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Tips and Tricks for MIG Welding

MIG Welding

MIG welding is a very popular form of welding that is used in many applications. Welding is a challenging career. Veteran welders are always able to use tips that will help make their job easier, and beginning welders can use tips to further their education and their careers.

Use the right wire type.

It is very important when doing MIG welding work to use the right kind of wire for the base metal that you are welding. It makes good sense and for many it is common sense but there are welders who will try to weld using only mild steel wire for everything rather than adjusting based on the project. While in some cases this may save money and may even work, for many projects it is a very bad idea because of issues such as thermal cycling. So when doing MIG welding work, use stainless steel wire when welding stainless steel, steel wires for welding steel, aluminum for aluminum work and nickel rods when welding nickel alloys.

Use the right shielding gas.

The right shielding gas can make your job a whole lot easier. Using CO2 is a good idea for great penetration on thick steel but that gas doesn't work as well on thin metals. A mix of 75% Argon and 25% CO2 works well for both thick and thin steels, so having just this mix can save you some money and make your job a bit easier since it will work for both. When welding aluminum, straight argon or a mixture of helium and argon works well. Using pure argon will only successfully work on thin metals so keep that in mind as you work. Tri-mixes of helium, argon, and CO2 work well on stainless steels and in some cases a 98% argon and 2% oxygen mix will work for some stainless work.

Try to avoid strange mixtures that some recommend, such as 82% argon and 18% CO2. While the idea behind a mix like this is good ‚Äď that it can be used for short circuit mig as well as spray transfer mig ‚Äď the reality is that it is very difficult to find these kinds of mixes. They also can be much more expensive.

Get better penetration.

When you are welding thin metal, you want to avoid burn thru so it's a good idea to keep the arc further back so that you don't have burn thru. This is also a good method for when you have to weld downhill, such as when working on an auto.

At other times, you need deep penetration, such as when you are working on a pressure vessel or a trailer hitch. Another very important job that requires good penetration is pipe welding. Pipe welding is often done uphill and sometimes cold lap is a big concern. If this is the case and you have to have good penetration, then keep the arc at the leading edge of the puddle. This helps in two ways. One, gravity will pull the puddle behind the arc, giving you better penetration. Two, you won't have to worry about having good penetration when you reach the top of the pipe if you already have the arc ahead of the puddle, as having the arc too far back in the puddle is often a serious problem that pipe welders face.

These are just three of the many tips that can help MIG welders create stronger welds and have an easier time doing it. MIG welding is a rewarding career, and any tip that you can learn that will help you advance is a good one to remember. Even if they seem to be common sense, tips are valuable to welders of all skill levels.

Ed C.

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