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EngineerStew

Welding basics

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welding is of course a process that joins 2 separate pieces of metal. Modern welding machines come in a few different flavors.

SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding a.k.a. stick welding) consists of a welding machine with a grounding clamp cable, an electrode holder cable and a steady supply of electrodes (foot long metal sticks that are coated in what is called flux). This is a very common type of welder and your gonna pretty much going to find one any where metal work is being done.(this type is also very common on farms)

A few notes about this type

-you can run these machines of generators (in fact i think some models come with generators attached)

-welds produced are pretty strong but not very pretty lol

-electrodes that this machine NEEDS to weld do have a shelf life, but that depends if they are stored properly or not.

 

GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding a.k.a. MIG) like stick you have a ground clamp cable but instead of a electrode holder you have a wire feeding welding gun. This setup also requires a tank of inert gas to shield the electrode wire while welding. This set up is also very common but your only gonna find this in larger metal shops.

A few notes about this type

-Technically you can run this type of a portable generator but I have never seen one set up like that.

-welds produced are typically not as strong as stick but look way nicer

-unlike stick I am pretty sure the filler wire coils or inert gas used don't have a shelf life but unless you stock pile the gas (extremely unlikely) MIG's gonna be useless after you run out.

 

GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding a.k.a. TIG) This one is a bit more like soldering, like the MIG you have an inert gas shielding the weld but unlike MIG the TIG welding gun does not feed the filler wire you instead hold the wire in your other hand (kinda like soldering)

A few notes

-like MIG once you run out of inert gas your done

-used mainly for welding Aluminum, Copper, and thin pieces of metal

 

If you are looking to getting into welding my suggestion is to get a Stick welder you can go to a metal supply shop or farm coop store and get everything you need in one go.

 

Safety

Always make sure you use a proper welding helmet preferably with #11 shades and safety glasses, leather gloves (i prefer HEAVY welding gloves),some sort of cap made of cotton, a leather welding apron or a starched cotton shirt, Jeans and CLOSED TOE SHOES!!

 

Instruction

Before you begin I would highly suggest getting formal instruction, you can probably find some classes at a welding supply shop. If you have a friend who is a professional welder have them show you the ropes (I learned at my Dads fab shop when I was 15 or so). Welding classes aren't too terribly intense, I have personally found welding easy in it's understanding and technique but difficult to master (i.e. its all about practice).

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