There are several tools that make up a basic welding set up. First and foremost, the welding machine, or welding power supply, provides electric current for the project. The welding gun contains an electrode that uses the electricity from the power source to create an arc between itself and the metal. This electric arc is what fuses the metal together.
A standard welding project takes a power supply of between 90-120 amps, though tiny projects can take as little as 5 amps. These projects are often done using power supply of simple construct, but today’s most advanced power supplies are made with silicon controlled rectifier technology and can use up over 12,000 amps. Most welding machines are plugged into regular AC power and then convert the electricity to DC for welding. The amps of a power supply should be adjusted based on electrode diameter and the thickness of the metal being welded.
Different Tools for Different Welding Methods
Welding guns differ depending on the type of welding they are built for. Some types of welding like gas metal arc welding use consumable electrodes and others use non-consumable electrodes. For gas metal arc welding (GMAW), the gun contains a trigger or control switch that, when pressed, creates a wire feed as well as initiates electrical current and the inert or semi-inert gas that keeps the weld clean of contaminants. The contact tip of this gun is usually made of copper and is connected to the power source. It connects electricity to the electrode and must be attached securely so that the electrical contact remains continuous. There are features that maintain the constant current, for instance the consumable wire is protected by the electrode conduit and liner. A GMAW gun also includes a gas nozzle to regulate and stabilize the stream of shielding gas as it is essential that this flow is also uninterrupted and smooth. Different sizes of gas nozzles are available, with larger ones being used for high current projects and smaller ones for projects that create smaller molten weld pools. A gas hose is also attached to the gun to transmit the gas to the nozzles, and a water hose is sometimes included to cool the gun.
Safety is Important in Welding
Due to the dangers involved in welding, there are many precautions to take. Welding safety is a key component of any welding training program. Welders protect themselves from burns from the electricity and flame involved in welding with long sleeve jackets and leather gloves. Specific welding jackets are sold, but any long sleeve, heavy jacket will work as long as it is not cumbersome or hinders the welder. The light produced by the weld area can create inflammation of the cornea and even burn the retinas of the eyes. Shaded welding helmets and goggles are essential for the welder as well as bystanders and passersby.
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