Welding is one of the most complex tasks, and few things are more important than having quality equipment. That way, welders can do their job to the highest standards and under any circumstances. If this is your case, we will tell you everything you need to know about wire welders in the following article.
Wire welders are high-capacity machines designed for the hardest and most demanding soldering tasks. They work with wires of different metals and gases (inert or active) that act as shields. If you want to change your old welder or are starting out with this tool, read on.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best Wire Welders
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Wire Welders
- 4.1 What is a wire welder exactly?
- 4.2 What is a wire welder designed for?
- 4.3 What are the advantages of wire welders?
- 4.4 What kind of gases do wire welders use?
- 4.5 Which wire material should I choose?
- 4.6 What is the best material for each type of welding?
- 4.7 What is the best diameter for a wire welder?
- 4.8 How many feet of wire are there in a wire coil?
- 5 Buyer's Guide
- 6 Summary
- Until recently, their price relegated wire welders to the industrial field. It was very difficult for domestic users to purchase this very sophisticated and expensive equipment.
- You should know the bits you can sharpen and those you can't. Any metal or wood drill is easily sharpened, for instance, while the design of wall and rock drills prevents you from doing so.
- Pay close attention to the power of your wire soldering iron, as this is a crucial factor. As a reference point, a 90-amp model allows welding up to 12 millimeters in width – the higher the amperage, the wider the weld.
Our Selection: The Best Wire Welders
Wire welders are highly specialized equipment originally reserved for professional purposes. Luckily for us, manufacturers have launched high-quality and affordable models for domestic use. In the section below, you can discover our selection of the best wire welders currently available on the market:
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Wire Welders
These tools are the best option when you have to weld metals that do not require high levels of melting. Their simplicity of use and high operating efficiency make them extremely useful. In the following section, we explain everything there is to know about wire welders.
What is a wire welder exactly?
Arc welding is the most productive form of soldering. The use of solid and flux-cored wires can increase the efficiency of this type of welding by up to 95%. These tools are particularly recommended for working on stable and heavy structures where high-strength welding is required. Note that argon is the most commonly used gas.
What is a wire welder designed for?
In addition, wire welders are especially useful for heavy-duty work. This is the type of soldering used on ship and aircraft plates, as well as structures that require high resistance or that are particularly heavy.
What are the advantages of wire welders?
While they remain more expensive and harder to find, wire welders offer many advantages to the experienced user. Here is a list of some of their benefits:
- You can weld in any position.
- They offer the best finish and prevent material splashes.
- You can create beautiful manual finishing.
- Little formation of polluting and toxic gases.
- You can weld metals with a thickness ranging from 0.7 and 6 mm without preparing the edges.
- The process can be executed automatically or semi-automatically (it doesn't depend on the skills of the user as much).
- High productivity.
- You can deposit large amounts of material – up to three times more than other types of welding – and still obtain excellent results.
What kind of gases do wire welders use?
The qualities of the individual gases are often exploited by using their mixture as gas shielding. In that regard, you can find argon-oxygen, argon-oxygen-CO2, and argon-CO2. Adding active gases to inert ones improves the stability of the arc and the transfer of the wire metal.
|Argon (Ar)||Helium (He)||Carbon dioxide (CO2)|
|Origin||From the air (with impurities)||From the subsoil (less affordable)||From the air and subsoil|
|Stability||Good stability and arcing||Less stability but greater penetration||Unstable with splashing|
|Thermal conductivity||Low||Higher conductivity requiring more quantity||Good thermal conductivity|
Which wire material should I choose?
- Homogeneity: The chemical composition must be homogeneous throughout the wire coil. If that's not the case, you won't be able to create the optimal parameters to work with, and you will obtain poor results.
- Slag formation: Look for wire coils composed of aluminum, manganese, silicon, titanium, and zirconium. They facilitate the removal of excess oxygen, forming an easily removable slag.
- Material: You should always use the right material for each type of welding. Aluminum wire is best to work with aluminum, for example.
What is the best material for each type of welding?
Special wires are available for welding without argon gas (or argon-carbon dioxide mixtures). However, they feature a flux core and are therefore more expensive. They also tend to produce more spatter and make it difficult to visualize the material puddle correctly, making welding less reliable.
|Type of wire||Applications and considerations|
|ER70S-6|| For CO2 or CO2-argon mixture.
It offers greater penetration with CO2.
For indoor use.
You can weld thin sheets.
|E71T-GS|| It doesn't require gas.
For outdoor welding.
You can weld on dirty, rusty, and painted surfaces.
It reaches higher temperatures than the rest, making it suitable for 1.5 mm sheets.
| For argon and argon-helium mixtures.
The ER5356 is more rigid and allows for better welding.
| Use with argon, helium, and CO2 mixtures.
You can weld all types of stainless steel.
What is the best diameter for a wire welder?
Arc welding requires a certain level of expertise and knowledge of the process from the user. This is why you should know the right wire diameter depending on the material you are working with. Find this information in the table below:
|Thickness of the material to weld||0.6 mm / 0.023 in||0.75 mm / 0.030 in||0.9 mm / 0.035 in|
How many feet of wire are there in a wire coil?
|Weight (lbs)||Diameter (in)||Steel||Stainless steel||Aluminum||Copper|
If you have paid attention to our guide so far, you should know everything about wire welders and their main characteristics. In addition, you will be more familiar with shielding gases and welding wires. In the following section, we will delve into the main shopping criteria. We guarantee you will make the right purchase if you take them into account.
The energy source will determine the power of your wire welder. Conventional models have a constant voltage supply, which is responsible for keeping the arc length continuous during welding. This means that the user must set the voltage using the power speed control.
The power source is connected to the mains voltage – be it single-phase or three-phase. It consists of a transformer between 15 and 40 volts with a current ranging from 20 to 500 amps, depending on the tool. Here is a quick guide to help you figure out the power you need:
|Maximum amperage (A)||90||110||130||150||180|
|Maximum steel thickness (butt welding)||0.078 in||0.098 in||0.12 in||0.15 in||0.2 in|
|Maximum steel thickness (double-sided groove welding)||0.12 in||0.15 in||0.18 in||0.23 in||0.3 in|
Type of Shielding Gas
Wire welders work in conjunction with shielding gases, which can be inert or active. They are essential to protect the displacement of oxygen during welding. Think about the gas you want to use before opting for a specific tool, as this will affect the results.
In that regard, you should consider the material to be welded, as well as the thickness and type of transfer metal of the filler metal (the wire). To help you in your decision, we have prepared the following table in which you can see the most recommended gas compositions:
|Gas mixture||Carbon steel||Stainless steel||Aluminum||Copper||Nickel|
|Ar+CO2||Thickness inferior to 0.4 in||-||-||-||-|
|Ar+CO2||Thickness inferior to 0.6 in||-||-||-||-|
|Ar+CO2||Thickness inferior to 0.6 in, spray transfer||-||-||-||-|
|Ar+CO2+O2||Thickness inferior to 0.23 in, spray transfer||-||-||-||-|
|Ar+He+CO2||-||Spray and short-circuit transfer||-||-||-|
|Ar+He+CO2+H2||-||Austenitic steels and short-circuit transfer||-||-||-|
|Argon||-||-||Pure aluminum and alloys||Sheets and plates, thickness inferior to 0.35 in||Sheets and plates, thickness inferior to 0.35 in|
|Ar+He||-||-||Thickness inferior to 0.35 in||Thickness inferior to 0.23 in||Thickness inferior to 0.35 in|
You should evaluate the casing and all its elements before purchasing your wire welder. The best tools are tough, resistant, and well built, while remaining lightweight or integrating handles and wheels for easier transportation. The latter are particularly useful considering the weight of welders.
On the other hand, the back racks for gas cylinders will allow you to have all the equipment components together. This is a vital complement for gas welding, although you can do without it if you plan to work with a non-gas welder or with non-gas wires.
When it comes to the torch, we always recommend buying a wire welder that includes it. Although this is most often the case, there are still models that do not have it, and you will have to buy it separately, increasing the total cost of your tool. If your wire welder comes with a torch, it should be easy to change since this part will deteriorate over time.
If you plan on using your wire welder intensely and for a long time, it is best to look for models with a SCART connector. This is the universal connection system for torches. If your tool features this element, it will be easy to find and change, as well as being more affordable.
If you want to set up your own workshop, or already have one but are still using an old wire welder, the time has come to get a new one. Throughout our article, you have learned everything there is to know about wire welders, from their main advantages to their operation.
Remember all this information before choosing your tool. Don't forget to evaluate aspects such as power and energy, torches and their connection, the type of gas, and the best wire for the material you want to solder. The ball is in your court to choose the right tool for your needs.
(Source of featured image: Katarzyna Dedek: 95201030/ 123rf.com)