MIG welding stands for metal inert gas, but what is MIG welding exactly? It is the use of a solid metal wire electrode fed into a weld pool using a welding gun. Unlike some forms of welding, metal inert gas one does not have any special additive chemicals that counter the effects of oil or rust on metals, and instead, the surface has to be cleaned first. As you weld, the gas is used as a shielding substance to keep the surfaces you are welding free from contamination.
MIG welding is by far the most popular among enthusiasts, people who are new to this activity. It is due to the shorter period it takes to learn the basics and get to welding itself. In a nutshell, here are the considerations before utilizing MIG welding.
Before engaging in any type of welding activities, you should ensure you have all the necessary safety gear. In this case, you will need leather gloves, a flame-resistant coat, pants., safety glasses to protect your eyes from the bright sparks and the splatter, and a helmet for your head. Also, make sure to secure any loose clothing or hair.
Because you do not get any chemical additives on your electrodes, you have to deal with rusty or oily surfaces before you can do any welding. Use a metal brush or any other cleaning equipment to adequately clean the metal piece you intend to weld to ascertain you get the best weld stability.
I advise you to select the wire relative to the thickness of the metal or metals you intend to weld together. Use thinner wires for thin materials and thicker wire diameters for larger surfaces that may require deeper penetration for a stable weld. The wire sticking out from your electron gun should not be too long. I advise you to use it just under half an inch long.
Ensure you have the right equipment with all the connections secure and not moving and make sure to check the wire tension and set the electrode polarity. In MIG welding, a positive DC electrode is used. I advise you to stick to this feature.
The gas flow is optimal at about twenty to twenty-five-cubic feet per hour. As part of the safety precautions, check for any gas leaks in your pipes, as it may eventually affect the quality of welds you get.
The next step in MIG welding is determining the mix of gas that you want to use. It directly influences the depth of penetration of your welds. In general application, a 75/25 argon to carbon dioxide mix is the best option. It offers sufficient penetration for conventional welds and does not cause too much splatter. It also makes for really good-looking welds.
If you are working with especially thick materials that need more deep welds, a 100 percent carbon dioxide selection will serve you for sure. The downside of it is rough-looking welds with too much splatter. When you are welding and start noticing inconsistent splatter and large beads forming even with consistent travel speed, check for gas leaks and adjust gas levels.
The two important angles when welding are work and travel ones. The work angle is the way you hold the gun according to how the joint you are welding is aligned. The travel one is the angle of the welding gun relative to its position if it were held perpendicularly. The best work angle may vary, depending on the splatter you can tolerate, as, for less substance, you need smaller travel angles.
When you are welding on vertical, horizontal, or upside-down platforms, vary your travel speed and welding angles appropriately to get the result you need. I can’t recommend a universal solution, as the conditions for different welds vary in many areas, including the type of metal, joint, butt, T-joint, or spot welding.
The last variable for MIG welding is the voltage and ampere for use. Check your welding machine for specifications, as most brands offer a chart showing different preferences. Always ensure your workpiece is properly clamped with the ground from the welding machine.
Pros of MIG Welding
- Easy to learn;
- You can manage the process with one hand;
- Good for all metal thicknesses;
- Varying gas levels allow different weld depths.
- May causes temperature shock on metals;
- May create brittle joints in some materials.