The process of joining two unlike metal pieces by fusing them at extremely high temperature and pressure is welding. Welders usually apply dozens of techniques of welding to make a weld. Among them, one of the most widely used welding techniques is wire feed welding, and the main reason behind this is it’s an inexpensive procedure and also easy for beginners to grasp.
With just a few months of practice, a learner becomes an expert in accurately performing all types of wire feed welds. This article will describe how to wire feed weld; you need to stay with us.
What is wire feed welding?
The other names of wire feed welding are metal inert gas (MIG) welding & gas metal arc welding (GMAW). You can join two metal pieces by applying this technique using a MIG welding gun that develops an electric arc between the joining point of base metals and itself, which melts the base metals, causing them to fuse into each other when the temperature goes down.
Shielding gas goes hand in hand with the wire electrode to save the process from atmospheric contamination. We do wire feed welding when we need to make a moderately strong weld; that’s why its use is prevalent. Moreover, the wire feed welding machines use a combustible electrode, which makes these machines excellent for joining softer metals or alloys with a lower iron composition.
Besides, wire feed welding is one of the simplest welding methods because it’s effortless to acquire. Its versatility and broad range of use are also the cause of its popularity. Also, the wire feed welding sprinkles minimum spatter than other techniques shows how safe this method is.
Despite being easier to use and flexible in application, wire feed welding machines are still complicated and require hands-on training to use them safely. Because if anything goes wrong, then the electric arc that emerged during the procedure can be very harmful. You also have to master when, where and how much welding power should be given.
What is the purpose of a wire feed welding machine?
What are the advantages of applying the wire feed welding technique?
Wire feed or MIG welding machines are incredibly versatile and we use them to join metals of different thicknesses. In addition to that, they can weld aluminum, stainless steel, 26-gauge metal plates of steel, and other substantial industrial plates.
As this technique employs a filler metal, therefore you don’t need to metal the thick metal plates all the way. This method accounts for 50 percent of all welds in the world; it may be a surprise for you. After that, TIG is the second popular welding procedure, but beginner welders prefer MIG welding because of the ease it provides.
As wire feed welding is an automatic process, you need to hold the wire, making the whole welding process faster. Due to this, quality industrial welding operations involve wire feed welding machines.
How to apply wire feed weld?
Wire feed welding uses wire as an electrode which requires an uninterruptible feed of shield gas to make joints without shattering hot metal pieces in the air. To start the process, you need to assemble a wire feed welding machine, which involves attaching a wire electrode with an electrode holding device.
When you press the start button, the burning arc coming out of the wire electrode melts the base metal to join. The shield gas, typically argon and helium, travels along with the wire electrode to protect metals from atmospheric contamination. And in this whole process, the wire electrode will also consume as well.
This welding technique is cost-effective and fast as you don’t often need to replace the burnt wire electrode. However, even though this technique is easy and straightforward, along with benefits over other welding styles, you still need enough knowledge and hands-on experience to perform wire feed welding accurately.
Basics of performing wire feed welding
It would help if you had a particular level of mastery in performing any welding technique, no matter how easy it is. More profound knowledge of technical aspects of the procedure is a must to make a sustainable and appropriate weld safely. The following are some rules you need to follow while performing wire feed welding.
There are two actions in manual welding: either pull or push and. Moreover, which route to make a weld doesn’t take much time to learn. However, if the job demands slag after the welding, you have to enforce stick welding, which requires drag or pull.
On the other hand, wire feed welding requires a push action to do the job. In this way, you’ve to push the gun, which weakens the electric arc and creates a wide smooth bead. This push is also known as the forehand technique, which gives you a better idea of the joint.
The pull of the metal gun from the metal puddle is called the backhand procedure. In this method, the metal gun is pointed back, and after that, it is pulled away from the deposited metal. Besides, the electric arc creates a deeper hole in the metal and hence bestows higher metal deposit rates. You can do wire feed welding in any one of these ways.
There are four welding positions that you can take up while welding.
Flat Welding Position:
This position is ideal for creating fillet and butt welds similarly lap-joints and t-joints. If you want to employ a butt weld, then the welding gun angle from the base metals should be 90° along with a 5 to 15° travel angle. For lap joints, the metal gun angle with metal pieces should be 60 to 70° and reduce this angle to 45° if you are looking to form t-joints.
Horizontal Welding Position:
Must take gravity into account when welding in a horizontal position. Moreover, this position requires a 0 to 15° travel angle to avoid filler metal slag or rollover under the joint. You also have to employ both push and pull techniques to ensure flat and clean weld. Besides, the flat and horizontal position travel angle remains constant despite a change in direction and working angle.
Vertical Welding Position:
Just like horizontal welding positions, gravity also has a significant impact on the vertical position. The working angle in this position is variable and has a different value in every other direction, but the travel angle should be between 5 to 15°. Finally, you have to execute the weaving technique for regulating the shape and size of the weld bead.
Overhead Welding Position:
The overhead welding position is the riskiest among all welding positions. First, you need to figure out the proper metal gun position and consider the gravity factor. Moreover, safely wearing gadgets is a must while performing welds in that position because there is a terrific chance of coming into the hot metal dripping.
Figuring out how much voltage and amperage should be given
If you want to become a pro welded, you must know how much voltage and amperage is necessary for a specific case. Basically, the voltage controls the arc length, whereas amperage controls the volume of the electric current flowing.
As voltage and amperage significantly impact the weld bead wideness, you have to adjust according to the metal’s thickness.
Choosing the wire
Choosing a wire for wire feed welding is not tough at all. ER70S-3 & ER70S-6 are the two most commonly used wires for MIG welding. ER70S-3 is a multi-purpose wire which is excellent for high-quality welding. On the other hand, ER70S-6 has limited use than ER70S-3 as it is mainly used for maintenance and repair welding.
Besides, these two wires come in three different diameters, which are 0.045 inches, 0.035 inches, and 0.023 inches. If you have to weld heavy metals at relatively higher temperatures, then either use 0.045 or 0.035 inches thick wire. Further, for thin metal welding, 0.023 or 0.035 inches wide wire is suitable. Professional welders with a lot of experience use welding wire with 0.035 inches of thickness.
Choosing the gas
Selecting a shielding gas is very important in wire feed welding because if you use a poor-quality gas, then it will badly affect your work quality. In addition, a low-quality gas produces a high-volume spatter and sometimes releases harmful and poisonous gases.
Seventy-five percent argon and twenty-five percent carbon dioxide is the best shielding gas composition; you can use this in the wire feed welding process to get smooth and minimum spatter welds. Additionally, you can still use 100 percent carbon dioxide as shielding gas, but it produces a higher amount of spatter and bumpy weld.
You need to wear detailed safety clothes before starting the wire feed welding, including long leather gloves, welding boots, protection helmets, and anti-flammable garments. As wire feed welding generates a lot of heat, that’s why it isn’t ideal for a welder to wear ordinary clothes because these clothes can get fired.
To protect your arms and hands, you need to buy elbow-length gloves which protect your hands from burning through a splash of hot molten metal. Moreover, the wire feed welders’ feet aren’t safe while working. That’s why a welding boot protects their feet from severe injury.
Last but not least, welding helmets are convenient as they protect your eyes, as welding helmets have an auto-darkening feature that relieves your eyes. Moreover, these helmets are beneficial for welders because they protect the head from molten metal and deliver healthy air.