What is a Welding Arc?
Arc welding is the one of the most common form of welding.
It is the joining together of metals with a concentrated heat arc using a consumable electrode(which is shaped like an arc). It uses either direct or alternating current depending on the electrode and material to be welded. The welding area is protected by a shielding gas, vapor or slag against pollution. Arc welding processes can be done manually, semi-automatic and automatically.
It’s very popular in the fabrication, maintenance and repairs industry.
How Does an Arc Welding Machine Work?
An arc welding machine uses electricity to create arcs which in turn create sparks that produce heat hot enough to melt the filler metal material and the metal work piece to join two edges together.
- In arc welding an electrical arc is used to melt the filler material sometimes referred to as the welding rod as well as the work material to weld joints.
- The arc is generated by attaching to the welding material a grounding wire and placing another electrode lead against the welding machine which is itself attached to an AC/ DC power supply.
- An arc is generated when the electrode lead is pulled away from the materials in an ongoing plasma discharge which is caused by the electrical breakdown of gas.
- The heat which is the by-product of this activity melts and welds the materials at the welding tips.
Is MIG Welding Arc Welding?
Yes, MIG welding is a type of arc welding because it uses an electric arc to create a weld. It’s one of the popular arc welding processes and is used in large scale and mass production processes. It can also be automated which makes it a welding process of choice in the mass production of machine parts.
Types of Arc Welding
There are various forms of arc welding and they include the below listed;
- Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
This arc welding process uses a tabular electrode that is filled with flux. It is more fragile than the coatings of SMAW electrodes and retains most of the alloying benefits. The resulting weld is shielded from atmospheric contamination through the shielding of emissive fluxes. Similarly, a shielding gas can be used if a non-emissive flux is required. It is used when welding thick metals.
- Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)
This is also known as the TIG welding process. This process involves the use of a non-consumable tungsten electrode to create a weld. A metal is used as a filler to produce the molten material for the weld. The filler material is similar to the material being welded and it is shielded with argon, helium or a combination of both gases. The Gas Tungsten Arc Welding process leaves a beautiful finish and has great aesthetic value.
- Plasma Arc Welding (PAW)
This process has electrodes and ionized gases that generate extremely hot plasma jets aimed at area intended to be welded. The high temperature of the jets is good for narrower and deeper welds as well as in great speeds. This process has electrodes and an ionized gas that generates extremely hot plasma jets aimed at area intended to be welded. The electrode is placed in the torch and the arc is infused with gas which causes it to ionize and conduct the electrical arc. The high temperature of the jets which is usually over 50,000 degrees is good for narrower and deeper welds as well as in great speeds. Furthermore, a plasma arc is designed for cutting but can also be used for welding.
- Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)
Popularly referred to by its subtypes as MIG or MAG welding, the gas metal arc welding process occurs when an electric arc forms between a consumable wire electrode and a metal work piece, causing it to heat up, melt and join. A shielding gas of argon, helium or both which is feed through the welding gun, shields the weld from contaminants. Oxidation is prevented by deoxidizers in the electrodes which make it possible to weld multiple layers. It is versatile, simple and an economic welding process. Temperatures are relatively low for welding thin sections and it can be easily automated and replicated.
- Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)
Also known as STICK welding, the shielded arc welding method is one of the oldest, simplest and most versatile welding processes out there. It is a manual arc process which uses a consumable electrode covered with flux to lay a weld. The weld is formed by repeatedly touching the work piece with the flux covered electrode. The heat which is generated melts the tip and coating of the electrode and base metal and forms a pool of weld and a bead when the alloy solidifies. While the weld is produced, the flux coating the electrode forms vapors which serve as a shielding gas and creates a slag which protects the weld area from external contamination. This process is usually used in pipeline construction, shipbuilding and general construction.
- Submerged Arc Welding (SAW)
In this process, heat is generated between a bare consumable electrode and the metal welded by an arc. A blanket of melted granular fusible flux protects the arc, the weld area and the weld pool from atmospheric contamination. The reaction between the molten flux and the molten metal solidify to make a weld which is shielded from contamination. This welding process provides fun while at it. It makes a great sound and gives a beautifully beaded reward after huge slags are cracked off. It’s used in situations when uniformity is of a high priority.
What is the Normal Arc Welding Temperature?
The main purpose of an arc in welding is to produce heat. The heat in the arc melts the wire electrode and the base metal and varies with each arc welding process.
The heat from the arc ranges from 5000 to 30000 oC. Important parameters such as the arc voltage, current supply, shielding gas used and properties of the work piece play a vital role in maintaining this arc. Variations and maintenance of heat production by the arc is caused by the arc voltage and power supply. The arc is also affected by the thermal conductivity of the shielding gas used. Similarly, thermal conductivity of work materials through variations of the thermal gradient affects the stability of the arc. There is also a marked difference in arc temperature from the center of the arc and the edge of the arc. Maximum temperature is at the axis of the electrode and decreases as it moves out. They type of shielding gas used affects arc temperature of the arc too.
It is hard to believe that Campbell Hausfeld has held down the welding machine market for over a 100 years and hasn’t relinquished its hold in the face of fierce competition. The WG216001AV Welder comes MIG ready with a built-in gas liner and valve suitable for the home environment and the welding workshop. The AC output machine has a duty cycle of 20% at an output of 70 amps and runs on 115-volt power. It uses a flux wire of .030 or .035
- Comes with a robust metal design which guarantees longevity
- Comes with 4- heat setting and capability for different metals and thickness
- Arc is trigger activated keeps wire electrically cold
- Thermal overload protection
- Infinite wire speed control
- Gas or no gas flux wire welding capacity
Improvements: Ground clamps seem cheaply made and require frequent changing.
Conclusion: The WG2160 has flexible cables which makes it easy to manipulate and good for DIY.
Overall Rating: 4.0/5
8| LOTOS MIG175
The Lotos technology 561N MIG 175 is another reputable option for an arc welder. It works well for general household maintenance work. It is suitable for welding stainless steel, mild steel, aluminum and other metals with a welding capacity of 1/ 4” for mild and stainless steel, and 3/ 8” for aluminum. The Lotos 561N MIG 175 connects easily to a household power source of 220V, has a dual frequency of 50/ 60 Hz and handles industrial standard 4” or 8” wire spools. It is a great welding unit for beginners.
- Comes with a gas regulator included
- Very easy set up and to operate
- Resettable overload protection ensures a long operation lifespan
- High-speed Spool gun for aluminum and face mask included
- Reliable and durable transformer technology
Improvements: Cables are a bit thin and it’s not really a suitable device for professional grade welding. Also wire spool can get unhinged.
Conclusion: If you are looking for a solid DIY MIG machine then the Lotus175 may be an option for you. The MIG 175 ability to work on a large variety of metals makes it great for household projects.
Overall Rating: 4.0/5
The Longevity, we found, is a nice project tool which comes with the capacity to efficiently weld up to 3/8 inches of mild steel. It is perfect for the beginner and offers a pleasant surprise for the professional. It is very versatile and can do aluminum and other exotic metals with the spool gun. Uses the common household 110V wall outlet.
- Capacity for gas or gasless Flux Core welding
- Very easy to set up and operate
- Works well with consumables found in local stores
- It is very portable and easy to use anywhere.
Improvements: Feed roller has the possibility to be inconsistent. It comes with a small spool wire and you’ll need to buy a helmet, a ground clamp and gloves because the ones that come with the machine are no good. At 20% duty cycle, you’ll find that you spend more time prepping your metals than actually welding.
Conclusion: Despite its drawbacks, it is great for home use and DIYs. We recommend it.
Overall Rating: 4.2/5
The 30 lbs. gasless Super deal MIG 130 welder is a powerful household welder that is intuitive for DIY and occasional welders. The single phase welding unit operates on a 110V input, has an output range of 50- 120V amps and a duty cycle of 10% at 105 amps or 35% at 60 amps. It is made of high-class PVC material and is perfect for welding mild steel and stainless steel. It is lightweight makes it easy to be transported to different locations.
- User-friendly interface makes set up and easy to use
- This unit uses a flux cored wire and a self-release gas prevents oxidization
- Torch has on and off safety control.
- Automatic Thermal Safety Protection and adjustable 4-heating
Improvements: We have noticed that some owners did not receive the extra accessories so make sure to send seller a note before pulling the trigger. For the price you cannot beat it at 35% at 60 duty cycle ratio. The ground clamp is a little flimsy, face mask and wire brush are cheap but this is expected looking at the price. The metal tip will cause the machine to knock off after a little use.
Conclusion: On the upside, the metal tip can be replaced with copper and it will work just fine. This is a cheap machine that does the job.
Forney does it again Easy Weld 298 100ST TIG and Stick welder. The inverter powered machine is lightweight and very portable. It operates on 110 – 120-volt input and produces an output of 90 amps. Welding processes are controlled by a switch. At 80 amps it has a duty cycle of 20%, at 46 amps it has a duty cycle of 60% and at 36 amps it has a duty cycle of a 100%. The separately sold TIG feature is item #85657 which is the TIG torch assemble.
- Dual process Stick and TIG welder
- Although TIG capable, TIG torch is sold separately
- Capacity to handle up to 1/ 8-inch rod
Improvements: Cables would be better if they were longer and this machine takes a little bit too long to setup. Cables would be better if they were longer and thicker; takes a while to set up and welds a little cold
Conclusion: This is a machine for light welding jobs and repairs around the house.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
4| Lincoln Electric MIG 208/230VAC
Lincoln Electric again lives up to its name. The MIG welder handheld is sure to blow you away and exceed your expectations. The one phase, dual voltage machine is easy to use and can weld steel, stainless steel and aluminum. The input voltage of 208 / 230V and a rated output of 130A.
- Dual process MIG Flux Core welding machine
- Gas free flux core welding and gas-shielded MIG welding capability for steel, stainless and aluminum
- Fully adjustable drive system reduces wire tangle and crushing
Improvements: Ideal for light welding only. We would have liked it to conform to bigger projects but all in all a wonderful machine. Machine tends to have an erratic wire speed and its weight puts it at a disadvantaged position compared with other welders.
Conclusion: Works on small to mid-range jobs like a champ and offers ease to beginners and versatility to experts.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Everlast is a reputable manufacturer of arc welders and the Power Arc 160STH stays true to tradition. The arc welding machine is very portable and lightweight that it shows it off with a shoulder carrying strap. The dual voltage machine has an input of 110 /220V, an output capacity range of 10 – 160 amps and a duty cycle of 35% at maximum output. It is great for around the house work and can take up professional duties too.
- This model does not do 6010 rods but it’s magnificent on 7018.
- Dual process TIG and stick
- 5-year warranty period
- Gas flow meter or regulator not included.
Improvement: Gas regulator is loose fitting and requires a change.
Conclusion: Its drawbacks are fixable which makes this unit a quality welder.
Backed by Hobart 5/3/1 industrial warranty, the Handler 190 is sure to not let you down. The Handler 190 uses a voltage input of 230V, has an output range of 25 – 190 amps and a 30% duty cycle at 130amps. It is a little heavy at 79lbs and it is built with the power to weld auto body panels, exhaust systems and various DIY welding requirements around the house. It is well suited to weld mild steel, flux core steel, stainless steel and aluminum. Furthermore, it welds 24 gauges up to 5/16-inch mild steel.
- Comes spool gun ready for welding aluminum
- Easy to set up and use thanks to a setup guide on the inside of the cover
- 10 ft. long work cable and you’ll need an extension cord as the power cable is just 2ft. long if you’re going to be moving around.
- Its hub can host a 4 or 8-inch spool.
- Has a built-in gas solenoid valve.
Improvement: The Handler 190 cannot be used for home purposes without a 7000 watts generator and this makes it more expensive for home use.
Conclusion: Hobart’s Handler 190 is built to take on great and small jobs alike and this makes it a strong and durable welding machine.
The price of this machine is nothing compared to what it can do. Miller has outdone itself again with the Multimatic 215. The dual voltage machine uses a 120/ 240-volt power input and welds up to 3/8” mild steel. The cables, leads and stinger are heavy duty and very solid. The Multimatic 215 is easy to use and welds materials in the home, factory and on the farm.
- Color display LCD screen
- Features Auto-Set Elite and Easy to use
- A Multi-process machine with MIG, TIG and Stick capabilities
- Comes with MVP adapter plugs
- Outstanding arc thanks to its inverter technology.
Improvements: To get the TIG torch setup will cost an extra 300 bucks
Conclusion: setting up TIG is pretty easy with this machine has it has 2-gas inputs which makes switching between processes a breeze.