Metal Inert Gas or MIG welding uses an electrical current that melts when heat is applied. The bonding materials are cooled and will form a joint. Then, the two separate surfaces are then welded or joined tightly together. A MIG welding equipment list will be helpful if you're looking forward to starting MIG welding.
MIG Welding Equipment List for Beginners
There are many welding techniques or ways on how to carry it out. MIG welding is one of the easiest welding techniques, which makes it perfect for beginners. So, if you're looking to master a particular welding technique, you might as well consider purchasing a MIG welder before anything else.
Welding cannot be done without any equipment. There’s no set welding equipment for each type of welding as these will depend on the type of welding you'll do. If you're set on using MIG, here is a list of the equipment needed for MIG welding. These are classified under two categories: the basics and accessories. Both are needed if you want to weld metals successfully.
A MIG welding equipment list isn't complete without a MIG welder. There are many variations of these welding machines that you can get. But when you're going to choose one, here are the things you should consider:
Type of metal
Carbon and stainless steel are the most commonly used welding metals. Carbon, because of its higher melting point than stainless steel, can withstand a greater amount of heat. A heavier-duty MIG welding machine is more suited if you're going to use a carbon-metal due. Using a heavier duty MIG welder will take you less time to melt the carbon. For stainless steel, on the other hand, a lighter MIG welding machine will do.
Aluminum is also one type of metal you can use. But these require a more complex MIG welding machine - even more complicated than that for carbon. Aluminum has a high heat-conductive capacity. This means it absorbs more heat than other metals. The welding machine should provide a uniform amount of heat to keep it from drying out. You can't use an extremely high heat supply type of MIG welding machine like that for carbon in aluminum since it will deform the metal.
Amperage, or the measure of current, will significantly affect a MIG welding machine's cost. The higher the amperage, the more pricey the equipment will be. Heavier and thicker metals, like carbon and aluminum, require higher amperage. Getting the correct amperage is very important as it will dictate how properly welded the joints will be together.
Check the thickness of the base metals and fixtures you're going to use. If most of them are thin, you'd need to get a more sensitive welding machine that emits just the right amount of heat and less amperage. Get a greater amperage if the metals you're working with are thicker.
Another beginner equipment must-have is the power source. The power source supplies the current to generate heat, melting the metals for the welding connection. There are two types of current you can choose: these are alternating and direct currents. Both of which can be used for MIG welding equipment.
Among these two, most MIG welders use direct current rather than alternating. The electrons flow in one direction for direct current in MIG welding, its polarity only positively or negatively. Since the direction of the current doesn't change, it's more stable than the alternating current. Stable electron flow produces highly reliable welded metals, making this current a good choice for complicated arcs.
Aside from these, it's also better to use it for thinner metals as it produces minimal weld spatter. Using direct current instead of alternating is recommended for beginners since it gives them good control over the weld. Better control also gives a smoother, cleaner, and stronger weld.
MIG Welding Wire
There are two things you need to consider when choosing a MIG welding wire. These are the type of metal used and their thickness. Aluminum, stainless steel, and carbon are the three most used metals in MIG welding. The metals should be the same both for the welding wire and base metal used. So if you're using aluminum as your base metal, your welding wire should also be made from aluminum.
But some welding wires are made from mixed metals. This is not uncommon as some metals such as silicon, manganese, and titanium are added to the welding wires to strengthen them. For this, you just have to make sure that a large component of the base metal should still be in the welding wire for it to be compatible.
The thickness of the MIG welding wire will also depend on how thick the base metal is. You can use the thickness indicated in its packaging. Generally, a 0.030 to 0.035 flux welding wire should be good for general welding work.
MIG Welding Accessories You Should Get
Aside from these basic must-haves, you'd also have to invest in MIG welding safety equipment. Welding is not an easy feat - you are at risk for burns, electric shock, electrocution, explosion, and many more. So aside from the list stated above, here's a MIG welding accessories list you must also get:
- Auto-darkening helmet - It helps protect the eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted during the welding process.
- Gloves - welding gloves allow the welder to grip and control the welding equipment properly. It protects the operator's hands from UV and infrared radiation, burns, and electrical shock.
- Welding clamps - these clamps are used to hold the two surfaces together without them moving. It makes welding pieces together a lot easier.
- Angle grinder - these are used to grind base metals and cut them into tiles. Using these would make the welding process a lot easier and efficient.
Final Thoughts: Get Everything In This MIG Welding Equipment List
The MIG welding equipment list above is the basic must-haves for beginners. Since you're just starting out, invest in the essentials first. You can extend your welding arsenal in the future as you move forward with the craft. This list also applies if you want to have your own welding kit at home and use it for minor repairs or renovations. Remember, you’re not required to go big on any task if you’re just testing the waters; it’s better to use this time to hone your skills.