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Selecting the most suitable welding machine Welding is a straightforward idea that needs special skills and the correct equipment. The aim is to join two pieces of material usually metals or thermoplastics together by heating and letting their surfaces, sometimes applying filler to the gap between them and pushing the surfaces together until they merge. Welding is important for vehicle and machinery construction and repair, in home maintenance, as a hobby and to create fine art. Whether you want to repair a cherished old cast iron saucepan or a car engine, the correct equipment is vital.

Decide on job The first task is to decide precisely what kind if surfaces you need to join together and to measure their thicknesses. Do you need the weld to penetrate the material and will you paint over the joint once it has cooled? The answers to these questions will help you to decode on the energy source and how to choose the welding machine. Energy sources may be electric arc, electron beams, gas flames, lasers, resistance or ultrasound.

Gas welders Gas welding is an old type of welding using an oxy-acetylene or other fuel for the energy source. It is simple and used to repair pipes or other property maintenance work.

Arc welders Arc welding uses an electric arc between the electrode on the welder and the work piece. This is the best welder for welding steel and vehicle repairs. A shielded metal arc welder is popular and inexpensive. However, the electrodes can be consumed may need frequent replacement.

MIG Welders Metal inert gas (MIG) welding consists of a wire and steel electrode. The heat melts the wire into a seam between two pieces of material. The process is popular, fast, versatile and precise.

TIG Welders Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding uses a tungsten electrode and a semi-inert gas for shielding. It offers a high quality weld but can be a slow process. This is the best welder for joining light metals and stainless steel. The TIG can be adapted to use plasma gas as a shield making it an ideal method for welding materials that have different thicknesses.

Resistance welders Resistance welding is the process of passing a current through two pieces of metal. The current generates heat. Molten metal is produced in the weld area and is merged under pressure. This can be used to join metal sheets up the 3mm thickness.

Energy beams Laser or electron beams are highly-focussed energy sources used for fine highly accurate welding of metals or thermoplastics. They are very fast, have a high penetration of the material and minimise the weld area. But they are relatively expensive. There are hybrid version of energy beams that include lasers and X-rays that can develop better welds.

Ultrasound Ultrasound welding uses ultrasonic vibrations to generate heat and melt material. It produces accurate welds and is usually used industrially for joining thermoplastics. For more advice and the best prices on Welding Equipment see

Selecting the most suitable welding machine