Hi! Welcome to website. My name is James and I have created this website to share my reviews and experiences on various welding machines. My motive is to build a platform that can bring all welding enthusiasts together to share personal experiences and opinions. Not only this, I also aim at helping the novice welders on various welding related issues. Be it buying a brand new welder or learning the fundamentals of welding, you will find many thing related to welding here.
In this website I have provided my personal views on numerous welding machines and hope you too will spare some time to help me out by commenting below, your own point of views on each tool under considerations, engaging in a discussion and joining me in this honest campaign.
In case you are an experienced welder, you can freely skip this and proceed further, but if you are somewhat novice, this section is a crucial part for you. It will provide you better knowledge and understanding about the various welding processes and let you know how each welder performs, how much operator skill is necessary and the particular tool that is suitable for you.
A welder is a useful tool for accomplishing all sorts welding tasks. In metal fabrication welding, having the right tool is necessary, for better weld quality and to ensure the job done correctly. Sadly, a single tool is not capable for all applications. So let’s briefly overview the various welding processes, highlighting the benefits and limitations of each, so that we can decide the most suitable process for a specific requirement.
Types of Welding
The most common welding methods for metal fabrication are MIG, Flux-cored, TIG and STICK welding. Plasma cutting is also considered a vital part of metal fabrication welding. Each of the welding processes has its own distinctive set of benefits and drawbacks, making each one ideal for some applications but not applicable for others. You will soon notice that there is no such method that is perfect for all applications.
In MIG welding, the welder uses a wire welding electrode that feeds the spool automatically at a constant preselected speed. Here the metals are joined by creating an electrical arc between the two metal pieces. A gas shield is used in this type of welding. This process is best for high quality indoor weld.
Some of the benefits of MIG welding:
- Easiest to learn— ideal for beginners
- Good for welding metals such as stainless steel, steel, and aluminum alloys; also applicable on a variety of materials
- You can weld metals as thin as 26-gauge and also thick metal plates on multiple phases
- All position welding, including overhead can be done
- Shielding is provided by gas, so no slag removal is necessary— produces clean weld every time
- Offers more welding speed in comparison to other welding processes
- MIG is better than flux-cored if cosmetic appearance is considered
Few limitations of MIG welding:
- Several phases are required for welding thick metals
- You can’t access much control over the weld when working on thicker materials
- Not ideal for outdoor sites like farm or fields due to usage of gas and porosity risk
- The equipments required are more complex and initially more expensive
Flux-Cored welding is a similar process as MIG welding. The only aspect that differentiates flux-cored from MIG is that it doesn’t use gas for shielding.
Some of the advantages of flux-cored welding are:
- Ideal for outdoor sites as the welding is less affected by drafts, so it is better than MIG for outdoor applications.
- Lesser risk of puddle or porosity when compared to MIG
- Welding can be done even on rusty and dirty materials
- More portable as additional gas bottle is not necessary
Some limitations of flux-cored are:
- Slag removal is necessary
- Flux-cored is not very good for welding aluminum
- Not recommended for applications related to auto-body
As MIG and Flux-cored are somewhat similar, almost all the MIG welders come with Flux-cored feature, as the requirements are unpredictable in most cases. According to me it’s best to have a wire feed welder that has both features.
A good quality MIG/flux-cored welder is usually available from $500.
Some of the best MIG/flux-cored welder: Hobart Handler 140, Lincoln PowerMIG 180, Miller Millermatic 211, …
TIG welding or Gas Tungsten Arc welding is a process in which a non-consumable tungsten electrode is used to form an arc. The arc is shielded by gas. Basically argon is used in TIG welding.
Benefits of TIG welding are:
- Ideal for welding vast range of metals including stainless steel, steel, cast iron, copper, chromoly, brass, and also some exotic metals like titanium and magnesium
- Applicable for all-position welding, including overhead
- Best for welding thinner metals but can also be used for thicker metals
- Offers highest precision weld and aesthetic weld beads
- Allows you to adjust the amount of heat input by using foot pedal or hand amperage control
- No spatter or slag is formed
Few limitations of TIG welding are:
- It’s quite a slow process when compared to MIG or Flux-cored welding
- Needs higher operator skill— not ideal for entry level welders
Best TIG welders are usually available from $800.
Some of the best TIG welder: Hobart EZTig 165, AHP AlphaTIG 200X, Everlast PowerTIG 200DX, Everlast PowerTIG 250EX, …
It‘s also known as shielded Metal arc welding. This welding process uses a consumable and flux coated electrode, containing a metal that matches the base metal to be welded.
Some useful benefits of stick welding are:
- Best for welding steel, stainless steel or cast iron. Most of the materials can be welded
- Ideal for outdoor sites as the weld is not affected by drafts
- Welding can be done in any position; even at odd positions
- Least expensive – no additional equipment is necessary
There are also some limitations of stick welding:
- Welding is limited to 18-gauge for thin metals
- Overhead welding is not possible
- Only experts are capable of stick welding aluminum materials
- Slag must be cleaned after every weld
Flux-cored is a contrast to stick welding as in flux-cored the flux wire is fed with metals. For this reason it‘s known as inside-out stick electrode. It’s also far expensive than stick. Stick welding is a more versatile process as it’s applicable to almost all the materials. The best stick welders are available at rates ranging from $350 to $5000.
Some of the best stick welder: Lincoln Electric AC/DC 225/125, Everlast PowerARC 160STH, Thermal Arc W1003203 95S, …
Plasma cutting is a process in which metals of various thicknesses is cut using a plasma torch. During the process, a gas is blown at high speeds out of a nozzle, when at the same time an electrical arc is formed turning some of the gas into plasma. This plasma will be hot enough to melt the metals being cut.
Benefits of plasma cutting are:
- Allows you to cut any metal sheet or plate fast and accurately
- Useful tool to use along with a welder
Some limitations are:
- Only applied for cutting metals
- Only higher-end tools are applicable for cutting thicker materials
Top-rated plasma cutters are usually available from $300.
Some of the best plasma cutters: Lotos LTP5000D, Hobart Airforce 500i, Hypertherm Powermax45, …
Which welder best suits your Applications?
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 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 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.
For more MIG welders in all categories, please check Mig welder reviews.
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 in 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.
For more Flux-cored welders you can check the top Flux-cored welder reviews.
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% duty cycles are mostly sufficient for many handheld TIG welding applications in construction and industrial sites. For small welding purposes based on home, a welder with 150A to 180A power output is suitable. 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.
For more top-rated TIG welders in all categories, you can check Tig welder reviews.
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.
For more Stick welders you can check the top stick welder reviews.
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 ability of TIG and stick welding.
To know more about plasma cutters, please check Plasma cutter guide.
Hope this helped you in clearing your doubts on welders, up to some extent. I always recommend my customers to not select a welder only because it’s cheap, but you have to look at the overall aspects of the tool. Checking out the reviews provided by other users can make it whole lot easier for you in buying the right welder. For reviews you can check top reviews.