Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welder is the primary tool of a welding workshop. This efficient machine can melt and join two or more pieces of metal together with the uses of electricity. Usually, a MIG welder is commonly seen in construction work and metal repair shops. But you can keep a handy MIG welder in your storeroom. It can be a great asset when you need to repair or attach metallic pieces. As an example, you can fix broken fences or the window of your house.
But most people don’t know how to use a MIG welder. They may feel welding with MIG tough to do. That’s why I am presenting you with the MIG welding tips for beginners in this content. You will get a bonus too.
Before starting the primary process, I would like to share the background of wire welder or MIG welder.
MIG welder is also known as “hot glue gun,” “wire welder,” etc. names. You may call it any of them. The method or activities of MIG welder was developed in the mid of the 20th century (around the 1940s). The application of this machine is still the same.
Recently, MIG welding has got a new name. Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) is the industrial name. Yet, many people don’t know how GMAW works. They just know the same old thing, MIG welder. So, the name change hasn’t brought anything newer.
You can weld these types of metals with a wire welder:
- Stainless steel
- Carbon steel
- Silicone bronze
If you are new or beginner in MIG welding, you should know the primary advantages and disadvantages of this welding device.
- MIG welder can join various types of metals with sufficient thicknesses
- You can weld at any position
- It provides a beautiful weld bead
- Chance of minimum weld splatter
- Easy to learn and apply
- You can use welder on thin to medium thick metals
- Inert gas usage makes it less portable while Arc welding needs no external source of shielding gas
- It can be sloppier and less controlled weld if you compare it with Tungsten Inert Gas Welding (TIG)
How does a MIG welder work?
Electricity flows through the welding machine. Then it creates a short circuit between the continuously fed anode and cathode. Anode here refers to the wire-feed welding gun and cathode to the thing you are welding.
Then the short circuit produces while a reactionless or inert gas melts the metal. Then it gets mixed together. If you take time to cool the metal, it will transform into a new piece of fused solid metal.
There will be a gas tank beside the welder. Usually, this tank contains 100% Argon or CO2 and Argon mixture. This mixture shields the weld when it forms. You can weld without the gas. The welds may look brown, splattered, and less sturdy. But gas welding makes the stable job done with pure satisfaction.
The welding gun gets all the attention. It has a trigger to control the wire feed and the electricity flows. A replaceable copper tip guides the wire. It is different in different types of welder machines. There will be ceramic or metal cup covering the gun tip’s exterior.
There is a thing that completes the circuit between the welder and the welded object. It is the circuit cathode, the ground clamp. You should clip it directly to the welded object or onto a metal welding table. You may use two clamps if you need them. You should make sure that the clip has good contact with the object.
Ready to start???
Okay! Before you start using MIG welder, you need to be prepared with proper safety measures. After all, you are going to work with metal and electricity.
These can be called MIG welding safety tips for beginners. You should use proper welding equipment for beginners. Read below to know what are the material. Follow these to stand against extreme heat and light created during welding:
- The first safety tip is the protection of your eyes. When you weld something, there will be an extremely bright light. It has the efficiency to cause burning in your eyes and also skin. So, you should cover your face with a high-quality welding mask. If you work with metal very often, you can choose an auto-darkening welding mask. Manual masks can be handy. But you will need to nod your head or move mask with a free hand. For more safety, the welding screen would be a more significant idea.
- Think of your hands. You do the welding with bare hands and get burnt with molten metal splattering. You can use thin gloves to protect your hands as well as have better control of welder. You can also choose thick gloves as you want. Leather gloves can’t protect your skin from the heat. But they can make a shield against UV light.
- By any chance, you don’t have leather things with you. You should wear cotton clothing. Don’t try to use plastic fiber or rayon. They will melt when they come in contact with molten metal. Cotton is not 100% satisfying yet at least it won’t
- Avoid wearing shoes or synthetic shoes that keep your toes open. When you are joining a piece of metal together, the molten metal can catch your toes. Buy non-flammable leather shoes or boots.
- The workshop or place for welding is also necessary. The workplace should have a proper ventilation system. Otherwise, the hazardous fumes may go into your lungs and bring breathing difficulties.
- Take measures to prevent fire. Molten metal can jump a couple of feet away from the welder. Even the grinding sparks are more dangerous. Keep the workplace free from any sawdust, paper, or plastic. You should be careful about your surroundings while you weld the metals. Experts suggest keeping fire extinguisher or CO2 in the welding workshop. You should try to keep that besides the exit door. Avoid water extinguisher to stay protected from getting electrocuted.
- Experts recommend avoiding the welding of galvanized steel. It contains zinc coating, which can produce carcinogenic and very much poisonous gas while you burn it. You may get heavy metal poisoning if you do so.
So, once you have followed the safety tips well, go for the next steps. These are the main tasks of how to use a MIG welder.
You’ll be surprised, there is a new machine which 3D prints metal using a process similar to MIG welding just like an ordinary 3d printer but on metal!
Prep the Weld
You should prep the weld properly. This preparation includes welder and metal for welding. First, you need to be sure that you have opened the valve to shielding gas. The flow of gas would be 20 cubic feet per hour that flow through the regulator. Then, open the welder and attach the grounding clamp to the welding table or the object for welding directly. You will need ample wire speed and power settings.
Clean the metal workpiece and grind the sharp edges down to join them correctly. You may start welding without cleaning them. Yet the results won’t be the same.
Lay the Bead
As you have set the welder and metal object, now you can start the primary process. You should practice first if you are a beginner. Practicing also helps to know that everything is going well.
For practicing, you can weld two metal pieces together for running a bead. Scrap metal can be the right choice for practice. You can try this for a couple of times till you figure out the possible wire speed and power settings for actual welding.
Power settings are always a crucial matter. You need to do this yourself. Little power may cause splattered weld, whereas excessive power can melt the metal workpiece entirely.
Don’t be so much thought. Laying a bead is not too much a tough task. It is just making small zig-zags with welder tip or nay be sole little concentric circles. You can start laying beads about 1-2 inches long. Longer beads may warp or compromise the workpiece areas.
How to adjust power settings?
It won’t take a lot of time. If there are holes or warped areas in your workpieces, then you have possibly set up the power to too high. The high power is causing melted metal. If there are spurts, the settings would be lower. The welding gun is melting and splattering the metal piece.
So, what you need to do is getting more beautiful and smoother welds through welding. When this happens, you have set the power settings, and electricity flows appropriately. You can also identify this by hearing the sound created during welding. The sound would be like a bumblebee on steroids when everything is fine.
Welding the Metal Pieces Together
You can do it in few steps. First, set the welder polarity to DC Electrode positive. It is considered a reversed polarity. Then, you should maintain the electrode length consistent. For clean welding, extend the electrode in between 0.25” and 0.4” from the contact tube.
You should use the correct shielding gas, as you can read earlier. CO2 would be the perfect choice for working on stainless steel. It will help you to have deeper penetration. But it is extremely hot for thin metals. CO2 and Argon gas mixture will work fine for welding thinner steel.
Many expert technicians use drag or push method in welding metals. In this method, the angle between the welding gun and metal piece remains less than ten degrees. Keep welding wire at the weld pool’s front edge for better control.
Drag and push, both methods are efficient. In the drag welding, bead, along with the tip, is pulled out for deeper penetration. Push welding gives you a wider bead.
Now, you need to make several welds such as flat, horizontal, vertical, overhead, etc.
If you want to place the workpiece directly into the joint, flat weld would help you. Use the back and forth method for significant gaps filling. In the flat weld method, you should hold a welding gun at 90 degrees.
- In horizontal welding, you keep the angle smaller than a flat weld. It will prevent the filler from sagging. Again, use the back and forth method with the same purpose. However, the amperage would be the same as a flat weld.
- In vertical weld, you can join thin and thick metal pieces in different ways. You need to start from the top, moving the pool down as the gravity works. For thicker workpieces, do the same thing from the opposite direction. You can reduce the amperage to work against gravity.
- You can prepare overhead weld using standard welding method with high travel speed. It may also need an increased gas flow rate in some cases.
Now, you have completed the welding. Though you may need to follow the next steps like grinding the weld down and some others.
You can ignore grinding if the weld looking isn’t an essential matter for you. Grinding helps to make the weld better and more beautiful looking. It is making the place of joint smooth and shiny. You can use an angle grinder to do so.
Set a grinding wheel onto the grinder and turn on the device. Then start grinding at the selected spot. The cleanliness of weld determines how long or harder you need to sharpen. It will take a day if you have a large metal piece like furniture in front of you. Using a lot of wire during welding may take more time. Simple welding may take a short period.
Be careful while you are grinding the object. You should avoid grinder to heat up excessively. Otherwise, the joint may start melting. If the joint gets a blue tinge, you are not doing well. You are pushing the grinder harder, or the wheel isn’t turning well. Most of the time, it happens when you are working on thin metal.
However, you should always wear safety gear during the whole grinding process. After the fine finishing of the joint, you are done.
How to keep MIG wire from rusting?
MIG wire may get rust throughout the time. You can prevent the rust too. Try to clamp a scotchbrite piece to the MIG wire. You can use a cloth pin or spring clamp to clean out the wire. Clean all the debris and some unexpected corrosion. If the whole wire has got rust, you can pitch it.
Many welders suggest keeping the wire in a safety bag with some desiccant. Do this when you keep the wire rested for more than seven days.
You should always be careful about what you are going to do. Try to maintain all the safety measures. Wear a mask and gloves, put on working boots, wear leather or at least cotton clothing. These are the basics you need to follow to avoid any danger to your health.
Follow all the above steps to get excellent welding even if you are new on this platform. Wishing you a happy welding journey!