Tips for Buying Your First Welder

Tips for Buying Your First Welder

Things You Should Consider Before Buying Your First Welder 

With a wide range of welding processes to choose from, buying your first welder can be confusing. No single welding process can meet the requirement of all applications. To make the best purchase, there are certain factors that you need to consider. In this article, we will walk through some valuable tips for buying your first welder.  

Getting Started 

To determine which welding process is the best for your needs and applications it is critical to consider the below factors: 

  • Your welding skills 
  • Types of welding processes available  
  • Advantages of each welding process 

Welding Processes 

There are various welding techniques, but the most common welding processes are MIG, TIG, and stick. Each technique has its own set of capabilities. There is no single process suitable for all applications.  

MIG Welding (Metal Inert Gas) or Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)  

In this technique, a consumable electrode (continuous wire) is heated from a welding gun and continuously fed into the weld pool. An arc is created by the supplied welding current between the electrode and base metal. This arc melts the electrode and base metal to form a strong joint. During the welding process, the gun also feeds a shielding gas alongside the electrode to protect the weld pool from airborne contaminants. MIG welding is simple, clean, and versatile making it one of the most frequently used techniques. The process is suitable for welding both thin and thick metals.  

Like MIG, flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) is also a wire feed process. However, the self-shielded FCAW doesn’t require any shielding gas. Here, the flux-cored wire shields the arc from airborne contaminants. Simple, effective, portability and high welding speed makes FCAW suitable for welding in construction, outdoors, and windy conditions. 

Both MIG and flux-cored welding are easy to learn and capable of creating extremely clean welds on aluminum and steel. They can weld materials as thin as 26 gauge.  

Stick Welding or Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)  

In stick welding, an arc forms at the point of contact between the electrode and workpiece. Stick welding is used for welding most alloys. The process can be used indoors, outdoors, and in drafty areas.  It is the most economical method and can also weld rusty metals. However, this method of welding is not suitable for metals thinner than 18 gauge, needs frequent rod changing, produces more splatter, and requires cleaning of the finished welds. Further, stick welding is difficult to master. The process is used to weld thicker metals of 1/16 inch or more.  

TIG Welding (Tungsten Inert Gas) or Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) 

In this technique, a non-consumable tungsten electrode is used to make a weld joint. An arc is created by the supplied welding current between the electrode and base metal. In TIG welding, the electrode is non-consumable and doesn’t melt. Filler material, if required, is fed externally. The weld pool is protected from atmospheric contaminants by a shielding gas, though some welds might not require it. 

TIG welding is more complex and slower than other techniques. However, the process allows the operator to have greater control over the weld. The result is a strong, high-quality weld. TIG welding can be used to weld thin sections of stainless steel, steel alloy, and non-ferrous metals such as magnesium, aluminum, and copper alloys.  

Factors To Consider Before You Buy a Welder 

Some of the factors that you need to consider before buying a welder include - your welding applications, budget, type and thickens of the welding material, ease of use of the welder, etc.  

The diagram below summarizes each welding process. Consider the below factors that best match your welding projects.  

Another critical factor to consider is the power requirement. How much power does the welder require for operation? Power requirements can be found on the product description page for a welder.  

Budget Considerations 

The type of welder you buy needs to be suitable for the specific functions you require and projects you typically work on, but it also must fit into your budget. What are the factors you should keep in mind when determining your budget? Consider the future usefulness of the welder. Do you require a welder with more power, excellent heat control, or ease of portability? Are you interested to use or learn additional welding processes?  

Taking note of other factors such as power requirement, duty cycle, and amperage provides economical and effective operational results for your welding projects. You also need to include the cost of accessories and supplies in addition to the cost of the welder. Factoring in future maintenance and repair cost gives you an understanding of how much money you might need to spend on the welder in the future. Make sure to get all essential welding safety equipment needed for welding. PPE requirements include helmets, gloves, fire-resistant apparel, and shoes.  

Define your processes, needs, and projects before you decide on which welder to purchase. Considering the critical factors can help you choose the best welder for your welding projects. Do you have any questions or clarifications? ESAB can answer any questions you have about welding and help you choose the right welder that is best to accomplish your welding projects.