10 Best Arc Welders | March 2017

We spent 29 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Metalworkers at any level, from construction workers, to automobile body workers, to sculptors can stick to this list of arc welders to find the perfect one for their needs. Offering more versatility than gas-shielded arc welding processes, they can be used almost anywhere and are capable of working with most of the commonly used metals and alloys. Skip to the best arc welder on Amazon.
10 Best Arc Welders | March 2017


Overall Rank: 7
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
★★★★★
Overall Rank: 9
Best Inexpensive
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10
Although the Forney 301 95FI-A is a very basic welding solution that may not offer the same degree of available customization as some of its competition, it does weld up to 3/16” base materials and performs considerably well in dirty, rusty, or windy outdoor environments.
9
The GoPlus Arc 250 Ap Welder is a dual welding and soldering machine that can output as little as 90 amps, giving you the ability to work with most welding stick electrodes for manual metal arc welding jobs in alternating current. A welding mask is also included.
8
With a flip of its convenient switch, the multipurpose Lotos Pilot LTPDC2000D works as a 3-in-1 function plasma cutter, arc, and TIG welder, allowing you the versatility for many industrial applications from a single device, including the ability to cut through aluminum.
7
Ideal for those precision welding jobs, the Hobart 500502 Stickmate has been designed with an accu-set amperage indicator for accurate control over both the unit's amperage and heat outputs. Its infinite current control also allows for 1-amp increment adjustments.
  • forced-draft cooling fan
  • welder is made in the usa
  • quality control on shipping isn't great
Brand Hobart
Model 500502
Weight 90 pounds
6
Good for hobbyists and welding enthusiasts alike, the versatile Longevity Stickweld 140 can operate on either 110 or 220 volts. This welder is also lift TIG operation ready, making it easy to attach a TIG torch to the unit for working with a variety of different metals.
  • rotary knob for easy amp adjustments
  • a voltage adapter is also included
  • customer service is not very helpful
Brand Longevity
Model 721405557523
Weight 20.8 pounds
5
The SunGoldPower MMA ARC ZX7 features a built-in advanced control module and an easy-to-read LCD display readout. It also offers automatic compensation functionality for potential voltage fluctuations, which ensures that your welding jobs don't result in any weak spots.
  • very quiet operation
  • over-voltage and overload protection
  • user manual is a bit confusing
Brand SUNGOLDPOWER
Model pending
Weight 16.2 pounds
4
Capable of being plugged into a standard wall outlet, the Blue Demon BLUEARC-90STI is a small and lightweight welding option that is designed to put less strain on your power source, making it a good option for industrial job sites and for welding both steel and cast iron.
  • convenient solution for making repairs
  • built-in inverter technology
  • not ideal for welding aluminum
Brand Blue Demon
Model BLUEARC-90STI
Weight 12.2 pounds
3
The Klutch ST200i boasts an efficient, compact transformer supported by a specially-engineered inverter technology power source. This ensures both superior and consistent DC welding output power, even when there are unanticipated fluctuations with the input power.
  • hot start feature for quick use
  • uses less power than traditional welders
  • convenient digital amperage readouts
Brand Klutch
Model KLUTCH ST200I
Weight pending
2
The Century Inverter Arc 120 stick welder offers both a compact and portable design, featuring a power output range of 10 to 90 amps. It supports mild steel stick electrode diameters from 1/16" to 5/64" with a built-in 20% duty cycle at 70 amps to help prevent overheating.
  • allows for an exact temperature setting
  • comes with a shoulder strap & work cable
  • easily welds 18 to 14-gauge sheet metal
Brand Century
Model K2789-1
Weight 16.1 pounds
1
With both AC and DC-capable welding power, the Lincoln Electric K1297 is extremely useful as a stick welding power source for maintenance, repair, fabrication, and construction applications, making it an ideal choice for farm, shop, or home use.
  • 3-year parts and labor warranty
  • classic, stylish, and sleek looking
  • input power cable and plug included
Brand Lincoln Electric
Model K1297
Weight 115 pounds

Evolution Of Arc Welding

The first successful arc weld was performed in 1881 when Nikolai Benardos, a Russian inventor, displayed an arc welding of metals at the International Exposition of Electricity in Paris. He used a carbon electrode and, working with Polish inventor Stanislaw Olszewski, patented the carbon arc welding method.

Also in 1881, Auguste de Méritens, a French electrical engineer, discovered and patented another method for carbon arc welding. In the late 19th century, numerous advancements were made in arc welding. Metal electrodes were created in 1888 and, in 1900, coated metal electrodes were created, producing a more stable arc. Other innovations in arc welding of the time include the use of a three-phase electric arc and an alternating current power source.

From the 1920s to the 1960s, there was rapid development in arc welding methods. Automatic welding, which utilized a continuously fed electrode first started in the mid 1920s. Around that same time, scientists also began looking for ways to shield molten metal in welds from nitrides and oxides in the atmosphere, which can cause structural defects, namely brittleness and porosity. This led to the development of gas shielded arc welding. In 1930, the submerged arc welding method was created and in 1941, tungsten arc welding was finally perfected after decades spent trying to develop the technique.

Different Forms Of Arc Welding

Arc welding is the most common form of welding, and is also one of the most varied. It makes use of the concentrated heat created by an electrical arc to fuse metals. There are six different methods for arc welding that are popular today.

Shielded metal arc welding, or SMAW, is the oldest, and most basic form of arc welding. It is also the most versatile. As the electrode, sometimes called a welding stick, is touched to and removed from the working material, its tip is melted and becomes the material that forms the weld. Nitrides and oxides in the air can become integrated in SMAW welds and must be removed after each pass of the stick otherwise the integrity of the weld can be affected.

Gas metal arc welding, also known as GMAW and MIG welding, makes use of gasses like helium or argon to shield the molten metal from the oxides and nitrides in the air. GMAW welding creates relatively low temperatures and it is best for thin sheet metal welds.

Gas tungsten arc welding, also known as GTAW and TIG welding, uses a tungsten electrode and also makes use of helium or argon to shield the weld from oxides and nitrides. In TIG welding, the electrode is not consumed as it is in other arc welding methods. This allows it to be used to create autogenous welds. It requires more expertise from the welder, but can also make cleaner welds which need less finishing work.

Flux-colored arc welding, or FCAW welding, makes use of electrodes that are filled with flux. This works to protect the molten metal from the nitrides and oxidizes in the same manner as gasses are used in other arc welding methods. It creates a higher weld-metal deposition rate, making it ideal for welding thick metals.

Plasma arc welding, or PAW welding, utilizes ionized electrodes and gasses to generate hot jets of plasma, which are aimed at the weld. These super hot plasma jets are extremely concentrated allowing for faster and deeper welds.

Submerged arc welding, or SAW welding, also uses a granular form of flux. As the weld is performed, the flux gets fed into it, forming a protecting layer that prevents spatter and sparks. Like PAW welding, it can also be used when deeper welds are required, but it is limited to horizontal welds.

Safety Tips For Arc Welding

Welding should always be performed in well ventilated areas. To keep an area safe for breathing, welding fumes should be kept below 5mg per cubic meter of fresh air. This low threshold, can be reached very quickly if sufficient ventilation is not provided. Always perform welds in open spaces. If a welding must be done in a confined area, a fume mask and an air-fed helmet should be worn.

Welding also creates dangerous levels of ultraviolet light and infrared rays. If one is not properly protected they can cause a sun-burn like effect on the skin and photokeratitis or cornea burns to the eyes. To prevent this, always wear a welding helmet, welding gloves, and clothes that provide a large amount of skin coverage.

Arc welding creates a large amount of sparks and spatter. The more inexperienced a welder is, the more sparks that will be created. While not dangerous in the long term, it can be extremely annoying when trying to concentrate on the job at hand. Thick clothing and a welding cap that covers the neck can help reduce the annoyance from sparks and spatter. Because of the large amount of sparks arc welding produces, the immediate area should also be cleared of any flammable liquids or materials. A fire extinguished that contains CO2 or dry powder should also be kept readily accessible.

Even after the weld is completed, one should not look at it closely with unprotected eyes until it has fully cooled. During the cooling period, welds contract and can throw off pieces of slag, which can burn the eye.



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Last updated: 03/25/2017 | Authorship Information

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