There has been no point in history when more varieties of welding machine have been available for purchase.
This gives both industrial users – who need large numbers of powerful welding machines that may be fixed installations – and personal users – who obviously prefer small, portable models – a wider choice of options than ever before as well.
However, the very abundance of welders means that someone looking to buy a welding machine may find themselves facing an embarrassment of riches, and be unable to choose between several types.
Industrial users will have people available who can advise them on the best welding machine for their specific process, but individual users may have a harder time sorting the wheat from the chaff.
Two things to consider when buying a welding machine is the user’s level of skill, and the type and quality of welds that are needed.
An inexperienced user who needs only a few occasional, light-duty welds will need a less exacting machine than an expert or semi-expert who welds frequently and needs high-quality rather than middling-quality results.
Stick and MIG welding machines
Stick welders and MIG welders are the simplest types of arc welding machines to use, and a complete novice can learn how to use them effectively within a matter of days.
A stick welding machine is good for someone who makes only small, occasional welds, while if a lot of welding is expected, then a MIG welder is preferable because its spooled filler metal wire will last much longer than the stick or rod of a stick welder.
These welding machines produce fairly shallow welds, however, and should not be used for welding jobs that require a lot of strength at the join.
TIG welding machines
TIG welding machine provide deep, strong welds and high weld quality, suitable for complex welding jobs and intricate work pieces.
However, although the welds they provide are stronger and more precise than MIG welds, they require a lot more skill to use.
Only experienced users should employ a TIG machine. These machines can often switch between DC and AC, so that they can handle nearly any weldable metal.
Multi-process welding machines
For truly advanced users, a multi-process welding machine may be the best choice of all.
These welders can switch quickly between stick, MIG, and TIG operation, so that the exact welding mode that is best for the work being done at the moment is always easily available.
These extremely flexible machines now come in both industrial and portable sizes (as, for example, in the product line of ESAB), and are the choice of those who need adaptability when they decide to buy a welding machine.
CNC Welding Machine
Among the many tools that have been used to create the technological infrastructure of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the welding machine and the computer are two of the most central.
welding machines are used in the manufacture of practically every other kind of machine and device, as well as many types of packages and containers, and so are at the core of nearly all modern production.
Computers have revolutionized the world in several ways as well. They have made massive amounts of information commonly available in a few moments to nearly anyone on Earth.
They have allowed enterprising entrepreneurs and freelancers to achieve success with little more ‘starting capital’ than their own initiative and intelligence.
And they have made precisely-designed, complex automatic control systems possible.
One of the automatic control systems that is used in many different environments is the computed numerically controlled (CNC) system.
A CNC system is an automated system that carries out very complex interrelated tool actions in a pre programmed sequence, for fabrication of items to extremely exacting standards.
A whole series of different automatic tools can be combined into a single CNC “cell,” which takes an item through a sequence of different processes to cut, shape, weld, assemble, and finish the piece without the need for human intervention (unless the program needs to be changed or something goes wrong).
welding machines can be incorporated into a CNC cell or simply controlled by a CNC system to allow complex welding tasks to be automatically carried out, with a stunning degree of accuracy.
These specially designed CNC welding machines are usually employed in an industrial setting, as would be expected from a machine of this complexity, and with such demanding programming needs.
What CNC welding machines can do
CNC welding machines can be of various kinds – MIG, TIG, plasma arc, multi-process, and so on, depending on the specific model.
Many have large beds to accommodate the workpiece so that it will remain in place without human assistance while the welding operations are carried out.
Rotary tables are fitted to some models to increase the welding possibilities.
The exact type of welding machine that is chosen depends on which substances are likely to be welded at the factory, and what the metal is being used for in the final product.
A CNC welder is programmed with a “welding path” – a pattern of welding that it will follow with each piece that it works on.
This welding path can be very complicated – this still does not make the CNC welder quite as flexible as a living, manual welder, since it cannot cope with anything unexpected. However, it does allow the CNC welding machine to assemble very intricate items with a high degree of precision.
Many specific parameters of the welding job can also be programmed in, so that if different parts of the same workpiece have different welding needs, these will be met by the CNC machine.
The arc height and amperage can be varied for preprogrammed parts of the welding path, for example.
If the welder has a wire feed for filler metal, this can be set to turn on and off, creating gaps in the weld where needed.
All of this allows for smooth, intricate, and extremely exacting welding to be carried out. Better yet, each CNC machine can store several thousand different programs, allowing it to be switched between functions as needed.
CNC welding machines are not quite as flexible as a human welder, but they can outdo humans in many welding jobs, creating complex welds rapidly and with inhuman exactitude.
They are good both for large-scale production and for extremely specialized jobs like making parts for race-car engines, where the slightest variation in the weld could cause a catastrophic failure when the part is at maximum stress, being used in the world outside the factory.
The CNC welding machine can also be made part of a CNC cell that will handle the creation of an object from its basic materials to its finishing, depending on the complexity of the CNC system that has been arranged.
ESAB Welding Machine
Over a century old, the history of the ESAB welding machine company stretches back to the earliest days of the twentieth century – and of welding machine manufacture – when Oscar Kyellberg, a Swedish fellow vaguely resembling an overweight Dr. Watson from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective stories, created the device needed for “stick welding” when he applied a heavy flux to the outside of the consumable electrode used in the welding guns of the day.
This innovation made it possible to weld quickly without risking oxidation of the weld pool, creating a strong weld while allowing greater welding speed.
Kyellberg went on to found ESAB Welding & Cutting Products, which has built on his success to become one of the major manufacturers of welding machines in the world today.
ESAB is currently a multinational corporation with major operations groups located in various areas of the world.
America and Canada are both part of the ESAB North America network, which makes use of rigorous testing standards on all raw materials to ensure their quality and which makes considerable efforts to test the operational excellence of their equipment as well.
The company focuses on making manual welding machines and cutting machines, welding consumables, automatic welding machines, and larger-scale cutting systems.
ESAB arc welding machines
ESAB’s main entries in the welding machine market are arc welding machines.
These welding machines use a wide variety of different welding approaches, and run the gamut of current arc welding technology.
Some of this technology was invented and developed by ESAB, so it is perhaps only natural that the company would continue to produce the equipment today – in a highly modernized and technically improved form, of course.
Stick welders are part of the ESAB welding machine range, and include mini versions that can be carried like a suitcase with a carrying handle as well as large SCR-controlled installations that meant for heavy manual MMA welding.
These stick welders use ESAB coated electrodes based on Kyellberg’s original design. The “CaddyArc” welding machine is portable stick welder that is durable enough to be used for outdoor welding applications.
ESAB also produces MIG and TIG welding machines, with continuous wire feeds for longer welding.
MIG equipment is characteristically easy to use, and is made mostly in industrial sizes, while TIG welders made by ESAB come in a variety of different sizes.
ESAB was the creator of the original Heliarc TIG welder on which all subsequent TIG welding machines have been based, and the large industrial-strength AC TIG welders the company makes still bear the name Heliarc, after the original 1940 model.
The Caddy TIG welding machines made by ESAB are portable and can provide either AC or DC output for a variety of welding tasks.
For those who need extreme flexibility in their equipment, ESAB welding machines also include multi-process equipment in both portable and industrial sizes.
These welding machines can be quickly reconfigured to operate as a MIG machine, a TIG machine, or a stick welder.
When multiple types of material are being welded one after another, a multi-process welding machine can give the user or firm the ability to switch between modes rather than needing a separate welding machine for each part of the process.
ESAB manufactures many other welding-related devices and pieces of equipment, as well as cutters and their accessories.
The company’s vision is to be the global leader in welding machines, offering both excellent quality and impeccable integrity – and although the firm undoubtedly has many competitors who also offer very high quality products, there is also no doubt that ESAB welding machines are used in many places across the globe and offer many useful features to welders of all kinds.
The first successful attempt at arc welding that is known to have been carried out on Earth occurred twelve years before the Battle of Waterloo, although the event was scarcely noted at the time.
He used his newfound electric arc to carry out a single, very simple welding, and published his results in 1803, describing how his invention could be used for larger, more complex welding work also.
Although the arc welding process had been discovered in the lifetime of Napoleon, it was not until the end of the 19th century that arc welders were finally developed into a useful form.
Americans, Englishmen, and Russians all contributed to the creation of the arc welder in the form that is known today, and the coming of World War I expanded its use greatly in the construction of iron-hulled ships and early fighter aircraft.
Arc welding was a successful competitor against several other types of welding that were also in use at the time.The 1920s saw further advances that made arc welding machines even more similar to those used today.
Continuously-fed electrode wire was invented in 1920, and the World War II era saw the introduction of shielding gases to ensure that the molten metal at the weld site did not instantaneously oxidize or rust, as such heated metal has a strong tendency to do.
Further refinements have been made since, but the electric arc welding machine has changed little in basic principle for nearly a century.
Modern Electric welding machine
The electric welding machine of the modern era, or arc welding machine as it is more accurately called, works by creating a continuous electric circuit that runs through itself, the work piece being welded, and the welding bench or other support that the work piece rests on. The electric welding machine completes the circuit by being in contact with the work piece and welding bench at two points – the handheld electrode that the welder uses for welding, and a grounding clip attached to either the work piece or the bench.
The electrode, contained in the welding gun, is the point where the electric current forms an electrical arc. The arc produces enough heat to melt either the metal being welded itself, or filler metal that is supplied to the welding point in one of several different ways.
Some electric welding machines (MIG) feed filler metal to the welding gun as a continuous wire that also serves as the electrode, while others (TIG) make use of a permanent tungsten electrode and a separate supply of filler metal wire, either hand-fed by the user or fed from a spool in almost the same way as on MIG machines.
Arc welding is efficient for both automatic and manual welding applications, and can be used to fuse nearly any kind of metal solidly together.
From its obscure beginnings as a little-known experiment by a Russian scientist from the Kursk region, to today’s range of electric welding machines – ranging from huge industrial devices to portable welders suitable for home users – the arc welding machine has come a long way and become the centerpiece of much of the world’s metal fabrication and repair.
Born out of the womb of war and dire necessity, the modern gas welding machine is a highly effective means of fusing two pieces of metal together.
Using an electrical arc to create intense heat at the welding point, which both melts the metal being welded and the continuously-fed wire electrode of the welding gun (which serves as filler metal), gas welding machines of the MIG (metal inert gas) or MAG (metal active gas) types can be used easily and effectively with only a little practice.
Their relatives, TIG (tungsten inert gas) welders, use a permanent electrode, a separate filler metal wire, and are even more effective at producing excellent-quality welds, but require a manual user with long practice.
The arc welding process has a few peculiarities of its own, however, which necessitate other design feature in a gas welding machine.
At the blistering temperatures produced by a gas welding machine’s electrode, the molten metal can oxidize or rust in a moment if it is exposed to the open air.
Oxygen therefore needs to be excluded from the welding site during the brief time it takes for the molten metal to cool and harden, lest the weld be contaminated and weakened.This is achieved by blowing a steady stream of gas out of the nozzle of the welding gun.
This gas gives the various types of welder their names, and keeps oxygen away from the welding pool of molten metal by displacing the air immediately around the welding point. For this reason, it is known as the “shielding gas.” However, the gas in a gas welding machine does more than simply protect the weld – different welding effects can also be achieved by using different gases.
The various uses of Shielding Gas
Some uses of shielding gas are determined by purely common sense factors.
For example, more shielding gas is needed (the rate of its flow must be increased) if the weld is being made quickly.
The reason for this is that less time is spent over any one point of the weld, so a thicker cloud of shielding gas must be created so that it will not disperse too quickly in the wake of the welding gun as it moves on wards.
Slow welds, on the other hand, can make do with a lighter flow of shielding gas.
Different gases are used for different types of metal, and may also be varied depending on the depth of the weld desired.
A ‘deep’ weld is one that penetrates a good distance into the metal and creates a very strong bond between the two pieces, while a ‘shallow’ weld bonds the pieces only in their surface layers.
Steel and stainless steel are each welded with a different shielding gas when possible.
Argon produces a shallow weld on ordinary steel, so if a deep weld is desired, carbon dioxide (CO2) is needed as part of the shielding gas. Pure CO2 causes oxidation, so it is usually mixed with argon, with the mixture providing a deep weld without the risk of oxidation and the brittleness it causes.
Stainless steel, on the other hand, needs oxygen for best weld quality and depth. The oxygen can be no more than 1/20 of the mixture, however, or it will cause oxidation.
Nonferrous metals such as aluminum, magnesium, and copper are usually welded with argon or a mixture of argon and helium. These shielding gases produce far better results with nonferrous metals than CO2 does.
Hydrogen and nitrogen are often added to the shielding gas when welding copper. However, hydrogen is damaging to magnesium, so should not be used in the gas for this metal.
Like an alchemist of old, the modern welder can work best with different metals and produce different depths and qualities of weld – as well as different welding speeds, in some cases – by choosing the correct shielding gases to add to the welding process.
A gas welding machine is a highly effective tool for bonding two pieces of metal, and to the layman, it may seem the electric arc alone is enough to get the job done.
However, the shielding gas used is just as crucial – an unseen but essential element in the welding job’s success.