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Discussion Starter #1
Is it necessary to use shielding gas on metals 24 gauge thick to 18 ga. thick for mig welding. I'm asking because I'm trying to leanr about mig/wire feed welding. I don't see myself doing anything that requires shielding gas just to hold down the splatter. But on lighter stock between 24-18 ga. would I risk burning thru the metal without a shielding gas.

Second question. Most common shield gas is 75% argon & 25% CO2. Is this gas mixed in one tank or do I need two individual tanks. I want to be able to weld 24 ga. up to 1/4" thick stock, but not looking to do any fine detail work so if I can eliminate the gas & get results that's all I'm looking for. I don't want to spend money on systems or consumables that are not necessary to my goals. My welding projects will be limited to myself. And with the cost of steel around here, I can generally buy a completed implement far cheaper than building it from the ground up. So this just makes welding for me a hobby rather than a necessity. Thanks
 

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With my limited knowledge of MIG process welding I’ll offer the following:

With solid wire shielding gas is required on all work pieces (regardless of thickness) as the gas keeps the weld area free of atmospheric gasses which would be incorporated and trapped in the weld metal thereby making it weak, brittle, unsound, lacking bond, poor penetration, etc.

The proportioned gasses, Ar C02, Tri mix, etc used for welding MIG and TIG are sold pre mixed in the proper proportions for their intended application in a single tank by reputable welding suppliers. You will not have to buy separate tanks of each and try to mix and proportion them on your own.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
With my limited knowledge of MIG process welding I’ll offer the following:

With solid wire shielding gas is required on all work pieces (regardless of thickness) as the gas keeps the weld area free of atmospheric gasses which would be incorporated and trapped in the weld metal thereby making it weak, brittle, unsound, lacking bond, poor penetration, etc.

The proportioned gasses, Ar C02, Tri mix, etc used for welding MIG and TIG are sold pre mixed in the proper proportions for their intended application in a single tank by reputable welding suppliers. You will not have to buy separate tanks of each and try to mix and proportion them on your own.
Thanks for your reply. For some reason (maybe I read it somewhere) shielding gas is not necessary on thicker stock (18.ga & above. Your explanation above as to what the gas does is correct. But I think on heavier stock the gas may cause problems with weld speed, bead, etc. But on thin stock it allows the weld to be made faster & prevents burn thru of the stock. Now having said all that, I may be technically incorrect as I am trying to learn the basics of MIG/wire feed welding.
I also have questions regarding TIG but for now Mig is enough. I'm also interested in old fashion stick welding. Everyone seems to have left stick welding behind but I think there are a lot of benefits to stick when it comes to heavy gauge stock.
 

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Wondering if you have had experience buying shielding gas yet? I'm only on my second bottle and am using the local Tractor Supply where Thoroughbred is the brand sold. I've had no problems so far. The first bottle was expensive as I was not turning in an empty cylinder, but after that the cost and convenience were reasonable.

Before I went with shielding gas I did a fair amount of internet reading, and evidently Thoroughbred has a lot of haters out there. It reminded me of on line reading about Titan implements. Evidently a lawsuit between Thoroughbred and AirGas about 10 years ago led to the exchange system they use now at TSC. But, I took a chance, just like I did with Titan.

It would be nice to have a second bottle, as obviously you'll run out while welding on a project. But, the startup cost keeps me from keeping a spare.
 

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There are lots of 110v MIG Paks out that are meant to be used with no shielding gas, with flux core wire. Flux core is more forgiving and versatile when metals are not clean, and they can be used in windy conditions out in the field. But flux core is messy. Another advantage of flux core is the ability to weld thicker material. Steel wire in .024 (using 75/25 gas) is ideal for the thinner stuff, 3/16" and below. it just takes a bit of time to get speed/power dialed in. That's when spot welds (or test on scraps of the same size. My method) come into play. All while focusing on the sound of the arch and wire speed to create a synchronous crackle. If that make sense. A dual role gas/flux core machine in a step up and allows more versatility. After that, the weld "pattern" determines the flow. Patterns of circle, C, and U give different types of flow. On thin material, straight, continuous line can also give nice satisfactory welds. Practice is everything. If I were have someone ask me my thoughts on which MIG to buy as a hobbyist/homeowner, I would suggest a box rated for 220v. They cost a little more from the start, but they're capable of better welds and can weld thicker materials. The bigger MIG units can be use for mild steel, aluminum, and stainless, with the right accessories. Something to consider now for a lesser expense in the long run. There are plenty of nice (Lincoln, Miller, Hobart) used welders out there to be had. :thumbup1gif:

I have a large bottle, with a small bottle for back-up. Those can be found for a good price too, with some patience.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Wondering if you have had experience buying shielding gas yet? I'm only on my second bottle and am using the local Tractor Supply where Thoroughbred is the brand sold. I've had no problems so far. The first bottle was expensive as I was not turning in an empty cylinder, but after that the cost and convenience were reasonable.

Before I went with shielding gas I did a fair amount of internet reading, and evidently Thoroughbred has a lot of haters out there. It reminded me of on line reading about Titan implements. Evidently a lawsuit between Thoroughbred and AirGas about 10 years ago led to the exchange system they use now at TSC. But, I took a chance, just like I did with Titan.

It would be nice to have a second bottle, as obviously you'll run out while welding on a project. But, the startup cost keeps me from keeping a spare.
I'm not at all familiar with buying shielding gas because I currently have no equipment at all. However I am aware that the first time around I will have to either buy the tank or "Rent" the tank & get it filled. I have a couple of places here besides TSC. I have AirGas & another one & a couple of independent dealers as well. In my situation a small tank of gas will probably last a long time or me-months-maybe a year plus.
 

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The term “MIG” means Metal Inert Gas, which is another term for GMAW or Gas Metal Arc Welding and is ALWAYS done with an inert gas, there is no such thing and MIG welding without gas. If your using solid core wire, then you MUST use a gas regardless of the thickness of metals your welding.

Welding with flux core wire is called FCAW or Flux Cored Arc Welding and uses a different machine setup.
 

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Really have to look just get a mig welder and go and play around with some scrap to get a idea if running a shielding gas is worth the investment or can you get by with just core flux.

I've always toyed with the idea of running gas through my mig welder but I have found for the majority of all my work core flux and it's sheer versatility seems to be all that I really need.

On really thin gauge metal I can usually get a decent weld with flux if I run it on a very low setting and pretty much pulse the wire onto the metal. I have to let the metal cool down a second or two otherwise it will start to burn. Run a wire brush over it to clean it once in awhile and keep right on a going. Is it as fast as running a shielding gas, no way but for the little bit of thin gauge welding I do I can deal with it. I prefer running flux on my implements just because if I have to weld something I prefer to do it outside just because there is usually grass or grease residue on the thing that always seems to readily want to light up.
 

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As Kenny said, if there isnt a shielding gas present, its not MIG welding. Heck, most processes use a shielding gas.
There are many reasons for it, but several were mentioned above. Weld strength, appearance, etc.
Without the gas, yes you can "weld", but you will have more problems than not.

This applies to all thicknesses of metal. There isnt a gauge or size that can be welded without it.

Now, you dont necessarily need bottled gas to accomplish this, flux core wire does the same thing, but requires a bit more finishing work to the weld.
You need to chip/brush off the residue when done. Its best to do this before each pass if you need more than one.

Bottled gas is nice if you are working indoors mostly, as it needs a fairly wind free environment to work as intended, or youll need to turn up the pressure to compensate.
Flux cored wire works anywhere, but works excellently in windy, outdoor conditions where the gas would be blown away too quickly to do much good.

As a sort of side note, ARC welding also has shielding gas in the form of coated rods like the flux core MIG wire.
TIG welding also uses shielding gas.
The gas is important to all types as it has a great effect on the weld itself. Keeps it from cooling too fast, keeps airborn contaminants out (even the air itself can be a contaminant), along with a lot of other things. Without it, you end up with a really ugly, really weak weld that is extremely prone to failure.

All that said, Im no professional, and I didnt sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I have been welding for a while now for my own needs and others too.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
There are lots of 110v MIG Paks out that are meant to be used with no shielding gas, with flux core wire. Flux core is more forgiving and versatile when metals are not clean, and they can be used in windy conditions out in the field. But flux core is messy. Another advantage of flux core is the ability to weld thicker material. Steel wire in .024 (using 75/25 gas) is ideal for the thinner stuff, 3/16" and below. it just takes a bit of time to get speed/power dialed in. That's when spot welds (or test on scraps of the same size. My method) come into play. All while focusing on the sound of the arch and wire speed to create a synchronous crackle. If that make sense. A dual role gas/flux core machine in a step up and allows more versatility. After that, the weld "pattern" determines the flow. Patterns of circle, C, and U give different types of flow. On thin material, straight, continuous line can also give nice satisfactory welds. Practice is everything. If I were have someone ask me my thoughts on which MIG to buy as a hobbyist/homeowner, I would suggest a box rated for 220v. They cost a little more from the start, but they're capable of better welds and can weld thicker materials. The bigger MIG units can be use for mild steel, aluminum, and stainless, with the right accessories. Something to consider now for a lesser expense in the long run. There are plenty of nice (Lincoln, Miller, Hobart) used welders out there to be had. :thumbup1gif:

I have a large bottle, with a small bottle for back-up. Those can be found for a good price too, with some patience.
Speaking strictly for myself here. I can easily use a 240 Volt system in my barn. And I can go either way-MIG/wire feed flux core. Originally I was asking if shielding gas is absolutely necessary to weld thin gauges from 24 to 18 to prevent burning thru the metal. On heavier stock, gas as I see it is not necessary. But I don't know about the thinner stuff. Also I don't see myself ever welding anything heavier than 1/4" thick material. I just have absolutely no use for anything beyond 1/4".
Yes, extra capacity like having a gas option or having a welder that I can select between 120 & 240 are nice, or even a straight 240 Volt, but that may limit my use if I have to take it on the road to help out a neighbor or a friend.

Also, I've broken my own habit of buying items & equipment with over capacity that I do not have an immediate need for. I have found that when I buy extra capacity in tools, implements, computers, that if by the time I develop the need for the extras, the base item is obsolete & now I need to go out & buy the entire thing all over again. Basically what I am saying, buying stuff based on a non existing need has become a loss for me. Technology & capacities are only good if you can use it now, not on what you think you may need in the distant future. Remember now, I am speaking for myself here. And the fact is that I'm old. Buying more than what I need at this point in my life is just a waste of money that I need for the pills:yahoo:
 

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Wondering if you have had experience buying shielding gas yet? I'm only on my second bottle and am using the local Tractor Supply where Thoroughbred is the brand sold. I've had no problems so far. The first bottle was expensive as I was not turning in an empty cylinder, but after that the cost and convenience were reasonable.

Before I went with shielding gas I did a fair amount of internet reading, and evidently Thoroughbred has a lot of haters out there. It reminded me of on line reading about Titan implements. Evidently a lawsuit between Thoroughbred and AirGas about 10 years ago led to the exchange system they use now at TSC. But, I took a chance, just like I did with Titan.

It would be nice to have a second bottle, as obviously you'll run out while welding on a project. But, the startup cost keeps me from keeping a spare.
Just keep an eye on the pressure.
Youll get a feel for when it will run out based on that.
If I have a big project coming up but only have a couple hundred pounds pressure in the tank, Ill go exchange it before hand.
I too use the Thoroghbred cylinder exchange. My local Rural King handles them, and they are open when I am, which is to say that I dont generally do any welding when they arent open, so I can always get an exchange fairly quick.

As to that lawsuit, Airgas got mad that Thoroghbred was taking their cylinders in for exchange when people hadnt purchased them and were just leasing them.
I can understand that, but because of that, Airgas wont take ANY new cylinder now, and quite a few Thoroghbred dealers wont either.
When I first got mine, I bought an 80cf cylinder for about $100. Thats considerably cheaper than either of them want for one.
The guys at our local Airgas were less than friendly when I was asking about their cylinder exchange. The pricing I got from them made me wonder why anyone would choose them over Thoroghbred. Same gas, about half the cost.
Now that Im well into the program, I dont worry about it.
That 80CF cylinder lasts me a long time, unless Im really burning through the wire like I used to when I was making and selling parts. These days Im lucky to replace it once a year, but the good thing is that when/if I start producing parts again, I already have the big cylinder.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The term “MIG” means Metal Inert Gas, which is another term for GMAW or Gas Metal Arc Welding and is ALWAYS done with an inert gas, there is no such thing and MIG welding without gas. If your using solid core wire, then you MUST use a gas regardless of the thickness of metals your welding.

Welding with flux core wire is called FCAW or Flux Cored Arc Welding and uses a different machine setup.
Let me rephrase my original question. If I have a wire feed welder (not MIG) & I want to weld 24 ga. to 18 ga thick material using flux cored wire, will that give me a problem with burning the thin base material. In other words can I wire weld the thinner materials without a problem. If there is a problem, will solid core wire (MIG) eliminate the problem. In my situation, if the answer is NO, then MIG is of no advantage to me because I am not concerned that much with the technical stuff or trying to make welds for load carrying or structural load capacities.

I know the entire subject of welding is not something you learn in a day. To really really know it you need to know physics, chemistry, math, metallurgy & who knows what else.
 

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Let me rephrase my original question. If I have a wire feed welder (not MIG) & I want to weld 24 ga. to 18 ga thick material using flux cored wire, will that give me a problem with burning the thin base material. In other words can I wire weld the thinner materials without a problem. If there is a problem, will solid core wire (MIG) eliminate the problem. In my situation, if the answer is NO, then MIG is of no advantage to me because I am not concerned that much with the technical stuff or trying to make welds for load carrying or structural load capacities.

I know the entire subject of welding is not something you learn in a day. To really really know it you need to know physics, chemistry, math, metallurgy & who knows what else.
Flux cored wire is generally rated for a bit thicker material than standard wire.
That said, if you are cautious, I cant see it being a big problem.
In your situation, buying the bottle/gas and getting the proper hoses/gauges if you dont already have them is pretty cost ineffective unless, as you said, you have an immediate need.
If I were in your shoes, Id have at it with the thinnest flux cored wire I could get, and maybe practice a bit before you weld what you need to weld.
Keep in mind that you cant weld long beads on thin metal or it will warp badly.
Do a search for welding thin gauge metal and youll see (you probably already have done this) the proper technique, or several that work.

A welder/fabricator I used to work with told me long ago:
The great thing about welding is that its metal. You can always add more or take some away.
 

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Let me rephrase my original question. If I have a wire feed welder (not MIG) & I want to weld 24 ga. to 18 ga thick material using flux cored wire, will that give me a problem with burning the thin base material. In other words can I wire weld the thinner materials without a problem. If there is a problem, will solid core wire (MIG) eliminate the problem. In my situation, if the answer is NO, then MIG is of no advantage to me because I am not concerned that much with the technical stuff or trying to make welds for load carrying or structural load capacities.

I know the entire subject of welding is not something you learn in a day. To really really know it you need to know physics, chemistry, math, metallurgy & who knows what else.

I can't say it better than Jim did below...But I will add:
The smallest flux-cored wire I see available is .030", whereas you can get solid wire in .023". The thicker wire will make welding thin material-especially 24 gauge VERY difficult, you will have to be SUPER quick on the trigger since the voltage will have to be higher to melt the thicker wire.

Flux cored wire is generally rated for a bit thicker material than standard wire.
That said, if you are cautious, I cant see it being a big problem.
In your situation, buying the bottle/gas and getting the proper hoses/gauges if you dont already have them is pretty cost ineffective unless, as you said, you have an immediate need.
If I were in your shoes, Id have at it with the thinnest flux cored wire I could get, and maybe practice a bit before you weld what you need to weld.
Keep in mind that you cant weld long beads on thin metal or it will warp badly.
Do a search for welding thin gauge metal and youll see (you probably already have done this) the proper technique, or several that work.

A welder/fabricator I used to work with told me long ago:
The great thing about welding is that its metal. You can always add more or take some away.
 

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I can't say it better than Jim did below...But I will add:
The smallest flux-cored wire I see available is .030", whereas you can get solid wire in .023". The thicker wire will make welding thin material-especially 24 gauge VERY difficult, you will have to be SUPER quick on the trigger since the voltage will have to be higher to melt the thicker wire.
It makes sense when you think about it. Flux core wire is hollow and has the flux in the middle. You can only make wire so thin and still have room to put flux inside it. Looking at the sample chart below from a Hobart Handler 140, you can see that you can sort of get away with .030 wire for 18 ga but you will need .024 wire for 24 ga.

 

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MIG welding

First, MIG is the easiest welding method to learn.

Second, I have a Hobart 220MVP, which can be used at 110v or 220v, and I always use argon/CO2 mixed gas. Flux core is messy, splatters, and is tough to use on thin gauge metals. I'm not a "professional", and I am DIY'er, and use the welder for repairs on the tractor, mowers, etc. or to fabricate metal brackets, carts, etc.

The BEST way to get into the gas bottle issue, in my experience, is to look for a bottle on Craigslist or some such advertisements, and the tank needs a CURRENT INSPECTION stamping on it, or you will be charged to have that done, in most cases. If it's Current, make sure the welding supply where you would get the bottle re-filled is one that accepts the tank (Airgas may not accept other bottles, etc.). Usually, your LWS (local welding supply) can explain to you the bottle exchange policy, etc. Get to know them. Owning your gas bottle is the way to go, not renting, unless you're a huge volume user.

I never buy bottles less than 80cu. ft., as they last longer and the gas itself is cheap, compared to the cost of buying filled bottles at TSC or the like.

If you're only welding light gauge metals, 16ga. or thinner, than .024 wire is fine. General purpose, .030 wire is best, and can be used for welding up to about 1/4" in a single pass. You can weld thicker material, all depending on the welder's capacity in amps.

Hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, from all the good information I've been given here, I guess when it comes to the equipment I must decide how often if ever I will be welding the thin stuff (18ga. & less) & how good I want it to be. I have two welders in mind right now-Hobart 140 & Lincoln electric 140. I think they would more than fit my needs. The cost of adding in a small gas cylinder must be factored in but I have not asked about that cylinder cost yet & whether or not buying or renting is better for me.

Having said all of the above, I'm still not sure of what I want to do. I'm retired so I have time I can kill but not the need to weld anything. I do have a lot of work I can do on my property & none of it includes any kind of welding. But a number of times I have found myself building stuff out of 2 x 4's when I should be doing it with some flat stock & tube, welded. Right now I'm leaning towards applications Not requiring shielding gas. So a plain wire feed welder would do. I guess that moves me down to the Hobart EZ 125. I'm not sure what Lincoln has in the same class as the Hobart 125. I will have to look into it a little further.
Thanks.
 

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Well, from all the good information I've been given here, I guess when it comes to the equipment I must decide how often if ever I will be welding the thin stuff (18ga. & less) & how good I want it to be. I have two welders in mind right now-Hobart 140 & Lincoln electric 140. I think they would more than fit my needs. The cost of adding in a small gas cylinder must be factored in but I have not asked about that cylinder cost yet & whether or not buying or renting is better for me.
I'm in a very similar situation although the difference for me is I don't weld thin material very often. I initially bought a Hobart Handler 140 because I did not have 220V available. I also need to do all my welding outdoors as I don't have a garage. Because of that I've stuck with flux-core wire (shielding gas doesn't like the wind). Most times I'm using .035 and every once in a while .030. I have been very happy with the welder running on 110V and have used it to fab up some small projects and do some repairs using up to 1/4" material. If I had it to do over again I would have gotten a multi-voltage machine so that I could use 110V initially and then 220V later on.

A couple years after getting the machine I finally had a 220V line installed. I still use the Hobart 140 on 110V but for thicker material I also now have a Longevity 250 AMP inverter based stick welder. For a lot of work I actually prefer using the stick welder. I guess I'm just one of the nuts that just likes burning rods.

While I have been very happy using flux core, there is no question that using solid wire and shielding gas will result in a clean almost slag free weld. I'm self-taught so basically I'm a better grinder than I am a welder. :) But... I haven't had anything I've welded ever fall apart so hey. I have taken both of my machines in the field and used them portable with a generator and not having to carry a gas cylinder with me was nice.

You really need to look at what you want to do. Hobart and Lincoln both make nice machines. I thought I read where the Lincoln EZ 125 was a flux-core only machine but don't hold me to that. Whatever you get make sure it can use both solid wire and flux-core as then you have the flexibility to use whatever suits best. My Hobart 140 came with a regulator so if I ever wanted to get a gas cylinder and load up solid wire I could.
 

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One other thing I forgot to mention. The other reason I've stayed with flux-core is it lasts basically forever. Since I mostly use my machine for repairs, much like a soldering iron or Bernz-o-matic torch, I may go a couple years without using it. Not having to worry about the gas leaking away is nice. My last experience with gases was with an Oxy-Acetylene torch setup that much like my welder I only used once in a while. As result I always had problems with the gases leaking away. I had rather small tanks and even though I always closed the main valves after each use the Acetylene would leak away after about a year. The oxygen would leak down also but not as quickly as the Acetylene. I'm sure my situation is probably unique but it's another reason I use flux core. My current spool of wire has been in the machine over 3 years.

I just pulled it out and used it a few weeks ago and of course it worked flawless. :)
 

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To be clear, welding without shield gas using regular wire is a non starter. I had done tons of stick and gas welding before I got a Lincoln MIG setup specifically to do automobile sheet metal. My welds were awful so I took a class at a local welding shop figuring it wasn't as easy as it looked. My welds there were all perfect, even overhead. Turned out that the connection between the shield gas regulator and welding hose was loose inside my welder!

I use .023 wire for sheet metal. Anything bigger than 1/8" steel and I get the buzz box out. As long as I can position the workpiece so it's flat, my stick welds are awesome looking. Any other position - feh.

I've never tried flux cored wire. Probably would if I didn't have the stick welder.

Al
 
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