Whether you work with automobiles or are employed in the construction/DIY industry, you know that sheet metal welding is an integral part of the job. Achieving neat and consistent welds, though, is something that requires significant amounts of practice, patience, and experience.
One of the easier ways of unlocking that level of precision and accuracy required in welding sheet metal is ensuring that you have the best welder for sheet metal.
That being said, not all welders—even those advertised as such—are capable of handling sheet metal. So keeping a few of the most important factors in mind, today we have rounded up 6 of the best ones on the market, with a comprehensive buying guide.
Let’s get started!
Without further ado, we present our top 6 picks for your sheet metal welding needs. Considerable time and research have gone into this list, so rest assured, you’re in good hands!
1.Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V
With well over a century of manufacturing high-quality, high-performing electronics, Hobart is a brand that needs no introduction. The 500559 Handler 140 is a MIG welder that promises clean, reliable welds every time. Let’s find out what makes this Hobart’s best-selling welder.
This welding machine operates on 115V current, which means it can easily be used within households or low-key commercial establishments. Because it has a variable output between 25 and 140 amps, you’ll enjoy welding metals from 24 gauge to 1/4″ mild steel.
The arc performance of this welder is another reason why it’s a favorite amongst so many: with its 5-position voltage control selector, you can expect a stabilized and smooth arc no matter what thickness you’re welding at.
And this welder has a wire feed speed between 40 and 700 IPM, and at no-load, the speed is between 50 and 740 IPM. At 90 amps, this welder has a duty cycle of 20%. This further enhances the consistency of this machine’s arc performance.
You’re also bound to appreciate the heavy-duty 200-amp work clamps and aluminum drive systems, which add to the welder’s ability to produce professional welds. So, as long as you’re equipped with this welder, you’ll be able to handle stainless steel, aluminum, and light steel with ease.
2. AHP AlphaTIG 200X 200 Amp IGBT AC DC Tig/Stick Welder
For our next pick, we have selected a TIG welder from AHP, and it’s quite popular with users who primarily wish to weld sheet metal such as aluminum. The welder’s stick function makes it suitable for use in both professional and amateur applications. But it has lots of other great features, so let’s dive right in.
This welder is equipped with top of the line inverter technology, which incorporates pulse width modulation (PWM), which affords you greater control. Furthermore, IGBT technology also allows you to enjoy greater efficiency and swift switching.
But enough technical talk; what can you do with this thing? You can tackle 1/4″ aluminum and 3/8″ mild steel at 110/220 volts with this welder, and enjoy welding with 7018 as well as 6013 electrodes. Thin-gauge metals, in particular, will be handled very well by this welder.
You’ll also appreciate the TIG torch consumables which are used with the WP17 flex hose torch of this welding machine. And should you want to add a trigger switch to the torch, you can do so with the separate TIG control switch.
On that note, the metal-constructed foot pedal will also give you greater control, although it’s not exactly the most comfortable pedal out there.
What’s more, the machine’s torch also comes with a high-frequency non-touch starter, which allows for easier arc formation and minimal to no contamination. Given the affordable price tag, this TIG welder definitely stands out amongst others of its kind.
3. Lotos TIG200ACDC 200A AC/DC Aluminum Tig Welder
While we’re on the subject of TIG welders, it makes no sense to leave out the Lotos TIG200ACDC. With an extremely affordable price tag, this TIG welding machine has attracted a lot of attention, particularly from beginners and novices.
So what can this welder do? With both AC and DC capabilities and dual-frequency (110V/220V), this welder is meant for use with aluminum, mild steel stainless steel with its 3/8″ welding capacity. An accurate and precise aluminum weld can be expected from this thing, as it’s equipped with a 200A AC square-wave inverter.
One of the most impressive features of this welder is its 80% duty cycle, which is perfect for industrial, professional use. Furthermore, the 15-200 amp DC stick welder offers an effortless start and produces stable arcs. Various basic and acid electrodes can be used with this welder.
Furthermore, this welder is equipped with an advanced PAPST cooling system; this helps you to make sure that your plasma cutter offers consistent and stable performance. And you’ll thank the high-frequency start torch for helping you avoid contamination.
All in all, this is probably not the best welder for sheet metal out there, but given its low price and decent functionality, we think it’s a pretty good buy.
4. Weldpro 200 Amp Inverter Multi Process Welder
Keeping up with the list of dual-voltage welders, we now present the multi-process, high-performing Weldpro welder. This welder allows for high-quality, smooth MIG, TIG, and stick welding. So if you’re searching for the best welder for automotive sheet metal at a reasonable price, this one might appeal to you.
This machine allows you to weld up to 1/4″ mild steel at 220V. The lift TIG welding mode allows you to work with metals of varying types and thicknesses. Although there’s no arc TIC process for aluminum welding, the spool gun option offers a quick fix to this problem; just disconnect the torch.
Moreover, this compact and lightweight welder packs quite the punch despite its size. Its preset internal parameters allow the machine to set the best settings and configuration for your sheet metal workpiece. But even if you want to manipulate the settings manually, you can easily do that as well.
One of the most stand-out features of this welder is its synergistic design, which helps you to adjust both wire speed and voltage simultaneously with the help of a dial. Furthermore, this welder comes equipped with IGBT inverter technology, which, as you may already know, streamlines the welding process.
With a maximum 200amp rated output, this welder promises reliable performance every time. What’s more, you can also choose to avail the optional spool gun for an easier, hassle-free process. All in all, this is definitely one of the most lucrative multi-process welders out there at a great price.
5. LINCOLN ELECTRIC CO K2697-1 Easy MIG 140 Wire Feed Welder
With more than a century spent perfecting electric machines, the brand Lincoln is recognized for producing high-quality welding equipment for both personal and commercial use. This MIG welder stands out quite easily thanks to its dependable features and performance.
But it’s not only MIG welding that you can enjoy with this machine, because it also has flux welding capabilities. Even gas-less flux-core welding can be achieved with ease as it provides deep penetration when working with thicker steels.
The welding output range of 30 to 140 amps makes this welding machine suitable for a number of applications. This welding machine operates using standard 120V input power, and using it is super easy thanks to the dual-knob tapped control. Furthermore, the drive system is fully adjustable to enhance ease of use.
And the smooth arc-start is definitely satisfying and reduces annoying spatter. And don’t worry if you’re a beginner, because the package includes all the basic required implements.
We also appreciate the fact that despite its light and compact cast-aluminum body, this welder is made to be quite durable. Although we don’t recommend it for heavy-duty professional use, we still think this is one of the finest sheet metal welders out there.
6. Forney 324 MIG/Stick/TIG 3-in-one 190-Amp Welder
Our final pick from Forney is also the most expensive on our list. So if you’re on a budget, you might want to skip this one; but if you’re ready to pull out all the stops to get yourself the best MIG welder for sheet metal, then definitely keep reading!
It is a multi-process welder, with stick and TIG welding capabilities besides its MIG welding function. Rated up to 140 amps and operating at 110 volts, this welder is capable of handling both 4- and 8-inch wire spools.
Although this machine is primarily designed to handle flux-core welding, you can easily run mild steel MIG welding with gas, enjoying 3/16″ welding at 140 amps. Otherwise, you can shift to stick welding using the ground clamp and stinger. For TIG welding, though, you’ll have to purchase separately.
Handling this thing proves to any user that it was built for convenience and ease. The easy start, coupled with the three-position switch, enables you to switch between processes swiftly. And the speed is adjustable, as well, allowing you greater control over the welding process.
Accurate gas regulation is achieved using the single-stage piston by the flow meter. Something that stands out is this welder’s wire feeding system, which has been constructed from cast aluminum.
Not only does this enhance efficiency, but it also promises greater durability. Overall, although this welder is a bit on the expensive side, we think its abilities more than makeup for that!
Buying Guide: Best Welder For Sheet Metal Work
What to Look for before Buying
If you want to find the best sheet metal welder for your needs, the following factors must be kept in mind.
A welder can run either DC (direct current) or AC (alternating current). DC welders allow for a steady energy supply rate, which results in higher temperatures, and consequently, deeper weld penetration. Furthermore, they come with a larger number of electrodes, and moreover, make arc striking simpler.
However, AC welders are the more economical choice, which often makes them more popular than their DC counterparts. Although you’ll have fewer electrodes to choose from, an AC welder can still provide high functionality for beginners. And of course, you can always choose to opt for an AC/DC welder.
The duty cycle refers to the highest operating duration of a welder, until such time as it must be shut down (which allows it to cool off). And the duty cycle of a welder is typically denoted in percentage. Let’s say that your welder is capable of delivering 200 amps of AC power at a 60% duty cycle.
That means its welding capacity is at 200 amps for 6 minutes, max. Now, what you need to know is that the duty cycle and amperage are inversely proportional, meaning that a higher amperage will equate to a lower duty cycle.
And of course, it should come as no surprise that the more expensive your welder is, the higher its duty cycle is going to be. Remember, if you’re going to be welding thicker metals, then you should go for a machine with a longer duty cycle.
By now, you’ve probably heard of the terms MIG welding and TIG welding. In both techniques, the metals are heated until they turn liquid. Then, a filler material is used to fuse the metals. But what are they exactly, and why are they important? Let’s have a closer look at each in turn.
· MIG Welding
MIG stands for Metal Inert Gas. And MIG welding causes the formation of an electric arc between the consuming wire electrode and the metal. This causes the melting and fusing together of the metals. Through the welding gun, a “shielding gas” is fed beside the wire electrode, which keeps out contaminants.
Also, MIG welding is considered to be much easier and faster to do, which makes it popular with beginners. Not only that, but MIG welding machines are more affordable, and the maintenance and upkeep are much simpler.
If you’re working with common metals like stainless steel and aluminum, MIG welding is the way to go.
In TIG welding, a tungsten electrode sends a current through your workpiece metals. Once the electrode has successfully heated the metals, they will reach a liquid state. At this stage, the filler material must be dipped manually into the puddle, and which stage fusing will occur.
That being said, a successful weld doesn’t absolutely have to involve a filler material.
TIG welding is preferred by those who are seeking a professional, flawless weld. Although it’s a slower and more difficult process, the reason behind that is the higher quality. If a clean, spatter-less, and precise weld is what you desire, and specifically if you’re working with thin metals like stainless steel, TIG welding is the way to go.
And in some cases, you will need to consider a mixture of both MIG and TIG welds. We’re talking particularly about automotive projects, guards, and shrouds. In such situations, the benefits of a multi-process welder can’t really be overstated.
As most experienced welders will tell you, a welding machine that offers multiple amperage settings is usually far preferred to one that doesn’t. Not all sheet metals are the same, so welding each of them requires different heat levels. The chances of achieving a smoother weld are increased by more amperage choices.
A spool gun is particularly helpful for those who will be performing MIG welding. And a spool gun allows the welder to feed the wire more easily, which eliminates wire tangling around drive rolls. A quick-release feature on the gun is also preferred
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding is easier to do than TIG and can be used to weld common metals such as light steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Although TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) produces better-quality welds, it’s a slower process. So it really depends on your experience.
Although both TIG and MIG welding are suitable for sheet metal, TIG is recommended if you’re working with very thin sheets of aluminum and stainless steel. MIG welding is a better fit for structural steels.
If you’re a beginner, then we recommend watching this video for assistance; it’s pretty comprehensive and should answer your questions
Spattering typically occurs due to too-high speeds or a wire feed irregularity. It’s important to adjust your welder settings to find the ideal temperature at which to weld and avoid spattering. Find more info here.
Not if you want a proper weld. However, if you lack gas, you can look to inverter welding machines that can operate both TIG and stick welding.
Ultimately, only you can decide what the best welder for sheet metal is for your needs. That said, the Hobart 500559 has garnered considerable attention from professionals and amateurs alike for being a dependable MIG welder. Looking for a multi-process welder instead? We’d recommend the Weldpro for sure.
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