A Guide to MIG Welding Settings for Beginners
Last updated ago
9 min read
By 
Welding Buddy Experts
Published 
January 15, 2021

A Guide to MIG Welding Settings for Beginners

Last updated ago
9 min read
By 
Welding Buddy Experts
Published 
January 15, 2021
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Joining two pieces of metal together requires a special welding process. It is a process involving heat and wires to create a stream of metal channeled into the gap, which ultimately ensures that the two metal pieces stick together. Despite having multiple welding processes, MIG welding is the most common welding process used by both industrial fabricators and hobbyists.

If you're thinking about taking up welding as a new hobby or just as something to help you get through the pandemic, then you're in the right place. Setting up a MIG welder properly and safely is a challenging task that you, as a beginner, must go through. However, once you familiarize yourself with how a MIG welder works and how its MIG welding settings function, you will be able to call yourself an expert.

What is MIG Welding?

Metal inert gas welding is more commonly known as MIG welding. It is a process requiring the use of an endless supply of wire and a MIG welding gun, which burns, melts, and fuses the two metal pieces. Some people also refer to this welding process as gas metal arc welding.

What started as a way for people to weld aluminum became a significant process in heavy industrial applications for aluminum and steel. Aside from its versatility, the simplicity of MIG welding has made it more in demand, making it the preferred welding process for indoor uses.

Anyone can learn how to MIG weld. It's all about learning about the various MIG welding settings you'll come across with, whether as a beginner or as someone who's thinking about doing this as a long-term hobby.

How Does It Work?

MIG welding involves wire dispensed from a spool through the joint in the metal that you want to join together. Using a MIG welding gun powered by inert gas, producing a high-heat arc that melts the wire ensures that the two metal pieces are joined safely and properly. With these tools, you can move the welding gun down the joint area and create a small, smooth joint weld, which goes to show you've done a good job of setting up your MIG welder before using it!

However, before starting on a welding project, control your excitement. First, you must know what kind of MIG welder you have. Exploring your welding machinery's manual will help you get to know your unit better. Usually, these pieces of machinery require 120V, powered by 70 amp If you're thinking of having your MIG welder powered by a generator, you might want to take a look at generators with a minimum power of 8,400 watts to ensure the machine runs successfully.

This information will help you gain a better understanding of how MIG welders work. But keep in mind that these are not the only things you should remind yourself of when using a MIG welder—its settings also ensure your safety, as well as the safety of other people near you when using it.

Understanding MIG Welding Settings Properly

To fully understand how the machinery works, one must first understand the MIG welding process following the ideas from the aluminum MIG welding settings chart. It's a quick process that provides you with a clean and more efficient way of joining two metal pieces together. 

Setting up a MIG welder is a lot easier with a MIG welder settings chart. However, you must familiarize yourself with the three components that set these MIG welders apart from traditional MIG welding machinery. These components are also the ones that show how differently MIG welders work.

  • Voltage

MIG welders require a power source that uses a single standard polarity and voltage type. D/C direct current and D/C electrode positive are included in the specified power source that MIG welders require. You may be able to adjust the amperage on TIG welding machines easily. The voltage is used to control a MIG welder's power source better.

  • Electrode

Electrode MIG welding comes with multiple uses that ensure that it's different from other processes. This component should be highly considered when you're preparing to weld. Note that the electrode is a consumable metal wire which must be matched to its base metal. A consumable metal wire is essential to ensure that it becomes a permanent part of the weld. With the electrode being automatically fed into its spool, you must also think of how it is transferred. Knowing the different transfer types also helps prevent slight miscalculations that prevent your welding project's success. Transfer types can easily be determined by voltage setting and shielding gases.

  • Shielding Gas

MIG welding is a process that uses three different types of shielding gas: argon, carbon dioxide, and helium. These shielding gases are usually mixed and depend highly on the kind of metal being welded. Matching the shielding gas to the base metal and the wire electrode also plays a significant role in perfecting your MIG welding settings. The shielding gas can significantly influence the arc's properties and the strength and the mechanical properties of the weld.

However, these three things only cover the main aspects to consider when setting up your MIG welder. Developing a better understanding of these things will also teach you more about the aluminum MIG welding settings chart. 

How to Set up Your MIG Welder

With the information you've read about MIG welders so far, you're now ready to set up your MIG welder. But since most MIG welding settings vary on so many aspects, you might want to look into more detailed and specific guidelines for the welding machinery you intend to use for your welding project.

Know that a high-quality weld project all depends on the MIG welding settings. Knowing the metal, its thickness, your joint preparation, and what kind of gas and electrode you'll need all come together in how your MIG welder is set up. Don't worry. You can also find a MIG welder settings chart to assist you in setting up your MIG welder.

Besides the general MIG welder setting chart, you can also find an aluminum MIG welding settings chart and even a Lincoln MIG welder settings chart highlighting specific products and welding machinery for welding aluminum.

In addition to ensuring that your welding equipment has enough gas, checking the particular MIG welding gas setting helps secure your machinery and safety. Plus, these help in accounting for all the safety equipment and components of your welding equipment.

Setting the gas flow in your MIG welding equipment.

Having a MIG welding gas setting chart near you helps you with the first step to setting up your welding machinery. Move the fume extractor over to the welding part of your equipment. Switch your machine on to detect extraction fumes automatically and easily. Don't forget to attach a ground clamp to any metal surface to secure your welding equipment to the ground. Having a setup table for your welding equipment will also help you complete this step.

Next, you should make the necessary adjustments to the screw, which means you need to loosen it. Finding the adjustment screw is easy since it's clearly labeled on the gas cylinder. After loosening the screw, use the handwheel to open the gas cylinder but ensure that your hand is holding on the wheel instead of holding it at the top. It will help you prevent accidents, especially if the necessary components are released with high pressure.

Upon opening the handwheel, the pressure gauge will drop to zero. Take note that the maximum pressure that the gauge displays is 2,500 PSI. Later on, you will learn that you'll need over 1,000 PSI to weld high-quality metals efficiently.

The last step to setting the gas flow in your machine is to turn the adjusting screw clockwise  until the needle on the pressure gauge reaches 10 to 15 CHF. After this, you can now proceed to choose your MIG welding settings.

Determining your MIG welding settings

Start with checking the panel at the side of your welding equipment to know more about your unit's specific MIG welding settings. Even without a MIG welder settings chart, the panel helps you determine voltage and wire speed. To complete a basic welding setup, you'll need a wire the size of 0.035 inches. Checking your gas composition on the cylinder also helps.

After the initial check-up is complete, assess the material you'll want to weld. Please note the metal's thickness for you to easily correspond it with the right voltage and the appropriate wire-speed based on the machinery panel.

Once you've finished setting the parameters of your welding machine, turn it on. You can complete this with the switch circle using the black lever that goes up and down. If you're using a simple welding unit, the slowest wire-speed you can choose is 50. It also means that this setting can easily feed the wire once you've pulled the gun. However, adjusting the wire speed and the voltage should be done according to your unit's panel's recommended settings. Keep your eye on the welding torch, too, to make sure that it always has an appropriate amount of wire. You can also clip the wire once you see that it is excessively long.

Completing your welding setup

Now that you have completed the two major steps of setting up your welding machine, you can now begin your welding project! It would be best for you to set your wire speed to the lowest setting to get the hang of things.

Close the gas cylinder's valve by using the handwheel until it's sealed tight. It would help if you don’t forget about the welding unit's regulator as well. It's highly recommended that you bleed it. You can complete the bleeding process by depressing the trigger until the CHF level has dropped to its lowest.

Once again, go back to the adjusting screw. Keep unscrewing the adjustment screw until you feel it loosening completely. You can also turn off the welding machinery with the switch. After you turn it off, detach its ground clamp easily from your welding table. Check all the wires to ensure they're neatly coiled and are still in place.

The three major steps to setting up your MIG welder equipment can come easily to you once you've gained a deeper understanding of the welding process. By familiarizing yourself with your welding machine, you can quickly set up the whole unit! To make you even more confident with starting your welding hobby, here's a checklist that will help guide you through the whole process.

The MIG Welding Settings Checklist

Now, you have the necessary knowledge to start your welding projects. It's time to summarize these into a checklist that you can follow every time you begin a welding project. With safety as a priority, this checklist has the required initial steps you should take to maximize your machine and keep yourself safe!

☑️ Check your welding equipment and machinery!

This first step is necessary for the success of your welding project. Ensure that all wires and cables are properly secured and tight. If you see any frayed or damaged wires, we advise you to repair them first before using the MIG welding equipment.

☑️ Secure the polarity connections inside the machine.

MIG welding needs a DC electrode positive or reverse polarity. Check the inner workings of your machinery to prioritize safety when it comes to welding projects. Knowing this helps in ensuring that your machine functions smoothly.

☑️ Ensure that there are no leaks.

Once you turn on the shielding gas, start setting its gas flow to 20 to 25 cubic feet an hour. If you're trying to spot leaks in the gas hose you're using, don't forget to apply a soapy water solution. This is when you look for bubbles. If you've noticed more bubbles, then discard the gas hose and install a new one to your welding machine. It's during times like this that you'd appreciate keeping a spare gas hose in your home.

☑️ Double-check your drive rolls or your wire spool hub and its speed.

To avoid poor wire feeding and management, and ensure maximum quality performance, check your drive rolls or your wire spool hub. Ensure it's dispensing wire at a speed that doesn't apply too much or too little tension. 

☑️ Clear all your tubes.

Take a look at the tubes attached to your welding equipment. Remove any excess splatter from your primary contact tubes. You can also replace worn-out contact tips and liners. Feel free to get rid of any rusty wires, too.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the various important considerations that affect your MIG welding settings, you should also account for safety procedures and welding tips to succeed in your welding project. 

Despite MIG welding being the simplest welding process, it is still part of a standard industrial welding procedure. It's certainly not a very difficult process to learn. However, it  requires that you understand the process thoroughly and know how the machine functions as a whole. Aside from that, it takes a lot of patience and practice to master.

Surround yourself with MIG welding equipment and even welding carts to better utilize the MIG welding training and tutorial resources you can find. The first step is always the hardest one to make, but you can become a skilled welder!

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