Welders, Cutters, and Torches
In a lot of ways, welders, cutters, and torches are far more versatile tools than they’re probably thought of in everyday use. Depending on what kind of welding or metal cutting tool you are looking for, it could be useful on a construction site erecting a hi-rise, in your garage rebuilding the muffler system on your vehicle, or in a studio crafting your next piece of art for that upcoming exhibit. Not all welders are the same, and the kind of metal you’re planning on welding together, the thickness of the metal, and the strength of the weld will all dictate what kind of welder you will use.What welders are there?
The four main types of machines for bonding metal are MIG, TIG, stick, and spot welders. Each one has its strengths and specific purposes they were designed for.
- The MIG, or gas metal arc welder, uses a metal wire on a spool that acts as an electrode. The wire is fed automatically at a preselected speed while an electrical current creates an arc between the wire and metal base, creating a fused point between the two. Competency with a MIG welder is fairly easily attained, meaning you can make clean welds with minimum slag.
- TIG welders, or gas tungsten arc welders, also use an arc to complete welds but use a tungsten electrode that does not get consumed in the process. A shielding such as argon is spread throughout the weld area, which keeps atmospheric contaminants from intermingling with the welding process. The current passes through a column of ionized metal and gas vapor called plasma.
- Stick welding is an older arc-welding method that is great for many around-the-house applications. Instead of a wire, stick welders use a stick to complete the weld. In addition to being quite simple to use, they are also great in drafty or outdoor areas and can create solid welds on dirty or rusted metal.
- Spot welding is perhaps the quickest way to join two pieces of sheet metal. The two sheets are clamped between two electrodes that send a current through the metal, bonding them at points of resistance.
The tool of choice for cutting through most metals is an oxyacetylene cutting torch. They use oxygen to greatly increase the burning temperature of the acetylene fuel, making it hot enough to melt through most common metals. An oxygen blast switch on the handle of the torch allows operators control how much heat to use while cutting.
Plasma cutters burn hot enough to melt through any metal and work through a process where electrically conductive materials in the cutter and work piece work in conjunction to create a plasma jet that burns through the material. A compressed gas, such as oxygen, is shot through the nozzle and provides the medium through which the plasma is produced.