Selecting a Welder for the Farm or Ranch
The weather finally clears, and Wisconsin dairy farmer Al Hoffmann has 385 acres of haylage to cut and store when the chopper blower band for the silo snaps in half. Part of the 3/16 in. steel band has worn paper thin and snapped, and on this Saturday, the nearest replacement band is two days away.
Using a 200 amp Millermatic wire welder, Al saves the band by tack welding it together and then welding on a back up strip of steel. The repaired chopper blower moves more than 800 tons of haylage in the next few days…
…It’s evening milking time. Al is half done with his 185 cows when a hinge breaks on the air gate in the milking parlor. Al resumes milking a few minutes later, after he repairs the gate with a portable Millermatic wire welder that runs on 115V household current.
Does every farm or ranch need two or three different types of welders? While Al wouldn’t trade in any of his machines, he “can’t imagine not having a wire welder. It’s easy to use, makes heavy welds, yet still allows me to work on thin sheet metal. I wouldn’t have even attempted to repair the chopper blower band with a Stick welder because it was so thin. It would have burned right through.”
Because different applications sometimes call for different welding processes, selecting the right welder for your operation is important.
The most common welding processes used for fabricating metals are:
– Stick – Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)
– MIG – Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW, a wire welding process)
– Flux Cored Arc Welding – (FCAW, also a wire welding process)
– TIG – Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)
A final question you should ask is What size welder should I buy?”
Welder Process Chart
Consult the following chart to compare the different welding processes and their advantages.
|Welding Process||Stick||MIG||Flux Cored||TIG|
|Type of metal it can weld||Steel, stainless||Steel, stainless, aluminum||Steel, stainless||All weldable metals|
|Metal Thickness||1/8 in. and up||20 guage and up||1/8 in. and up||22 guage and up|
|Welding Speed||Slow||Very Fast||Very Fast||Very Slow|
|Skill Required||More Skill||Some Skill||Some Skill||Most Skill|
|Note that MIG and flux cored welding can be performed by the same machine, and that TIG machines can usually Stick weld, too.
Information courtesy of Miller Electric