So you want to own your own welding machine. There are a few things you should take into consideration when shopping for one. First of all, what do you need it for? Is it for business? Or are you going to be using it for general repairs? From here you can move on to cost. What kind of money are you willing to shell out to get one? Is it really worth it to you to actually buy one or should you just rent? And that brings you to ‘process’. Do you need an arc welder? Or will a torch do just as well? Keep in mind that a torch can be set up to cut in addition to welding. If you want to go with a torch, there's not much that you'll need to take into account. Cylinder capacity will be a big thing. Larger cylinders can hold more gas, but are more difficult to transport, and potentially more dangerous. Then you'll need regulators, those will be fairly standard. You will also need hoses. Hoses come in a variety of lengths allowing you to pick one that's best suited to your projects. And then you'll need the torch itself. Another good investment for a torch will be a cleaning tool. Keeping the torch clean helps prevent backfire. There's a lot of other little attachments and things you can purchase for a torch, but mainly when you've got a cylinder, regulators, hoses and torch, you've got an oxyfuel welder.
If you choose to go with an electric arc welder, there's considerably more to take into account before you buy one. Cost or course is a major factor. Then there's duty cycle. Duty cycle is how long you can actually operate a welder at a given amperage in a ten minute period. For example, a duty cycle of 50% means that you can use the machine for five minutes out of every ten. And then you need to consider whether you need an AC machine, DCRP, DCSP, or all three. You have to consider too, if the machine you're buying is right for the process you want to use or are you buying something that a simpler machine can accomplish. Some more trivial things to think about are, lead length, what power is available vs. what will you need, and brand name. During my studies at a technical college, I mostly used Hobart welders, and they seemed to be perfect for the jobs I was given, but as with every product, there are cheap ones that won't perform the way you're expecting, and break down at the most inconvenient times. Owning your own welder is great as long as you put in a little thought before you purchase it.
Written by Dustin Saunders