MIG welders are used for applications related to general maintenance and repair, home, farm and ranch application, and auto-body workshops. In MIG welders you can look for features like thermal overload protection and auto-set function. You should also consider the duty cycle of the system. For example, a MIG welder with a duty cycle of 20% at 180 Amps will operate 2 minutes in 8 minutes of cool down time, whereas the same tool offers 60% duty cycle at around 113 Amps. The lesser is the power output the more is the duty cycle.
If you need a MIG welder for home based work then you can go for a welder with an output power of 140A. For industrial applications, a welder with 230A or more is good. But if you need a welding machine for both fields then a welder that can run on multiple voltages is ideal for you.
Flux-Cored Arc Welders
Flux-cored welders are a good substitute for MIG if weld appearance is not important. Also for outdoor metal fabrication for maintenance and repair, flux-cored welders are ideal. However, Flux-cored is not very much recommended for Auto-body workshops. Just like in MIG, a duty cycle of at least 40% to 60% is necessary for flux-cored welders, for thicker metal penetration. 115V flux-cored welder can weld metals up to 1/4 inch and 230V welder can weld up to 1/2 inch thick metals.
TIG welders are good for materials related to aluminum. For those who have the urge to get high-quality weld every time, a TIG welder is the ultimate choice. TIG welders are mostly used for home repair, garage jobs, auto-body workshops, chassis or frame fabrication, preparing aluminum oil pans or stainless exhaust, metal art and sheet metal applications.
20% duty cycle is ideal for a typical hobbyist-type TIG welder, whereas an automatic setup for TIG may require a 100% duty cycle due to the possible longer welding times. 40% to 60% of duty cycles are ideal for many handheld TIG applications in construction and industrial sites. For small welding purposes based on home, a welder with 150A to 180A power output is suitable, and for heavier tasks you can go for 200A and for most complicated and industrial applications, a welder with 250A or more power output is best.
Stick welders are most useful and best appliances for all general construction applications related to various sites including maintenance and repair shops, shipboard installation or repairs, plant fabrication and repair, home, farm and ranch applications. You can choose between stick welders with only AC compatibility or both AC/DC. For better weld quality I personally recommend buying a stick welder with AC/DC feature.
In stick welders, you would also like to consider ‘Hot Start Function’. In stick welding, when the rod touches the work piece during arc initiation, the rod becomes prone to sticking as the voltage drops to zero. Hot start function helps to free the rod by boosting the current automatically.
Plasma cutters are used in small workshops as well as large industrial sites that daily deal with metal cutting tasks. Keeping in mind the duty cycle and power output, the most important thing you ought to consider is the type of cut you need. For example, if you usually cut ½-inch thick metal, and only occasionally cut a little thicker metal, say 3/4 of an inch, then a ½-inch system will do for you. There are also a few high-end plasma cutters that have the same abilities of TIG and stick welders.