3.  What do the terms MIG and TIG stand for?

MIG [Metal Inert Gas] and TIG [Tungsten Inert Gas] refer to two electric welding processes in common use today. They are very  different and each has characteristics making them suitable for particular welding applications. In brief, TIG welding uses a non-consumable electrode that provides that arc and a separate filler material in the form of a rod. In addition, the TOG torch delivers a shielding gas to the weld site to minimize weld oxidation and/or alter the characteristics of the weld metal. In technique it is much like handling an oxy-acetylene torch though it is an electric process rather than a flammable gas. It produces high quality welds and is especially suitable for aluminum and stainless steal metals.

MIG welding uses a device to automatically feed welding filler material into the weld site. The material is in the form of wire and the wire itself is the electrode. As it is with the TIG torch, the MIG torch/gun delivers shielding gas to the weld site although welding wire is available that produces its own shielding gas in much the same way flux coated stick electrodes do.

The American Welding Society refers to these two processes as GTAW [Gas Tungsten Arc Welding] in reference to TIG and GMAW [Gas Metal Arc Welding ] in reference to MIG.

2.  What is Duty Cycle?

Duty Cycle is the amount of time in a ten minute period that a welding machine may be operated continuously without possible over-heating or damaging components. Duty Cycle is expressed as a percentage [%].

For example, a machine with a 60% duty cycle at 200 amps may be continuously operated for six minutes at that amperage [60 percent of 10 minutes]. The remaining four minutes of the cycle should be used to cool the machine down. Duty Cycle percentages will vary depending on the output selected. It is possible to have several Duty Cycles listed. In general, the higher the output equals the lower or time allowed for continuous use.

You should also note that many welders manufactured today are equipped with devices that will automatically shut the machine down if operating temperatures are exceeded. Letting the  machine cool down will normally reset the system.

1.  My welding machine keeps shutting off after I've been welding for 5-10 minutes?

You are probably experiencing the effects of Duty Cycle. Many machines are designed to  shut down automatically after a period of continuous operation. This feature is there to protect the machine from over-heating.

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4.  What shielding gas should I use?

The primary purpose of shielding gas is to displace the air in the weld zone and thus prevent contamination of the weld by oxygen, nitrogen, or water vapor. No single shielding gas can be used with every welding process or every metal.

Argon [A], helium [He], and carbon dioxide [CO2] are the principle shielding gases used. Oxygen [O2] is used as an additive to stabilize the welding arc. Most commonly a mixture of Argon and carbon dioxide are used during the MIG process, while straight Argon is used during the TIG process. Listed below are some of the common gas percentages and mixture applications. 

5.  What should I set my regulator pressures and tip size to for oxy-acetylene welding?

Tip sizes and regulator pressures are dependent on the thickness of the material to be welded and the type of torch being used. See the charts below for suggested regulator pressures for two of the most common torches. If your torch isn't list below call or email for your torch specifics.

6. What do the numbers on the welding rod mean?

Arc welding electrodes are coded by the American Welding Society [AWS]. Each AWS number gives complete information about the electrode. Classifications of mild and low alloy steel electrodes are based on the "E" prefix and a four or five digit number.

     - The first two digits [or three, in a five digit code] indicate the minimum required tensile strength on thousands of pounds per square inch [psi].

     - The next to last digit indicates the welding position in which the welding electrode is capable of making satisfactory welds. [1 = All Position, 2 =

       Flat Position and Horizontal Fillets.]

     - The last digit indicates the type of current to be used and the type of covering on the electrode [see figure 1].

Figure 1.


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7. Cable size vs. Cable Length.

9. How many balloons can I fill with my Helium tank?

It depends on a couple of factors, the size of the balloons and the tank size. Temperature and tank pressure are also factors. The chart below will give an approximate number of balloons based on these factors. The chart assumes that the tank is full and that you are not over- inflating the balloons.

NOTE: You will not get 125 balloons if the is half full and the 9" balloons you've bought are inflated to twice that size.

8. What is the difference between Brazing and Welding?

Brazing is a process wherein metal is joined together by heating the base metal to approximately 800 degrees Fahrenheit and then using a non-ferrous filler metal having a melting point below that of the base metal. The filler metal melts and adheres to the base metal. The base metal does not melt and there is no fusion as in the welding processes.

Most commercial metals can be brazed. Although brazed joints have a relatively high tensile strength they do not possess the full strength properties of conventional welding techniques. One very useful characteristic of brazing is its ability to join dissimilar metals.