Whether as a business or as a hobby, welding projects can turn out to be a rather expensive endeavor. For businesses, there are many potential and everyday expenses to keep in mind. The electrodes, wires, power supply units, waste materials, transportation costs; the list just goes on and on. The situation is not that different in some respects for hobbyists either. To make a parallel with a familiar turf, imagine buying a guitar, like many people did in their teenage years. All the newbies want to become Claptons, many feel strongly that they will, they daydream about it, and all the newbies want a guitar worthy of Clapton immediately.
However, soon the reason kicks in together with the realization how expensive such a guitar is and they settle for a cheaper one; after all, that guitar also resounds when strummed. Although this can be a guiding principle for hobbyists, enthusiasts and beginners to the world of welding too, things are a bit more complicated than simply setting for the mid-ranged. In this article, a general outline will be presented on how to save up on money with your welding projects by choosing the right techniques and buying the right equipment. The pieces of advice will be mostly applicable to DIY welders and customers, but there will be something of value for businesses and generally people who would like to make money of their welding projects.
Every reasonably priced welding project starts with the choice of the reasonable tools and techniques. If the project in question is a beginner’s project, or generally nothing to sophisticated and complicated, eight out of ten times, it will be the best choice Metal Inert Gas welding (or MIG) as the technique to complete the welding project with. Metal Inert Gas welding is a pretty straightforward method. The electric arc is formed between the wire coming out of the handgun and the metal, this electric arc creates a high temperature to melt and fuse the materials, and the whole process is protected from the outside influence and contamination by inert gasses. The wire, or the filler material to be more technical, is made out of the same material that is being welded, meaning that this technique can be use across many different materials. Today, this method is being used in welding everything from non-ferrous metals to steel exactly because of this versatility.
The reason why MIG welding is cost effective for both businesses and DIY enthusiasts are the fact that it is not difficult to master and it can easily be automated. For DIY and businesses alike, using this method means not having to spend too much time on training or practicing on perfecting the method, meaning that not a lot of money will be spent on trying to land the weld while still not compromising the quality of work and having to settle for the sub-par. Another popular method among DIY welders, for example, is Shielded Metal Arc Welding, but it is a bit more difficult to master than MIG welding, and MIG welding is more recommendable for the purpose of cost reduction. Since MIG is not a difficult method and easy to practice with, it can also be used to reduce the costs by building some of your equipment, such as the welding cart for example, with it.
As far as choosing the right equipment for work is concerned, it is time to revisit the original comparison from the introduction regarding guitars but in the light of welding equipment; specifically, the examples of welders (machines) and helmets, usually the most emblematic pieces of equipment of a welder will be used. The welder is one of those pieces of equipment where not being conservative with investments is not really a bad idea. Very generally speaking, the more power can be extracted from the welder the more expensive it will be. But with more potential for power, there come higher demands for quality and especially safety, meaning that the more money is invested in this piece of equipment the exponentially better results can be expected. If you intend on using your equipment for sheet metal welding projects, then there is always the possibility to simply reduce the power. Buying less expensive and less reliable equipment may lead to inadequate performance at all times. In that sense, when it comes to welders, the original comparison is not applicable as far as this piece of equipment is concerned. The second important piece of equipment that can illustrate well the nuances of equipping yourself for future welding projects is the welding mask. Welding helmets are important because they protect one of the most exposed parts of the body, the face, from the most immediate dangers of welding. These dangers are heat, sparks, ultraviolet and infrared light and flashburns; some more serious than the others, but all preferably avoidable. One of the common ailments that affects insufficiently protected welders is the so called arc eye, a UV exposure induced condition similar to the sunburn of the cornea.
However, there is no need to go for upper end welding helmets as those that are more reasonably priced can provide sufficient protection, which is especially important for DIY welders and enthusiasts who will spend considerably less time welding than professionals. A good welding helmet that can prevent the occurrence from any of the aforementioned problems can be found in the price range of 40 to 60 USD; there is no need to look for $400 helmets that can protect people from hypothetical lightsabers when no lightsaber will ever come near your face (hopefully) during your welding project.
To conclude, in order to save money on your future welding projects, you will need a nuanced and a balanced approach to everything in order to find true balance of value for money. Spending a lot of money will not necessarily yield higher quality and better results, but, in some cases a bigger short-term can turn into long-term savings.
pro bono tip: Do not fall victim to the sense of false security when it comes to welding itself just as you should not when preparing for it. Welding a little bit more and a little bit longer just to be sure can ultimately lead to worse results. Always stay within specifications as possible.