A Guide to Buying Welding Supplies

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A Guide to Buying Welding Supplies

The ability to bond two pieces of metal together is one of the reasons that mankind has been able to develop the many technologies that are enjoyed today. For centuries, the only way to bond two pieces of metal was to use a forge and blacksmith tools. Today, the average person can simply use welding supplies. Welding is a means of fusing two pieces of metal together using heated gas or electricity to take metal to the melting point. Welding usually requires a directed heat source, which can make it possible to heat only a small portion of a piece of metal.

Those who are interested in learning to weld, or who want to start welding more, may require welding supplies. These supplies can be found in specialty stores as well as online via eBay. Before purchasing any welding supplies, it is helpful to know what kind of supplies are available, what to look for in each type of tool, and what kind of welding processes are actually possible. Keeping all of these factors in mind can make it possible for anyone to find the right equipment for their needs at the right price.

Understanding Welding Equipment

For the most part, welding equipment can be divided into two categories: equipment used for welding, and safety equipment. Welders actually come in a variety of configurations, with differences in power source, output, and basic design. Safety equipment is more straightforward, consisting of devices and tools aimed at protecting the person welding, and any property within the welding area.

Welding vs. Soldering

Welding is a process that requires temperatures within a range of 800-1650 degrees Celsius. For the most part, welding is used with materials that are made from iron, such as steel or stainless steel. Because welding is a fairly well-defined process, it is distinct from soldering and plasma cutting. Soldering uses solder, a material that melts at much lower temperatures to join things together, and plasma cutting which is a process of using extremely high temperatures to cut even thick steel plates.

Electric Welders

Electric welders rely on electricity to create the necessary heat for welding. One of the most important factors to examine before purchasing an electric or arc welder is what kind of power source it uses. There are two types of power sources available. The first, and most common, is AC power. AC current is used in most homes and allows the average welder to be plugged into a wall outlet. DC power is less common, but some welders use DC current, which generally requires them to be plugged into a separate generator in order to function properly.

It is also important to note that most welders are labelled with a voltage requirement. For the most part, this voltage requirement is flexible, and is an outlet that provides a bit less power than the label indicates while still powering the welder perfectly well. High powered welders that create higher temperatures may require more power than the average home outlet can provide.

Wire Welders

Wire welders are very basic welders that are well suited for novice welders and those who want a simple, yet effective method of welding a variety of materials. Wire welding is also known as MIG welding, which stands for Metal Inert Gas. A wire welder basically consists of a heat source that, when a trigger is pulled, can melt a wire that is fed through the machine.

Stick Welder

A stick, or shielded-metal arc welder (SMAW), is another fairly simple welder that can be used by intermediate welders, or those wanting to learn a more complex welding process. A stick welder is sometimes referred to as an arc welder, but there are many types of arc welders. Arc welders are distinguished by the use of a design, which allows the welder to create an electric current that is grounded to itself. The resulting arc of electricity is hot enough to melt metal and is fairly easy to control. For stick welders, one of the primary features that sets them apart is the fact that the stick, or the metal core used to create the arc, has a material that burns off and creates a protective gas.

Other Types of Arc Welders

There are many types of welders that make use of the principle of creating an electric arc that is hot enough to melt metal. Some arc welders are meant to be used for large scale industrial welding, such as repairing a naval ship or a nuclear reactor. Others are smaller, but more complex than a stick welder or a wire welder.

Type of Welder

Features

Uses

Flux-core arc welder

High weld metal deposition rate

Heavy sheets of metal; steel

Electroslag welder

Very large

Large metal plates

Gas metal arc welder (MIG)

Uses external gas to shield and protect the weld; relatively low temperatures

Thin sheet metal; steel; aluminium; cast iron

Gas tungsten arc welder

Inert gas creates a shield; tungsten electrode is nonconsumable

Thin sheets of metal; foil

Submerged arc welder

High speed; only operational in horizontal positions

Heavy metal plates; structural steel

There are other, highly specialised types of welders available, but they are harder to find and most commonly found in industry. Most arc welders are found in both AC and DC versions, but some are limited to only one kind of electric current.

Gas Welders

Gas welders use a flame in order to heat metal to the point where it is hot enough to weld. Generally, a gas welder uses oxygen, propane, acetylene, or oxyacetylene in order to create a hot enough flame. For the most part, gas welders are difficult to target, and tend to melt metal in a wider area than other welders. This means that a clean weld with minimal visibility is generally impossible. Oxyacetylene welders reduce this problem somewhat, as they can be better controlled and directed than other welders.

Safety Equipment

Welding safety equipment is extremely important. Not only is it designed to prevent accidents, but some, like welding helmets, are designed to protect the users eyes from the overwhelmingly bright light that is a result of welding.

Gas Tanks

For welders that make use of an external gas source, it is important to have a sturdy and reliable gas tank. These gas tanks are usually filled with an inert gas, or something similar to carbon dioxide, that keep contaminants and debris from entering the welding field and potentially causing damage.

Helmets

Aside from the welder itself, a helmet is the single most important piece of equipment that anyone attempting to weld needs. Traditionally, welding helmets used a visor featuring dark glass that could be flipped down when the weld begins. In the case of a traditional helmet, the glass must be flipped back up if the welder wishes to see their work. This can be difficult and frustrating, especially when the welder is in a confined space and cannot easily reach or manipulate the visor. To combat this problem, many modern helmets feature auto-darkening lenses.

Auto-Darkening Lenses

Auto-darkening lenses are designed to become more opaque the instant that the bright light caused by welding appears. This is usually a very reliable process, but it is important to ensure that the helmet has an adequate power source. This power source can be either batteries, or a solar cell on the helmet itself. It is important to make certain that batteries or solar cells are charged at all times.

Buying Welding Supplies on eBay

Welding supplies, including helmets, gas tanks, and various kinds of welders, are available on eBay. eBay visitors notice a search bar that is visible on any eBay page. Simply entering a search term into this search bar, such as, 'arc welder' produces a list of items for sale. Items may be both new and used, and are made by several different manufacturers. In some cases, various pieces of welding equipment may be sold together, and in others, they may be sold separately. Further use of the search bar can allow you to find everything you might need.

Be Thorough

When buying anything on eBay, it is always helpful to be thorough and read the product description. Even with new items, the product description can provide details about what condition the item might be in and if there are any relevant issues in the item's history. It is also helpful to read any seller feedback to ensure that each transaction on eBay is completely satisfactory.

Conclusion

Welding supplies make it possible for ordinary individuals to perform tasks that are usually suited to factory workers. The right welder can make it possible to repair a car, or even to create a unique piece of art. When buying welding supplies, it is important to understand what kinds of welders are available and what kind of safety equipment is needed. Welders are usually powered by electricity, although some run on gas as well. Electric welders use electricity to create heat, either with a heated wire or core, or by creating an electrical arc that is hot enough to melt metal.

Popular electric welders include wire welders and stick welders, which are fairly easy to use and are much more portable than many other welders. Safety equipment for welding is extremely important, and the most important piece of safety equipment is the helmet. The helmet is designed to protect the eyes and face from the light created by a welder. Some helmets feature a traditional design, while others have an automatic darkening feature. With the right equipment, anyone can learn to weld, or how to weld better. This can open up a world of possibilities.

 
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