A Guide to Buying Welding Accessories

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A Guide to Buying Welding Accessories
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A Guide to Buying Welding Accessories

Welding in its simplest form was developed centuries ago by blacksmiths who heated and hammered iron and steel pieces together until they bonded. Forge welding, as this process is called, was the only means of welding until the end of the 19th Century. Spurred by the two World Wars, welding technology developed rapidly over the past century. In fact, new welding processes are still being developed. The welding process works by melting the workpieces to be joined, adding a filler material, and letting the weld cool. This forms a strong joint that is very different from the type formed by soldering or brazing, where the workpieces are not melted. Welding may be performed by robots, in industrial settings, but is still commonly performed by people.

Welding accessories are an essential part of the welding process, both to perform the weld, and to protect the welder. Buyers interested in welding accessories should know the different types of welding processes, and how to choose the right accessories for them. They should also know where and how find welding accessories.

Different Welding Processes

There are many different types of welding available today, using different energy sources. The type of welding used depends mostly on the materials to be joined, the quality of the weld required, and in some cases, the location where the weld is to be performed.

Arc Welding

There are several different types of arc welding processes in use today. All of them use a welding power supply to maintain an electric arc between an electrode and the base metal. Some arc welding processes protect the welding area by using inert or semi-inert gases called "shielding gases".

Name of Arc Welding Process

Materials Joined

Type of Electrode Used

Characteristics

Shielded metal arc welding, also called "manual metal arc welding" or "stick welding"

Mostly ferrous metals

Consumable electrode rod coated with flux

Special electrodes allow welding of other metals

Inexpensive equipment needs

Ideal for workshops and field work

Slag must be chipped away

Rods must be replaced frequently

Slow welding speed

Gas metal arc welding, also called "metal inert gas" or "MIG" welding

Aluminium

Other non-ferrous metals

Steels

Continuous wire feed electrode

Uses an inert or semi-inert gas to prevent contamination of weld area

Greater welding speed because of continuous electrode feed

Can be easily adapted for robotic automation

Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW)

Mild and low alloy steels

Stainless steels

High nickel alloys

Surfacing alloys

Tubular electrode containing flux

High welding speed

Portable

Widely used in construction

Can be used outdoors in windy conditions

Gas tungsten arc welding, also called "Tungsten inert gas" or "TIG" welding

Stainless steel

Aluminium alloys

Magnesium alloys

Copper alloys

Nonconsumable tungsten electrode

Requires a separate filler material

Greater control over weld

More complex and difficult to master

Weld area shielded by argon or helium shielding gas

Submerged arc welding

Carbon steels

Low alloy steels

Stainless steels

Nickel-based alloys

Non-continuously fed consumable solid or tubular electrode

Arc is struck beneath a covering layer of flux (submerged)

High arc quality

High weld deposition rate

Used with flat or horizontal fillet welding positions

Whatever the type of arc welding process used, there is usually some form of electrode feeder involved. This may be incorporated as part of the welding gun, or may be a separate unit.

Gas Welding

One of the oldest welding processes, gas welding usually refers to oxyacetylene welding. The process uses the combustion of a mixture of oxygen and acetylene to generate a temperature of over 3,000 degrees Celsius. The flame is controlled using a torch with a nozzle. Gas welding is losing popularity in industrial settings, but is still commonly used for repair work, and for welding pipes and tubes.

Other Types of Welding Processes

There are a few other types of welding processes, most of which are mostly used in industrial settings. Some of them are expensive and only make sense in high production settings. A few of these types of welding processes are listed below:

  • Resistance welding
  • Laser beam welding
  • Electron beam welding
  • Solid state welding

Factors to Consider when Choosing Welding Accessories

Due to the vast number of welding processes, one set of welding accessories does not work in another setting. Buyers should consider the type of welding process as well as the location where welding is to take place when choosing the correct accessories to use. Safety accessories are the exception, and are common to all welding processes and locations.

Type of Welding Process

Each type of welding uses different materials, supplies and accessories to create a weld. The type of welding process determines the type of accessories needed. For example, gas welding requires oxygen and acetylene tanks, along with hoses, and regulators.

Where the Welding Takes Place

Most welding takes place in industrial settings. However, it can also take place in open air, in outer space, or underwater. This can influence the choice of welding process used. When welding is performed in areas open to the public, extra care should be taken to ensure the safety of passersby, by using welding curtains, for example.

Welding Accessories Related to the Welding Process

Most welding accessories are directly related to the welding process. They provide the power, the electrode, or help the welder control the arc. Buyers should know that not all welding processes use all welding accessories.

Welding Power Supply

All arc welding processes use a welding power supply to provide the electric current required for this type of welding. The current required can be as low as five amperes or as high as 12,000 amperes, depending on the welding process being used. Welding power supplies may be either constant current (CC) or constant voltage (CV). Typically, constant current sources are used in shielded metal arc welding and gas tungsten arc welding. Gas metal arc welding and flux-cored arc welding use constant voltage sources in most cases.

Welding Gas Bottles

Welding gas bottles or cylinders can contain oxygen or acetylene for gas welding, or inert or semi-inert gases that are used in some types of arc welding. When purchasing inert or semi-inert gas bottles, buyers should consider the welding process being used, as well as the metals being joined, before selecting the type of gas to buy.

Welding Process

Material

Recommended Gas

Gas tungsten arc welding

Mild Steel

Argon or Argon/Helium

 

Aluminium and Magnesium

Argon or Argon/Helium

 

Stainless steel

Argon, Argon/Helium, or Argon/Hydrogen

 

Copper, Nickel, and copper nickel alloys

Argon or Argon/Helium

 

Titanium

Argon or Argon/Helium

 

Silicon bronze

Argon

 

Aluminium bronze

Argon

Gas metal arc welding

Carbon steel

Carbon dioxide, Argon/Helium/Carbon dioxide, or Argon/Carbon dioxide

 

Alloy steel

Argon/Carbon dioxide, Argon/Oxygen, or Argon/Helium/Carbon dioxide

 

Stainless steel

Argon/Oxygen, Argon/Helium/Carbon dioxide, Argon/Carbon dioxide

 

Copper, Nickel and copper nickel alloys

Argon/Helium/Carbon dioxide, Argon/Helium, or Argon/Oxygen

 

Aluminium

Argon or Argon/Helium

 

Magnesium, Titanium, and other reactive materials

Argon or Argon/Helium

Flux-cored arc welding

Carbon steel

Carbon dioxide or Argon/Carbon dioxide

 

Stainless steel

Argon/Oxygen or Carbon dioxide

Smaller cylinders can be bought, but larger cylinders over 80 cubic feet are typically rented or leased. Acetylene cylinders should have a date stamped on them, and require inspection every ten years. Carbon dioxide cylinders should be tested every five years.

Pressure Regulators

Pressure regulators are used on welding bottles of all types to maintain proper levels of gas discharge. These regulators have gauges that provide readings of pressure levels as well as valves to control the flow of gas. Regulators may be either single-stage or two-stage devices. Single-stage regulators have minor fluctuations in gas pressure as the pressure in the cylinder decreases. Two-stage regulators provide a more constant pressure level. Different pressure regulators are used with different welding gases. A flow meter is a type of regulator that has been calibrated for a known orifice size, allowing accurate measurement of gas flow in cubic feet per hour(CFH) or litres per minute (LPM).

Torches and Nozzles

Gas welding exclusively uses torches and nozzles. Many types of arc welding, except for stick welding, also use some sort of torch and nozzle combination. Welding torches used for gas welding have two pipes running to the nozzle. Two valve knobs give the operator control over the oxygen flow and acetylene flow. There is no oxygen blast trigger.

Gas tungsten arc welding torches are equipped with air or water cooling systems. The torches are connected by cables to the power supply, and by hoses to the shielding gas source and the water supply, if used. Nozzles used with this torch must be heat resistant. They are usually made of alumina, or a ceramic material. Fused quartz nozzles offer greater visibility because they are transparent. The size of the nozzle used depends on the diameter of the tungsten electrode used, the joint configuration, and the levels of access to the joint.

Welding Gun

Welding guns are commonly used for gas metal arc welding (MIG welding). The welding gun has a control switch, a contact tip, a power cable, a gas nozzle, an electrode conduit and liner, and a gas hose. The welding gun automatically feeds the wire through the contact tip. Some guns may have a water hose for cooling the gun in high heat situations.

Electrode Holder

Electrode holders are used with shielded metal arc welding (stick welding) to hold the consumable electrode. They are simple devices that consist of a clamp, and an insulated handle. The clamp holds the electrode, and the operator holds the insulated handle. Electric cables connect the electrode holder to the power supply.

Electrodes

Shielded metal arc welding, or stick welding, uses consumable electrodes to join workpieces. The type of electrode used depends on the workpieces being joined, as well as on the type of welding equipment used. Electrodes are classified based on a numbering system designed by the American Welding Society (AWS) that uses a letter of the alphabet followed by numbers. The diameter of the electrode (in fractions of an inch) is usually placed before the AWS number. An example would be 1/16th inch E6010. The first two numbers after the letter indicate the tensile strength of the electrode and the last two indicate the type of flux coating.

Welding Wire

The two basic types of welding wire used in different arc welding processes are solid wire and flux core wires. Solid steel wire is used when welding steel workpieces, while aluminium and stainless steel wires are used to join aluminium and stainless steel workpieces respectively. Flux core wires are hollow, and carry the flux at their core. Welding wires are also classified by AWS numbers developed by the American Welding Society.

Safety Accessories for Welding

Welding can be dangerous if proper precautions are not taken. Almost all welding processes involve an open flame or electric arc that is extremely bright. This creates the risk of burns. Looking at a welding arc unprotected can lead to a condition called arc eye. Gases and particulate matter are also a byproduct of welding, and some of these can be dangerous if inhaled. The following safety accessories can greatly reduce the risks associated with welding

Some newer welding helmets are equipped with glass that automatically darkens on exposure to bright light.

Other Welding Accessories

Welding requires several other accessories that are not directly connected to creating the weld or safety. Some of these accessories are used for holding workpieces in place, essential for good welds, while others are used for cleaning the weld area before and after welding.

Finding Welding Accessories on eBay

Buyers can find a range of welding machines and accessories on eBay. Buyers can begin looking by visiting the eBay home page and running a search by using the search bar. The search bar is also available on other pages on the site. If buyers are looking for a particular welding accessory, they can narrow search results down by entering more specific keywords into the search field. For example, a search for "auto darkening welding helmet" displays a list of all auto darkening welding helmets currently available on eBay.

Lists can be whittled down based on several criteria including price range, condition of the item, and even the location of the seller. Before committing to a purchase, buyers should review a seller's return and exchange policy. This information can come in useful in case an item does not meet expectations. Since some welding accessories are heavy, buyers can also ask sellers if they are comfortable with local pickups to reduce shipping costs.

Conclusion

Welding is the process of joining two different pieces, usually metal, with a strong joint formed by melting part of the separate pieces and adding a filler material. The resulting joint is much stronger than joints formed by processes that may appear similar, such as soldering. Forge welding, the oldest form of welding, has been used for centuries by blacksmiths around the world. Modern welding as we know it took off in the late 19th century and continues to evolve today.

There are two major types of welding: arc welding and gas welding. Most industrial welding today consists of some form of arc welding. Different welding accessories are used during welding, depending on the type of welding process. Buyers should know what type of welding process is used, the type of material being joined, and the location of the welding job before choosing the right welding accessories. Safety accessories are also an important part of the welding process and are essential to avoid burns and damage to eyes. Buyers looking for welding accessories online can choose from a wide range on eBay.

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