Many beginners are excited about embarking on a career in welding, but they are also confused about the best way to get started. Their first question is typical, "What is the most common and simplest type of welding?"
Although the answer to this question will always be subjective, metal inert gas (MIG) is usually the welding process experienced welders recommend for beginners. The primary reason is it allows the new welder to preset the controls for shielding gas use and wire speed on the welding machine.
What are the other common types of welding?
Although MIG welding is one of the three most common types of welding, it's not the oldest. That distinction belongs to arc welding, better known as stick welding. Somewhat harder to learn than MIG, stick welding equipment is generally cheaper, including the "stick" electrode welding rods.
Another popular welding method is tungsten inert gas (TIG), a versatile but difficult-to-learn welding technique. If you're wondering which is easier, MIG or TIG welding, almost any welding professional will advise you to start with MIG and work your way up to TIG sometime later in your career. TIG has a well-deserved reputation for high-quality, precision welds, so you will eventually want to progress to this technique.
Why beginners should start with MIG weldingSetting up is quick and easy: Beginners are ready to start MIG welding within minutes with these few steps:
- Connect the torch and cable
- Connect work cable/clamp
- Install a wire drive roller matching the wire size
- Load the wire spool
- Connect the power cord to an outlet
- Feed wire into the cable liner out to the gun
- Attach the contact tip and gun nozzle
You can learn and practice MIG welding on your own time: Become familiar with welding safety and techniques by reading a comprehensive welding book and watching a few instructional welding videos. Then, gather your tools and scrap metal to begin your first practice session. You'll quickly learn through trial and error, and before long, you'll be doing basic repairs and simple projects.
It's relatively simple to set the controls on a MIG welder: Most welders have a settings chart to help inexperienced operators with the initial settings. They can later adjust the settings for amperage (wire speed) and voltage (heat) to improve the weld.
It's easier to start a MIG weld: Some welding methods require scratch-start or lift-arc ignition techniques to create the arc for welding. These methods take more skill to strike an arc and start it in the right place. Beginners in MIG welding merely position the torch over the workpiece and pull the trigger on the welding gun, sending the energized wire electrode into contact with the work material and completing the circuit to start the arc.
Beginners have a clearer view of the MIG weld: If you can see the weld, you'll learn quickly how to control the weld pool. Since MIG welding with gas produces an arc with fewer sparks and smoke, it's possible to see the weld puddle and observe any effects that adjustments or technique changes are making, resulting in quality welds in a shorter time.
Even ugly-looking rookie welds can be strong with MIG: MIG welders release a shielding gas over the weld, preventing contamination that could lead to porosity and weak welds. The MIG process helps a beginner's unattractive weld hold up with those repairs and light projects that most newbies tackle first.
Beginners can quickly learn to weld in various positions: After a beginner learns to control the weld pool on horizontal surfaces, it won't be long until vertical and overhead welding becomes possible with a MIG welder.
Less cleanup allows more time for beginners to learn: Because MIG welding results in little spatter and no slag, beginners spend less time on cleanup and more time on improving their welding technique.
The easiest welder to use is a MIG welder
Here are some of the advantages of choosing a MIG welder to begin your welding career:
A better welding experience: Features such as automatic gas and wire feed, memory presets, 2T/4T trigger locks, and pre-and post-flow burn back timers make MIG welders easy to learn and enjoyable for beginners.
Material versatility: MIG welders work well on the metals beginners use most: low carbon (mild) steel, stainless steel, and aluminum.
Effective on various metal thicknesses: MIG welders provide excellent results on 18-gauge auto body panels. At the same time, many home-use models are effective on relatively thick materials, with some quality machines able to handle ½-inch plates in one pass.
Weld indoors or outside: Welding indoors (or outdoors with a slight breeze) using shielding gas offers the best welds. However, using a screen to prevent the protective gas from blowing away also works. You can leave the shielding gas behind in highly windy conditions and substitute flux core wire for MIG wire for practical outdoor welding.
Easy transport to work sites: For example, the MIG160 Portable Flux Core MIG welder from PrimeWeld does not require shielding gas and weighs 23.8 pounds, which is ideal for outdoor welding or if you can't drive within proximity of the worksite.
A bit of dirt won't prevent you from producing strong welds: Although MIG welding with shielding gas requires clean materials, switching to flux core welding allows beginners to make durable welds even on metals with light rust, paint, or grease—precisely what you're going to find on most outdoor equipment, fences, and black iron pipe.
Advanced features: Today's most advanced MIG welders have all the features that manufacturers require, but they also help beginners learn to weld more quickly. Check out the features on PrimeWeld's MIG 180, including high-frequency arc, 2T/4T torch trigger lock, and shielding gas pre-flow and post-flow. This high-quality, portable machine also comes in under 30 pounds.
Smart MIG welders require less skill from the beginner: The most user-friendly welder makes it easier for the beginner to learn. The welding machine supplies powers, shielding gas, and filler through the MIG gun, allowing the beginner to concentrate on grasping the basic joints and welds. Take a look at the PrimeWeld MTS200 3-in-1 Welder, another lightweight (32.4 pounds) machine with features that experienced professionals, and new hobbyists will appreciate.
What material is easiest to weld?
Beginners will quickly learn the importance of weldability in their chosen industry. If you are serious about becoming a welder, whether as a professional or a hobbyist, you should understand which metals you can weld and easily weld to complete a successful project. Choosing metals with good weldability are much easier to weld, and they will also retain higher weld quality.
Steel is the easiest metal to weld, which explains why it is the most prevalent metal for welding. Carbon steel is also the cheapest metal on the market, enhancing its popularity. Steel is essentially iron and carbon with trace amounts of other things, and MIG, TIG, and stick welding work well on it. Most professionals agree that beginners must learn how to weld steel successfully before moving on to some of the more challenging metals.
Do you need a welding machine to begin your welding career or hobby?
At PrimeWeld, we give professionals and hobbyists the best welding experience possible. And our MIG welders are among the best type for beginners since they are designed with a wire welding electrode on a spool fed at a pre-selected speed through a welding gun. Industrial manufacturers also love our MIG welders for their adaptability to automated processes.
When it comes to MIG welding, we maintain the highest standards in safety and take pride in ensuring customer satisfaction and earning a reputation for innovation. Our welding machines are engineered to accuracy, convenience, and endurance standards. We are always seeking continuous improvement and looking for ways to improve our products.
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