Mild Steel Welding
Best Welder for Mild Steel
Mild steel is used to fabricate everything from nails to metal furniture, cars, and even structural steel. It is carbon steel, but one with a low amount of carbon (.3% or less). Carbon is what makes steel hard, so mild steel retains enough ductility to allow it to bend without breaking. The lower carbon level in mild steel makes it easier to weld than high carbon and alloy steels, but it has a lower tensile strength and is susceptible to oxidation (rust) if it isn’t properly coated.
What kind of welding machine do you need for welding mild steel?
There are different types of welders to be used depending on what type of your needs, style, and work environment:
TIG welding is known for the small, neat-looking welds it enables. The TIG process is very popular with mild steel because the tungsten generates heat that melts the filler metal (or the metal itself if the metals being joined are thin enough). The filler metal is a metal rod fed into the weld pool with one hand while manipulating the torch with the other hand and the heat input with a foot controller. Getting those welds requires more skill and concentration than MIG welding. The TIG torch has to be held at the right angle, the weld pool has to be kept uniform, and you need the right amount of filler metal to get a good bead. With good technique, TIG welding mild steel results in strong, precise welds that are smaller than the welds created by MIG or stick welding.
Benefits of TIG Welding Machines
- Highest quality welds
- Weld profile is compact and smoother than other processes
- Heat input can be adjusted while welding through the use of a foot controller
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MIG, or Metal Inert Gas, welders are the most popular choice for novice welders because the learning curve isn’t as steep as with other welding processes. The technical name for the process is gas metal arc welding (GMAW). It’s also known as wire welding because a continuous solid wire electrode on a spool is fed through a welding gun and into the weld pool. The MIG welding process doesn’t create welds as small and attractive as TIG welding does, but a skilled welder can come close. MIG welding also takes considerably less time, and “time is money” in a high-production fabrication shop. While there are MIG-only welding machines, a multiprocess welder offers the flexibility of MIG, TIG, and Stick welding capability. MIG mild steel welding can be used to fabricate, maintain and repair mild steel from 24-gauge up to ½” thick.
Benefits of MIG Welding Machines
- Easiest welding process for novices to learn
- Allows for high welding speeds
- Excellent control on thin metals
- No slag to clean off completed welds
- Can use a MIG welder for flux-cored welding
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Stick welding is the most commonly used welding process in the world, largely due to its simplicity. Unlike TIG and MIG welding, it doesn’t require gas. “Stick” welding is shorthand for shielded metal arc welding (SMAW). It’s known as stick welding for the rods used to fuse metal together. They come in varying diameters, depending on the thickness of steel you’re welding. An electrical arc melts the rod and the molten metal bonds the metal. Because stick welding involves choosing the right rod and holding it at the proper distance from the workpiece, there’s a learning curve. Also, the process creates a lot of spatter that has to be cleaned off the weld once it’s cooled.
Benefits of Stick Welding Machines
- Most forgiving process for welding rusty or dirty steel
- Can be used outdoors in windy conditions
- Work well with thicker metals
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Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) welders
Flux-cored welding is ideal for outdoor welding work or welding steel that’s a little rusty or dirty. This is a wire welding process that involves feeding a continuous hollow wire electrode through a welding gun and into the weld joint. Unlike MIG welding, it doesn’t require an external shielding gas to protect the weld pool from contamination because the wire contains a flux compound that reacts with the welding arc to create a gas that protects the weld pool. This makes it ideal for outdoor work, where a gust of wind could blow away the shielding gas used in MIG welding. The power supply for flux-cored arc welding is the same as used in MIG welding, so any MIG welding machine will work for the FCAW weld process.
Benefits of Flux-Cored Welding Machines
- Can be used for overhead or another out-of-position welding
- Deep penetration is good for welding thick materials
- The high metal deposition rate
- Like Stick welding, it is forgiving when working with dirty or rusty metal
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Welding machines that can perform more than one type of welding process are known as multi-process welders. The most common multi-process welder is the TIG/MIG/Stick welder. As you can imagine, multi-process welders tend to be larger than one that does just one type of welding, and they cost more. If you anticipate a need to do more than one type of welding, though, it’s worth considering a multi-process welder.
Benefits of Multi-process Welding Machines
- MIG, TIG, and Stick welding capability in one machine
- Most multiprocess welders are compact and weigh under 50 lbs
- Automatic settings and clear displays on most make them easy to use
- Many can be used with spool guns so you can MIG weld aluminum
- Most are dual voltage (120v or 240v power)
Not Sure Which Type of Welding Machine to Buy?
If you’re uncertain about which type of welder to get, or have questions about a specific machine you’re considering, free to email or call us. We can help you decide on a welding machine that meets your needs and your budget.