Welding is the process of binding two surfaces together, particularly metals and thermoplastics. This is commonly used in the construction and automotive industries where working with metals is the norm. Two very common welding methods are Metal Inert Gas (MIG) and Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding. You’ll get different results from each of these processes so the equipment needed for each differs too. One of its main differences is in the level of difficulty. MIG welding is easier than TIG welding and is more commonly used today.
This article will focus on the equipment needed for MIG welding and why you should invest in them.
Must-Have MIG Welding Tools and Accessories
TIG and MIG operate on different equipment. If you're mainly working on larger and thicker materials, you should learn how to become a MIG welder. TIG welding is more often used for thinner and lighter materials. MIG welding equipment is used for more heavy-duty work than for TIG welding.
Now that you have a basic overview of the differences between MIG and TIG welding, you should also know the must-have MIG welding tools and accessories. Welding is a technical skill that will require the use of high-quality equipment. Aside from the skill itself, the MIG welding equipment you use will also affect the overall results. Here are the MIG tools you should get:
The most important component of MIG welding is the MIG welder. A MIG welder can easily join two metals together, with its base and parent metal. It has a handle with a trigger which you'd have to push, so it constantly feeds melted metal into the wire to burn and fuse the surfaces properly. The wire used in welding is the same as the wires in bike brake cables. MIG welders generate less smoke than TIG welders, meaning you don’t have to clean welding splatters every time.
MIG welding gas supply
MIG welders need gas to generate heat. You won't be able to weld metals together without it. The gases used for MIG welding are argon, helium, and carbon dioxide. These are popular and cheap inert gases that you can use to generate heat.
Although each gas differs from the other, they all go in one supply chamber—the MIG welding gas supply. It's possible to do MIG welding without a gas supply, but you'd have to use a flux core to melt metals instead. Flux cores cost more than gas supplies, so it may not be the best option for everyone.
If you want your welds to come out perfectly, invest in MIG welding pliers. These pliers will help clean the MIG welders' nozzle, resulting in a smooth melted metal flow. Routinely removing weld spatter can also lengthen your welders' lifespan. More than that, you can use these piers to trim excess wires and in placing and removing the nozzle. The perfect welding pliers should have a sturdy but comfortable grip. Since you're going to apply an immense and constant amount of pressure to its handles, this should be durable enough to withstand such stresses.
Clamps are one of the must-have MIG welding tools and accessories. They hold the base and parent metals in place when you're welding them together, and are made out of stainless steel for a durable hold. The clamps are adjustable and are available in different sizes; they can vary on the allowable thickness depending on their size. For thicker metals, you should get thicker clamps.
Make sure you secure the clamp in place before you start welding. This way, you can focus on the welding process instead of holding the metals together. Using welding clamps can also contribute to the cleanliness of the welded output.
Welding magnets and clamps share the same function. These both hold the metal surfaces together. If you want to tilt the metals at a particular angle, you should use welding magnets rather than clamps. Magnets are smaller, so they can fit in tighter areas. You can create 45, 90, and 135-degree angles with these.
Angle grinders are one of the most essential and versatile MIG welding accessories. An angle grinder is a handheld power tool for cutting and grinding metals. It has many functions, like cutting metal and grinding grooves. It can also remove rust and smoothen metal surfaces which all contribute to a perfect weld.
There are several things you have to consider when choosing an angle grinder. These are disc size, power source, speed, and voltage, and amperage. Out of these components, your focus should be more on the disc size. For general DIY use, you can use a 4 to 5-inch disc. For larger industrial projects, the smallest recommended disc size is 9 inches. The size of the disc is inversely proportional to its ease of use. So if you're using a 9-inch disc size, it will be a lot harder for you to grind metals with it.
Auto-darkening welding helmet
Welding, particularly with MIG welding, requires numerous cautionary steps. Aside from equipment, you’ll need to weld, you also have to invest in MIG welding safety equipment. For example, an auto-darkening helmet is non-negotiable; you shouldn't pass on having this one.
Whenever you're welding, your whole face, particularly your eyes, is exposed to harmful UV radiation. It would be best to have an auto-darkening helmet to lessen your exposure and safely do the welding process. The auto-darkening feature is beneficial to welders because you don't have to adjust your helmet up and down every after welding. It doesn't only save you time, but it's more convenient as well; the helmet darkens automatically once it is exposed to light.
Welding gloves are also a part of the MIG welding accessories list. Like a welding helmet, wearing gloves is a must! Aside from your face, your whole arm is exposed to the welding materials. You are prone to getting shocked, burned, or electrocuted when welding.
These gloves should be thick enough to protect and insulate your hands from possible burns. It should also be properly fitted to allow a wide range of digit articulation. Most gloves are made from cow, deer, and pig hides, providing insulation with high durability.
Earplugs or earmuffs
Welding is an extremely loud process. Welding entails grinding metals, melting metals, and binding them together, so aside from your face, skin, and arms, you should protect your ears too! MIG welding noise is approximately at 85 to 102 decibels. Seventy decibels and below is considered to be the safe level. However, with the possible excess of 15 to 30 decibels, you will need some hearing protection during welding.
Earplugs for general use will do. But if you're welding for at least 2 hours per day, or two times a week, high-quality earmuffs will be much better. Most welders prefer earplugs because of their small size, which can fit comfortably inside helmets. The only downside of earplugs is it doesn't block the noise 100%. If you’d prefer to block the whole sound for better protection, it's best to get noise-canceling earmuffs.
Final Thoughts on the Must-Have MIG Welding Tools and Accessories
If you're just starting out with the welding process, the MIG welding accessories list above will give you an idea of what you’ll need to invest in. More than the machinery, you’ll also need to purchase MIG welding safety equipment. Both are essential components in producing quality welds.
In case you’re on a budget, know that you don't have to buy these all at once. You can start with the basics, such as the MIG welding machine and safety equipment, and build your set from there.