A welding gun is a portable device used to achieve semi-automatic or automatic welds on pieces of metal.1
As you’ll learn throughout the course of your welding classes, welders rely on several types of equipment to perform their trade. The most basic equipment setup in most semi- or fully automatic arc welding processes usually consists of the welding machine, which transfers or supplies power, and the welding gun that delivers the electrode.2
Read further for a formal introduction to welding guns.
How Does a Welding Gun Work?
A welder can use a welding gun on several types of processes, including spot welding, arc welding and electron-beam welding.1
How a welding gun works can vary with the specific welding process.
As an example, a MIG welding gun works with a wire feed system that continuously supplies the welding gun with electrode wire from a spool. The welding gun is hooked up to a power supply, typically a welding machine. The handheld unit delivers current to the wire through a contact tip while at the same time dispensing shielding gas to protect both the weld pool and the arc.3
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What Are the Benefits of a Welding Gun?
One of the main benefits of using a welding gun can be greater efficiency, but there can be others, as well:
- Better productivity due to quicker contact tip change times.
- Improved quality of the welds performed.
- Increased arc-on time due to the comfort of the operator.
Welding guns usually have nozzles and tips that can be easily cleaned and changed, making them well-suited for high-volume welding operations.
Some welding guns have necks that can be rotated or bent so the welder can reach awkward joint angles without causing wrist strain.4
Where Are Welding Guns Used?
- Welding guns are used in several types of welding: spot welding and different forms of arc welding, for example flux-cored welding or MIG welding.
- You could find welding guns being used in industries that rely on metal joining for everyday work or production processes, such as automobile, farm equipment and railroad car manufacturing.1
- Structural fabrication companies rely on welding guns for closing joints on steel structures.4
- Welding guns can be utilized in challenging operating conditions. For example, the guns may be used to perform welds on orbiting spacecraft.1
What Types of Welding Guns Are There?
Different types of welding guns exist, and the design of each one varies according to the welding process.3
The primary fusion welding processes are SMAW (shielded metal arc welding, also referred to as stick welding), MIG (metal inert gas), FCAW (flux-cored arc welding) and TIG (tungsten inert gas).
Each welding process relies on specific tools, and not all employ guns. TIG welding and stick welding, for instance, are manual processes in which the welder holds rod-shaped electrodes.2
Spot Welding Guns
Welding guns that are used for resistance spot welding (RSW) boast a main housing that contains a mounted pneumatic cylinder, which compresses the necessary electrodes.
RSW welding is not a liquid-state type of welding. Pressure and heat generated from electrical-current resistance are used to fuse two pieces of metal together by liquefying the precise points of the metal. Therefore, the guns used for RSW are unique in their design.5
Arc Welding Guns
Arc welding guns promote discharge between the electrode wire and the metal workpiece. These guns can guide the electrode into the arc, and some guns contain additional features to shield or initiate the arc.6
The Welding Gun: An Essential Tool of the Trade
The welding gun can be a vital tool in the field of metal joining, especially for high production operations. It can boost the efficiency of welding processes, allow professional welders to stay comfortable while working and encourage neater welded finishes.
In addition to the welding gun, professional metal fusers rely on a host of welding tools and equipment.