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How to Choose a Suitable MIG Torch

 Choosing the Welding Correct Torch - Alphaweld


What is MIG Welding?

MIG is an acronym for Metal Inert Gas of which is an arc welding process that is applied with a hand-held or robotic welding torch. In this process a continuous wire electrode is fed through the torch and into the weld pool to join two base materials. The MIG welding process is also known as GMAW which is an acronym for Gas Metal Arc Welding or MAG (Metal Active Gas) welding.

The 'Metal' in Gas Metal Arc Welding refers to the wire that is used to start the arc. It is shielded by inert gas and the wire also acts as the filler rod. In this welding process an inert shielding gas is also sent through the welding gun the same time as the wire to protect the weld pool from contamination hence the term Metal Inert Gas.

Increasingly used in 'onsite' and in the DIY market is gasless MIG welding which is technically an incorrect term for it as no MIG welding process can be 'gasless', the correct term is 'self-shielded' mig wire in that it is a flux cored wire and creates its own gas whilst being used. It is more forgiving in windy conditions which is not generally an issue inside a workshop. However it does create a lot more welding fumes than a solid MIG wire.

MIG welding is fairly easy to learn and use as it is a semi-automatic welding process and for this reason it is one of the most common high-productivity low cost welding process used today by steel fabricators. The MIG welding process also enables the home DIY welder, farmer, motorsports enthusiast to weld up most types of fabrication and maintenance or make repairs on material from 0.6mm up to aprox 12mm. 

The Torch

The versatility of MIG welding makes it a preferred option for all welding positions on metals including mild and stainless steels in a range of thicknesses. So to maximise the outcome that this process offers it is necessary to select the right MIG gun for the job as the torch specifications can significantly impact productivity, downtime, weld quality and operating costs as well as operator fatigue. Some key factors to consider when making the selection are duty cycle, weight, operator comfort, extraction, neck configurations and cable length. The torch handpiece consists of the handle which has a trigger on it, a torch liner, a torch neck (sometimes called a gooseneck), tip holder, contact tip and a gas nozzle.

Duty Cycle

The duty cycle of the gun is the amount of welding time within a 10 minute time frame. Before deciding which torch to purchase it is important to know the duty cycle ratios for the torch. You can typically find this information in the product literature or on the manufacturer’s website.

Torch manufacturers rate their guns at 100% or 60% duty cycle and or in some cases 35%. The standard of 60% has long been considered to be an accepted standard whether it is MIG, TIG or MMA. For example one manufacturer may produce a 300A gun that is capable of welding at 100% duty cycle and another manufacture can produce the same amperage torch that can weld only with 60% duty cycle so for this reason the first MIG gun would be able to weld at full amperage for a 10 minutes whereas the second torch would only be able to weld for 6 minutes. Sumig torches come in multiple amperages to suit many different applications and environments.

The most widely accepted standard for testing and determining duty cycle ratings is the European Standard EN60974-1, on which the Australian standard AS60974-1 is based. This standard is very demanding and is considered to be the best indication of how a machine will perform in ‘real life’ conditions. MIG guns receive a rating that reflects the temperatures above which the handle or cable becomes uncomfortably warm. These ratings however do not identify the point at which the MIG gun risks damage or failure and providing that they are accurate and not over rated, are a useful indicator of how a torch will perform.

Weight & Comfort of a Sumig Torch

These two factors are a very important factor that is often overlooked. They mostly closely relate to each other in that if a torch is heavy to use then comfort will decrease accordingly. A common misconception is that you need a MIG gun rated to the highest amperage you expect to weld on the job. With a higher amperage torch the weight increases and with it a higher chance of fatigue.

In actuality, much of the time in a job may involve welding such as tacking or pre & post weld activities or lighter thickness materials where your torch is not running at full amperage, eg. you rarely weld continuously enough to reach the maximum duty cycle for a torch. Most torches are able to perform at much higher amperages for very short periods of time so you can strike the balance between a lighter torch and the job requirements to maximise comfort and minimise fatigue. Sumig torches come with a rotating joint handle allowing better torch movement and reducing stress on welder’s joints so that at the end of the day there is a significant reduction in operator fatigue.

The Sumig Torch Component and Consumable Benefits

When it comes to MIG welding torches and spare parts, quality and consistency is critical. “Quality doesn’t cost, it pays” comes to mind with welding torches and investing in a high quality torch means less downtime for maintenance, consumable changeover and reliable welds which equate to significant cost savings.

Higher quality consumables by definition come at a higher cost but often what is overlooked is the performance which invariably outperforms cheaper generic ones. Sumig consumables are outstanding performers for longevity which many of our customers proved significant savings in converting to Sumig.

For example a steel fabricator who converted to using Sumig torches went from peak usage of up to 200 standard 'Non-Sumig' tips per month to 20-30 Sumig tips per month.

Many manufacturers have a standard neck with their torches but some better known brands have different neck options to suit varied applications. Sumig torches are well known in the industry for having more than 250 neck styles, angles and lengths available as well as more than 100 nozzles styles in threaded and slip-on options, conical and tapered for difficult to access joints.

Sumig Titan-S torches have been designed with an extra strength neck design and been proven time and time again by our customers.

Those options are designed to meet different customer’s needs such as: overhead welding, out of position welding, difficult access joint, higher temperature applications, weight reduction and lighter jobs. Necks are insulated with PTFE which avoids short circuits and a highly heat resistant design provides great durability. Sumig nozzle material, design and manufacturing expertise offers the best life and performance results that we’ve seen in any MIG torch 

Machined from tube stock to provide a consistent ID concentricity and dimensions, Sumig tips outperform most contact tips and allows wire to feed consistently and provides excellent spatter buildup reduction. Material options and dimensions also offer a wide selection of solutions to meet your technical demands with standard copper contact tips having a great cost benefit and providing a high electrical contact with low resistance and good arc starts.

The Sumig S+HD contact tip is an exclusive option developed by Sumig to give superior current transfer and is a highly durable tip that is ideal for hardfacing applications. The CuCrZr Copper Chrome Zirconium construction of the tips improves durability and capability by sustaining hardness at higher temperatures for high heat applications. This material option can last more than three or four times more than standard copper material. Various tip designs and dimensions are available such as tapered or straight options and are perfect for difficult access joints. Available as the standard designs in short and long length. 

Silver plated contacts and a positive contact on the Sumig trigger provides durability, ease of use and easy maintenance. They are available in three length options: short (standard), medium and heavy duty (for higher amperages) to meet the operator's preference.

Designed with eccentric holes to create a gas vortex, Sumig gas diffusers are proving to be the best at providing shielding coverage and effective elimination of air contamination. Square Thread and Slip-On options are available; the slip on style featuring special pressure rings that allow the nozzle to be firmly held and square thread providing the best results for high heat applications.

The ergonomic handle provides greater comfort, improved grip and is robust enough to handle the 'drops' yet remaining light weight without any performance loss. The unique rotating ball joint has been proven by our customers to noticably reduce operator fatigue.

Made in the USA, the power cable is the most durable and flexible cable in the market. Made for strength and flexibility, the outer sheathing material is abrasion and cut resistant. Internally the cable is made from fine gauge copper wire strands that provide excellent electrical conductivity and flexibility.

The Sumig Titan-S range of MIG torches can connect to all wire feeder models and when a change of wire feeder model is required all power pins are interchangeable. 

Sumig torches are trusted by users to deliver on ease of use, durability, performance and quality. Designed to provide precision and comfort for a smooth operation, the TITAN-S line of MIG torches are built from high-quality components to guarantee outstanding durability and performance. Utilising North American torch technology, the TITAN-S line of products represents a ground-breaking concept that can resist heavy-duty cycles. Most importantly, the TITAN-S line offers superior technology at the best possible price.

Experience the innovative technology of the TITAN-S line of welding guns for yourself. Contact Alphaweld to book a demonstration or find out more by viewing our Sumig Titan-S MIG torch range online.