MIG welding is essentially using electricity to melt and link pieces of metal together. It is one of the simplest forms of welding, so it’s great for beginners since it is one of the easiest to learn. So this guide and MIG welder reviews following would be a great help.

This form of welding started in the 1940’s and a was widely used in World War II because it was easily portable and a fast way to make repairs on the field. Since its inception, not much has changed in the world of MIG welding. The process is still basically the same, but the welding machines have gone through some improvements.

MIG stands for Metal Inert Gas, that was the original name but it was changed to GMAW which stands for Gas Metal Arc Welding. The GMAW name never really stuck so if you call MIG welding GMAW, many people will not know what you are talking about. Typically, this type of welding is great for a variety of different metals including nickel, copper, carbon steel, magnesium, aluminum, stainless steel, bronze, silicon and other alloys. With some practice, you can get smooth, clean welds that are little fuss and fast to do.

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MIG welders are usually easier to use than a standard TIG welder. With many models you can simple plug it in, turn it up and start a flame. It is good to know how the welding machine works and what things you should be looking for when shopping for a welder, so I’ve decided to include that information in this article featuring the best MIG welders of 2015. Some MIG welder reviews also been given at the end

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Overview of MIG Welders: How They Work

Heat is produced by a short circuit with a non-reactive (inert) gas melts a metal electrode into the specific location that you are welding. A MIG welder will feed and melt the electrode at a steady pace so that the pre-selected arc length is sustained.

When you stop the machine, the metal begins to cool and fuse together as a single piece. Your machine automatically controls the electrical properties for your arc.If you end up with a semi-automatic, you may need to use manual controls for regulating travel speed and its direction as well as torch positioning. There are 4maintechniques of metal transferal in GMAW, called globular, short-circuiting, spray, and pulsed-spray. Each of the techniques has individual properties withmatchingreturns and limits.

When compared to other welding processes MIG joints are suppler, securer, and create a smaller amount of distortions. MIG welding is can be performed on a wide array of metals as well as on a variety of base metal thicknesses. Those features are what makes it great kind of welder to have because you will be able to do a wide range of projects or jobs with just one machine.

Because of the weld wire that is used and the fact that you can set the weld parameters, it is possible to join two metals that are unalike. It is essential to select the filler metal that closely matches to the base piece being welded. This is perhaps because the filler metal conducts current for melting both the electrode and base metal as well as reinforces the finished weld joint.

When compared to stick welding greater speeds can be achieved.It is because of this that MIG welding tends to be relatively more efficient. Furthermore,the constant wire feed decreases the need to stop and starts which results in added productivity and a more dependable weld.

 

MIG Welders: Type

The weld needs a shield from oxidation, so the MIG welder makes use of a shielding gas. Typically, this shielding gas is made out of a combination of gases, including argon. Or if you don’t want to deal with the shielding gas you can use cylindrical flux-cored wires that are ‘self-shielding’; which removes the need for shielding gas from an outside source. MIG welders that use flux core wire tend to cost less than MIG welder that use shielding gas or one that does both.

The pros of welding with flux core wire are:transportability, easy transportation because there is no gas to lug around, flux core-based direct current shielding with deeper permeation in addition to overhead and perpendicular positional welds that are stress-free to move. The cons involved when working with flux core wire are: the smoke, splatter and slag that are created during use, flux core wire is more expensive than regular wire and it can be somewhat difficult to use on thin metal.

Conversely, MIG welders that use shielding gas and regular wire can have an extremely clean weld if the right gas for the job and polarity is used. The down side is that it is harder to take with you.

Three electrode holders are the most frequently used on the market. The most commonly used electrode holderin MIG welding is called a semi-automatic air-cooled holder. Compressed air flows through it to preserverestrained temperatures. This kind of holder is typically used with lesser current levels for welding lap or butt joints. Thesemiautomatic water-cooledelectrode holder is the second most commonly used type for MIG welding; the singlevariance is that water replaces air. It utilizes higher current intensities for welding T or corner joints. The third kind of holder style is a water cooled automatic electrode holder. The water cooled automatic electrode holder is commonlyused with programmed equipment.

MIG Welders: TIG versus MIG

When comparing TIG welding and MIG welding the main difference is the process that occurs while the outcome is still largely the same. TIG weldingmakes use of long welding rods that are gradually fed to the weld puddle; MIG welding uses constantly fed wire. MIG is a more straightforward way of welding and therefore it is simpler to pick up, even though both TIG and MIG use an electric arc for crafting the weld.

The differences do not end at the processes, however. There are divergences in the time it takes to perform these welding techniques. Additionally, TIG is capable of delivering a much finer weld and therefore should be used when the look of the weld is of the utmost importance. While TIG is great for thinner metals and aluminum, MIG works well with sheet metals of many kinds.

MIG Welders: How to Choose the Best MIG Welder

There are many models of MIG welders out there for the choosing. They come with a variety of features, accessories and prices. Finding the correct welder for you can prove to be a challenge. You probably want to take some time to do your homework on the various brands and the numerous models that each brand produces. You will want to pay close attention to the specs of those models and the reviews that are posted about them, while also keeping in mind what you will need out of the welder that you will ultimately buy.

Here is some information about what a good MIG welder will have and be able to perform.

Input Power

Welders typically run on either 110 V or 220 V; many units offer dual voltage for maximum flexibility. The higher the voltage the more power your machine will have to use. Therefore, the lower voltage is good for projects around the home that only work with thin metal. In order to be able to weld thicker sheets you will need to have a machine with a 220 V input power capability.

Duty Cycle

Duty cycle is measured in ten minute increments. The amount of minutes that you can run your welder during the ten minute time period is the duty cycle. For example if your welder has a duty cycle of 40%, you can weld for 4 minutes out of ten before you have to let your machine rest. The higher the duty cycle the longer you can weld in any ten minute period. That means you can possibly get more work done if you get a welder with a higher duty cycle.

Heat Overload Protection

Heat overload protection is one of those things that the machine either has or it doesn’t. It is an immensely important feature if you value the safety of your workplace or home. The heat protection feature makes it so that the machine shuts off if it becomes too hot, therefore saving itself and you or your work space. If you are smart, you will get a welder that has a thermal overload shutoff.

Material Thickness

You will probably want to weld a variety of metal thicknesses during your time with your welder. Luckily, that isn’t usually a problem because every welder has settings that allow you to control the amount of power you need and digital displays make those settings easier to read at a glance. What you do want to note while looking around to purchase a welder is what is the maximum and minimum recommended metal thicknesses? You should know this so you don’t push your machine too far and end up breaking it.

Wire Size and Type

The welding machine you ultimately buy will end up determining what kind of wire you will be using and also its size. It’s worth noting that the two most common types of wire used by MIG welders are ER70S-3 and ER70S-6. The former is used more when the metal to be welded is rusty or dirty as it makes available more deoxidizers and the latter is more of an all purpose wire.

Transportability

When considering the necessity of ease of transport on your business or hobby, think if you would want to move around with your welder. If you will be keeping it in the garage and working there, weight may not be much of a factor to you. However, if you are going to be out in the field and taking your welder with you weight will be of much greater importance. Typically a portable welder will have at least one handle and will be at least a modest weight, light enough for two people to carry it at least.

Ease of Use

Everyone wants a machine that is simple to understand and easy to work with. You will want to look for a model with minimal switches, color coded knobs, a digital display, a comfortable gun, or all of the above. Seriously, who wants a welder that is a pain to operate?

 5 Best MIG Welders Reviewed

Keeping the information stated previously in mind, let’s take a look at the list of the top 5 MIG welders on the market in 2015. Click the titles if you want to go to respective MIG welder reviews

Millermatic 211

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The Millermatic 211 is another welder from one of the best known companies in welding machine production. A well-made machine it features a Miller exclusive: multi-voltage plug that makes plugging into either a 120 V common outlet or a 230 V industrial sized outlet achievable and simple.

  • Weight—74 pounds
  • Power Input Voltage—120 / 230 V
  • Amperage Output—30 – 210 A
  • Duty Cycle—150 A at 30 percent
  • Metal Thickness—up to 3/8 inch mild steel
  • Features: welds the thickest metal in its class; Auto-Set TM; ability to physically set machine with endless voltage; Smooth-Start TM ensures a smooth, spatter-less start; Multi-voltage plug (MVPTM); wire feeder; thermal overwork safeguard; tip saver; trigger reset.

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Lincoln Power MIG 180C K2473-2

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The Lincoln Power MIG 180 is a solid welder that features an easy to use interface for simple operation and some quality features to ensure that this machine will last awhile. The amperage range isn’t as wide as some on this list, but the special technology that is included in this model makes working no hassle.

  • Weight—66 pounds
  • Dimensions—14 x 10.15 x 18.6 inches
  • Power Input Voltage—208 / 230 V
  • Amperage Output—30 – 180 A
  • Duty Cycle—130 A at 30 percent
  • Metal thickness—3/16 inch with MIG; ½ inch with flux core
  • Features: Little splatter; dual gear driven drive rolls for positive traction; spool gun prepared (for work with aluminum); weld MIG or Flux-core; adjustable wire feed speed from 50 to 500 ipm; heavy duty pc board protection; Diamond Core Technology for a great arc; sturdy aluminum drive; guides perfect for wire alignment.

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Millermatic 140 MIG Welder

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The Millermatic is a quality welder that is made by one of the leading makers of welding machines. It is reliable, has a simple set up and is relatively affordable with some premium features.

  • Weight—74 pounds
  • Dimensions—17 ½ x 10 5/8 x 15 ¾ inches
  • Power Input Voltage—120 / 230 V
  • Amperage Output—30 – 140 A
  • Duty Cycle—150 A at 30 percent
  • Metal Thickness—24 gauge up to 3/16 inch
  • Features: Spatter free smooth-start; auto setup; thermal overload shut off protection; trigger reset; uses mild sizes 0.024 to 0.030 and flux sizes 0.030 to .035; unlimited voltage settings.

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Forney 308 180FI

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The prominent feature of this model is that it can be used with gas or without. This one is great for welding a variety of metals and a good price for its capabilities.

  • Weight—59 pounds
  • Dimensions—20 x 10 x 16 inches
  • Power Input Voltage—230 V
  • Amperage Output—35 to 180 A
  • Duty Cycle—120 A at 25 percent
  • Metal Thickness—up to 3/8 inch
  • Features: cooling fan with adjustable speeds; thermal overload shutoff; minutes to set up; exact heat control made possible by several voltage settings.

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Hobart 500559

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This model doesn’t cost a fortune while it delivers on ease of use, versatility and portability. Great for doing auto body, heavyweight projects and repairs around the property that need a little extra oomph.

  • Weight—57 pounds
  • Dimensions—19 x 11 x 13 inches
  • Power Input Voltage—115 V
  • Amperage Output—25 to 140 A
  • Duty Cycle—90 A at 20 percent
  • Metal Thickness—24 gauge – ¼ inch on mild steel
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Features: Set up in minutes; plugs into standard outlet, “industrial cast aluminum weld drive system”; five point voltage governor settings; 200 A substantial work clamp; fast change drive roll.

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Conclusion

I have included much information about MIG welding and the welders themselves. Hopefully something has been learned over the course of reading this somewhat lengthy review.  While I have compiled a comprehensive list of the best welders in 2015, you may not find the right model for you on this list. The best advice I can give you it to go out and do your own research. Look into all models that may fit with you and your work style.

The most important aspect to consider before you even begin to browse for a new welder is what will you be using it for? Will you be plugging it into an outlet? If so what size? Will you be taking it out on the field where you need to hook it up to a generator? Lastly, will you want to use the gas version or the gasless flux-core version of welding? Maybe you want to get a machine that is capable of doing many things, so you can use it in a number of situations as they come up.

Summary
Review Date
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TIG Welder Reviews-2015’s Best TIG Welders
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