How to Use a Welding Machine

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The primary purpose of a welding machine is to supply electrical power to a welding gun. This electricity is used to strike an arc between the welding gun and the piece to be welded. The current is then converted to heat, which melts the metal to produce the weld. A welding machine can theoretically be as simple as a car battery. However, in practice, a welding machine is a sophisticated device that provides precise control for the electricity it produces.

  • Select the correct amperage for the application. A typical current for ¼-inch plate steel might be 80 amperes (amps) whereas spot welding may use as much as 12,000 amps. At the other extreme, welding two razor blades together may use as little as five amps.

  • Load an electrode in the welding gun and ensure that the electrode clamp is touching the bare metal of the electrode. Turn the welding machine on and make sure you can hear a humming noise from the transformer.

  • Check the breakers in your circuit box if your welding machine is not getting power. Welding machines draw a large current, and it's not uncommon to trip a breaker. Some welding machines even require a special circuit with a higher power rating.

  • Strike the arc. Touch the tip of the electrode to the base metal and immediately pull it back to the desired welding (stick-out) distance. You may need to increase the amperage on the welding machine if you have trouble striking the arc or maintaining an arc at the proper stick-out distance.

  • Adjust the amperage on the welding machine to correct additional welding problems. A weld that is pitted and has deep craters at the edges is a clear indication that you need to reduce the amperage.

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