When you weld metals, you are joining them together. It is an industrial process that every grown-up is familiar with. The different methods of welding, however, is less common knowledge.
If you're new to welding or planning on making welding a hobby, you should research the various welding methods. It might be too much for anyone to learn and simultaneously try to develop the skills for all welding methods. To help you narrow it down, this article will focus only on a specific type of arc welding.
Arc welding is a method wherein the torch uses electricity to produce heat. An electric arc melts the metal and makes welding possible.
Gas metal arc welding, also known as metal inert gas (MIG), is a type of arc welding that uses metal electrodes to heat up the pieces to be joined. Additionally, an inert or semi-inert gas is needed to make a shield around the welding. MIG welding is a suitable place to start if you're new to the process. If you're already familiar with it, it's a trusted way to join sturdier pieces.
For new and veteran hobbyists and professionals, having your very own welding machine is the best way to master the craft. Constant practice makes you better every time. Investing in a good machine, though, has many limitations. This article reviews five cheap MIG welder machines worth your time.
Principles of MIG Welding
Two main principles in MIG welding set it apart from other welding processes.
The first principle is the use of electricity. Unlike other welding methods such as laser welding or resistance welding, MIG uses electricity to generate heat. Electron beam welding shouldn't be confused with MIG, however. In the former process, electrons in a beam melt the metal, usually in a vacuum. On the other hand, the latter process uses electrodes from metals to create heat to liquefy the materials.
The second principle at work in MIG welding processes is inert or semi-inert gas. Carbon dioxide is a typical choice of gas in MIG welding. Inert gas aims to create shielding protection when the electrodes melt the metal. This shielding gas preserves the purity of the metals.
Gases present in the atmosphere, such as oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen, may contaminate the metals when the welding process is underway. As a result, this might compromise the material’s strength and durability, among other factors. To avoid this contamination, experts use inert gas as protection.
MIG Welding Components
There are three components unique to the MIG welding process: the electrode wire, the shielding gas, and the power source.
MIG welding uses a metal wire to conduct electricity. This expendable wire also acts as the filler material in welding metals adding strength to the pieces. The electrode wire is fed through the torch, making using MIG welders a breeze.
When the inventors of arc welding were first developing the method, they were welding openly, with the metal exposed to the air. Doing this was counterproductive because the metals they joined became brittle, porous, and overall of lousy quality. Hence, the shielding gas was used in arc welding. As we mentioned, it prevents the contamination of the metals from gas in the air such as oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen.
The choice of shielding gas is dependent on the type of material to be joined. Cost is also a significant factor, especially in paid projects. Carbon dioxide is the most used gas in MIG welding because it satisfies those requirements.
What's remarkable about MIG welding is the power supply to heat up the metal. Unlike other welding methods, it utilizes electrodes from a source that is conducted into the wire that welds the metals together. It is entirely gasless and, therefore, very conducive for garage or tool shed use.
On Which Metals Does MIG Welding Work?
The best materials MIG welding can join are the thick industry-grade metals. Stainless steel, carbon steel, and aluminum are often fused using the MIG method. Thicker steel works best with the wire electrode method. MIG welding is faster than other arc welding types and is often used commercially.
5 Cheap MIG Welder Machines
For do-it-yourselfers and hobbyists who are just getting into the industry, choosing which MIG welder to get might be confusing. Everyone, do-it-yourselfers especially, wants to save money, but welding is an expensive hobby. You have to regularly buy all the materials you need and replenish consumable supplies such as wires and gas. That doesn't even count the increase in your utility bills once you started welding.
No matter how costly the venture is, if you're passionate about it, you'll find ways to manage your cost while enjoying your pastime. Finding a cheap MIG welding machine is one way to cut costs. When thinking of getting your MIG welder machine, consider how often you’re going to use it and what you're going to use it for. If you’ve already started surfing the web for MIG welders, here are a few welders worth checking out.
Hobart Handler 140
Your options of MIG welders should include the Hobart Handler 140. If you haven't heard of the brand, it's a household name in welding, with experience in making welding machines for the industry since the early 20th century. The Hobart Handler 140 is one of its MIG creations.
The Handler 140 is a sturdy choice for a MIG welder. Weighing only 57 pounds, this machine is very portable and can fit into tight spaces for storage. It is great for home and DIY projects that can be done in the garage. At the same time, it is durable enough to withstand a prolonged welding session.
Whether you're repairing farming equipment or building a vehicle from scratch, this might be the MIG welder you've been looking for. The Handler 140 is very easy to use at home because it only needs 115V output, which is what most residential houses have.
Welding enthusiasts would love this machine because of its convenient use. It has five voltage options so that you can control the electric arc that melts the material. On top of that, it also has a wire spool assembly space that can contain anywhere from a 4-inch-thick spool to an 8-inch-thick one.
This durable yet convenient MIG welder from a trusted brand is absolutely one to consider.
Lincoln K4498-1 Power MIG 140 MP
Another household name created an excellent cheap wire welder. Lincoln Electric is even older than the Hobart brand. The company was established in 1895 and had been making different kinds of electrical supplies and machines ever since.
As welding machines go, this one is one of the lightest at only 34.5 pounds. The Lincoln creation is not to be underestimated based on its sheer size, however. It packs a punch with a wide range of 30- to 140-amp welding output.
With only two knobs that control the machine functions, such as voltage range, it is great for those looking to expand their welding skills. It is compatible not only with MIG welding but also with tungsten inert gas and stick welding methods.
If you value convenience over anything else in your MIG welder, this is a good option for you. It is very straightforward to use, plugs into the regular household outlets with 120V input, and is easy to carry around. If your tool shed or workstation is a little cramped but you really want or need a MIG welder, you should think of getting yourself a K4498-1 Power MIG 140 MP.
Eastwood 140 Amp MIG Welder
Eastwood is a company dedicated to helping out do-it-yourselfers since the late '70s. Through the decades, they have established their brand and products in the welding world. Their 140-amp MIG welder could be the right fit for your DIY projects.
This machine is capable of switching between gas welding and flux-cored welding, a process that the best cheap gasless MIG welder in the market uses. It's totally up to you, and it's great to have the choice of what drives your machine.
When it comes to portability, this machine may well be one of the best. It weighs less than 25 pounds, so you don't have to worry about the extra workout of moving the machine around when you're welding. As if that isn't enough, it also comes with long power cables to give you that extra reach.
In terms of withstanding long DIY sessions, the Eastwood 140 Amp MIG Welder is also a good option. It is rated with a 30-percent duty cycle at 90 amps and 60 percent at 65 amps.
Hobart Handler 100 Flux-Cored Welder
Another Hobart machine makes it on the list of the best cheap MIG welder for hobbyists. It just goes to show how reputable the Hobart brand figures in the welding world. If you haven't gotten a sign to check them out before, consider this article your sign.
The Handler 100 Flux-Cored Welder is a perfect machine for you DIY users out there. Its mild steel weld capacity of 18 gauge to 3/16 of an inch is applicable to hobby projects, farm tools, and even light automobile repairs. One unique feature of this machine is to keep an electric wire "cold" until you pull the trigger and start working.
Millermatic 211 MIG Welder
Last but absolutely not least on this roundup of cheap MIG welding machines is the Millermatic 211 MIG Welder. Miller is another well-known brand when it comes to welding, and they certainly do not disappoint.
The Millermatic 211 has many features that make MIG welding an extra easy process. First off, it is versatile in terms of input voltage because it comes with adapters for 120V and 240V power supply. Another feature it boasts is the built-in fan that keeps the whole process relatively quiet and reduces contamination from the air.
This 38-pound machine also packs power with a range of 30- to 230-mp power output. Additionally, it is equipped with an auto spool detector technology that eliminates the need for a switch when changing wire spools.
Buying your own MIG welding machine can be such a task. Welding may be an expensive hobby, but it doesn't mean you can't save a few bucks on quality and reliable machines. You just need to know exactly what you want in an MIG welder.
As we mentioned, choosing an MIG welder should depend on factors such as what you're using it for and how long your welding sessions are going to last. It is best if you do the appropriate research and take the time before settling on an MIG welding machine.