The quality of a MIG Welder varies tremendously, dependant upon country of origin. Some welders made in eastern Europe / Taiwan / China tend to be of a lower price and accordingly of lower quality, they tend to have cheaper electronic components, don’t always last as long and spares are often difficult to get hold of.
A welder that has a higher initial cost may save you money long term as usually electronic components and wire feed and drive units are of superior quality. So its definitely worth putting in a bit of leg work before buying.
A point worth noting is that searching for a local welding supplier may be worth it as they will advise you of what spares they carry or have access to should your welder go wrong, they will more than likely be able to advise you on a purchase.
A DIY MIG Welder that is occasional use only may cost you in the region of £200 to £350 dependant on make or model. You may also consider searching on-line or in local adds (Gumtree for example) for a good used MIG welder. A used welder that has been appropriately maintained and cared for might be more than sufficient in meeting your needs and come at a price you can afford. However, beware as a good second hand MIG welder will command good residual value even more so if it is a single phase 240v 3 pin plug supply that will run from a 13 amp household socket.
Features to look for in a MIG Welder may be :- ease of use, large or small torch, “euro” torch connector, size of filler wire reel, portability (is the welder on castors or light enough to lift and move around). Does the welder have a series of rocker switches, giving combinations of output amps, or does it have a dial to increase output amps (which is infinitely more adjustable than rocker switches). All of which may make for easier use.
The material thickness will determine the amps needed for the MIG welder you are considering.
The following shows maximum steel thickness for a butt weld based on amps (approx):
- 90 amp, 2.0 mm
- 110 amp, 2.5 mm
- 130 amp, 3.0 mm
- 150 amp, 4.0 mm
- 180 amp, 5.0 mm
Keys to Using a MIG Welder
A MIG welder works through the creation of an arc between the parent metal being welded and the wire electrode. The arc creates the weld which is sealed and protected from elements by shielding gas being fed to the arc. A MIG weld generates a lot of heat and light and the welder must wear a protective shield to protect his or her eyes from ultra violet rays.
The Difference between TIG and MIG Welding
TIG welding uses a tungsten electrode. The electrode does not burn off or melt during the welding process. MIG welding uses a wire, which melts off into the weld pool. MIG welding was developed in the 1940s as a way to bind aluminum and nonferrous metals while TIG welding has been developed as a more specialist form of stainless welding steel, aluminum, copper and magnesium alloys.
One of the basics related to MIG welding is the observation of safety procedures. MIG welding uses a torch assembly that holds a consumable wire electrode that creates the weld. The welder must maintain a short arc in order for the weld to be effective. Wearing a safety shield and ear plugs and not wearing loose, combustible clothing are essential to a safe working environment when using a MIG welder.
Competency in MIG Welding comes when the operator can “set up” the machine for a particular welded joint.
Set up meaning that he or she can set the variable parameters of the welding machine (wire feed speed, amperage, gas flow) and handle the torch assembly accurately to maintain an even fillet of weld, which has sufficient penetration into the parent metal to melt and mix the molten parent and filler material into one,creating a good strong weld, and also have the skill and knowledge to maintain correct torch angles, distances from the welded joint and speed at which the operator moves the torch along the welded joint.
A MIG welder can be very useful for some car projects.
- Floor panels. Floor repairs are common particularly on older cars where the effects of water ingress into welded joints rapidly combines with road salt and damp atmosphere to speed up oxidation (better known as corrosion or rust).
- Tube frames. Roll cages for racing, space frame chassis and chassis rail repairs.
- Exhaust repair. Ideally suited to MIG welding, why replace an exhaust silencer box when you can MIG weld a “patch” on it stop gases leaking out
- Bodywork. Welds on the bodywork can be very difficult for a novice MIG welder to produce successfully. This is mainly down to lack of skill in controlling heat input and distortion, although as your skill level increases this will be possible.
Thanks for reading our blog – we hope this has been of use to you.