Things to Consider Before Buying a Welding Machine
A welding machine should be considered a long-term investment which makes it important for potential buyers to consider all of their alternatives before making a purchase. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a universal welding process. The situation will largely dictate which welding processes are suitable and what type of welding machine should be used. Some of the most common welding processes include metal arc welding (MIG), gas tungsten arc welding (TIG), shielded metal arc welding (stick welding or stick electrode welding), and flux cored welding.
The first thing to consider before buying a welding machine is whether or not it is actually the best solution. It is important to know that this is different from plasma cutting. Welding is a process used to join are fastened two pieces of similar metals together by melting and fusing them. On the other hand, plasma cutters are used for cutting in fabricating metal. Many people confuse the two or incorrectly assume welding and plasma cutting can be accomplished with a single machine.
The second thing to consider is what type of material will commonly be welded. Gas metal arc welding is a process which consists of feeding a bare metal filler wire in conjunction with a shielding gas through a hand-held torch unit. On contact it creates the ark which does the actual welding. For the most routine joining applications, a MIG welder is typically the best option. Not only is it the easiest process to learn, but it can weld light gauge material including the most common metals (carbon steel, stainless steel, and aluminum)
The third thing to consider is whether or not there are any time requirements which may restrict the process. This is important because each type of machine has a different duty cycle. The duty cycle is the length of time a welder can be used before it needed to be turned off so that it can cool down. Less expensive welders often have a shorter duty cycle than more expensive welders. Some welders can even continuously run at a 100 percent duty cycle.
The final thing to consider is available power and portability. If the welding machine is being purchased for use in a shop it may not need to be very portable and will constantly have a significant power supplied access. On the other hand, heavy duty field repairs will require a package which can effectively manage different sizes and types of metal while also being easily portable. Welding machines use in field repairs may not have access to electrical hookup which means a gas powered, engine driving generator will be needed to supply welding and auxiliary power.