Welding machines; what should I keep in mind?
1. Welding technique
Before you buy a welding machine, it is important to know which welding technique you are going to apply. With a few exceptions, most welding machines are suitable for carrying out one type of welding process. What kind of machine you choose depends on the jobs you plan to pick up. In a nutshell: electrode welding is used for light maintenance and repair work and is a popular welding process for both do-it-yourselfers and professionals. This welding technique can only be used outside. TIG welding is a relatively slow welding process with which you make high-quality welds. MIG / MAG welding is the fastest welding technique and is mainly used for large-scale and project-based jobs.
The maximum amperage of a welding machine indicates the power that you can weld with. The rule of thumb is: per millimeter of steel you need a power of 40 amperes. So to weld a sheet of 10 millimeters of steel, the welding machine must be able to achieve an amperage of 400. It is therefore important to think beforehand about how much power you need to carry out the planned welding jobs. In addition, it is useful to know that above a power of 200 amperes you often switch to a power current of 400 volts. A welding machine with such a high current capacity can not be connected to the normal electricity network.
3. Operating time
In order to prevent the welding machine from becoming too hot, it switches itself off for a short while when the temperature is too high. This is called the duty cycle. Here you can read how intensively you can use the welding machine. The duty cycle at 100% indicates how high the amperage is at maximum 10 minutes, ie continuous welding. Do not be fooled by the term continuously. It is especially relevant for the user to calculate with a duty cycle of 60% (ie 6 minutes consecutive welding), because most welding jobs do not last much longer. If the duty cycle at 60% is, for example, 160 amperes, this means that you can work with a voltage of 160 amperes for 6 minutes. This is enough power to weld material 4 millimeters thick. After that, the device has to cool down for 4 minutes. The duty cycle therefore says everything about the capacity of a welding machine. When choosing a welding machine, think how long you want to work one after the other.
4. Pulse function
If you are planning to weld aluminum or thin-walled stainless steel, a pulse function is required. This function ensures that the welding machine can pulsate between base current and peak current. You can see the possibility of switching between 2 currents at TIG welding machines and MIG / MAG welding machines. Less heat is applied to pulsating welding, so that the material does not deform. In addition, little to no splashes are released and it is easier, for example, to weld in a vertical position. The optimum branding at the pulse function also ensures an even and high-quality weld, with less chance of binding errors. In the case of a double pulse function, the additive material is supplied pulsing in addition to the current strength. The result is a very nice weld: for example, you make 'half-moons' with it.
5. Synergic function
Synergic (or automatic) MIG / MAG welding makes the welder easy. Welding devices that are equipped with a synergic function, namely with 1 button. All you have to do is enter the thickness of the material to be welded, and the machine automatically sets the required amperage and voltage to the related parameters. You also have the possibility to save welding programs. If you often carry out the same sort of welding job, you will easily find the required settings in the stored programs. The operation of a welding machine with a synergic function is therefore very fast and because the welding machine itself determines the optimal settings, this makes it very user-friendly.