For any car body shop, welding operations, as dangerous as they are, are essential. Your operation can gain a lot from a better understanding of how to weld effectively and safely. To help improve the quality and safety of your welding processes, Whites Body Works will look at the most common types of welding as well as some practical welding tips you should follow.
Automotive Welding Definition
To repair different types of damage, including rust and cracks, on vehicles, the bodywork process of welding is used. As such, out of all of the services offered by auto repair shops, it is one of the most important.
To fuse metals together, the process of welding relies on the use of high temperatures – and at times pressure. The most suitable method of fixing rusted metal, damaged fenders and vehicle panels that have sustained cracks is welding.
Arc, TIG and MIG are the three main types of welding in the automotive world. To ensure that you have the best chance of choosing the most suitable type for any repair work, it is essential that you differentiate these methods.
Metal Inert Gas (MIG) Welding Method
The most common welding method in today’s world is MIG. In MIG welding, a wire running through the welder is used to feed filler material in place in the presence of a gas shield. Since you can hold the welding too using one hand, this method is considered to be easy and straightforward.
A form of Arc welding, MIG welding is also referred to as Gas Metal Arc Welding. To create a weld between the materials being fused together, this welding method relies on the use of electricity. To be more precise, to generate an electrical arc between an electrode and the base material, Arc welding uses a supply of power. The strength of the weld increases with the use of a higher electric voltage.
If your aim is to enhance productivity by welding faster, MIG welders are a suitable option as they are known to be faster than other welding options. Furthermore, MIG welding is widely used in automotive body shops as this type of welding can be used on a variety of metals.
Shielded Metal Arc Welding (aka Stick Welding) Method
While MIG welding is widely used, Shielded Metal Arc Welding (also referred to as Stick Welding) is an older welding method, that’s less popular in today’s world. More suited to welding applications that involve heavier metals, such as steel and iron, stick welding is also considered to be a form of Arc welding just like MIG welding. For welding aluminum, and other similarly lighter metals, other welding techniques would be more suitable.
To improve the quality of welds, many repair shops prefer to use other methods even though stick welding has been in existence for longer. Issues such as low quality weld fusion, cracking and weld spatter are more common with stick welding. But, if you want to improve your welding technique it is recommended that you practice this method of welding, over and over again.
Tungsten Inert Gas Welding (TIG Welding)
For more advanced and refined welding projects, TIG welding is the most suitable option. A weld is created using a tungsten electrode, in this method which dates back to the World War 2 era. This welding method requires the use of both hands, one to operate the welder while the other takes care of the filler.
In an age where vehicles are being made lighter through the use of the lightest materials available, the value of TIG welding skills is ever increasing, thanks to the fact that it is perfect for thin sheets of steel and aluminum.
Welding Tips For Automotive Applications
Let’s look at some practical tips that you can use to enhance the quality of your welds, now that you have a clear understanding of the main automotive welding methods.
Get The Right Tools/Gear
In addition to enhancing the quality of your work, using the right tools for each task also makes your work safer. Here are some of the main tools, and equipment, you need for welding:
1. A Welder: It goes without saying that the welder is an essential piece of equipment when it comes to welding jobs. To ensure quality results, for each job, start by choosing the most suitable welder.
2. A Welding Helmet: The welding helmet is another essential piece of equipment. Welding processes normally generate very bright light and flying sparks; to protect your eyes and your face, be sure to buy a helmet of the highest quality. The right helmet should be of the right size, and comes with useful features such as auto-darkening filters. Your neck and face should be completely covered by the helmet.
3. A Pair of Welding Gloves: For protection, you need a pair of leather welding gloves. To ensure that you are properly protected, be sure to get gloves specifically made for use in welding applications.
4. Welding Screens/Curtains: To shield the rest of your work area from UV light, fumes, heat and sparks, be sure to use welding screens and curtains. You should only buy government certified welding curtains/screens which are normally made from heavy duty plastic. For the highest level of protection, buy curtains that completely seal off the area in question.
5. Clamps: To hold the objects being welded in place during the entire welding process, you need to use welding specific clamps. You don’t want the objects being welded together falling over, mid-weld. When welding you will be safer, and enjoy better quality work with high-quality welding clamps.
Always Keep Your Tools/Equipment In The Best Possible Condition
To ensure that you continue producing high quality work, for as long as possible, in a safe way, it is important that you properly maintain your welding equipment and tools. Check the leakage, wiring, voltage, emissions and grounding on a regular basis to ensure safety at all times. While MIG and TIG welders require more attention, due to their advanced technology, than their stick welding counterparts, you should always abide by a strict maintenance routine, regardless.
Keep your tools and equipment clean, in addition to ensuring that it is safe for use. You might end up with poor quality welds whenever you use a welding gun with a nozzle that has a lot of spatter. Clear any spatter using a nozzle dip. To ensure that you can clearly see through your welding helmet, and maximize its lifespan, remember to clean it on a regular basis. You should also consider replacing the lens on the helmet if you find that it is damaged or no longer works as required. Check for lens replacement specifications from the manufacturer.
Practice Makes Perfect
When handled carelessly, welding can be dangerous and may lead to serious injuries or even death. Take your time to master each part of the welding process when you are learning how to weld. Always ensure that your equipment is ready for use by checking it first.
Your welding space should be shielded using welding screens/curtains, and remember to wear a pair of welding gloves and a helmet before you start welding. To build familiarity with the process, practice your skills on scrap. The likelihood of ending up with poor welding results, and even worse, physical injuries increases when you try to rush through a job just to ensure that you get it done faster. Your priority should always be your safety.