Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Why every farmer can now justify having welding kit

Welding gear has become more affordable in the last decade with good quality MIG plants available from €600
Welding gear has become more affordable in the last decade with good quality MIG plants available from €600

Jamie Casey

A decade ago, only a full time welder could justify the price tag attached to a MIG welding plant. However, times have changed. MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding plants are now much more affordable, and make for a smart addition to any farming workshop.

Upskilling is an important aspect of running a modern farming enterprise. To remain stationary is to fall behind. In an economic environment with ever tightening margins, it is important to reduce costs in areas over which we have control. One of these areas is welding, fabrication and machinery repairs around the yard.

While the trusty Arc welder has been the go-to tool for many years, the MIG welder is now a viable option with new welding plants available from €600. A basic Arc welding plant will set you back a minimum of €250, but you get what you pay for. To begin with, MIG welding requires a little more investment than the standard Arc welder. However, the quality, cleanliness of and speed with which the welds are completed make the investment worthwhile in the long run.

A MIG welder has a number of basic parts. It comprises of a torch, an earth lead, a roll of welding wire, the plant itself and a bottle of gas. The basic principle of MIG welding is quite simple. Electricity flows in a circuit from the torch, through the material being welded, and returns to the plant via the earth lead. The heat required to melt the metal, and weld the parts together comes from the electric arc created where the electricity jumps the gap from the welding wire to the parent metals being welded.

We can easily draw a comparison between Arc welding and MIG welding. Whereas an Arc welder consumes electrodes (welding rods), the MIG welder consumes welding wire. When laying a weld bead with an Arc welder, the welding rod slowly burns back, thereby supplying extra steel to the molten weld pool to create the bead of weld. In the case of the MIG welder, the electrodes are replaced with roll of welding wire, which is continuously fed out through the torch into the molten pool as you lay the bead of weld.

Next week we take a look at the options available when purchasing a MIG welding plant, and the steps required to set it up and begin welding.

Throughout the coming weeks, we will examine the uses of the MIG welder in projects around the farmyard, and the best practice to be applied in each case.

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