Ask anyone in the industry what the hottest equipment is in the world of automotive service equipment and they’ll name items such as plasma cutters, mig welders, and other welding equipment. And, when you try them out and discover the quality of the cuts and welds they make, it’s no surprise. This equipment is a cost-effective and easy-to-use option when compared to the work done by earlier technology.
Mig Welders And Other Automotive Service Equipment
This type of equipment comes in a number of convenient types to repair or make almost anything quickly and easily. With these machines, you’ll look like a seasoned professional. All you need to do is match the machine to the work you’re doing.
Arc Style Machines
The earliest advancement on the traditional torch, arc welders are an entry level of automotive service equipment that are also some of the easiest to use. More commonly known as stick welding, this unit joins thick metals together quickly using an electrode and electric arcs.
The next step up from an arc welder, mig welders, use a wire feed and produce a lower heat. This prevents metal distortion and allows you to do a higher quality job on thinner metals such as those involved in auto body work.
Mig welders feed a constant stream of wire with a pull of the trigger, but you’ll still need to choose your supplies carefully. Wire, for example, comes in easy-to-use flux core wire for a quick job on thicker materials, or a gas/solid wire combination for all other work.
The type of gas you use also makes a significant difference on the weld quality. Argon and CO2 are best for stainless steel and aluminum. To prevent the wire feed from sticking on the weld line, be sure to use a Teflon liner. Finally, you’ll need to choose the appropriate wire diameter and tip size.
Once you’ve chosen the appropriate automotive service equipment, you’ll still want to practice on scraps before working on the final piece for the best results. This is particularly true for aluminum and other delicate materials. Also, don’t be afraid to watch the gauges and flow meters on the supply lines as well as on the machine itself. In the end, you’ll find mig welders quick and affordable while still doing a quality job.
Tig Or Tungsten Inert Gas
Unlike the first two machines mentioned, this style requires a combination of heat and tungsten electrodes to work. One of the biggest advantages to this style of welder is the fact that it heats and joins the two metal pieces together without the need for filler materials. The only exception is argon or other gasses needed to create the shielding.
You’ll notice that mig welders join metals together much faster than tig welders. However, tig welders work with higher precision and accuracy, which is great for customized work. Tig machines require more skills and practice to use properly. The possibility of preventing cracked seals or damaging the weld is also significantly decreased.
There’s no denying the precision of plasma cutters. To get clean, accurate cuts, these units use an electric arc and gas/air at a high pressure, along with a high-speed wire and low heat setting. You’ll also notice that newer lines of plasma cutters have an inverter in place of the transformer. This keeps the temperature of the machine lower and makes it possible to have smaller, lighter machines without jeopardizing safety or quality.
With all of the different styles of plasma cutters available, you’ll want to choose carefully. Duty cycle should be one of the main determining factors in your decision. This determines how long you can use this automotive service equipment before having to allow it to cool. Generally, you’ll discover that bigger machines can handle thicker metals and run longer to give it a bigger duty cycle.
The other important feature you’ll want to make note of is the rating that is assigned to plasma cutters by the manufacturer. This will tell you how long each unit can cut through mild steel before needing to be cooled down. The rating varies, however. If you’re working on tempered steel, the length of time you have to make the cut will be far lower. Aluminum, on the other hand, is far easier to cut, and therefore gives you more operating time to work with.
Features Found On Mig, Tig, Arc & Plasma Cutters
Arc welders are packed full of helpful features to improve the precision of this automotive service equipment and make them easier to use. Unlimited amperage control means you have the ability to create professional welds. Their lightweight and super-sturdy design makes this type of welder highly portable and durable enough to withstand regular wear. You’ll also find that some models of arc welders have thermostatic heat protection and a roll bar design to give the unit increased protection against damage.
Mig Welding Equipment
Ranging in size from a small, portable 115v, 20 amp machine to full sized shop automotive service equipment, mig welders are one of the few that combine a relatively low price tag with high quality performance. You can also gain full control over the quality of the weld with a full range of settings. Finally, these machines come with added benefits such as colder running temperatures and some of the best warranty options.
Even the most basic tig welding machines come loaded full of features. Push button control panels make them easier to use while higher end models let you easily adjust the machines repeatable weld cycles, start, and weld crater. To customize the shape and size of the bead, look for models with true square wave AC output and pulse mode. Lastly, look for models with added safety features such as warning code circuitry and voltage protection.
Like the welders mentioned previously, plasma cutters come with a full range of features. Single-dial controls for quick adjustments, pressure gauges, and built in air pressure regulators put you in full control of this automotive service equipment and result it cleaner cuts.
Additional features such as parts-in-place indicators, line voltage compensation, and thermostatic protection add to the safety of plasma cutters. Finally, if you’ll be doing repetitive work with complicated cuts, CNC robotic interfaces on your automotive service equipment will ensure you get consistent, accurate results every time.
Automotive service equipment like mig welders and plasma cutters come in a variety of different types with many different features to get you the best cut or weld possible. In order to achieve the cleanest, most precise repairs, you simply need to match the right automotive service equipment to the job.