MIG Welding (GMAW)
MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding is a type of Gas Metal Arc Welding. It is currently the most common industrial welding process.
A semi-automatic or automatic arc welding process, it uses a continuous and consumable wire electrode and a shielding gas that are fed through a welding gun. It also uses constant voltage, which is usually DC, but AC can be used.
Kevin uses a Miller 251 MIG welder in his studio ("Murph") to create much of his contemporary art sculpture.
Enjoy these how-to videos about MIG welding ....
Introducing Longevity’s ProMTS 252i Multiprocess Welder
Aug 06, 2014
After playing with Longevity’s ProMTS 200 multiprocess welder, Kevin just got its big brother, the brand new ProMTS 252i. He’s going to show you around the machine, then do a little welding.
The 252i is bigger than the 200, with a larger footprint and more weight. Of course, it still has the MIG, TIG and stick (arc) welding capabilities. It also has more robust components, a better and quieter fan, and some other nice changes.
One is really practical: you can now lift the dust shield with your glove on – Kevin says that comes in handy when you want to make adjustments while you’re working.
On the panel, there’s a selector for MIG, TIG or stick, a display that shows amps or wirefeed, depending upon which function you’re in. There’s a voltage display, as well as function lights for voltage, arc force and down slope, and power and over temp lights. In the middle row on the panel, the first dial controls amperage and wirefeed, the second controls volts and arc force and downslope - again, depending upon whether you are in MIG, TIG or stick mode. The last, smaller dial handles wave control when you’re running the spool gun to weld aluminum. The bottom row has three switches: the first turns the spool gun on or off and the second turns the remote on or off. The last switch allows you to advance your wire without having to pull the trigger and release any gas, which comes in handy when you put in a new spool of welding wire, or lets you fill your line with gas so you can purge your line before you start welding.
Inside the door on the side of the welder is room for about a 30 pound spool of wire and a nice, stout, steel drive roller assembly. There are also four screw adjustments for post flow, pre flow, burnback for the MIG, and a slow feed adjustment that controls the wire speed as it initially feeds so it comes out slowly until it senses that it’s close enough to start an arc. Then the full force of the speed kicks in.
Now Kevin is ready to make some sparks! He uses the gas purge to clear the line, and notes that the volts are set at 25 and wirefeed at 150. He’s going to weld a 5/8” solid steel ring onto a 3/8” wall steel oxygen cylinder that he’s making into a bell. Kevin runs a bead across one side, then the other side of the top of the cylinder to securely attach the ring. Afterward, he shows the weld.
“It’s a good, strong machine,” Kevin says, adding that he’s going to have fun with this welder, especially with bigger metal plate. He’s also working on the sculpture She, which is made of 16 gauge steel. He’ll be able to weld the sculpture with this machine by turning down the voltage.
Kevin adds that the Longevity ProMTS 252i works with 110 or 220 voltage. At 110 volts, you have 25 volts with the MIG. At 220, you have 30 volts. All in a $2100 multiprocess welder.
Kevin is ready to shed his leathers – he’ll share more adventures with this welder soon.
P.S. Don’t miss the tongue-twister at the end ….
Why You Can't Use the Same Gas for All Welders
Jul 09, 2014
Mr. TIG from Weld.com drops by the studio gets the video started by greeting Kevin, who explains he was just about to do a how-to video based on questions from viewers who have a MIG welder and get a TIG. They want to know if they need to get another bottle of welding gas. Why can't they just use the bottle of mixed gas they are already using on their MIG welders?
Mr. TIG explains that, many years ago, CO2 was the only gas used with MIG. It worked fine for steel except when you pulled the welding torch trigger and the wire hit the part, you would get a lot of spatter. By mixing in argon gas, you get a much nicer weld with deeper penetration.
If you have a bottle of mixed, or blended, gas, which is 75% argon and 25% CO2, you'd think the argon would work great for TIG. It doesn't. The CO2 is an active gas. When you pull the trigger on your MIG welder and the wire comes out, it's live, very much like arc welding. With TIG welding, it has to be 100% inert. It can't be active at all, with any volatility.
So when somebody tries to use mixed gas they know right away. They will have set up their new TIG machine just right, but when they light an arc on steel, it starts a puddle then flares up. The first thing Mr. TIG asks is if they are using their MIG mixed gas. They often ask, "What's that?" He says it happens every day.
With TIG welding, you can use argon for everything. It's a completely inert gas that transfers the arc. You need a nice flood of argon gas to get the arc initiation right. Sometimes Mr. TIG will hit the foot pedal just to get the argon flowing, then hit it again, and the arc will initiate beautifully on almost every machine.
Argon is good for welding steel, stainless steel, inconel, titanium - all metals. For 95% of all the welding Mr. TIG does today, he uses straight argon. For the rest of the projects, he might use a specialty mix with a little helium or other gas.
To test what happens, Kevin has a piece of 1/8" plate off of which he's ground all the mill scale. He's going to use his Longevity ProMTS 200, which has TIG, MIG and stick (arc) to run a bead with argon, then switch it to the mixed gas to show the difference. He set the machine at 104 amps and uses a little filler rod.
Then he keeps everything the same except he switches to the mixed gas. Immediately you can see the sparks flying like fireworks on the 4th of July. Mr. TIG said that is the first sign that something was wrong. You also can see there was a problem when you look at the two welds. The first weld, made with 100% argon, looked like a regular TIG weld. The second weld, for which he used the MIG gas mix, is ugly: there's smoke, a big crater, and it almost looks like it rusted.
What if you used just argon with the MIG, though? Mr. TIG explains you can weld aluminum just fine. The argon allows the material to wet out - not nicely, but it does wet out.
MIG Welding: "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?!"
Jun 18, 2014
One of the problems Kevin has is mixing up the tips that go on the MIG welder. His .024, .030 and .035 tips all came in a single bag, which he dumped into a bin. That makes it way too easy to grab the wrong tip. If you're welding and your welder is skipping, missing and just giving you fits, make sure you have the right sized tip to go with your wire. It makes a world of difference.
Another mistake is leaving the nozzle off of your MIG welding torch when you're using flux core wire. If you do, you can fill the gas holes in the end of your welding gun with spatter. Then, when you go back to using solid core with welding gas, the gas outlets are plugged up. So run flux core with your nozzle on your torch, and dip the tip of the gun into some anti-spatter gel, which helps keep things clean for when you want to switch back to solid core wire and gas.
One problem that really irritates Kevin is when he's welding, going hot and heavy, and runs out of wire. This is easy to avoid: before you start a project, just look inside the welder at the spool to make sure you have enough welding wire for the job before you get started. Otherwise, you can be moving right along and the wire just quits feeding. You pull the trigger, but nothing happens.
Speaking of changing wire, another MIG welding mistake is forgetting to adjust the tension on the drive roller when you change wire size. If you don't adjust it and have one little mishap at the end of the gun - the wire gets caught, the arc doesn't start - the drive keeps feeding and you have a rat's nest inside your MIG welder. Just remember, when you change wire sizes, adjust the tensioner for that size wire and your cable length.
Kevin says his biggest mistake, though, is when he is fabricating something out of steel at his workbench - cutting, bending fitting, shaping, grinding - and is finally ready to tack weld a piece of steel or other metal onto a sculpture. He puts on his welding safety equipment (leathers, jacket, helmet) but forgets to change from his work gloves to his MIG (or stick) gloves. The sparks go right through the fabric and burn up the gloves - and you. Take a moment when you are switching tasks to think about what you are doing and plan your next move. Put on the right type of safety gear, and then get on with what you were doing.
Introducing Everlast's New Power I-MIG 140E MIG Welder
Jun 11, 2014
Kevin can't wait to start welding with Everlast's new Power I-MIG 140E, but first he gives a tour of the machine.
This little 140 amp MIG welder is about 28 pounds, so you can take it anywhere you want to go - especially because you can just plug it into a 110 outlet. It's also spool gun capable, which means it can weld aluminum.
Its control panel is easy to use. Under its clear plastic protective cover, there's an on-off switch for the spool gun, wire speed and voltage controls, as well as over-current, over-temperature and an on indicator light. That's it!
On the left side of the machine, under the cover is room for a 10-pound spool of wire. The machine is set up for .023 or .030 wire. It has a nice metal drive roller assembly with a spring tensioner and the connectors you need for running flux-core wire.
On the back is the standard on-off switch and the gas connectors, which uses barbs with a hose clamp to connect the gas line. It also comes with its own flowmeter for the gas.
On the front of the machine is a Tweco-compatible gun, which means you can use any Tweco consumables, which you can usually get at your local welding store. Kevin says he doesn't know about the ground clamp, though. He was doing some spot welds at about 18 - 19 volts and the clamp was already getting warm. He's not sure how long it will last.
Inside, the MIG welder is all IGBT technology, the newest you can get. The 110-volt power source means you can plug in the welder almost anywhere. It also has a 5 year warranty and costs just $400!
Finally it's time to make some sparks. Kevin is working on a new sculpture that has 1/2" square hollow tubing at the bottom, middle and top over which he has bent solid 1/4" x 1/4" steel to form his framework. He's using it to apply a 16 gauge metal "skin" to create the sculpture. He needs to tack weld the skin to the frame, so it seemed like a good opportunity to try out the "little guy."
Right away, he likes how quiet the welder is. He runs a couple of beads, which look pretty good.
As much as he likes this little welder, though, he has it on good authority that Everlast is going to release a 250 amp model in a similarly sized case.
To see the sculpture named She, visit its own page.
How to Change Your Welder Cable (and Why You Might Need To)
May 14, 2014
Kevin has been working on a new sculpture commission called Crimson Singularity that requires him to get his MIG torch into some pretty convoluted positions. He changed from .030 wire to .023 wire so he had to grind his welds a little less and noticed a lot of sticking, spitting, popping and the wire hanging up - the welding wire just didn't want to feed.
So Kevin did a little troubleshooting. He welded with the torch cable over his elbow to straighten the area closest to the nozzle, and the problems went away.
Inside the rubber cable is a Teflon tube that the welding wire runs through from the machine all the way up to the welding gun and out the end. What happens - especially if the cable gets bent a lot - is that the Teflon liner gets a V-cut in it after, oh, 80 or 90 pounds of wire are run through the machine.
So it's time to change either the liner, which is possible on some welders, or the cable itself. He called Longevity, and they sent him a brand new gun for his Longevity ProMTS 200, a multiprocess welder that offers TIG, MIG and stick (arc). Says Kevin: "I love this little machine."
Next he opens the welder. He flips open the spring tensioner on the drive roller assembly and flips the upper roller out of the way. Then he winds the welding wire back onto its spool, keeping it under tension. "Otherwise you'll have a rat's nest," he says. "Been there, done that." He secures the end of the welding wire on the spool.
Then Kevin just untwists the Euroconnection, removes the old cable, and twists on the new one.
For an operation like this when you're changing the gun - or even if you're just changing wire - Kevin recommends removing the welding torch nozzle and tip. It just makes it easier to feed the wire through from the welder to the end of the nozzle.
Kevin emphasizes the importance of stretching out the cable when you are running the wire through the cable, whether you're changing the cable, replacing the wire or even welding. Otherwise, the wire gets bound up inside the liner, which wears it out faster.
Next he feeds the wire off the spool into the cable. He loosens the welding wire from the spool and feeds it into the end of the cable through the drive roller assembly and snaps the spring tensioner back into position.
It's time to turn the MIG welder back on - the welding gas bottles should still be turned off. He turns the wire speed all the way up, leaves it set on MIG, 2T, steel and .030. Then he goes to where he's stretched out the cable to and holds down the trigger as he sings the Jeopardy music. It only takes about 10 seconds for the wire to feed all the way to the nozzle - you can actually feel it as it gets close.
After the welding wire comes through the end of the gun, Kevin replaces the tip and nozzle, trims the end of wire. Next you just dip the end of the nozzle in some anti-spatter gel, grab your helmet and gloves, and get back to work.
Finally, Kevin asks viewers to subscribe to his channel to see more how-to videos as well as come out to his Web site at http://www.kevincaron.com, see his work, and subscribe to his newsletter. (And don't miss the surprise at the end of this video ....)
How the Millermatic 211 MIG Welder Measures Up
May 07, 2014
Kevin joins Doug at his home in Cave Creek, Arizona, to test Miller's Millermatic 211 with Auto-Set. Together, they are running the welder for the first time at Doug's home.
Kevin shows how easy it is to use the machine's Auto-Set feature. You just set it to your metal's thickness and the size of wire you're running - either .030 or .035 - and the machine does the rest for you. You also have the option to set your voltage and wirefeed manually if you want to adjust either higher or lower.
Inside the case, Miller has supplied a nice chart for setting your voltage and wirefeed manually. It helps you determine starting settings for wire feed, voltage and welding gas based on the type and thickness of metal you are welding. The chart provides specifications for not only the 120 volt setting, but for the 240 setting, too. That's right, this welder can be plugged into an everyday 110 outlet, although it will only provide about half the power as if it were plugged into 220.
Inside the welder has a 11 or 10 pound spool of welding wire, a metal drive roller assembly, and the contacts you switch based on whether you're using flux core wire or solid core wire. The machine is really basic and easy to set up. Now it's time to make some sparks!
Kevin suits up in his leather safety gear. He and Doug have ground the top of the metal sawhorse to get a good contact, prepared and clamped to the bench the two pieces of 1/8" plate they're going to weld, and set up the regulator. Kevin turns on the gas, and flips the switch.
First they test the Auto-Set feature. It's set on .030 wire (the green band) and a little high on the 1/8" voltage scale so it's a little warmer. Kevin tack welds the two pieces of metal in two places. Afterward, he suggests viewers turn back the video a bit and listen to sound of the weld. "Can you hear it skipping?" He asked. He decides to turn up the wirefeed a little to see if that goes away, although it also could have been caused by a little kink in the cable. He runs another bead that sounds a little better.
Next, they set the machine manually according to the chart inside the welder case. They're running solid core wire, mild steel, 240 volts, 1/8" plate, so they can see they need to set the machine to 4.5 volts and 65 wire speed - that's what Miller recommends as a starting point. Doug runs another bead to see if they need to adjust it again. Kevin said the machine looks like it's doing pretty well, although he recommends turning up the voltage a little to, say, 4.75. Then Doug runs another bead, which Kevin says looks better.
Then they flip over the metal and clamp it down again to run an outside bead. Kevin suggests adjusting the voltage and wirefeed again to address that skip Doug was getting, resetting the voltage to 4.5 and slowing the wirefeed to 55. Doug runs the bead on an outside corner of the scap metal, which looks pretty good. Next Kevin suggests Doug weld again, pushing the puddle this time instead of pulling it. Doug's last weld was nice and close and got decent penetration. Kevin says welder did well with both the Auto-Set and manual settings.
Next they really put the machine to work, welding a piece of 1/4" plate. First they use Auto-Set. Doug sets the machine for .030 wire and about the middle of the voltage scale for 1/4" plate metal.
Because of the gap between the two pieces of metal, Kevin is going to first push the puddle to fill the gap, then as the two pieces of metal get closer together, he'll slow down a bit and pull it the rest of the way. After he runs the first bead, he asks Doug to turn down the voltage to the bottom of the 1/4" scale so he can fill in the gap a little more easily. That worked a little better.
Now they set the welder manually, based on Miller's recommended settings, 6 and 90. Kevin says that looks pretty good - while welding, he could see it pentrating the metal. On the inside, you can see where both welds penetrated completely. "You've got yourself a little workhorse right there," Kevin tells Doug.
Inverter vs. Transformer MIG Welders - What's the Difference?
Feb 19, 2014
Kevin is working on the bottom of one of his Shitake Agave garden sculptures, comparing his Miller Millermatic 251 MIG welder to Longevity's ProMTS 200 multifunction ("MIG, TIG, Stick") welder.
Kevin says there are three big differences that come to mind immediately. Transformers are big, heavy, durable machines that you put on a skid and leave somewhere or put on wheels. Inverter based MIG machines tend to be smaller, suitcase sized machines, something you can pick up and carry. Some are so small they come with a shoulder strap.
You also get more functionality from inverter machines. Kevin gives the example of the burn back function on this particular welder. Burn back is when you let go of the trigger and the welder sends a little charge into the end of the wire to burn wire the back to the same length every time, helping make your welds more consistent. His old Miller doesn't have that function.
Another big difference is cost. The ProMTS costs about $1,000 on the Longevity Web site, whereas Kevin thinks he spent just under $4,000 for his Miller when he bought it about 10 years ago. Perhaps as important, Kevin shows the power cords of both machines and says inverters are much less expensive to run. The ProMTS can even run on 110 volts!
Next, Kevin fires up both welders, setting them at 220 volts. The Longevity sets its own wire speed at 137 inches, while Kevin has adjusted the Miller to feed about the same, although the Miller's panel says 302. Kevin says the two welders just display wire feed differently.
As he gets ready to do some test welds, Kevin suggests you listen for the difference in the sound between the two welders. First he welds with the Longevity, then he welds with the Miller.
Next, Kevin shows you the welds from the two machines, as well as a few TIG welds, all on the same metal, very thick hardened steel. Kevin says he can't see much of a difference between welds from the two MIG welders, although the Longevity's wirefeed may have been a little higher and the Miller's voltage may have been a bit higher. Kevin says the two welders seem to be comparable as far as the actual welding.
How to Change TIG to MIG to Arc on a Multiprocess Welder
Sep 11, 2013
Kevin is creating a sound sculpture and needs to change his Longevity ProMTS 200 Longevity welder from TIG welding to MIG welding to arc welding for different needs on the sculpture ....
First Kevin shows the front of the welder with all of its cables. It's currently set up for TIG welding, with the TIG torch connected to the negative terminal and the ground cable hooked up to the positive terminal. To change the welder from TIG to MIG, he detaches the TIG torch, then moves the ground to negative. Next, Kevin turns on the machine and uses the function button on his Longevity ProMTS 200 Longevity multiprocess welder to change the setting from TIG to MIG. Then Kevin adjusts his controls for wire feed, amperage, wire diameter thickness, and sets the function button to "fe" for steel. Next he goes to the "back" of the machine to change over the gas. Because it's a multifunction welder - TIG, MIG and arc ("stick") - you have to have argon for TIG, and mixed gas, which is 75% argon and 25% CO2, for MIG. (You don't need any welding gas for stick) . Because he's switching to MIG, Kevin turns on the mixed gas bottle and opens the valve he has marked with an "M" for MIG. Now he's ready to weld.
Kevin tacks a new piece on the sculpture - MIG is easy, one-handed, quick - then is able to easily change the machine back to TIG or to stick, which is something he likes about the multiprocess welder. In fact, after he tacks this piece of metal onto the gong stand, he'll switch to stick so he can weld the stand's 3/8" wall metal uprights.
Changing from MIG to stick is basically the same process as switching from TIG to MIG. First, turn off your bottle and the gas Y-valve. Then just grab your stinger, insert it into the positive terminal, and twist it to lock it down. Next, go to your welder's front panel and use the function button to choose stick welding. The rest of the controls are not functional in the stick setting except for amperage. For this project, because of the metal's thickness, Kevin simply turns up the amperage all the way to maximum.
Now that he has the welder set up for stick welding - set to about 20 volts, 85 amps and with a 1/8" 7018 rod - he runs a test weld to make sure the machine's controls are set correctly. Then he can weld the 3/8" wall metal. To watch this project develop, visit http://www.kevincaron.com/art_detail/inari.html.
Tips and Tricks for Longevity's ProMTS 200 Multiprocess Welder
Aug 21, 2013
Kevin fires up Longevity's new multiprocess - TIG, MIG, stick - welder and shares some tips and tricks for using it ....
There are three machines - TIG, MIG and arc welders - included in one unit, so there are a few cables to wrestle with. Kevin shows how to hook up the cables for TIG. He discovered that when you change the ground to hook up the MIG, make sure you plug the TIG connection back into the positive terminal. He also learned that when you're adjusting the TIG amperage, turn the control on the torch all the way to 10 before you adjust the front panel dial. Otherwise the display won't show as it should. Kevin also explains why he likes this multiprocess machine, much to his surprise .... On the sculpture he's working on, The Runner, which is made of 1/2" plate steel at the base, then 1/4" steel, he is able to switch from process to process as needed. The multiprocess machine lets him use the stick (arc) welder for the structural welding, then he makes a couple of changes, turns on the gas and gets out the MIG or the TIG to do the artistic welding on the outside all out of one box - he doesn't have to change machines or move them around. He's getting used to it and really enjoying it. Learn more about the ProMTS at the Longevity site.
When to Use MIG Welding vs. TIG Welding
Aug 15, 2013
Kevin says TIG welding so precise and so clean, that most of the time, there is no clean up when it's done. You don't have to grind it, smooth it, do anything with it. He does his structural welds with his TIG, but if he has a long run to do - 10 or15 feet to weld - the TIG is much slower than the MIG. He wants his welds to look like TIG welds when he's done, which means he probably has to use his angle grinder to smooth the weld, but he gets his work done. You get short run, highly technical welds from the TIG welder and production runs with the MIG welder.
Wyatt has worked with TIG his entire life. He likes the precision, the ability to weld aluminum, stainless steel, etc. with the same machine and the same gas. When he tries to MIG weld, it sounds so easy to just pull the trigger and weld. He says that with steel that makes sense, but he finds using MIG to weld aluminum is very difficult. Kevin disagrees. He says welding aluminum with a MIG welder with a spool gun is as easy if not easier than welding with steel.
Wyatt gets a lot of questions on his Web site about welding aluminum with a MIG and a spool gun. People buy a welder, say from a hardware store, goes home and welds steel beautifully. Then he puts on a spool gun on the MIG welder and thinks welding aluminum is going to be as easy. He says the spools are typically small and they're usually using 4043 wire and you can't push the wire through the machines quickly enough.
Kevin says they do have push-pull guns that have the rollers in the machines and another set in the gun itself to help pull the wire so you can do about a 15-foot welding run with aluminum. But the push-pull gun is almost the same size as a spool gun - it's big and clunky - and it's very expensive.
Wyatt asks Kevin to compare the TIG and MIG torches. Kevin shows the TIG torch and the pedal, because the torch doesn't have a trigger on it like some TIG welding torches do. Just like a gas pedal in a car, the harder you push on the pedal, the more electricity goes to the torch, the hotter the arc is, the faster you weld. As for the torch itself, there are lots of parts and pieces, including a torch body and a gas lens. Kevin shows the mesh inside the gas lens and explains there are several different layers of this mesh. The graphics show the gas with and without the lens, illustrating how straight and smooth the gas comes out when using a gas lens, greatly increasing the coverage. Kevin says a gas lens is a great addition to any TIG torch.
Then he shows the tungsten. Swain says he carries tungstens of many sizes at TIGDepot.net, from 20/1000s diameter up to 5/16 and even up to 1/4 inch diameter for heavy duty welding. Kevin shows one Wyatt uses for micro welding. Wyatt says you can use 40/1000s, grind a fine point on it, and light an arc at two or three amps. Kevin says this one is about the diameter of a safety pin and just as sharp as one. Kevin then shows the collet body, then the collet, then the back cap. Then he shows how the tungsten goes inside, and he tightens it down by tightening the back cap.
Then he adds the TIG cup to help the flow of the argon gas as it comes out. The cups come in different diameters. Wyatt explains sometimes the orifice opening size is critical, which is helpful when you are welding with lower amps the diameter is much smaller and you turn your gas down accordingly. Kevin adds that a smaller cup also lets you get into tighter spaces, while the bigger diameter TIG cup gives you wider coverage. Kevin also adds that you can have a smaller end cap (or backcap) - again, helpful for getting into smaller spaces - or have the full-size end cap that lets you use the entire 7" tungsten at one time.
Then Kevin shows the MIG gun, or MIG torch. It has a trigger and it has a nozzle. It also has a tip, or electrode, although they are usually called tips. You have different sized tips for different sized wires that feed through them. Then he shows the brass connector that holds the liner in the cable that the wire feeds through to make it easier on the feed roller. There are also holes to allow the inert gas to come through the nozzle to shield your work. It's pretty simple.
Swain asks Kevin about the shielding gas. Kevin explains you normally use 75% argon and 25% CO2, which is commonly called a MIG mix or MIG gas. Occasionally you'll use what's called a tri-mix, which is argon and carbon monoxide with a little helium in it for when you are welding stainless steel so you can boost the heat a little for the harder metal.
Then there's filler rod. With TIG, you have a three-handed process - or two hands and a foot. You have to hold the torch, feed the filler rod, and your foot runs the electricity to make it hotter or colder so you can feed it all in. So when you want to tack, you need another hand to hold it in place. Kevin says Swain is probably a lot better tacking with the TIG welder. Kevin likes to have both machines set up, so when he tack welds, he reaches for the MIG, because you only need one hand to hold the gun and can hold the work with the other hand. Then he'll come back and do his finish work with the TIG, with its nice, beautiful clean welds. With MIG you get a little splatter. It's not nearly as bad as using a stick (arc) welder as there's no slag to clean up, but he still finds he needs to clean up his work after MIG welding to get a smooth surface.
They have a Linclon SP-135 Plus 110-volt MIG welder with solid-core wire in it and gas, as well as some 16 gauge and some 1/2" plate to show what it can do. The SP-135 Plus is the biggest transformer machine that runs on 110. Inside, it has a spool of wire, a feed roller that sends the wire out the gun. There's a positive and negative connection that is switched to accommodate solid-core wire or flux core wire (flux core is used without gas). The connections are also changed when you use a spool gun. There's a handy chart that shows the various connections, metal thicknesses, wire, gas, processes, etc. that gives you someplace to start from. On the front of the machine is the on-off switch, an arc-volts dial from A-J to control voltage, and a wire speed dial. Now he's ready to make some sparks!
With a little pull of the trigger, he is able to MIG weld. There are some tricks you learn, including learning to spot the bubble. The welder easily welds the 16 gauge. Now he turns up the voltage all the way, the turns up the wire speed, and welds some 1/2" plate. It's that easy. For the 1/2", Kevin would usually use a 200- or 250-amp machine for welding something that thick and cold, although he has preheated thick metal with the oxygen-acetylene torch and then come back with a lower powered machine to weld it.
Wyatt says it welded the 16 gauge beautifully, but clearly they took it to an extreme to weld the 1/2" metal. This welder is not recommended to weld that thick of metal - Kevin says it probably can handle 3/8" at the most - but it did work. Wyatt says anytime he uses MIG he rarely exceeds 1/8".
Kevin says if you can afford a little more power, get it. If this is what you can afford and you are playing in your garage and are building stuff for your house, this is a great machine that can handle 75% of what you need. But once you get used to it, you might grow out of it, and you'll want to move up. It's still a handy machine, though, even for Kevin when he has to go outside, go on location, places he doesn't have 220. He can drop the wire size and up the amperage to make it hotter and still work in the field.
To ask questions, visit the Weld.com forum.
Introducing the Longevity ProMTS 200 MIG / TIG / Arc Welder
May 15, 2013
Kevin can't wait to dig into a box from Longevity, Inc. It contains the Longevity ProMTS 200 multiprocess welder that has MIG, TIG and arc (also known as stick) welding capabilities all in one machine. First he shows what comes with the machine. There's a MIG gun with some extra tips; a good sturdy "stinger," or electrode holder, for the arc welder; and a nice torch for the TIG welder. Kevin spends a little time talking about the TIG torch, which has some nice features. The amperage control is built right in the welding torch handle, letting you control amperage from zero all the way up the maximum power set on the welder. He recommends getting the feel of the torch handle with your gloves on. He also shows that the switch is removable so you can get the type of control that is best for you, from a slider to a vertical scroll wheel or the horizontal scroll wheel like the one that came with the machine. There are some consumables, too, with a short cap, a long cap, some collets and some torch cups. For the MIG welder, Longevity also includes drive rollers in four different sizes. Finally, there's a DVD with all of the instructions, warranty information and some videos, so you can take your laptop into your shop and watch the videos as you go. Finally, there's the 200-amp multiprocess machine itself. Kevin shows each part of the control panel, which includes a toggle to select MIG, TIG and arc, and another toggle for 2T and 4T to enable lift start or high frequency start. Next are three dials. The first controls amperage for TIG and arc, and wirefeed when using MIG. The second offers voltage control for MIG, downslope for TIG, and arcforce for arc. The third dial lets you control your wave form when using AC for welding aluminum. On the right side of the panel is a function toggle switch to indicate whether you're welding mild steel, aluminum or stainless steel. Under it is the indicator for the thickness of the metal you are welding. There's an amperage or wirefeed display, and another for voltage. Underneath the control panel is the gas connection for your TIG gun, the positive lead, the negative lead, the MIG gun connection and the electrical connection for the TIG. As Kevin says, "There's a lot going on." But, he says, once you "divide and conquer," everything becomes a lot easier to understand. On the back of the welder Kevin shows the power cable, the on-off switch and the connector for the gas. He notes that the gas connection is a 1/4" EuroConnector. You can buy this connector from Longevity with the hose ready to go to the regulator on the bottle, but it isn't included. Kevin then explained that, because MIG and TIG use two different kinds of gas, you can have two different bottles and switch back and forth depending upon the function you are using, or you can have a cart that can hold two bottles. If you opt for the two bottles, you set up argon for the TIG welder and mixed gas for your MIG welder, with two different hoses and two shut-offs that come into a Y that you can plug into the machine so you can switch back and forth from one welding gas to the other. Inside the machine are more MIG welding controls. It'll handle an 11-pound spool of wire. Kevin shows where the drive rollers go and how to change them. The welder also has a burnback control for the MIG that sets how much wire sticks out of the nozzle when you let go of the trigger. You also have controls for your MIG welding gun that establish whether the gun is local or remote and whether you are using a spool gun - yes, it has an optional spool gun and also an optional foot pedal. The machine is currently on sale for $1,100. So you get a 200 amperage MIG, TIG and arc welder that is spool-gun capable for $300 a machine all in a small box you can carry around. It does require 220 power, but Kevin is impressed with how much machine you get for the money. Click here for more information about the Longevity ProMTS 200.
How to Use Antisplatter Coating When Welding
Mar 27, 2013
Kevin shows how to use antisplatter coating - whether you prefer the gel or spray - and explains how to use it. He uses the gel, admitting that he has had his can of gel since about 2004 when he got his first welder. The gel is like a grease that you dip your MIG welder nozzle into. You don't have to scoop it; just dip it in to coat the nozzle and tip so when the sparks from the welding splash, or splatter, up, the antisplatter coating helps keep the tip clean and the gas flowing smoothly, contributing to a better weld. Viewers have asked "How do you know if you need it or when you need it?" Kevin says emphatically, "Yes, you need it." He explains that there is a gel, which he uses, and an antisplatter spray, but he prefers the gel because he doesn't want to have the compressed spray around - one puncture could result in antisplatter spray everywhere. At least the gel stays contained. How often do you need it? He dips his nozzle in the antisplatter gel about every 10 minutes or so, keeping an eye on the nozzle to make sure it isn't caking up. Kevin says you can get antisplatter gel or spray at a welding supply store, or you can even get it at the "big orange box store" in its welding supply area and pretty much anywhere that carries welding supplies. Kevin explains that you need the antispatter coating when MIG welding, solid core welding, and can use it for flux core welding by taking the nozzle off and dipping the torch end into it. You don't need antisplatter coating, though, for TIG welding, stick (arc) welding or oxygen acetylene welding. Then Kevin shares a tip: if you want to make sure there isn't any splatter in a close or tight area or other section you don't want to have to clean up, you can paint or spray on some antisplatter coating with a brush or your finger directly onto your work, and no splatter will stick to that section of metal. He cautions that you don't want to paint on any antisplatter coating above where you're welding, as it will just "drool" down and get into the weld - just flip over the piece you are welding, if you need to.
How to Pick Your First Welder
Feb 27, 2013
After many requests from viewers, Kevin tackles the question of how to pick your first welder. The answer isn't the same for everyone - there are a lot of variables to consider, so Kevin walks you through the questions you need to ask yourself to decide which is the best welder for you. First he asks, "Where are you going to work?" Are you in your garage? Are you outside in the backyard? Are you in a shed? "What metal are you going to be welding?" Steel? Copper? Brass? Bronze? Aluminum? "What are you going to plug into?" Do you only have 110 in your garage? Fortunately, they make welders of different amperages that run on 110. There are also dual voltage machines that run on 110 or 220, so you could buy a welder that you could run on 110 until you get 220 power run into your shop or studio when you're ready to get a little more power out of your welder. He shows a small MIG welder, the Longevity MigWeld 140, that uses flux core, which doesn't need gas, to weld steel. It also has a spool gun that, when you add the right gas, allows you to weld aluminum - on 110 volts! Kevin says it's a great machine to start with, but you can't use it to, for instance, build a battleship or work on competition race cars because it doesn't have enough amperage to weld anything thicker than 3/8". If you have 220, you can move up to a bigger MIG welder, like Longevity's MigWeld 250P, which has pulse control. "Are you going to be working outside?" If so, you probably want either the MIG with flux core wire or a stick, or arc, welder. He then shows a Lincoln "tombstone" arc welder, also known as a "buzz box." Kevin started with a machine like this, although his was an AC/CD welder and this is straight AC. It runs on 220, and sucks a lot of power, in part because it uses transformer technology; the two MIG welders he showed are inverters and demand less energy. Those MIG welders run gas (unless you are using flux core wire), can use spools of wire, and are made for long welds and production welds. MIG welders are also great for welding one-handed, which is handy when you are putting together a big sculpture, working under a car, etc. and need to hold something in place with one hand and tack it with the other. Then you can come back and weld it. The downside is that MIG welders are smoky, dirty, splatter and require some finish grinding and clean up, just like the arc welder. A TIG welder creates no smoke, no splatter and less or no clean up, but it's harder to learn how to weld with it, especially for a beginner. Once you learn how to weld with it, though, TIG is much more versatile. You can weld steel, aluminum, copper, brass, bronze, nickel, titanium, magnesium, etc. - it will do it all. And TIG offers a smaller welding area, which reduces distortion and heat. A 110 volt TIG is great for making jewelry and delicate work. Then Kevin shows an oxygen-acetylene welder. It uses gas, an open flame, and allows you to weld, bend and cut all with the same machine without any power whatsoever. It's smoky and messy, though, so you can't use it inside. Also, it's hotter, so it leads to greater heat distortion on the metal. Interestingly enough, once you learn how to weld with oxygen-acetylene, you're most of the way to learning how to TIG weld, because they're that similar. You can get smaller bottles, which makes oxygen-acetylene easier to work with, too. Next Kevin discusses price. The oxygen-acetylene welder with a midsized bottle runs $350 - $550. The Longevity MigWeld 140 MIG welder is $330, plus you need to buy your wire and / or your bottle and gas. If you're running the welder with flux core, you're looking at about $350. The Lincoln 225 arc welder runs $600, but you can get other 110 volt brands for under $100. The Longevity MigWeld 250P MIG welder runs about $1600, and the Longevity TigWeld 250 AC/DC TIG welder was about $1900, plus you need to buy bottles, gas, etc. The last question Kevin asks is, "What kind of person are you?" Are you mechanically minded? Can you learn by watching something one time and teach yourself? Or are you someone who just wants a welder that is just really easy to use? Do you prefer a cleaner weld or a quicker weld? Answering these questions will point you in the right direction.
How to Weld Outside Corners
Jan 16, 2013
In response to a viewer's request, Kevin explains and shows how to weld outside corners. This time, he's using 5/16" steel, because the viewer asked about welding 1/4" steel and that's as close as Kevin had in the scrap pile. First, he cuts the plate to size, then overlaps the corners a little. You don't want a gap and you don't want it flush, you want to have a space open where you can make your weld. Next, he jigs up the metal on his welding magnets. Then Kevin steps over to his Longevity MigWeld 250P to set it up. He mentions the helpful rule of thumb to set your welder to one amp per thousand of thickness as the place to start, then you can fine tune it from there. So he sets his voltage to 25 volts - as high as this welder will go - and his wire feed as high as it will go, which in this case is 311. As he notes, if your welder won't go that high, then welding steel this thick will be a problem .... Kevin puts on his helmet and tack welds the two pieces together on each end so he can pull the steel away from the magnets, which otherwise will affect the weld. Then he decides to turn down the voltage a bit to 24 and leaves the wire feed at 311. He welds one more tack in the middle, just to see if the voltage better. Then he welds from one end to the middle horizontally, and the other end to the middle vertically. You have to move a little more quickly when welding vertically, maybe weaving back and forth a bit, almost holding the puddle up to counteract gravity. The horizontal weld is almost flat, but the vertical weld is a little dished, perhaps because he may have gotten a little more penetration with that weld. He'd then normally come back and put another weld over the top of the whole corner so he could come back with the grinder and get a nice sharp edge, then come back one more time and just dress that edge to give it a clean 45" angle. Finally he recommends coming back and making a pass on the inside of the corner.
MIG Welding vs. Arc Welding - Which Welder When?
Oct 24, 2012
Kevin answers a YouTube viewer's question about when to use a MIG welder and when to use an arc welder. Kevin explains the difference between SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding), or arc welding (also called "stick welding") and GWAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding), or MIG welding, then explains why he tends to use his MIG welder more. Still, he explains, the arc welder is great for thick metal and to use outside or in windy conditions, while the MIG is handy for long production runs because of its spool of wire, tacking and thinner metal. With its electrodes, arc tends to be messier and requires more clean up than the MIG, too.
How to MIG Weld With a Spool Gun
Sep 19, 2012
Now that he's set up the aluminum spool gun on his Longevity MigWeld 140 MIG Welder, Kevin is ready to make some sparks! He turns on the welder, setting the voltage set at 7.5 and the wire feed at 70. He's prepared some 1/8" aluminum square box tubing he's been using for a sculpture by champfering the edges. Then he clamps them in a vise and uses his dedicated stainless brush to clean the aluminum before welding. Next he tack welds the aluminum on one end and runs a bead from the other. He cleans it up with the brush and assesses the weld, then flips over the scrap aluminum to run another bead. He brushes it, tacks it and runs his second bead. He brushes it one more time to admire the weld. It's that easy!
How to Set Up the Longevity MigWeld 140 With a Spool Gun
Sep 12, 2012
Kevin sets up his Longevity MigWeld 140 MIG welder with a spool gun so he can weld with aluminum. He opens the machine, removes the welding wire that was in the machine to save it, removes the MIG welding gun and control cable from the front of the machine. He then attaches the spool gun by attachng the power lead and tightening the wing nut. He then flips the switch to enable the spool gun, and hooks up the control cable. He also shows the inside of the spool gun, which comes with a spool of aluminum wire. He shows the tension nut that holds the spool of wire on, the tension knob for the roller for the wire feed, and the other end of the nozzle where it goes out to the gun. Kevin also talks about using the spool gun for other kinds of welding. Next up is welding with the spool gun - stand by for the next video.
How to Use a MIG Welder With Flux Core Wire
Sep 05, 2012
Kevin sets up his Longevity MigWeld 140 MIG welder to weld with .035 flux core wire without gas. Then he
welds some 16 gauge steel, and some 1/8" plate steel, adjusting the controls as he goes, explaining why and how he is adjusting them. Finally, he explains what flux core welding is and how similar it is to arc welding.
Kevin also raves about the quiet, compact 110 volt, 140 amp MIG welder, which is rated to 1/8" plate steel and includes a spool gun for welding aluminum. Learn more about the MigWeld 140.
How to Set Up a MIG Welder for Flux Core Welding
Aug 22, 2012
Kevin shows how to set up a MIG welder - in this case, the Longevity MigWeld 140 - for welding with flux core wire without gas. He shows how the graphic inside the lid shows you how to attach the ground to the DC electrode positive and the welding gun to the DC electrode negative. He shows how to adjust the wire feed and the feed roller pressure, then how to easily push the wire to the electrode by turning up the wire feed, then replace the nozzle.
How to Change the Cable on a MIG Welder
Jun 20, 2012
After suggesting to Longevity that they make a longer cable for their MIG welder, Kevin was pleased to find out Longevity has done just that. In this how-to video, Kevin shows how he removes the 9-foot-long cable on his Longevity MigWeld 250P Mig Welder and replaces it with a 15-foot-long one, feeding the wire through the first and second rollers and into the cable, removing the nozzle and tip, turning down the voltage and turning up the wire feed all the way, pulling the trigger and letting the wire feed all the way to the tip. He then adjusts the wire, replaces the tip and nozzle, and is ready to go.
How to Create a Sculpture, Part 9: Attaching the Base
May 23, 2012
Kevin is finally ready to attach the base to the sculpture. That involves creating a series of 4-inch box tubing that fit between and will be welded to the triangular supports inside the sculpture for strength and stability. Caron shows how to cut and fit the box tubing and how to weld it onto the base. Please note: the welding scenes were edited so that you didn't have to watch too many minutes of welding. Click here for more information on this project.
How to Use MIG Pulse Controls to Fill Gaps
May 02, 2012
Kevin shows how using pulse control on his Longevity MigWeld 250P MIG welder helps him fill gaps in his steel sculpture Wherever You Go, There You Are without blowing holes in the metal because it gets too hot. The lower temperature lets him get a longer, cleaner weld. The ability to control the pulse width and frequency helps him get just the right temperature while increased wire feed helps fill the gap.
How to Use a Spool Gun on a MIG Welder
Apr 18, 2012
Kevin is putting the finishing touches on his public art sculpture The Seed and needs to add some tabs for installing the "kernel" of the seed. It's time to get out the Miller 251 MIG welder with the spool gun attachment for welding with aluminum. He shows the parts of the gun and explains how it works, then fires it up and welds on one of the tabs.
How to Weld With a MIG Welder With Pulse Control
Feb 08, 2012
Kevin shows how to weld with a MIG welder that has pulse control, first welding without pulse, then turning on the pulse amps, frequency and width to weld thin metal. Learn more about the MigWeld 250P MIG welder at http://www.longevity-inc.com/productdetail_261/MIG-Welders/MigWeld-250P.php.
How to Use a Longevity MIG Welder With Pulse Control
Feb 01, 2012
Kevin shows the controls on the new Longevity MigWeld 250P MIG welder and explains how to use them. He also shows why the wire feed on the Longevity is superior and how to use pulse control to weld thin metals. Learn more about the MigWeld 250P at the Longevity Web site. Welding equipment provided by Longevity, Inc.
Tools for the Studio, Part 2
Sep 28, 2011
Kevin started his studio with just a few tools. In this video, he explains why he replaced his arc welder with a MIG welder.
Choosing a Welder: MIG, TIG, Arc or Oxygen-Acetylene?
Aug 17, 2011
Kevin explains how he decides which welder to use: his MIG welder, TIG welder, arc welder or oxygen-acetylene welder based on what sort of sculpture he's working on and, of course, what's most fun.
How to Tack Weld
Jun 29, 2011
When do you just weld and when do you tack first? Kevin explains how to tack and the advantages of doing so, then shows you how to do it with his MIG welder - and gives you a helpful tip about getting better MIG welds first thing in the morning.
The Sound of a Good MIG Weld
May 12, 2011
The sound while welding can tell you a lot about the wire feed and the weld itself. Kevin shares and shows how a good weld should sound.
MIG Welding Technique
Nov 14, 2010
A complement to "TIG Welding Technique," this video gives an overview of MIG welding. Kevin gives a "tour" of his MIG welder and tips on how to weld well.
How to Make Welding Rod
Oct 21, 2010
While working on a weathering steel (Cor-ten) piece, Kevin decided, rather than buying welding rod for weathering steel, he'd make some. Kevin shows how to make TIG welding rod from MIG welding wire.
MIG Welding: How to Set Voltage and Wire Feed
Aug 18, 2010
In response to numerous requests, Kevin explains how he sets the voltage and wire feed on his MIG welder.
MIG Welding: Using a Magnetic Ground
Apr 07, 2010
When Kevin's ground clamp on his MIG welder melted, rather than replace it with another clamp, he opted for one of the new magnetic grounds. The rare earth magnet makes it easy to get a good ground wherever you're welding.
Following the Bubble While MIG Welding
Mar 25, 2010
Whether you call it a "bubble," "dot" or "spot," watching the top of the weld as it cools and keeping it equidistant from the tip of the welder as you advance helps you create a great weld.
MIG Welding: Fixing Flaws and Porosity in Welded Steel
Feb 12, 2010
Kevin is fixing low spots and joints on a bell stand. He shares how to deal with porosity and other flaws as he welds, grinds and rewelds the steel piece.
MIG Welding: Should You Push or Lead the Puddle?
Aug 26, 2009
A viewer of Kevin's TIG Welding Technique video said that, when he is MIG welding, he prefers to push the puddle, rather than lead it. Kevin takes on the challenge, showing how each approach works. You'll see some close ups of some pretty welds ....
Metal Art Sculptor Kevin Caron Compares Arc, MIG and TIG Welders
Jan 23, 2009
Kevin compares arc welders, MIG welders and TIG welders, explaining how they work and their respective benefits.