Semi-automatic MIG guns: 10 money saving tips

Maintaining and inspecting MIG guns regularly are a couple of ways to get more life and more productivity out of every tool

08/29/2013


Maintaining and inspecting MIG guns regularly are a couple of ways to get more life and more productivity out of every tool. Courtesy: BernardYour welding operation, just like any other portion of your business, offers opportunities to conserve resources. Consider these 10 money-saving tips for MIG gun care and maintenance as a good first step. And don't be surprised when you find these tips improve your welding performance along the way!

1: Protect your assets

Keep your nozzles, gas diffusers and contact tips in the original package in which they were shipped until you are ready to use them. Doing so prevents scratches and/or dents where spatter can accumulate and cause the consumables to fail prematurely. It also prevents dirt, oil or other debris from adhering to the consumables and inadvertently entering the weld puddle.

Remember, proper storage and handling doesn't just lower your actual costs for consumables, it can also prevent weld defects that require costly rework.

2: Get a neck up

Choose the most appropriate neck for your MIG welding application in order to increase comfort and control, and save money. Rotatable necks, for example, adjust without tools so that you can quickly change neck angles once you've determined your desired position. These types of necks are especially useful if you find yourself welding on many different applications and angles throughout the day, and they minimize costs for inventory and changeover. For hard-to-reach areas, you may also want to consider a neck coupler, which allows you to connect two existing necks together to extend your reach ­- again without the cost of purchasing a new or specialized neck.

Flex necks are also a good option for saving money, and gaining greater comfort and control, particularly for applications with tighter joints. You can bend these necks to multiple angles to work around corners or get into small spaces without the expense of stocking different neck angles.

3: Inspect, clean and tighten regularly

Regularly perform a visual inspection of your nozzle - inside and outside - to look for spatter build-up. If there is accumulation, either clean the nozzle with a tool designed specifically for the job or replace the nozzle if necessary. During your inspection, also check that the nozzle, contact tip and retaining head are tightened properly, as these components can naturally loosen during welding.

Inspecting and tightening your consumables regularly (several times during a welding shift is ideal) help ensure good shielding gas coverage, reliable electrical conductivity and consistent weld quality.

4: Trim it properly

Always trim your MIG gun liner according to the manufacturer's recommendations, using the proper tools and cutting it to the correct length. Too long of a liner can cause kinking, while cutting it too short allows debris to build up between the liner and the gas diffuser. Either way, the wrong liner length can cause poor wire feeding and premature failure of both the liner and the contact tip. When possible, use a liner gauge to determine the proper length for your particular liner and be certain that there are no burrs or sharp edges after you cut it.

Also, keep the liner away from contaminants (e.g., don't let it drag on the floor) during installation and be sure your hands or gloves are clean. These precautions help prevent contaminants from entering the weld puddle and causing costly weld quality issues.

5: Line it up

Consider using a front-load MIG gun liner to ease and speed liner replacement. This type of liner cuts installation time nearly in half compared to using a rear-loading liner, saving you downtime and unnecessary labor costs for changeover. Some manufacturers offer a spring-loaded module that works in conjunction with a front-load liner to help minimize issues if you accidentally trim the liner to an incorrect length. These modules are housed in the power pin and put forward pressure on the liner after installing it from the front of the gun. The modules allow up to 1 inch of forgiveness if the liner is too short.

There are also jump liners available. These replace only the most commonly worn and clogged liner area - from the neck to the contact tip - to reduce the amount of time a gun is offline and minimize inventory for full-length liners. These jump liners enable quick and easy neck change-out so the MIG gun can be easily adapted to fit multiple applications.

6: Lighten up

When appropriate, switching from heavy-duty contact tips to standard-duty ones can help lower your overall consumable costs, while still providing you with reliable welding performance. If you have lower heat applications, brief arc-on times for short welds or tacks, or if you are using mixed shielding gases and small diameter wires, standard-duty contact tips may be a better option and they cost less.

You can also use these types of contact tips if you have applications with restricted access, as the smaller outside diameter can help increase gas coverage and reduce the nozzle's bore size, making it easier to reach tough joints.

7: Stay connected

Look for non-threaded contact tips that connect or seat securely with the gas diffuser. This type of design provides consistent electrical conductivity and helps dissipate heat more readily. That's important, since cooler running consumables last longer and provide more consistent performance.

A nozzle with a thread-on design helps keep the contact tip centered for better weld placement and it can minimize the opportunity for spatter. This type of design can also withstand demanding jobsite use and abuse.

8: Keep it smooth and clean

As an additional defense against spatter accumulation, purchase nozzles that have a smooth, non-porous surface. Be sure that the nozzles are free of any sharp edges or flat spots that would further allow spatter to adhere. As when handling the liner, be sure you have clean hands or gloves when you are handling or installing your nozzle. Dirt, oil, grease or other debris can easily adhere to nozzles and later enter the weld puddle, causing weld defects. These contaminants can also cause premature failure of the component.

9: Size it right

Use the shortest length MIG gun cable possible for your welding application, as it helps prevent kinking and premature wear of both the cable and the MIG gun liner. It also helps prevent wire-feeding problems that could lead to an erratic arc, poor weld quality and unnecessary downtime for rework or consumable replacement. Steel monocoil cables are also an excellent means to prevent kinking.

Also, remember to choose the correct diameter liner and contact tip for your welding wire, as this prevents similar problems and helps extend the life of these consumables.

10: Think long-term

Whenever possible, purchase MIG guns and consumables that are backed by a reliable manufacturer's warranty, and use all guns and consumables as intended so as not to void the terms and conditions.

Also, consider the up-front cost versus the long-term savings of purchasing sturdier and more expensive consumables. They will likely last longer, reducing downtime associated with changeover and the cost of the consumables themselves.

Keep these tips in mind and you can get back to welding faster while conserving your resources.



Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
Choosing an automation controller, Lean manufacturing
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me