A great way to improve the longevity of your welds and increase their strength is to use a wire feed welder instead of a stick welder. While there are some basic differences between the two types of welders, they’re fairly similar processes once you get started with them.
Here’s how to wire feed weld and what you need to do it.
When to use Wire Feed Welding
While gas welding and arc welding may be more common, there are still times when it makes sense to use a wire welder. Welding thick materials (generally anything over 1⁄4-inch thick) is one such time.
The extra heat provided by a gas or arc torch can cause thermal cracking, which means cracking due to the expansion of heated material rather than contraction due to cooling off.
This issue generally only occurs in thicker metals (anything over 1⁄8-inch). You may notice it in thinner pieces if they’re made of material prone to thermal cracking, like aluminium.
Wiring up the torch
The first step in learning how to wire feed weld is adjusting your welding machine for use with a gasless (or TIG) process.
In short, that means turning off all of your AC and DC voltage settings. If you have separate power controls for each of these settings, turn them down so that no more than 100 amps are going through the metal from any source.
If you’re working on older equipment, check your manual for instructions specific to your setup.
Keep in mind that most newer machines will include explicit instructions regarding TIG usage; if they don’t or if you’re still unsure of what needs to be done, feel free to call an expert or stop by an industrial supply store like Harbor Freight and ask questions face-to-face.
The welding process needs electricity, either through a wall outlet or from a generator that you’ve connected to your car battery.
The most common welder types are welders, which pass current through an electric arc between a tungsten electrode and metal, which heats an electrode and melts metal in contact with its cutters and torches, which superheat gas and use it to burn away metal welding machines irons.
Each of these methods has its benefits and drawbacks. Understanding how each type works will help you decide what kind of welder is right for your project.
Torch Selection and Tip Selection
Torch selection is an extremely important part of successful stick welding. This can mean choosing between a direct or an alternating current (AC) torch.
An AC machine works by applying current through one electrode, then reversing its polarity and applying current through a second electrode on alternate cycles; it causes some materials to become brittle, and others burn more slowly when used on AC machines.
For example, you would use an AC machine for root passes in carbon steel but use DC for final passes in aluminium alloys because it reduces spatter. Try argon-shielded DC (ADC) for other materials that don’t react well with either technique.
Tungsten type, Length, and Grades
There are many different types of tungsten available for welding, but not all tungsten is created equal. The four most common grades of tungsten include 2% thoriated, 5% thoriated, 2% ceriated and 5% ceriated.
Each has a specific purpose depending on your type of application, and each has a very specific length requirement. Before purchasing any welding tungsten, know what grade and length you need for your particular job. Even if you are starting, it’s best to buy quality grade 1 or 2 products.
Shielding Gas (Optional)
Shielding gas is typically required when welding in all positions except vertical down. It acts as a shield between your weld and other materials (e.g., steel, iron, etc.) that may contaminate your bead with gases and particulates that could ultimately weaken it.
Depending on what you’re welding and its thickness, certain types of shielding gas may be more suitable than others.
For example, argon gas is good for welding stainless steel because it doesn’t add any impurities during heating, whereas CO2 will leave oxide residue if used on stainless steel and should only be used for aluminium or carbon steel.
Filler Metal (Optional)
The filler metal is a small piece of steel that will be added to each bead or seam you make. This acts as a helper for your electrode (the machine will melt it and add it). It will help fill holes, provide a surface for excess slag to collect on, and give you a more uniform bead/seam.
The filler metal has different compositions depending on what type of filler metal you choose (stainless steel, flux-cored wire, E70S-A1). If possible, use E70S-A1 (IWCA recommended) since it has greater fluidity and less intergranular attack than stainless steel.
To Cool or Not So Cool?
Different techniques will create a different kind of bead and help you get into small spaces when it comes to welding.
The type of finish you’re looking for will impact what kind of electrode you use and whether or not you cool your puddle and both choices are completely up to you. Go with a non-cooled electrode that produces larger beads but finishes quickly for a more finished look.
If your piece requires lots of intricate detail work, use a cooled electrode and enjoy smaller beads that produce less spatter than their non-cooled counterparts.
Let’s take a look at what we have learned. To weld with a wire feed, you need to use a power source that creates an arc when exposed to air. You also need gas and shielding gases and slag remover if necessary.
When welding, always wear proper safety equipment, including hearing protection and glasses or goggles. Never use poor-quality materials, and always work in a well-ventilated area.
Now you know how to get started with electric welding! We hope that your interest has been piqued by reading these tips and will inspire you to learn more about electric arc welding.