by: Colin Carlu Olexa
Any good MIG welder knows that they’re only as good as the equipment that they use. But that equipment is only good so long as it’s maintained properly. That’s why it’s so important to follow the correct procedures to care for it. Not taking these simple actions can result in equipment that functions poorly, creates substandard welds, or breaks down and requires replacement. Protect your investment by maintaining your equipment!
MIG Gun Maintenance
The most important component of a MIG welder when it comes to maintenance is the MIG gun. It is the primary tool in a MIG welding professional’s arsenal. Here are a few tips for proper care:
- Make sure to regularly check your gun’s cable for damage. A damaged cable will leave the copper wiring unprotected and possibly result in weld issues.
- While welding, keep the cable straight and free of any kinks or bends. Not doing so can lead to poor welding performance and defects in the finished product.
- When changing welding wire, you should also clear the gun liner of any debris. This will help prevent wire problems in the future, such as feeding issues and burnback.
- Regularly replace weld consumables such as nozzles and contact tips at the recommended intervals. Store these items in their packages away from the work area until you’re ready to use them in order to ensure that they don’t become contaminated.
General Equipment Maintenance
Beyond the tips above, you should also always follow the maintenance procedures found in the user’s manual or manufacturer’s documentation that came with your welder, as well. The manufacturer guidelines will help to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to get the most out of your MIG welder.
It may already be specified, but you should also routinely and frequently clean your equipment. Remove dust, dirt, and grime from the surface of your welder as well as below the cover.
Finally, observe your particular machine’s duty cycles. Welding machines are not designed to be run continuously at their maximum power — they need to rest every now and then. That’s why the manufacturer of your equipment will specify how long it’s safe to weld at full power within one duty cycle, or a 10-minute period.
For example, if the documentation for your 200-amp welder indicates that it has a 40 percent duty cycle, this means that it can only run at 200 amps for four minutes before needing to cool for six minutes. Exceeding this amount of time can overtax your machine, leading to reduced lifespan and increased chance of failure. Taking care to follow the advice above will go a long way toward ensuring a long life for your welder, while getting the most out of it during that time.