Wire feed welding is the easiest one to learn if you are new to the welding domain. So, My Welding Yard has decided to provide you complete guidance about this type of welding.
List of Contents
- What is wire Feed Welding?
- How does this Feed welding work?
- Things to Remember during feed Welding
- Types of filler metal Transfer
- Setting up Different wire feed Welders
- Welding Materials through Wire Feed Welding
- Tips and Tricks to Remember
- Safety Equipment
- Frequently Asked Questions FAQ’s
What is wire Feed Welding?
Wire feed welding is similar to Metal Inert Gas Welding (MIG) and Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW). As the name indicates, it uses a wire to join metals. Wait, what? Yes, you have read it correctly. It heats the workspace and welds it by feeding a metal electrode. Plus, that metal electrode is heated with an electric arc as well. Since this process takes place in a high flame arc, shielding gas is incorporated for protection purposes. The usage of gas isolates the welding process from external contaminations.
In my welding career, most of the welders in my acquaintance said that MIG welding is easy to learn compared with other methods. Still, there are some technicalities that you need to master if you want to be a professional MIG welder. I am mentioning here a few of them:
- Choice of welding gin and power supply
- Wire feed unit and its speed
- Proper shielding gas according to the metal being welded
How does this Feed welding work?
The heated metal electrode and the base metal amalgamate to produce joint beads at the welding point. The gun-shaped feed welder machines commonly have a holder for the wire electrode for insertion. When you press the trigger, multiple actions take place simultaneously.
The activated power supply begins the rollers of the machine gun. Next, the arc lightens, and the shielding gas also flows to the welding point where the nozzle is directed. The roller feeds the wire, and hence it melts on the base metal to produce healthy joints.
How does this welding technique save your time? Since the feed welding utilizes the melted electrode, you do not need to replace the burnt-out electrode. As a result, the overall productivity and efficiency of the welding process are increased.
Things to Remember during feed Welding
Practice makes a man perfect, but you have to master those skills by taking care of all technicalities to become an expert. We are mentioning the essential rules and tips for ideal feed welding:
The welding process seems to be simple, but it is not the case. The direction in which you move your welding gun during the process defines the quality finishing. The direction is decided on whether the process involves slag or not. That means you need to drag your welding gun towards you when the ongoing operation in stick or flux core welding. In contrast, you need to push the wire away from you when you are performing MIG Welding.
Most MIG welders apply this pushing technique to get delicate beads at the joint. When the wire is pushed away, it has lower penetration in the base metal, and it doesn’t destroy metal. Hence, a flat and wide welding bead is produced. This movement of wire is also called forehead movement.
The other method in feed wire welding is to drag or pull the wire. Welders pull the wire towards the weld puddle; next, they move the wire away from deposited metal. In this way, a deep penetration produces a narrow bead. I have good news for MIG welders as they may use either of the directions during welding.
Keeping in view the metal you are welding, its thickness, and the desired joint, you have to decide the type of work angle for welding. Usually, there are four work positions which are as follows:
The joint decides the working angle for welding.
- For butt joints, the metal workpiece should be perpendicular to the gun. Keep the travel angle between 5 to 15 degrees. This combination of angles will feed the wire straight into the joint. To better fill a wide gap and avoid an undercut situation, you can move your welding gun in a back-and-forth motion.
- When it comes to welding T-joints, the ideal angle is 45 degrees between the wire and workpiece. It depends on your practice and expertise that how well you move your elbow to adjust the hook correctly. One thing to be noticed here is that this contact angle may vary for multiple passes. The wise changing of angle reduces the probability of undercuts.
- The optimum work angle for lap joints is 60 to 70 degrees. I want to share a welding pro tip that the working angle relates directly to the base metal thickness. Therefore, the thicker the metal, the bigger the angle.
Pre-weld setup has considerable significance for welding in a vertical position. The angle depends on various factors; however, the travel angle remains from 5 to 15 degrees. To control the size and shape of weld beads, you can apply the weaving technique. Another perk of this method is that it also governs the cooling effect in welding.
The appropriate work angle for horizontal feed wire welding is 0 to 15 degrees. If you wonder why this angle is kept small, gravity also affects the process. Gravity may also lead to filler metal sagging or rolling over. You can use a combination of push or pull techniques for smooth welding. The travel angle remains unaffected and is also independent of the direction of wire movement.
Most welders find it challenging to find a suitable work angle for welding in the overhead position. Let me tell you that you need extra care in this welding. Keep trying and practicing, and if you find a suitable angle that works for most overhead welding, do let us know.
We have been using this term above, but what is this travel angle? It is the angle that the welding gun makes with the weld in the travel direction. Travel angle is to be kept as low as possible. Usually, it varies from 5 degrees to 15 degrees for all welding processes. Following are the advantages of a small travel angle:
- Increased productivity
- Decreased spatter
- Deep and strong penetration
I have observed welders using ER70S-3 or ER70S-6 wire for feed welding. ER stands for electrode or metal rod, which is used as feed wire. Figure 70 represents the tensile strength of 70,000 psi, while the letter S says it is a solid bare wire with a specific chemical composition number 3.
The ER70S-3 wire can be used for all types of welding. That is why it is called an all-rounder wire. On the other hand, ER70S-6 is perfect for rusty or dirty steel welding. You may use the latter one for repairing metal bodies where more deoxidizers are required.
Another thing that I will address here is the wire thickness. In routine, 0.035 inch or 0.045-inch wires are used when the arc has a high temperature or the base metal is thick. My friends used 0.030 inches thick wire, and they found it suitable from household welding to motorsports applications.
We have talked earlier about gases for welding in detail. Indeed, shielding gases ensure spatter-free and quality work. It would be best if you considered that welding gas should not interact with the wire feed; otherwise, it can be risky. Usually, a combination of 75% argon and 25% carbon dioxide is used for neat finishing, but it is costly. Don’t worry, we have another option of pure Carbon dioxide, but one has to compromise on its less spatter control and rougher beads.
The length of wire that stays out of the gun is also responsible for arc stability. I would recommend you to keep a 3/8th inch wire to stick out of the welding machine. The too-short wire can cause friction between the gun and the metal piece. Contrary to this, the long wire will oscillate because of torque and may produce sizzling sounds.
Types of filler metal Transfer
The filler electrodes have different current and power requirements. Based on their type, there is three filler metal transfer:
Short Circuit Transfer
This transfer is used for thin wires. Usually, it is done at low voltage and low amperage.
This process involves the electrode melting into the wire puddle. So, it is useful for welding thick metal plates.
Transfer by sprinkling or spraying
The sprinkling method utilizes high voltage and current in the presence of shielding gases. Welders use this transfer technique while welding stainless steel.
Setting up Different wire feed Welders
Lincoln Electric Wire Feed Welder
The following steps will help you in working with Lincoln Welder:
- First of all, set the temperature through the knobs. There are four levels, A, B, C, and D. The first two are relatively lower temperatures and the last ones are hottest. C level can be used for metal sheets. In comparison, D is used for steel and heavy metals.
- Next, adjust the wire speed from a range of 1 to 10. Typically, a wire-speed between 2 to 3 is best for use.
- There is a wire-wound at the back of the machine. The wire passes through a tube through a circular feeder. As you press the trigger on the machine gun, the wire comes live and is ready for welding.
Wire Feed MIG Welder
A 110-volt MIG Welder can weld an eight-inch metal plate. It comes with a spool gun so that you can weld aluminum as well. The solid core can also run with this welder when it is connected to a shielding gas. For little repairing, you can also use flux core wire.
Mastercraft MIG and Flux Core Welder
Its working is also similar to the machines discussed earlier. Check the voltage and set a wire-speed through the circular knob. Select the option either you are using a shielding gas or not. Then, pick up the welding gun, pull the trigger, and start welding.
Craftsman Wire Feed Welder
Craftsman flux or 135-wire feed welder is a portable welder that goes with you to the place you have to weld. It is best suited for repairing purposes. Hook it up to the household current and power it through a generator. It can weld up to 3/16th of an inch with output voltage control and full wire-speed control. You may tune it into the material thickness you need. This welder uses flux core wire to make welds, so you need not carry bulky shielding gas bottles.
Welding Materials through Wire Feed Welding
To weld 304 stainless steel, I use 035309L stainless wire. The suitable voltage is 21 volts with 335 wire feed speed. Moreover, I use a tri gas mix with helium, argon, and carbon dioxide for shielding purposes. You can move your gun in two ways. Either pull or push the gun straight motion, or you can move it to and fro during welding. The latter method produces a weave-like weld filling.
One of the ways to repair the cast iron is to weld it. Cast iron is fused through an inert metal gas (MIG) process and specialized flux-cored electrode wires. But, let me tell you that the joint is not as strong as arc welding. They recommend using filler rods for preheating and brazing the cast iron piece.
Tips and Tricks to Remember
You can master welding if you practice the techniques, and of course, there are some golden tricks too. We are listing some things for you to keep in mind:
- Electrodes have multiple deoxidizing layers, so weld feed wire according to your base metal.
- I used a 0.9 mm diameter wire for welding metal sheets. A wide range of electrodes or wires is available from 0.7 mm to 4 mm.
- Shielding gas directly affects the quality of welding. Therefore, it is advised to use gas combinations with a higher percentage of argon.
- Keep a check on the supply power and current as well. Welding with a constant current gives welds optimum strength.
- To manage temperature settings is also essential. Perfection comes with practice, and you need to try the procedure beforehand. So, you would know when to lower temperature to cool metal.
For any wire feed welding, you have to be conscious of your safety. Here is a quick overview of the safety equipment that may be used during welding.
- Flame Resistant Overalls
- Safety Boots
- Leather Gauntlets
- Air fed welding helmet
Make sure your co-workers also know about the processes that you use. Plus, there must be proper air ventilation in your welding yard and keep respiratory tanks as well.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ’s
What is the difference between MIG Welder and wire feed welder?
MIG welder is also a wire feed welder. MIG welder uses a filler wire metal in the gun. The wire rolls to the machine nozzle, and due to high temperature, it melts and forms the weld.
Can you weld aluminum with a wire feed welder?
Yes, you can weld aluminum with a wire feed welder. But you have to be extra conscious because aluminum oxidizes quickly in the open air. The high heat conductivity of aluminum causes problems when welding at low voltages.
How to weld vertical with wire feed?
For vertical wire feed welding, keep the transfer angle from 5 to 15 degrees. The weaving technique helps in controlling the bead shape and size. Pre-weld setup is also crucial for welding in a vertical position.
Wire feed welding has so many applications. This technique is best for beginners and easy to practice. Mostly, wire feed welders work on the principle that a wire is fed to the welding gun nozzle through a tube and roller system. This wire melts when voltage is applied and cools in the form of beautiful beads on the base metal.