MIG welding or metal inert gas welding is a process in which an electric arc forms between a consumable wire electrode and the metal being welded, causing them to join, forming the weld. When buying a MIG welder it is important to consider many different factors:
- Electrical supply
- Purpose of the welder
- Duty cycle
MIG welding requires an electrical source to feed the spool of wire into the welding gun. Electricity also provides the power required to maintain the welding arc between the wire and object being fused. The required power supply varies by machines models is either single or three phase. Running your machine without adequate power supply will trip breakers or cause your machine to run inefficiently. Be sure to read the specifications required for power supply before purchasing your unit.
Deciding what welder to buy should be based on your intended use for the welder.
- Small business
A hobbyist would choose a welder at the small-range while a small business such as a farmer would require a mid-size welder able to perform bigger scale work. Professional welders who make a living in this trade would choose a higher end industrial model. Once you know what your use will be you can then begin looking in your model range without being overwhelmed.
A duty cycle is generally defined as the number of minutes out of a 10 minute period a welding machine can operate within the manufacturer’s safety guidelines. Important factors to consider when reviewing the duty cycle of a welder are:
- How long the machine can operate without overheating or becoming damaged.
- Length of duty cycle running the machine at 10% capacity (with an active arc)
Low end models have lower duty cycles while industrial models have high end duty cycles. It is important to make sure any model you purchase has an emergency overheating protection system.
Purchasing equipment such a MIG welder is a large investment. Consider the following when purchasing your welder:
- New or used
- Ease of use
Depending on your needs, buying used or new could be important for your budget. New welders usually come with a manufacturer’s warranty protecting your investment in case of malfunctioning. If a warranty is not important, looking in classified ads such as craigslist or your local newspaper are viable options. On line auction sites such as Ebay offer a large quantity of used welders in various models and sizes. As with buying anything used, make sure your purchase is covered in case of faulty or non-operating equipment. The advantage of buying used is the price is more affordable and it allows you to try a model you may not have otherwise tried especially in the case of a hobbyist who wouldn’t rely on a welder to run a business or provide income.
Best mig welder reviews, the size of a welder will influence the price and has to be taken into consideration. A small hobbyist or home use welder costs approximately $400 dollars while an industrial welder can cost approximately $10,000 dollars.
Ease of use is one major factor to be considered before buying your welder. How the wire feeds, internally or externally as well as portability of a machine will further impact the price.
Accessories are also to be considered. Looking at the replacement costs for the various parts of your welder will help in your decision. The following is a list of items to be considered:
- Contact tips
- Torch liners
- Torch necks
- Welding gun
- Gas regulator
Once you’ve narrowed down your selection, knowing the cost of replacement parts and accessories can help you determine what machine is best for you.
Quality is the biggest consideration on your budget. The old adage of you get what you pay for is good to remember. Low quality machines being manufactured overseas don’t stand up to the test of time, but if that is not a concern, looking for a unit from overseas may be a good choice for your budget.
The higher quality machines have better electronics inside and better wire feeds. An advantage of a quality machine for example, is the wire feed. The more expensive units have better wire feed control and vary to suit the power being used as well as better motors to support the automatic feeding of the wire.
MIG welders are manufactured all over the world. Knowing your purpose and budget will help in determining which is best for you. According to weldmyworld.com this is a list of some of the best manufacturers of MIG welders:
- Thermal Arc
There are many online forums available open to the discussion of which is the “best”. Asking for and reading reviews of any model will help narrow down the decision but be advised you will find people favor their machine or brand as they do their preferred choice of automobile.
Once you’ve decided on what model you want, finding the location to purchase it is next. Several items to consider are the following:
- Repair center available
- Supplies readily available
When choosing a manufacturer, check to see if there is a local repair center for that brand. Oftentimes discount hardware stores will sell a particular model but not have any local support in case of needed repairs which could leave you scrambling to find a repair center.
The same applies to supplies and replacement parts. Having a store that carries your items and supports your purchase should be factored into your decision.
Dealers are generally welding supply shops authorized to carry certain brands, their supplies as well as are certified to do repairs on the equipment. If you depend on a welder for your business or income, it is best to use a certified dealer, while a hobbyist would be best served with a discount or box hardware store.
When purchasing a MIG welder you have many things to consider, such as use, duty cycle, electric needs, budget, manufacturer and location to purchase. Taking your time to research your purchase will save you money in the long run.
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