As you begin your journey to learn the fundamentals of MIG welding, one of the first things you need to know is the assortment of metals that your welder can work on. In general, your project will dictate the types of metals to use. Keep in mind that, as an aspiring metal artist, you’ll most likely need to familiarize yourself with a wide range of materials.
How MIG welding works
Essentially, MIG welding consists of a consumable wire which is fed through a spool to a point between two metal pieces you want to join together. This is done with a MIG welding gun which is given an active gas in order to create a high-heat arc which melts the wire into a bead. Traveling the gun down the join at the proper speed ensures a smooth, durable joint between two metal pieces.
What metals to get for MIG welding
One of the most beneficial things about MIG welding is that it can be done on various metal types, including stainless steel, carbon steel, magnesium, aluminum, copper, nickel, bronze, silicon, as well as other alloys. The versatility of MIG welders is what makes them such a popular choice among amateur welders as well as veteran metal workers.
In addition to the type of metal you use, it’s extremely important that you clean the metal as much as possible prior to welding it. MIG welders are notorious for performing rather sloppily on rusty steel since the weld beads will simply fail to stick on oxidized materials. Many MIG welders come with a brush that you can use to wipe the surface of your steel pipe or bar clean.
We mentioned earlier that oxygen can ruin the MIG welding process. Currently, there are two ways to stop this: either get a gas tank to help blast away oxygen and protect the joint, or feed a flux-cored wire into your welding gun.
The gas tank contains a pure or combination of different gases (most commonly argon/CO2 mix) which eliminates the presence of oxygen, perfecting the joint bead. Most users prefer using a gas tank since it produces a neater finish, though you’re limited to working indoors since the gas can be blown away by gusts of wind.
The flux-cored wire is simply a wire that provides bursts of gas when melted. When the flux burns, the wire releases its own gas which protects the weld puddle. Using this wire is much more portable than the gas-shield option since it doesn’t require an external gas tank.
In our opinion, the best MIG welder models for beginner and even experienced metalworkers are a welder that can utilize both options since they produce different finishes.
Ultimately, the penetration and quality of the weld depend on how powerful your MIG welder is. The thickness of the metal also determines how strong the joint will be, so you should be familiar with the welding capacities of your MIG machine. In general, MIG welders begin with a capacity of welding sheets as thin as 24 gauge (1/40 of an inch), and they can work on metals as thick as a quarter of an inch.
What wire to use
Metals used in MIG welding uses two types of wires, namely an AWS ER70S-3 wire for all-purpose welding and an ER70S-6 wire when working on dirty steel. In terms of diameter, a 0.30-inch diameter wire is great for most welding applications on a range of metal thicknesses.
When working with thinner metals, you’ll be better off using a 0.23-inch wire due to its reduced heat input which minimizes the risk of burn-through.
Users should use 0.035-inch or even 0.045-inch diameter wires when welding thicker metals together since, if anything is configured correctly, will provide the perfect amount of heat and penetration. Of course, the wire which you use depends on your welder’s output range.
We hope this article will help you on your path to becoming an expert welder. Keep in mind that the points in this article are limited as there are numerous other considerations to take in account, such as amperage, voltage, the correct travel speed and wire feed speed for certain metals, etc.
In the end, this article just provides the basics of MIG welding and the types of metals that can be used in MIG welding.