Your MIG welder is an incredibly powerful tool. It can unleash hundreds, even thousands of degrees’ worth of heat, and can allow you to melt, cut, and shape metal with a degree of power and accuracy which would be unbelievable to workers just a few decades ago. A modern MIG welder can do so much – but that doesn’t mean that it can escape the ravages of wear and tear. With all that heat and power come the inevitable aging forces that wear out MIG welders.
How to increase MIG welder life expectancy? MIG welder life expectancy is inexact, and doesn’t really conform to a measurement of weeks or months but uses. However, some factors can impact your MIG welder’s life expectancy such as preventing splatter or pace heat usage.
|Step Nr.||How to increase MIG Welding Life Expectancy|
|1||Pace Heat Usage|
|4||Don’t Hit Your Nozzle|
|5||Store Your Tips with Care|
|6||Check the Connections|
On the one hand, that’s to be expected – that’s why they call replaceable parts “consumables,” after all. It is expected that they’ll be consumed and used up by the heat. On the other hand, unless you want to spend a fortune on tips and parts, you can and should take steps to make your MIG welders last longer.
So what factors impact your MIG welder’s life expectancy, and how can you make those parts last as long as possible?
Pace Heat Usage
First and foremost, it should come as a surprise to no one that the more heat you use and the hotter the temperatures involved, the faster those consumables will burn up.
If you are constantly firing up your MIG welders to full heat, you’ll use up consumables extremely quickly and likely need to replace them after just a few uses. Between that and safety concerns, you should refrain from firing up your MIG welder to the highest temperatures on a constant basis.
Instead, you want to pace yourself, much like a major league pitcher. Before the modern focus on 100 mph fireballers, pitchers were taught to pace themselves and not throw at full velocity with each pitch but rather to save those hardest, fastest pitches for really important situations. This was done so as to not tire themselves out early and allow them to “save something for later.” The same idea holds true for MIG welders.
By pacing your MIG welder’s heat usage, you can make sure you don’t wear out your welder (or yourself) and extend the lifespan of your consumables.
It isn’t just heat that can prematurely use up MIG welders and consumables. Splattering can leave your tools filthy, and this over time can cause them to become less effective or even flat-out fail entirely.
Here, anti-splatter applications can help. On the one hand, you don’t want to overdo it with these, as adding too many can cause the nozzle to become porous, corrode, or otherwise become damaged. On the other hand, by using anti-splatter materials, you can keep your tips cleaner, which can help ensure you can keep using them longer.
Another way to keep your nozzle tips clean is to avoid touching them to the hot molten metal in the first place.
This can be accomplished by investing in a pilot arc. These upgrades allow you to weld from a few inches’ distance, keeping your nozzle away from and thus clean of the molten metal.
MIG Welder Maintenance Tips >> Check out the video below
Don’t Hit Your Nozzle
This should probably go without saying, but if you want your nozzle tip to last longer, you shouldn’t go banging it against the metal. Doing so can cause it to become dented and scratched.
While it may be tempting to think that your metal tips are sturdy and can stand up to anything, that simply isn’t the case. Your metal tips can and will become scratched or dented under such abuse – and if that results in a misfire with that extreme heat shooting out of control, it may be more than your MIG welder’s life expectancy that suffers.
Store Your Tips with Care
In addition, you’ll want to make sure that you take care to store your MIG welder and tips in the best conditions possible. For example, you should retain the original packaging. The close molded case in which MIG welders are typically sold makes for an ideal storage space with ample protection.
You should keep these cases closed at all times. Opening them risks further scratches. It can also allow for a buildup of dirt and oil, which can further degrade the quality of the tips. You should also take care to store used tips from new ones to prevent contamination. Wearing gloves is another important anti-contamination measure.
Check the Connections
Finally, you’ll want to take care to inspect the quality of the connection between your nozzle tip and the rest of your MIG welder. As anyone who has ever worked with electrical tools can tell you, the last thing you want with such tools is a connection problem. The stakes are all the higher with MIG welders given the incredible heat involved, and so the importance of safety checks and a proper connection are likewise all the more essential.
You should, therefore, routinely check your MIG welder for connection issues.
In addition, when attaching the tips, you should avoid using tools such as wire cutters to establish the connection, as the pressure these tools exert can damage the contact tip. This can lead to everything from splatter to scratches and an overall shorter lifespan.
Related Reading: What To Do When Your Welder Won’t Spark? 4 Easy Steps
You should try to tighten the contact tip with your hand as much as possible until it is fully stuck into the diffuser. Once you have done that, use an approved tool to tighten it the rest of the way, which should probably be about 1/4 to 1/2 of a turn at most. Do not force the tips, and always make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for any specific details particular to your model.
There is no one measurement of MIG welder life expectancy, but there are many benefits to improving its lifespan. You can keep consumables in better condition, reduce the rate at which they become degraded and in need of replacement, and ensure greater safety while welding, safeguarding the life of your tools as well as your own.