MIG welding, sometimes referred to as gas metal arc welding or GNAW, was originally invested in the 1940’s. It’s versatility, speed, and ability to be robotically performed has prompted it to become the most commonly utilized global industrial welding application for non-ferrous metals, including aluminum, to date.
MIG welder components:
Standard MIG welders include a power cable and control switch, contact tip, gas nozzle, gas hose, and electrode conduit.
The control switch activates the welder via power from the cable which then initiates the wire feed and the flow of shielding gas resulting in an electrical arc. Electrical energy is then sent to the electrode welding area via the contact tip, which is commonly made of copper.
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It is necessary for the weld target to be appropriately sized and well-secured to maintain electrical contact as the welder is draw past to obtain a quality weld. Larger weld areas can be accommodated by increasing the flow of shielding gas by choosing a larger nozzle.
Shielding gas is required to prevent nitrogen, oxygen and other atmospheric gases and/or fusion defects from coming in contact with the welding metal interrupting the electrical arc of the electrode.
The type of shielding gas employed varies by the type of material or metal being welded and the process being used to do so. For nonferrous metals, the pure inert gases Argon mixed with helium, nitrogen, hydrogen, or oxygen. Pure carbon dioxide is another option well-known for its deep penetrating weld properties, but is also sometimes avoided as it can encourage the formation of oxides which have an effect on the weld’s mechanical properties. Argon and helium mixtures are often implemented for non-ferrous metals, and hydrogen is frequently mixed with Argon in small doses to weld thicker surfaces such as stainless stell or nickel.
Appropriate safety attire including leather of Kevlar gloves, protective leg wear, and long-sleeved jackets should all be used when operating a MIG welder as an electrical arc is involved, though all forms of welding carry individual safety risks. In addition to the typical protective clothing, eye protection is especially vital to welders as ultraviolet light created by the welding process can permenantly damage the cornea of the eye or cause inflammation. This condition is known as ‘arc eye’.
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