Being a hobbyist, a novice or a professional in auto body work, it is essential to be familiar with the technical task of auto body repairing as well as the needs of an automobile.
Though many people are self-starters in this field, it is a fact, that auto body work is quite a delicate job. And such a delicacy demands specialized skills that come with experience.
Auto body work includes maintenance and repairing both. Despite the availability of a number of welding procedures for automotive, a single one can’t be considered suitable for all. The market is crammed with a number of welding options but selecting the best one is both a challenge and a blessing simultaneously.
Each of the auto body welders has its own unique features along with some pros and cons. Welding is a technical task that requires extreme safety precautions while performing it.
In this article, we are going to enlighten you with the basic understanding of the best welders for auto body work with their safety needs as well.
1. MIG Welder
MIG welders have been popular in the welding industry for their usefulness for quite a long time now. When it comes to auto body work, MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding is really effective. It is a popular choice for chassis and bodywork as it has the potential to weld both aluminum and steel.
A MIG welder is relatively easy to use, economic and causes less distortion as compared to any other welding machine. Even after use, cleaning of a MIG welder is not a hassle at all. Its ability to weld thin or thick metals equally well making it one of the preferred choice of auto mechanics.
Most of the MIG welders come with a self-contained power unit carrying electrodes on a spool that is automatically fed at a pre-selected speed. This constant feeding is the best feature of a MIG welder as it allows burning and a correct fusion of the base and parent metal together. MIG welder also requires an inert gas and a welding gun to carry out smooth welding.
A MIG welder can easily be powered by a 120V source. Hence it can be easily used in an auto repair shop. The MIG welders available by different manufacturers in the market come along with certain accessories including a regulator, gas hose, welding wire, and shielded gas.
Like any other welding process, certain precautions while handling a MIG welder are important to be taken.
MIG welder presents hazards like electrical, arc radiation and welding fumes.
In order to stay protected, it is important to:
- Use a MIG welder only by competent, trained and a professional auto-mechanic.
- Test the equipment to ensure proper working
- Avoid removing panels or leads from the power source with the power still on.
- Beware of a blown fuse.
- Keep the welding gun at a safe place, if welding is interrupted in between.
- Use a correct regulator for inert gas, which otherwise will be toxic to health
- Wear protective clothing and eye wears to prevent burns and radiations.
- Always u
sea Welding helmet
- Avoid using a MIG welder in a confined space. Rather use in an area with excellent ventilation that can easily remove shielding gases.
2. TIG Welder
TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding is another a common welding procedure used for auto body works. It is an arc welding process that involves using a non-consumable Tungsten electrode for welding. It also uses a shielding gas, usually Argon, and a filler metal. The gas helps prevention from atmospheric contamination.
The TIG welders use long welding rods that are slowly fed into the weld puddle. These are better in performance for welding thin metals. It easily welds steel and aluminum with just a single gas, argon.
A TIG welder will leave you with the best quality weld. It does not produce any spatter or flux, therefore, it is ideally used when the cosmetic appearance of an automobile is required.
A TIG welder must be purchased along with the following accessories:
- Power supply (AC or DC)
- Welding cables
- TIG Torch
- Water supply with water inlets and outlets
- Tungsten electrodes
- An inert gas cylinder and gas supply
- Regulator and gas hoses
Like MIG welding, TIG welder also requires being handled carefully. It also features hazards including electrical shocks, radiations, and welding fumes.
- Carefully handle the electrical units.
- Check for gas leaks
- Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to ensure safety during welding. It involves wearing eyeglasses and protective clothing.
- It is advisable to use long gloves (leather gauntlets) that provide protection till elbow.
- Use welding helmet with an appropriate filter lens
Metal Arc welders or Stick welders are the oldest in the welding industry. Though MIG welders are more in use these days, the benefits of Arc welding can’t make it outdated. It is used for welding alloys or joints for indoor and outdoor welding.
It is the most economical welder available for welding options. Another best feature of this welder is its quiet working. It doesn’t make any noise at all.
Arc welder uses a consumable, flux coated electrode that contains stainless steel, mild steel, cast iron, and various other alloys. This material is selected on the basis of the nature of the base material that needs to be welded.
An arc welder only requires:
- Power supply (AC/DC)
- Electrode holder
- Work Clamp
This welder is effective for metals no thinner than 18 gauge. It gives best results when used for metals of 1/16 inch or greater thickness. This is the best welder for rusty metals.
- Following safety measures are not the only but essential to be taken while handling a stick welder:
- The frame of the welder should be grounded properly.
- Power disconnect switch must be approachable, in case of any problem.
- Use an Arc welder in a sufficient ventilated area.
- Use a workspace with floors and curtain that are fire-resistant. It is advisable to use concrete flooring.
- Fire extinguishing equipment must be readily available.
- Always use PPEs including safety clothing, gloves, helmet and leather shoes for personal protection.
Depending on the automotive needs and situation, the welders for auto body work can be chosen. The characteristic features addressed in this article can be a useful guide for auto mechanics. It is advisable to keep a note of the accessories provided with the equipment. Also take all the safety measures even before, during and after the welding process.
Donald Ernest has a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has worked on welding projects for 20+ years and enjoys writing informative blog posts on welding equipment and services.