Things to keep in mind when selecting a welding machine

What is the difference between an arc (stick) welder and a wire feed welder?
a. A stick welder uses a flux-coated welding rod called an electrode. When an electrode is used during the welding process, the flux coat ing burns away. The flux creates a gas shield for the steel rod inside as it is melted into the weld puddle. The gas shield protects the weld puddle against the elements until it becomes solid.
b. A wire feed welder uses a spool of wire in the welding process.
There are two different types of wire-feed welders.
- A flux-cored wire feed welder uses a wire that has flux inside of the wire. The flux in the wire creates a gas shield as the wire is melted which protects the puddle against the elements until it becomes solid. This welder also creates a lot of smoke and spatter.
- A MIG wire feed welder uses a solid wire with no flux inside. A cylinder of gas and a special welding gun nozzle are used to create a protective gas shield around the weld puddle. This welder can be used on thinner materials than flux-cored and creates less smoke and little spatter.

What type of welder is easier to use for a beginner?
A wire feed welder is easier to use than an arc (stick) welder because the wire is on a spool that is fed through a gun as you press the gun trigger. You then move along the desired path and maintain a close and consistent distance to the piece you are welding. You do not have to continually change welding wire or try to strike an arc as you do with a stick welder. A limitation to wire feed welders is that they are limited to 5/16” metal thickness or less in a single welding pass. Thicker materials can be welded, however, they require multiple passes (1/2” max). For metal thicknesses greater than ½”, we recommend that you use a stick welder.

Why is it more difficult to use a stick welder than a wire feed welder?
Stick welding requires more coordination and skill than wire feed welding. When stick welding, you strike an arc through a “scratching” or “tapping” method. Once the arc is struck, you pull the electrode back and hold it approximately 1/8” away from the piece you are welding. As the electrode melts, you must constantly be moving the rod closer and also moving the electrode along the weld seam. If you hold the electrode too close to the puddle, it may stick. If you do not move the rod along the weld seam, you will burn through your work or the electrode will lose its arc. Stick welding requires practice before you can create good looking weld beads.

What kind of power do I need to run a welder?
Stick welders and wire feed welders are available in either 115 volt (i.e. standard household circuit) or 230 volt (i.e. same power that is used with an electric stove or clothes dryer). In welding, if you have higher voltage you get more heat and, therefore, you can weld thicker materials.

Can I weld aluminum with both stick and wire feed welders?
a. A stick welder can be used to weld aluminum, however, it is very difficult and is not recommended for a beginner. Aluminum electrodes melt very quickly and are difficult to control for a beginner. The likelihood of melting through the piece you are welding is high and creating a good looking welding seam is low.
b. A wire feed welder is the preferred machine when welding aluminum. You MUST use shielding gas (100% Argon) in order to get a good looking weld. You also need to use an Aluminum Feeding Kit (K664-2) in your wire feed welder. This optional kit includes a larger drive roller, a non-metallic gun liner to prevent contamination of the aluminum wire, contact tips, and a one-pound spool of 4043 Aluminum wire.
** Please note that the Aluminum Feeding Kit (K664-2) is not compatible with all Lincoln Electric wire feed welders.

What is “MIG” welding?
MIG stands for Metal Inert Gas. This process uses a solid wire with an externally supplied shielding gas to protect the weld puddle. There are many types of gas available. The most common gas mixtures that a non-industrial or retail customer would need are: . 25% Carbon Dioxide / 75% Argon (Commonly referred to as C25) . 100% Argon

What is “Duty Cycle”?
Duty Cycle is used to describe how long a welding machine will operate continuously within ten minutes at a specific amperage level before overheating. For example: If a customer says, “My AC-225 has a duty cycle of 20%,” what does that mean? It means that he or she may set the machine at 225 amps and weld for two continuous minutes out of ten (i.e. 10 minutes x 20%= two minutes). The lower a machine’s output amperage, the higher the duty cycle will be. Every machine has a different duty cycle. For stick machines, the duty cycle is reset each time you change the electrode, therefore, you can weld almost continuously.

What is the correct lens shade to use in my welding helmet to properly protect my eyes?
Many people mistakenly think that the lens shade number corresponds to the amount of protection that is provided to the eyes and, hence, the higher the number, the better the protection. In reality, all well-constructed quality welding lenses have a screen that filters out 100% of the harmful ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) wavelengths and provides protection to the eyes. The number denotes the amount of darkness provided by that lens and should be used by operators as a guide to select the one that is most comfortable and provides good visibility for the application. Always select a shade that allows you to see the weld puddle clearly and that most aids your welding ability.