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Learning New Skills - Welding

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Learning New Skills - Welding

Post by assassin on Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:21 am

Learning new skills benefits anyone and any new skill learned is a skill you can employ for yourself directly by doing it yourself and not having to pay for that skill, it is also a commodity you can use for the benefit of others by offering that service and for yourself as a source of bartering.

Welding is one of those skills many people assume you cannot learn, false; it is a skill which takes some knowledge and a lot of practise to master, and it is a skill which can save you a lot of money by being able to repair anything metal around the home or even fabricate your own items and save you buying them, you can even take up a hobby of sculpting metal if you like, but best of all you can recycle many forms of metal and repurpose them for your own benefit.

Many forms of welding exist along with many different welding processes and welding equipment manufacturers are servicing these requirements by selling you something you may not want or need and the common form of welding which is in vogue currently is MIG welding, so what are the processes and their pros and cons.

ARC welding (stick welding) is the oldest form of welding and is also the simplest, it has welding rods (electrodes) to suit all purposes and all you need is a welding set and some electrodes and away you go, it is the cheapest way to get into welding and is better suited to a beginner because it is cheap, in reality a beginner can pick up a good welding plant brand new for under £100 and while it may be a basic transformer based set it is simple and robust and is good enough for a beginner. When selecting an arc set be sure to look in the welding power range of 140 - 160 amps as these can be run from a domestic electrical supply and while the transformer based welding plant may be heavy for its size it is compact enough to fit into a small car boot along with a box or two of electrodes, all you need is an electrical supply and you can weld.
ARC welding can be done on metal which is not particularly clean and this is the reason it is the preferred welding method on site work applications and for pipework.

MIG is the in vogue welding process and is another form of ARC welding, unlike stick welding MIG uses a spool of wire which is continually fed into an umbilical from the spool of wire to the tip using a set of drive rollers, you can continue welding without stopping until your wire runs out theoretically. MIG welding requires a source of gas to shield the arc and typically a beginner may buy a MIG set and use the disposable bottles but these are very expensive to buy and don't last long. To get a larger bottle you need to open an account (register) with a gas supplier and pay an annual bottle rental fee, and for the gas everytime your bottle is empty and you have it refilled; you do have a choice of gases available to you and each has pros and cons, you can use CO2 as a shielding gas and if you have a ready supply of CO2 such as that from your local pub landlord or local fire extinguisher company but CO2 welding is hotter than the argon/CO2 mixes and give a dirtier weld.
MIG welders require a lot of consumables, drive rollers wear, contact tips wear, the liner in the unbilical wear and all these add to the running costs, and MIG welding requires a gas bottle to be carried. Transformer based MIG sets are heavier than a basic transformer based ARC welder as they have a wire feed motor and gearbox, gas valve to turn the gas on and off when you weld, and the weight of the wire spool which is inside the machine, then the electronic rectifier pack to rectify the AC output into a DC output. MIG welding requires very clean metal to work effectively and you cannot weld properly on dirty metal meaning you can potentially spend a lot of time cleaning metal until it is spotless, MIG has the ability to weld much thinner metals such as sheet metal as used on vehicle bodywork with the right gas.

My recommendations for a beginner

For a beginner I would say ARC welding as it welds most things well, you can buy a brand new welding plant for under £100 and boxes of electrodes from about £10 by carefully shopping around, it will weld most things even though it is only a basic AC machine and you can repair that gate hinge, get an old gas bottle, vent it properly and make that log burner for your workshop, shed or garage and have heat all year round, or even build a portal frame out of box section to extend your workshop or even build the frame for a new workshop and save yourself £££'s.
I prefer two makes, SIP are an excellent brand and their 140 amp machine will run 1.6mm, 2.0mm, 2.5mm, and 3.2mm electrodes, and while you may not be able to run many 3.2mm rods before it trips out on thermal, planning ensures you get the best of it: Clarke do a 160 amp machine and this will run 2.0mm, 2.5mm, 3.2mm, and 4mm electrodes and you can weld heavier material with fewer passes with its extra amperage, but you do lose the ability to weld thinner materials which the SIP machine will weld.

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