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How an Electric Welding Machine Works

There are several effective ways to complete a welding project. One of the methods of doing so is by using an electric welding machine. If you’re considering implementing arc welding into your next project, use this comprehensive guide to learn the ins and outs of how an electric welding machine works. That way, if you want to give this form of welding a try, you can do so with the right tools and information for the job.

The Different Types of Arc Welding

You can perform arc (electric) welding by using a few useful methods. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of each individual part of the process, we'll break down these various methods broadly. These common forms of arc welding include stick welding, wire feed welding, and TIG welding.

Stick Welding

When using the stick welding method, an arc generates between an electrode, which has a flux coating on it in addition to a workpiece. The flux is what provides your shielding gas for the welding process. The electrode’s flux coating evaporates in the presence of the electric arc, thus creating the gas. All of this may seem like a lot to take in, but don’t worry, we’ll be going through these steps and processes very thoroughly as we progress.

Wire Feed/MIG Welding

During wire feed welding, also known as MIG welding, the method of applying the shielding gas is slightly different, with an external source being the provider of shielding instead of a flux coating. This is because unlike stick welding which involves an arc between an electrode and the workpiece, MIG welding creates an arc between a fed wire and your workpiece.

TIG Welding

TIG welding is very similar to stick welding because it forms an electric arc between an electrode and your workpiece. However, the electrode in this process is a tungsten electrode that won’t melt together with the workpiece. A separate filler metal is necessary and your shielding source is often an inert gas mixture that will prevent outside contamination.

The Welding Power Supply

Now it’s time to delve into the detailed aspects of this process. Your welding power supply is what produces the electrical arc necessary for welding. You can find a few different kinds of welding power supplies, all of which use various power methods. The most common types of power supplies include transformers, generators, and inverters. There are a handful of other power supplies, but we’ll worry about these more common units right now.

Power supplies with a transformer tend to be more affordable but bulkier than the other units. Power supplies featuring generators use an internal combustible engine to fuel the electric arc. Inverters, on the other hand, create a current using a switched-mode power supply. Inverters also tend to be more lightweight and efficient power units. Each power supply has its own set of useful attributes, so make sure to do thorough research into the unit you’re considering so you know it’s the right one for you.

The Grounding Wire

The grounding wire is one of the most important parts of an electric welding machine. A grounding wire plugs into your power supply, with its clamp being the source of power for your welding material. Using the clamp on the grounding wire, you’ll need to attach it to your workpiece. If you don’t do this, you’ll have no arc to use for your welding.

The Electrical Arc

Whichever welding power supply you go with, the purpose of it will be to supply you with an electrical arc. This electrical arc provides the heat necessary to bind the base and filler metals together. As mentioned, the filler metal in arc welding is typically an electrode with a flux coating. An important part of establishing a stable weld environment is with the help of that shielding gas emitted from the electrode. As you can see, regardless of the welding process or power supply you use, you’ll always need the help of shielding gas to produce and maintain a stable electric arc.

The Shielding Gas

The method of using a shielding gas for welding is known as Shielded Metal Arc Welding, or SMAW for short. When a shielding gas is necessary, you can supply it via the electrode. By applying a purifying agent known as flux to the electrode, it will give off a shielding gas when heated by the electrical arc provided by your electric welding machine. This shielding gas protects the welding process from being contaminated by materials like oxygen and water vapor.

Given the different types of electric welding, you can provide shielding gas in several different ways. For instance, when using a wire feed or MIG welding method you’ll need to administer the gases externally.

The Filler Metal

Filler metal is something you’ve seen quite a bit on this list. This metal, often an electrode, binds to the base metal to conjoin and result in the welding product you seek. It’s important to remember that during this process, the filler metal is melting away thanks to your electric welding machine, meaning you need to maneuver it carefully as you weld the two pieces together.

The Base Metal

In the welding process, the base metal is the metal on which you’re welding. After using the electric arc to heat the base and filler metals, the materials conjoin to form the final product.

Now that you understand more about how an electric welding machine works, you can determine whether or not the welding method you choose is the right one for you. As you can see, there’s a lot of facets to arc welding that can make it seem daunting, but it can also be immensely useful if you decide to try it out. An electric welding machine grants you with a bevy of heating methods you can use for your next project. If you do decide to give electric welding machines a shot, you’ll need the right gear for your project. At Welding for Less, we offer a wide range of electric welding machines at the most affordable prices.

How a Welding Machine Works