Automotive Welding Tips & Techniques
Welding can be a dangerous process, yet an essential for any auto body shop. Understanding how to weld safely and effectively will benefit your shop immensely. In this article, we'll discuss the most popular types of automotive welding and provide some welding tips to enhance your safety and quality.
What is Automotive Welding?
Welding is a form of bodywork that can be used to repair vehicle damages such as cracks and rust. This makes it one of the most important services a body shop can offer.
Welding is a process that uses high heat (and sometimes pressure) to fuse metals together. This makes it a great choice for fixing things like cracked vehicle panels, damaged fenders, or rusted metal.
Different Types of Welding
The main types of automotive welding are MIG, TIG, and Arc welding. Understanding the differences between these welding methods is crucial and will help you determine which type of welding is necessary to complete your repair.
MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding is the most common welding method out there today. This welding method requires a gas shield and filler material, the latter of which is fed through a wire that runs through the welder. This makes it easy to weld, since the tool can be held with one hand.
MIG welding, which is also known as “Gas Metal Arc Welding,” is a form of arc welding. This welding technique relies on electricity to fuse materials together to create a weld. In more technical terms, arc welding uses a power supply to create an electric arc between the base metal and an electrode. The higher the electric voltage, the more powerful the weld.
MIG welders are faster than other types of welders, which makes them a great choice for quick repairs and increased productivity. Additionally, the MIG welding technique is applicable for a wide range of metals, making this type of welding a popular choice among body shops everywhere.
Stick welding, also called Shielded Metal Arc Welding, is an older type of welding that is not as common today as MIG welding. Like MIG welding, stick welding is a form of arc welding; however, this welding method is more suitable for heavier metals such as iron and steel. It is not suitable for lighter metals such as aluminum.
Although stick welding is one of the earliest forms of welding, many repairers opt for other welding methods due to poor weld quality. Stick welding is more likely to result in errors such as weld spatter, cracking, and low-quality fusion. However, practicing this welding technique will help you improve your stick welding skills.
TIG welding, or “Tungsten Inert Gas” welding, is ideal for more refined and advanced welding projects. This type of welding has been around since World War II and uses a tungsten electrode to create the weld. Repairers must use two hands during this welding process, as one operates the filler and the other operates the welding nozzle.
TIG welding works best for aluminum and thin sheets of stainless steel, which makes this skill a valuable one to have as cars are becoming lighter and lighter.
Automotive Welding Tips
Now that you have a broader understanding of popular automotive welding techniques, we'll touch on some tips that can help you improve your quality of work.
- Use the proper tools for the job
Using the correct tools for the task at hand doesn't just improve quality, but it improves safety, too. Some welding essentials include:
Welder - This is obviously the most important piece of equipment you need. Make sure you choose a welder that will give you the best results for the specific job at hand.
Helmet - Another crucial tool is your welding helmet. Make sure you purchase a high-quality helmet that will protect your face and vision from the sparks and bright light that are a byproduct of the welding process. Look for features such as auto-darkening filters, and make sure the helmet is properly sized. This means the helmet should cover your face and neck entirely.
Gloves - Leather welding gloves are also essential for protection. Look for gloves that are specifically designed for welding protection to ensure you're as safe as possible.
Welding Curtains - Welding curtains and screens are designed to protect your workspace from sparks, heat, fumes, and UV light. Screens and curtains are typically made of heavy-duty plastic, which should be government certified for safety. Make sure to purchase welding curtains that are large enough to adequately protect your space.
Welding Clamps - Welding clamps securely hold whatever you're welding in place. Whether it's a panel or something else, the last thing you want is whatever part you're working on to fall over when you're welding. Investing in quality welding clamps will improve quality and safety when welding.
- Keep maintenance in mind
Properly maintaining your welding tools and equipment will secure your safety and ensure your equipment delivers quality results for as long as possible. Perform regular safety checks on your welder to evaluate emissions, leakage, grounding, voltage, and wiring. In general, more advanced welders like TIG and MIG welders will require more maintenance than stick welders; however, regular safety checks should never be skipped, no matter what!
In addition to safety checks, it's important to keep your equipment as clean as possible. It is common for the welder's gun nozzle to become filled with spatter, which can result in poor weld quality. Keep this area clean by using a nozzle dip to clear any spatter. Your welding helmet will also require regular cleanings in order to preserve its lifespan and ensure you can see what you're welding. If your welding helmet lens is irreparable, swap it out with a replacement lens -- consult with your manufacturer for specifics.
Welding is a dangerous process that can result in injury or death if not handled properly. When you are first learning to weld, it's important to take your time in all aspects of the welding process. Begin by examining your equipment, making sure it is safe and ready to go.
Make sure you always have a helmet and gloves on before you begin welding, and always weld in an area that's protected with curtains or screens. Practice on pieces that may not need anything done just to feel more comfortable with the process.
It's easy to feel pressured to complete repairs as quickly as possible, but rushing through the process can result in poor quality welds and physical harm. Your safety should always be your number one priority.
From helmets to screens to welders, Auto Body Toolmart has it all. Browse our welding supplies and equipment to discover products from top-of-the-line brands that give you unbeatable results.