Choosing A MIG Welder

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Choosing A MIG welder

Purchasing a MIG welder that is suitable for your application and yet fits your budget, without compromising on quality can be a tricky process.

We’ve pulled together a guide of features & pitfalls to look out for when you’re buying a MIG set and put you in know when it comes to terminology & questions to ask the dealer

Foster 300 wire feed unit min

Guide For Choosing

Fan on Demand - Lowers running costs and reduces contamination to internal components. The fan kicks in when its needed, rather than running all day.
Printed Circuit Board Protection - If the Machines PCB's are protected from dust & kept away from the fan, reliability will increase. Some manufacturers have the parts that need cooling in a duct type housing & the PCB isolated separately
Step Settings - If you're looking for a step voltage conventional MIG with multiple power settings the more the better
MIG wire inch button - This will save you wasting your shielding gas when feeding wire through at the start of a new reel
Gas Purge button - Another nice option. Save yourself some MIG wire, when you're setting your gas flow
Burn Back - Not all machines have this externally, but it is good to be able to trim the burn back to the wire according to the application & operator
Easy Control Panel - Simplicity is key as it makes the process more straightforward
Drive Block Systems - Four roll would always be first choice, but some of the lower amperage machines wont have them meaning two roll would be more acceptable
Budget - How much welding are you going to undertake? Gear your purchasing decision around jobs you'll do most
Polarity Changeover - A lot of welders at the light industrial end will be able to weld with gasless flux cored MiG wire, is the switch over easy on the machine you're considering?
Duty Cycle Testing - MIGS tested at 20 degrees & 40 degrees we consider good. Beware any manufacturer who doesn't quote an ambient temperature for testing


Digital Meters Factory Fitting - Great to have when you purchase and may be required for calibration requirements. to fit them down the line could be expensive.
Availability of spares/after service - Ask where the machine is actually made. Even the more recognized brands largely outsource their production, which can lead to quality and after sales issues with the lack of continuity of supply for spares
Selecting the correct amperage machine - Generally, you should work on 35-40 amps per 1mm diameter of material to be welded
Manufacturers Warranty - This is a great guide to quality. A three year warranty is good to cover the products
Weld Characteristics - Make sure the arc is smooth and that it is suitable to your choice of application
Duty Cycle - Light industrial machine duty cycles can be as low as 20% but heavier ones should range between 40-60%. However a 300amp MIG with a 30% duty cycle is acceptable
Drive Rollers - Metal rollers are the best, nylon and plastic ones will always wear quicker
Bottle Trolley - If you wanted a stepped voltage machine to be portable, you'll need one. If you have a full size cylinder check that the running gear and cylinder are man enough
Inverters - Considerably smaller and lighter and so ideal for site work. All inverters are step less and so have infinite control
Stepped Voltage or Synergic - Synergic MIG's have the edge when your welding stainless & aluminum as they are pre programmed, easy to set up & portable
Where to buy your machine from? - Are they a technically sound distributor? Do they have service engineers who can advise/repair the machine should you have issues?
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