Beginners Guide to MIG Welding - Part 1
Word on the street is that MIG is one of the easiest processes to learn!
The buzz is right in our opinion. MIG welding is an easy process to master. Get you parameters such as amperage and wire speed right, select the correct consumables and all you really have to it control your torch to lay a nice bead.
Following these steps, most people can learn to run good beads with MIG in a few hours. But there’s more to great MIG welding than just running beads, isn’t there? Well, this blog series won’t focus on end goal, we'll talk your through the process. It's a bit like the cliche every sporting coach pulls out every week in their press conference - "We're focussing on the process".
In the first blog of our series, we’ll focus on how to get everything set up and ready to go with your MIG welder. Preparation is key people!
GET TO KNOW THE MACHINE
A MIG welder is made up of a few different parts and its important to at least know the basics of your machine. Otherwise, it's a bit like getting in a car and having no idea what does what - Sadly, we've seen a few examples of this!-
The Welder: Contains a spool of wire and a series of rollers that push the wire out to the MIG Torch. From time to time, the wire feed might jam up. Don't panic is this happens, but you do need to know how to fix the isse. Open up you machine and check inside to sort it out. The spool of wire should be held on with a tension nut, tight enough to keep the spool from unraveling, but not so tight the rollers can't pull the wire from the spool.
The Gas Tank: If you are using a shielding gas with your MIG welder, there will be a gas tank behind the MIG. The gas will either be 100% Argon or a mix of Argon and CO2, which will shield the weld as it forms.
The MIG Torch: This is the business end of the welder. The torch comprises a trigger to control the wire feed and flow of electricity. At the end of the gun is a tip, which will vary in size to fit whatever diameter wire you are welding with. Tips are a consumable item and can cheaply be replaced.
The Ground Clamp: The ground clamp completes the circuit between the welder, the welding gun and the project. You only need one clamp from the welder attached to your piece to weld, or onto a metal welding table. Make sure it is making good contact.
KNOW YOUR TOOLS: This video about the Cigweld Weldskill MIG Series takes you through a typical set-up procedure for a MIG welder
MIG welding is a safe form of welding, so long as you follow these steps to protect yourself and your welder.
Wear a welding mask: Any form of arc welding produces an extremely bright light, so you need to protect your eyes. Make sure where a Australian Standard approved aut-darkening welding helmet. The auto-darkening feature will kick in as soon as your arc starts and will darken the visor on your helmet far quicker than you can blink, ensuring you will not suffer any damage to your eyes. Failure to properly protect your eyes can result in welder's flash, which is not a good thing and can result in permanent eye damage. Ensure your helmet has a minimum shade rating of 11 when MIG welding. You may need to think about protecting others too. Ensure others in the room are wearing eye protection before you MIG weld, or consider purchasing welding curtains to contain the light. As with helmets, ensure your curtains are Australian safety standard approved.
Wear gloves and leathers: You need to protect yourself from molten metal splattering off of your work. Wear whatever gloves you feel comfortable with, as well as leathers to protect your skin from the heat. If not leathers, wear clothing made from cotton as this won’t burn or melt.
Wear boots: Do not wear open toed shoes or synthetic shoes – boots are the way to go.
Well ventilated area: Welding produces fumes, which you shouldn't breathe in if you can help it. Wear a mask if it’s going to be a long job. Professional welders should consider a fume extraction system
Fire safety: Keep a tidy area for welding so you don’t risk fire from the molten metal and grinding sparks. Always keep a CO2 fire extinguisher in the workshop just in case.
LAYING BEADS: It's important to safely clothe yourself and set up your area before you begin MIG welding.
STEP 3: PREP YOUR WELD
Next, it’s time to set up your welder and the piece you’ll be working on.
The Welder: Make sure the valve to the shielding gas is open and flowing through the regulator at the correct level. Turn the welder on, with the grounding clamp attached to your welding table or directly to the piece of metal. Then make sure you have the proper wire speed and power setting.
The Metal: For the best results, take a couple of minutes to clean your metal and grind down any edges being joined.
With everything set up, safely, you’re ready to weld. Stay tuned for part 2 where we’ll take you through the welding process step by step. Inspired to buy a MIG welder? Check out our full range at eWelders.com.au.