The Welding wire feed speed in MIG welding can mean the difference between a clean, neat weld and a messy, weak bead. MIG welding machines have an automatic wire feeder to help make the welding process easier. Most welders agree that Metal Inert Gas welding is easy to learn and use. However, the key to a great weld is setting the weld feed rate correctly before you start.
Welding wire speed is just one parameter affecting the quality of the weld. To ensure you create a perfect bead, it’s crucial to get the right voltage, amperage, and gas. However, the filler wire feed rate in MIG welding is one of the most important facts to consider.
Unfortunately, unless you’re a professional welder, it may be hard to tell whether your MIG welding equipment is properly set up for optimum performance. For example, you may wonder if you’re using the right voltage or have enough wire. And many DIY welders ask themselves what the optimal wire speed for best results is.
If you find yourself asking these questions, this article is for you.
It will help you understand the basics of getting the right wire feed speed settings when using a MIG welder. You will also find out what happens to a weld when the wire speed is too slow and the results of feeding the wire too fast.
What Does Wire Feed Speed Mean When Used in Welding?
Wire feed rate in MIG welding refers to the speed the electrode moves through the welding torch. Wire feed speed is measured in inches per minute (IPM). Knowing the correct welding wire speed is crucial because it affects the quality of the weld. Additionally, the feed rate and amperage impact weld time.
How Do You Calculate Welding Wire Speed?
There is no standard way to determine the correct welding wire feed speed for a weld. The wire feed rate calculation depends on various factors. These include the metal thickness, welding speed, the correct voltage, the type of metal, and the wire size. In addition, the amperage of the welding machine and your skill all affect wire speed.
Of course, calculating the precise wire speed when MIG welding is vitally important. If you set the rate too high, you risk burning through. However, you’ll have poor penetration and an excessively wide weld if it’s too low. There are a few ways to determine the ideal wire feed rate in MIG welding.
What’s the simple answer to the question — how do you calculate welding wire feed speed? The answer is trial and error. Before you weld the work-piece, take a similar piece of metal and do a trial run. This way, you can determine the best welding wire speed.
However, there are a few more technical ways to calculate optimal wire feed speed.
Five Steps to help determine the feed rate to set your MIG Welder:
· Step 1: Use calipers and a ruler to measure the thickness of the metal pieces you plan to weld.
· Step 2: You need to get a decimal reading by converting the measurement into decimals. For example, if you have a 1/8-inch-thick plate, divide 1 by 8, and you get a measurement of 0.125 inches.
· Step 3: One ampere is required for each 100th of an inch of metal. Therefore, a steel metal plate measuring 0.125” needs 125 amps for an acceptable weld.
· Step 4: Next, check the wire burn rate for the type of MIG wire you plan on using. For example, a typical 0.030-gauge electrode wire has a burn rate of 2” per 125 amps.
· Step 5: To determine the ideal feed speed in inches per minute, use this calculation: multiply the burn rate by the amperage of your weld. For example, a wire with a 2” burn rate at 125 amperes requires a feed speed of 250 IPM.
How Do You Adjust the Wire Speed on a Welder?
As you gain experience, you will be able to adjust the wire speed on a welder without calculating the feed speed. So how can you adjust the wire feed speed? Here are the three steps to attain the perfect welding wire feed rate in MIG welding:
· Step 1: Set the welding wire feed speed, so the power output is too high for the work-piece.
· Step 2: Take a scrap piece of metal and begin the weld. Because there is too much wire, the welding gun will no longer run smoothly. The result is that it stutters, and you’ll get a kickback from the torch.
· Step 3: Keeping the arc stuttering, slowly lower the welding wire feed speed. Continue doing this until the welding torch stop bucking and you hear a smooth crackle.
The wire feed speed is probably too slow if the arc doesn’t stutter and there is no torch bucking. In this case, you’ll need to adjust the wire feed speed until the arc runs smoothly and you hear the crackle.
How Does Wire Speed Affect Welding?
Wire speed is one of the primary variables affecting MIG welding quality. The wire should feed through the welding torch at a constant rate — not too fast and not too slow. Wire speed affects the weld’s quality and results in a weld bead far from ideal.
What happens when the wire speed is too slow?
The first thing you’ll notice if the feed speed is too slow is a narrow bead with too much filler material. This could affect the consistency and quality of the bead product, causing weak or fragile welds. Another issue with a slow feed speed is that it can result in a tall bead. This can lead to cracks in the weld and discoloration.
Using a MIG welder with a slow wire speed can also mean that the molten pool becomes too large. The result is discolored beads, poor pool control, penetration issues, and poor weld quality. Worse still, the joint could easily crack under pressure because it lacks integrity.
Signs that the Wire Feed Speed is too slow:
· The wire burns back
· Small balls form and melt onto the contact tip
· The final weld is excessively wide and shows signs of discoloration
What happens if the wire feed speed is set too high?
Getting the wire feed speed right is crucial in MIG welding. However, if the wire feeds too quickly, you will have issues with the final weld. Not only will you use excessive amounts of consumables, but the final weld will also look wrong and may even be weak.
Burn-through is one of the most common issues with a fast wire feed speed. The wire speed controls the current; therefore, if it’s too high, the weld is hotter and can burn through thinner materials. However, you may notice increased spatter and a fatter weld.
Here are some signs that the welding wire feed speed is too fast:
· The crackle begins to sound fierce
· Increased penetration, especially on thinner steel
· The welding process starts to sound like a machine gun
· You feel the kickback as the arc pushes the torch away
· Increased spatter
Top Tips To Get the Ideal Wire Feed Speed in MIG Welding
Do you want to get high-quality welds that look great and are strong? If so, adjusting the wire feed to the type of metal and wire diameter is vital. But what else can help you become a welder who is proud of their work? Here are a few wire feed speed tips and tricks:
· When using low wire speeds, keep the distance between the work-piece and the contact tip to a minimum.
· On thin metals, set the welder at the lowest speed that still allows you to make a smooth weld.
· When welding corners, an increase in wire feed speed can prevent arcing against the sides.
· When welding horizontally or vertically, increase the speed of the weld gun slightly so that the metal flows faster.
What Does Wire Speed Determine?
Wire speed determines the quality of the final weld. And getting the speed right is a crucial part of the welding process for anyone using a MIG welder. However, wire speed is only one determining factor. You must also consider the type of metal you are welding and the wire gauge.
The welder power setting also determines wire feed speed. Typically, on cheaper DIY MIG welders, you must manually increase the wire speed as you increase the power output. However, the automatic wire feed rate on more expensive welders is standard. The speed increases automatically as the power increases or decreases.
Wire Feed Speed — In Conclusion
Many factors determine the ideal wire feed speed for each specific welding project. If the feed rate is too slow, you may end up with a narrow, flat weld that looks messy and may crack. On the other hand, if the welding speed is too fast, you may not get the penetration required and create a lot of spatter.
The good news is that, with some practice, you will get the wire feed rate perfect every time. This results in beautiful welds that perform well under pressure.