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Typesof metal you'll be welding on

Most welding is done on carbon steel, in the form of either pipe or sheet metal. Carbon steel (which is ordinary steel) can handle a lot of heat. Unlike the other metals listed below, this one is very forgiving when too much heat gets applied by a novice welder. Nearly all welding processes accommodate carbon steel. And you don't need a lot of features on the machine to produce a good-looking weld.

Stainless steel is much more finicky in how it deals with heat. Composed of steel, chromium and nickel, this alloy steel is used for food/beverage vessels and many other products, largely because of its anti-corrosion properties. It's typically welded using MIG or TIG machines and requires less current than carbon steel. You can also find stainless steel stick electrodes. This allows you to use a stick welding machine to get the job done. Of course, the base metal must be thick enough to stand the heat.

Aluminum is on another planet entirely. As a non-ferrous metal, aluminum conducts heat so well that you constantly need more of it to keep your puddle molten. At the same time, the work piece distorts easily if it gets too hot. Consequently, aluminum frequently requires more complex equipment to get the job done. You can use a MIG machine (especially one with a pulse welding feature), but many wirefeed mechanisms have trouble feeding the aluminum filler wire, so a special spool feeder must also be purchased. A good TIG welding machine is designed to weld aluminum. An AC power option is standard. An inverter, square wave, balance control and pulse feature are also helpful for welding aluminum. Naturally, these features add to the product cost.

Although it's not the preferred choice, a stick welding machine can also weld aluminum. Like stainless steel, the base metal must be thick enough to stand the heat.

Titanium (used on custom bicycles and airplanes), chromoly (used on motorcycles and automobiles), and other alloy steels and exotic metals have their own thermal sensitivity issues that welders must take into account. Because these metals are so expensive, you don't want to be making mistakes when you weld on them. Hence, they generally require a sophisticated TIG machine, along with plenty of set-up and fit-up, and a seasoned veteran at the controls.

This article comes from welder-suniverse edit released

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