There is always a risk of injury at the temperatures and light levels associated with metal welding. However, you can maximize the safety of your welder by taking a few simple precautions.
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– Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing including overalls or aprons, a quality welding helmet and suitable welding gloves.
– Make sure you understand how to immediately stop the equipment, especially the welder in the event of an accident.
Clear out all combustible areas.
– Make sure the work area is properly ventilated. Welding fumes can cause drowsiness.
– If you weld at home, keep children and pets away from your work area.
– For further reference, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed a series of safety recommendations. They are intended for commercial organizations but are relevant to all welders.
Wire Basics One thing that makes
MIG welding easier is that the filler wire is automatically fed at a user-set speed. However, not all welding wires are the same.
Gas MIG wire does not contain the flux required for gasless welders. Conversely, flux-cored (gasless) wire cannot be used with gas MIG welders. Different types of welding (mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum) also require special wires and require varying wire diameters depending on material thickness.
Understanding the above is important for successful welding. Fortunately, information is readily available from equipment and consumable suppliers.
Shield Gas Ratio
The most commonly used gas for MIG welding is Argon (A). Since it is an inert gas, it does not contain impurities that could weaken the weld.
100 percent argon may be supplied, but is usually mixed with carbon dioxide (CO2) in a ratio of 75 percent A to 25 percent CO2. Carbon dioxide is considered semi-inert, is cheaper than argon, and improves weld penetration. However, the stability of the finished product may decrease. According to Vern Lewis Welding Supply, this percentage can account for about 90% of the vendor’s welding gas sales.
Helium is sometimes added to argon and carbon dioxide to create what is known as “trimix”. These are often used when machining stainless steel. Specific ratios depend on material and welding process. Therefore, please contact your gas supplier for more information.