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  1. #1
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    Default how thick do you weld with your wire feed / mig?

    this is kind of an observation / poll question here. i see a lot of questions about welding in here and an awful lot of the replies are from people who want to stick weld anything 1/4" and over.

    i've used a stick welder a lot over the years on small projects here and there, but i do not do it with enough frequency to be extremely proficient. that is not to say that anything i do with it will fall apart. in fact, i've built several trailers and they are all over 10 years old and have run many thousands of miles with never an issue. my welds are not always the prettiest, but they have always seemed sound enough for the task.

    i end up using a small wire feed with flux core 90% of the time now, and i am hoping to buy a 200a+ wire feed and virtually eliminate my 225a stick welder. even with the current wire feeder - an approximately 15 year old century 120v which i have always run on a 20a circuit, which allows a 90a rated output. i've often run the current at or near the max, and tuned down the feed speed to weld metals up to 1/2" thick. none of these welds have never been tested, but based on my years of working around steel fabrication, i am confident they have adequate penetration and the bead has laid down well, so i believe they are as strong, if not stronger than i could have done with my average-at-best skill with a stick welder.

    if a limited skill welder like me can do this with a 120v 90a welder, why do i see so many people who claim to own 200a+ wire feed/migs that seem to use stick on everything other than sheet metal? seems like a waste of a lot of welder and money.

    what do all of you out there do?

    edit: i want to amend what i said to be that i have welded up to 1/2" thick material to thinner stock, such as 1/2" tabs welded to a 1/4" plate. i have not or probably would not try to weld 1/2" to equal or thicker with that welder unless i preheated it to something near the sun's core. well, maybe 1/2" to 1/2" butt welds with a weld gap would probably be ok. even so, both the 1/4" and the 1/2" need to be heated enough to get the weld to work, and it seems to do fine.
    Last edited by lostcause; 06-26-2010 at 04:16 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: how thick do you weld with your wire feed / mig?

    Are you giving that 90 amper steroids?

    sg

  3. #3
    Super Member rswyan's Avatar
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    Default Re: how thick do you weld with your wire feed / mig?

    Quote Originally Posted by lostcause View Post
    what do all of you out there do?
    Don't own a stick - just a glue gun (wirefeed/MIG) ..... Lincoln Power MIG 215 .......

    The only training I've had has been from my neighbor up the street, Buck, who is a professional welder ... as near as I can recall, nothing I've welded has ever broken or come apart (..... PineRidge ..... your grapple still together ? )

    Thickest I've welded with the Power MIG has been 1" plate (butt weld) ....

    You can see it here:

    Backhoe Frost Point/Ripper Tooth

  4. #4
    Gold Member
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    Default Re: how thick do you weld with your wire feed / mig?

    From an extensive thread on weldingweb years ago, plus my own feeble attempts:

    The thickest I believe a 110 volt wire-feed would work well on, would be 1/4 inch IF the surface is clean, with flux-core wire and good technique. This perhaps *could* be stretched to 5/16 if preheated. Beyond that, the welder doesn't have enough heat--the metal soaks up heat faster than the welder generates it, and the result is a cold incompete fusion. Multiple passes doesn't matter, there's only 2200 watts of power coming out of that wall socket. (I've used my Lincoln Weld-Pak 100 on thicker stuff and it did indeed look cold)

    A 220 volt can overcome this and provide enough heat to weld pretty much as thick as you'd want to (using multiple passes). I've got a Hobart Handler 175 also, using 100%CO2 gas, and I've welded 3/4 inch pieces together, looked great (well, considering my poor welding skills). Since getting the HH175, I've barely touched my stick welder.

    I've seen industrial wire-feeds weld some massive plate together!

  5. #5
    Advertiser Mark @ Everlast's Avatar
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    Default Re: how thick do you weld with your wire feed / mig?

    My ESAB MM250 will weld in spray mode at 250 amps no problem and get a 1/2 pass weld, but then again, the purpose of welding is to throw down the quickest thickest pass. After 1/4" the overall quality of a weld, especially mig deteriorates. You can have a nice looking Mig weld that isn't stuck to anything if you aren't careful...Short circuit welding has cold starts and creates a lot of porosity at the beginning of the weld. That is one reason it isn't commonly used to weld thick plate and pressure vessels. Thinner, multi pass welds are considered the strongest and best welds.
    Mark Lugo
    Everlast Welders
    http://www.everlastgenerators.com/

    Need a welder? Give me a call at (877) 755-9353 ext 204!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: how thick do you weld with your wire feed / mig?

    i guess this touches base with a few other issues too: i've never cared what you can lay for a weld in one pass. i just wonder what thickness of metal you all feel comfortable welding so that you get enough heat to do the deed, so to speak.

    i've come from a world where we often had 1" to 1-1/2" plate welded with 5/16" single pass fillets. the plate thickness had no direct relationship to the weld size. in most of the welding i do around the house and shop, i rarely even use continuous fillets, unless it is an item under 6" long. very seldom to i feel that i need a continuous structural weld on a long piece of metal. if i do it's generally just to seal the weld.

    i admit, when i push the size of the base metal, the start of the weld may seem a little cold, but once the heat gets into the metal, you can feel it working. i'll have to go out and see what i have for scraps and weld something up and then i'll saw it and get some pictures to see what it looks like.

    only reason i posted this is that i see so many posts of people saying they would use a "buzz box" for many tasks, and other posts confirm they have a 200a+ wire feed welder. i just want to know at what point they change welders

  7. #7
    Advertiser Mark @ Everlast's Avatar
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    Default Re: how thick do you weld with your wire feed / mig?

    To be honest, I use stick, tig and mig fairly evenly. For convenience, I use the Everlast PowerArc 200 when it is a quick job or when serious out of position work is required or anything with serious plate because it is lightweight and you can carry it around like a purse (or murse lol)...For long term fabbing jobs like trailers and sawmills that I build on the side, the MIG comes out, also for any tack work I have. For some fab work and anything aluminum and stainless, the tig does the job. On portable repair jobs, I have my Lincolns, a ranger 8 and a SA 200 (currently in a stage of restoration). I'll carry the little power arc to run off the generator if I need it as a portable close by welder.
    Mark Lugo
    Everlast Welders
    http://www.everlastgenerators.com/

    Need a welder? Give me a call at (877) 755-9353 ext 204!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: how thick do you weld with your wire feed / mig?

    Welders generally speaking,don't go into a weld with the thought of having to make it in one pass,you use multiple passes as needed,if its thin,than one pass might be enough,if its thicker,you might need two or more[this is a fillit welds I'm talking],now pressure piping,or not pressure but something you don't want to leak,you don't just butt the ends up and weld it,you go into it so as to make multi passes,so's you can get a good root,fill,and cap,thats the proper way to weld any thing thats got a bevel,even plate,,plus,even if its thin and you could make a workable weld in one pass,you put two at least,if you don't want it to leak,so this thing of worrying about just making one pass,is not the right way to weld.
    Mig was made for thin stuff,you got to really know what your doing to weld thicker stuff with it,3/8 or so,you make multi passes,you move your nozzel,you grind where you need,etc,but mig is real good for sheet metal,one pass stuff.

    As far as how thick stuff you can weld,unlimited,110 volt mig or flux core,makes the skill level required to weld thicker stuff way up there,and even than,you just don't want to weld thicker stuff with a 110 volt mig or stick even,just not enough stuff there.
    But a mig say,using .035 wire,120-130 amps,19-20 volts and right welder,can get a good weld on thick stuff. And,stick,if your machine[dcep] will burn a 1/8 on the hot side,you can weld inch or more,its all about the guy doing the welding.
    Its about making a weld,the different parts of a weld,multipass welding,stringer,weave,cleaning,joint preperation,etc.

  9. #9
    Super Member Gary Fowler's Avatar
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    Default Re: how thick do you weld with your wire feed / mig?

    I deal with inspection of xray quality pressure welds everyday with my day job. Most of the small sized 3" OD and smaller pipe welds on this job are done using GTAW (TIG). SMAW is not used till the diameter gets to be 4" or larger. The biggest problem with them failing xray is the welder running too cold and getting cold lap on tie ins or between passes. If you dont have the amps available or just dont use the correct setting then it is easy for even a skilled welder to cold lap the weld. This means that the weld metal did not fuse to the underlying metal whether it is base metal or weld metal. If you do not run the right amperage with either GMAW (MIG), SMAW or GTAW for the size of the filler pass, you will get non fusion. With MIG this is usually evident in the toe (side) of the weld but it could also be covered over and look really pretty on the outside and yet underneath the weld metal may just be laying on top with only partial fusion to the base metal. You will usually have much better welds if you carry a smaller size fillet and make multiple passes especially with the low amperage machines. For all pressure welds, every welding specification I have ever seen requires minimum of 2 passes regardless of the base metal thickness. There is no limit to how thick the material that can be welded with any machine if you limit the weld size to the applicable amperage limitation of the machine. Most qualified welding procedures for GMAW, SMAW and GTAW limit the size of filler passes to 5/8" maximum and you need lots of power to make one that size without cold lapping the metal. The other problem is with porosity which can substantially weaken a weld. For Pressure piping 1/4" thick the allowance is .062" for one single pore, anything larger is rejectable. Anyone want to try their hand with a MIG weld for this. By the way, any non fusion is cause for reject no matter how small.

  10. #10
    Super Star Member Egon's Avatar
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    Default Re: how thick do you weld with your wire feed / mig?

    Did anyone mention switching rods for different parts of the weld??

    Pictures are always nice. Seems to do a lot of separating!
    Last edited by Egon; 06-27-2010 at 09:15 AM.
    Egon
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