A great many welding projects are not conducted in the cozy confines of comfortable, well equipped and environmentally controlled welding shops, or even an equally convenient industrial complex or factory.
A vast number of welding projects are repairs that range from simple, mundane tasks, to complex, highly involved productions – all of which must be made on site, i.e. wherever the structure, vehicle or piece of equipment in need of welding happens to be located.
Working in the field presents a number of challenges; the portability factor of transporting welding equipment to a site is a chief concern, in addition to the environmental conditions at play wherever a particular repair is to be made.
Most professional welders are seasoned enough to have a fairly firm grasp on the right equipment for the job, in terms of the transport and environmental issues, but what about an amateur welder who’s only experience in welding is based on sheer necessity, i.e. you have to repair a structure, vehicle or piece of equipment in order to keep your business going.
Your general lack of practical experience and welding savvy can make selecting the ideal welding machine for your particular project a little less obvious than it would for a veteran professional welder.
The following is a list of five top tips to guide your selection process and help you make the ideal choice for your particular needs:
Odds are most of the people in your industry are forced to make the same kind of repairs as you. Ask around, find what your peers are doing when it comes to welding repairs. Are there any processes or pieces of equipment they recommend?
Perhaps one of your associates is a little more advanced and even has their own welding shop. See if you can stop by for a visit to learn more about their set up and how they handle their repairs. This is often a great place to start.
Pros and Cons of Making Field Repairs with Stick Welders
Stick welding is among the most versatile and portable welding processes. First of all, Stick Welding is fairly inexpensive, so you won’t break the bank trying to pull together a workable set up. Whatever welding repairs you need to make, wherever you happen to be, stick welding will generally get the job done. Stick welding works well in most positions and its dependence of shielding gas makes it less susceptible to environmental influences.
Stick welding is not the easiest welding process to master. It actually requires a great deal of practice to really become comfortable with the process and produce solid, sound welds.
The Pros and Cons of Making Field Repairs with MIG and TIG Welders
MIG welding is like the point-and-shoot welding process. Super-easy to grasp, and very easy to make welds you can be confident are solid and enduring.
Cost and portability, however, are another story. MIG Welders are by no means cheap – we’re talking hundreds to thousands of dollars to purchase the necessary equipment, not to mention more involved and more expensive maintenance, and high filler metal costs – Stick Welding electrodes by contrast are significantly less expensive. Additionally, the shielding gases used in the MIG Welding process can be blown away from the weld area and are generally more susceptible to environmental issues.
TIG Welding is more than likely not the option for you. The cost and portability factors are similar to MIG welding, and the skill level necessary to make effective TIG welds is equal to, if not greater, than Stick Welding.
The Pros and Cons of Making Field Repairs with Oxyacetylene Welders
Relatively low cost and fairly portable, Oxyacetylene welders have one chief advantage above all of the welding processes mentioned above – no electricity required. Stick, MIG and TIG welders can all be run off of batteries or power generators, but this obviously comes with its own set of difficulties and limitations. Gas powered welding torches, however, are completely free of all electricity based requirements.
Oxyacetylene Welding is by no means the easiest process to master and safety is a major concern. The portability factor is limited by the need for proper controlled transportation of the Oxyacetylene gas cylinders, which are under pressure, susceptible to impact and highly flammable.
Take a Basic Welding Course
If you’re truly an out-and-out welding amateur, a basic welding course is probably a good place to start. Gaining some general knowledge, fundamental understanding of welding processes and overall safety information will go a long way toward not only improving your welding technique, but also ensuring you’re welding safely, thereby avoiding potential injury or even death for yourself and others working around you.
Most trades schools and community colleges offer intro welding courses that should be able to provide you with enough information to put you on the right track to handling welding equipment and performing basic welding tasks. The American Welding Society’s (AWS) school locator is a good place to start when seeking a basic welding course offered by a trade school or community college in your local area.