How to Use A Wire Feed Welder

Wire feed welding today covers 69% of all welding processes, and the number is growing. Wire feed welding is a process that involves joining two or more metals or thermoplastics using extremely high temperatures produced by electric currents or an arc. It is performed by the use of a power tool; wire feed welder.

Common names for wire feed welders include MIG (Metal inert gas welder) or a flux core welder. The process employs the use of a continuous spool of wire which is fed to the welder at a constant pre-selected speed. Inert gases shield the weld zone from the surrounding gases that may damage the weld integrity by displacing the gases around the weld, hence the name shielding gases.

How to use a wire feed welder

Why you would need to Wire Feed Weld

There are many reasons why one would need a wire feed weld. For one, joining metals with a joint that is strong and sure, using conventional methods such as stick welding or use of adhesive might not help you as much. The speed and simplicity for joining metals that comes with using a wire feed welder is a good reason why you should get yourself one.

Components of a wire feed welding process

• Power source and control switch
• A power tool (Welder)
• Awl or carbide scribe for marking out the metals
• Angle grinder to prepare the weld surface
• Welding chipping hammer to remove slag from a welding bead
• Welding wire to clip off welding wire
• Welding table
• Spool of welding wire
• Suitable clamps
• Shielding gas supply

Characteristics of a good wire feed welder

• Must always ensure the safety of the user
• Must have emergency stop buttons to aid in accident control
• Does not consume a lot of gas and wire feed
• The welder should not wear out quickly and should be long-lasting.
• Has a detailed instruction manual
• Upgradable for special welding needs

Safety precautions during use of a wire feed welder

It is important to acknowledge the dangers and hazards associated with wire feed welders and find ways to counter them. It is, therefore, necessary to follow the following safety procedures.

1. Safety essentials:

  • Safety glasses; to protect the eyes from the cutting and grinding of metal, and the splash of weld spatter and sparks.
  • In case of heavy grinding and welding, then it is necessary to use full face protection in the form of a good welding helmet with an appropriate UV lens.
  • Welding involves the use of hot wires which directly translates to increased chances of getting burnt from metal. It is, therefore, necessary to have hand gloves. Moreover, the gloves protect you from sharp metal edges that can cause cuts and lacerations.
  • Burning metal and gases produce a lot of metal fumes. It is hence wise to get yourself a dust mask which would reduce the fumes intake into your lungs. For complete protection, it is advisable to use a welding respirator which is rated for complete removal of metal fumes.
  • Wearing a welding jacket is also desirable to reduce the probability of getting nasty burns from splashed and spilled hot metal drops; the drops burn holes through the cloth instead of melting the material itself which would be worse to your skin.
  • It is also wise to prepare for the worst-case scenario like a full-blown fire. Buying an excellently suitable fire extinguisher (small sized or big sized, powder-based or water-based) is therefore necessary.

2. Ensure the unit's wires are always away from the welding table or your path of movement.

3. Never touch any metal with bare hands however cool the metal might appear to be.

4. Ergonomic hazards; welders often remove the shields to position the torch and welder n the materials to be joined. The continuous movement of this shield might cause injuries on the head or face. Poorly placed workpieces may force the welder to contort their posture which might cause quick fatigue or back pains.

5.Electric short circuit hazard whereby the user may come into contact with bare cables or wires. Insulate yourself and avoid touching bare wires.

6. Keep the welding room clean and free from oils and flammable fluids.

7.Ensure the room is well ventilated.

8. If working with many people, ensure the whole group is protected from the UV flash.

9. All long hair should be tied to avoid it becoming a liability or getting burnt.

Advantages of wire feed welding

• Faster production of high-quality welds.
• Can be used on many metals and alloys since it is versatile.
• It also is independent of material thicknesses.
• Little loss of alloying elements due to the shielding arc being protected by the inert shielding gases. There is little production of weld spatter especially when welding is done by one who has experience on how to use a wire feed welder.
• For big production lines, there is an option of fully or semi-automation of the whole welding process.
• Provides better control when dealing with thinner metals
• The process is simple for beginners and everyone.
• Offer the ability to weld in most positions.
• The integrity of the weld is assured by the inert gas shielding.

Disadvantages of wire feed welders

• Cannot be used in the vertical or overhead welding positions due to the high viscosity of the weld puddle.
• Setup and consumables may prove to be expensive when the consumables are wasted. To counter this, it is necessary to know and understand how to wire feed weld.
• Weld produced is subject to rust and corrosive materials.
• Cannot take place outside due to wind susceptibility.

Care for the wire feed welder

• If using it for a long-term job, use it with intervals of letting it cool down.
• Use rod ovens to store electrodes
• Always clean the welder after completing bits used.
• Regular professional servicing is necessary to prevent accidents from happening.
• Ensure you understand how to weld with a wire feed welder to avoid misuse of the welders.

Steps on how to use a wire feed welder

1. Wear all safety gear except the face shielding glass.

2. Coil the machine with the feed wire from the spool.

3. Connect the welder's air gauges to the shielding gas supply nozzles on the containers.

4. Clamp your workpieces firmly with the metals to be joined fixed so that your hands may be free to do the welding without the need to adjust the clamps constantly.

5. Select the required voltage. The level of voltage determines the speed and strength of the welded joint. It is influenced by the type and thickness of the metal to be welded.

6. Wear the shielding face glass mask.

7. Point the welding wire to the joint. The angle to be used for pointing the wire should be 90° for up and down welding, and 45° for T shaped welding. Ensure the wire is 0.5 Inches away from the gun tip. Always check to see the welding wire is at an angle.

8. Switch on the control unit and pull the trigger. Depending on the type of project you have, you can weld in a straight line (stringer bead) or employ the weave bead for large projects (involves drawing the wire back and forth at the material joints in a curved manner).

9. When satisfied with the joint, switch off the control unit and let the collective cool.

10. Use the chipping hammer to remove the welding chips after the material has cooled. Use desired metal protection method to prevent rusting.

Wire Feed Techniques and Tips