direction, it’s easy to picture how a DC output creates more positive arc starts, helps keep the arc established and makes the rod less prone to sticking. These benefits make Stick welding a lot easier to learn! Other benefits of a DC output include reduced spatter, easier out-of-position welding and better weld bead aesthetics.

Notes on Buying a MIG/Flux Cored Welder

Inverted-based MIG welding machine create extremely positive arc starts (little or no popping) and a very stable welding arc with minimal spatter. They can react to changing welding conditions (typically arc length and electrode stick out) extremely quickly and adjust their output to maintain consistent performance.

Inverted technology also makes it affordable to incorporate features found on industrial MIG welding machine, such as inductance control. Without going into too much technical detail, adding inductance decreases the number of short circuits per second while increasing the amount of arc-on time per short circuit. This creates a more fluid weld puddle (better “wet out”), which in turn produces smoother beads and a flatter crown.

Inductance noticeably improves results on stainless steel. The properties of stainless keep the heat of the welding arc very localized. The puddle does not like to wet out, resulting in a ropey looking bead with a high crown. Adding inductance—more arc on time—helps solve these problems.

This article comes from victortechnologies edit released

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