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Customer Testimony | Jolson Welding Discusses Bernard MIG Guns, Flux-Cored Guns and Welding Consumables

Jolson Welding Discusses Bernard MIG Guns, Flux-Cored Guns and Welding Consumables

Bob Jolson, owner of Jolson Welding, discusses the benefits of Bernard’s Q-Gun™ semi-automatic air-cooled MIG gun, Dura-Flux™ self-shielded flux-cored gun and Centerfire™ consumables in his welding operation.

    Customer Testimony | Bernard MIG Welding Consumables Save Time and Last Longer

    Bernard MIG Welding Consumables Save Time and Last Longer

    Bernard® MIG welding consumables help Taylor Machine Works save time by reducing contact tip changeover in its forklift welding operations.

    Since converting to Centerfire™ consumables, the company has gone from requiring multiple contact tip changes per day to only one on average per welder. The contact tips can be changed without tools, which saves time, plus they are heavier duty than Taylor’s previous brand, so they last longer. During the original trial of the consumables, Taylor even had one welder go 27 days without changing a contact tip! The gas diffusers and nozzles are also long lasting, so Taylor’s welders can spend more time welding and have less downtime for changeover.

      Customer Testimony | Bernard Replaceable MIG Gun Parts Save Money, Improve Performance

      Bernard Replaceable MIG Gun Parts Save Money, Improve Performance

      Taylor Machine Works saves money by welding its forklifts with Bernard® MIG guns — all parts are replaceable, and the necks adjust to fit tight joints.

      The company’s previous MIG welding guns required downtime to take apart for maintenance and repair and were typically disposed of instead. The Bernard MIG guns make it quick to connect new parts, including swapping out necks. The necks are also rotatable so welders can adjust them to new angles to make it more comfortable to weld in hard-to-reach areas.

        Customer Testimony | Welding students in Tulsa benefit from Bernard MIG guns and consumables

        Welding Students in Tulsa Benefit from Bernard MIG Guns and Consumables

        Tulsa Welding School’s Houston campus needs reliable equipment that can handle any process. Bernard® MIG guns and consumables are the answer.

        You can count on Bernard BTB semi-automatic air-cooled MIG guns to deliver industrial-grade performance and reliability in the most demanding environments as well as optimize welder ergonomics and weld access.

        Bernard contact tips, nozzles and diffusers are easy to use and high performing – they provide better arc starts, less spatter and more consistent welds – and also last up to three times longer than competitive brands.

          Customer Testimony | Blinn Instructors Choose Bernard MIG Guns and Consumables for Dependable Welding Equipment

          Blinn Instructors Choose Bernard MIG Guns and Consumables for Dependable Welding Equipment

          Blinn College welding school instructors and students agree – Bernard® MIG guns and consumables are the welder’s best choice in dependability and easy to use.

          You can count on Bernard BTB semi-automatic air-cooled MIG guns to deliver industrial-grade performance and reliability in the most demanding environments as well as optimize welder ergonomics and weld access.

          Bernard contact tips, nozzles and diffusers are easy to use and high performing – they provide better arc starts, less spatter and more consistent welds – and also last up to three times longer than competitive brands.

            Animation | Bernard Clean Air Fume Extraction MIG Welding Guns

            Bernard Clean Air Fume Extraction MIG Welding Guns Animation

            For a cleaner, more compliant work environment, get right to the source and extract fumes at the weld with the Bernard® Clean Air™ fume extraction gun. Closely matching the weight, handle size, durability and industrial grade performance of Bernard BTB semi-automatic air-cooled MIG guns, Clean Air fume extraction guns are fully configurable with your choice of curved or straight handles.

              Animation | Bernard BTB Semi-Automatic Air-Cooled MIG Welding Guns

              Bernard BTB Semi-Automatic Air-Cooled MIG Welding Guns Animation

              Build your ultimate MIG gun. Choose from a variety of necks, handles and trigger styles to optimize welder ergonomics and weld access. Then standardize with a single line of consumables to simplify maintenance and contain costs. You can count on Bernard® BTB semi-automatic air-cooled MIG guns to deliver industrial-grade performance and reliability in the most demanding and abusive environments.

                Video | Configure your Bernard Semi-Automatic MIG Gun Online

                Configure your Bernard Semi-Automatic MIG Gun Online

                Now mobile friendly! Configure your Bernard® semi-automatic MIG gun – anytime, anywhere! We recognize that welding applications differ for every welder and that sometimes only a customizable, industrial-duty MIG gun will get the job done. That’s why we allow you to configure a custom MIG gun for your specific application.

                  Video | Bernard AccuLock S Consumables for Better Productivity

                  Bernard AccuLock S Consumables for Better Productivity

                  Meet Sam, a semi-automatic MIG Welding Supervisor at an Industrial Company. Sam’s faced with increasing manufacturing growth putting production throughput and quality targets at an all time high. Everyday Sam wastes valuable time troubleshooting welding issues related to poor wire-feeding such as birdnesting, burnbacks and erratic arc, which all leads to poor weld quality. What if there was a solution for Sam?

                  Introducing AccuLock (Semi-Auto) Consumables:

                  • Error proof your liner installation
                  • Perfect liner trimming every time — no measuring required with AccuLock S Liners!
                  • Eliminate the many weld quality and downtime issues caused by liners trimmed too short

                  Shorten Your Troubleshooting List:

                  • Flawless wire-feeding path — Liners are locked and concentrically aligned with the contact tip and power pin
                  • Eliminate issues caused by liner misalignment and gaps along the wire-feed path

                  With AccuLock Consumables, SAM (and you) can… Load and Lock for Better Productivity, reduced troubleshooting, downtime and rework.

                  Load and Lock with Bernard® AccuLock™ S consumables.

                    Animation | Bernard AccuLock S Consumables No Measuring Required

                    Bernard AccuLock S Consumables | No Measuring Required

                    Challenged by increasing welder retirements and turnover while orders keep growing year over year? As you support more inexperienced welders, choosing equipment with fewer points of failure and simplified maintenance can reduce training and shorten your troubleshooting list. Bernard® AccuLock™ S consumables provide error-proof liner replacement every time — no measuring required!

                      How to Choose MIG Welding Gun Parts

                      How to Choose MIG Welding Gun Parts

                      In addition to the amperage of MIG welding gun you choose, the MIG gun parts — cable, neck and handle — affect how comfortably and efficiently you can weld. Configure your gun accordingly.

                      Image of live welding with semi-auto MIG gun

                      Choosing the cable

                      Cable lengths can vary greatly — from 10 feet to 25 feet or longer. Use the shortest cable possible that can get the job done to prevent kinking or creating a tripping hazard. Consider your options:

                      1. Industrial-grade cables are the most commonly used and work well in light- to medium-duty applications.
                      2. Steel mono-coil cables are well-suited for heavy-duty applications in harsh environments. They are more rigid, which minimizes feeding issues when using a longer cable.

                      Remember, smaller welding wire sizes typically call for a shorter cable; it is more difficult to push a smaller wire over a greater length. It is also more difficult to push soft wires, like aluminum, through longer cables.

                      MIG welding gun necks and handles

                      Choosing a neck and handle for a MIG welding gun comes down to your preference, as well as the available weld cell space and the welding wire.

                      1. Neck options are available with bends ranging from 30 degrees up to 80 degrees. Those with less bend reduce bird nesting or other feeding issues associated with thicker wires and softer wires.
                      2. A rotatable neck makes it easier to change angles to access the weld joint.
                      3. Gun handles are available in straight or curved options. Straight handles are often paired with fixed necks, while curved handles are often paired with rotatable necks.

                      The bottom line: Choose the options that make it easiest and most comfortable for you to reach the weld joint.

                      Configure a Bernard® semi-automatic MIG gun
                       

                      This article is the second in a three-part series discussing how configuring a MIG gun can improve the welding operation, as well as what to consider in the process. Read article one, Configuring a MIG Welding Gun for Your Application and article three, Selecting the Right MIG Welding Consumables.  

                        Configuring a MIG Welding Gun for Your Application

                        Configuring a MIG Welding Gun for Your Application

                        Have you struggled to gain proper joint access when welding? Or found yourself fatigued at the end of the day because of repeatedly welding in awkward positions? Configuring a MIG welding gun can help.

                        Why configure?

                        Image showing three different hand-held BTB MIG guns

                        A MIG welding gun configured for the exact application can maximize efficiency and productivity. When you are more comfortable, you are able to weld longer. A customized MIG welding gun also reduces downtime for assembly, since it’s ready right out of the box. You can configure each welding gun part with online configurators like those from Bernard. These parts include the:

                        • Cable
                        • Handle and trigger
                        • Neck type, angle and length
                        • Consumables
                        • Power pin
                        • Liner

                        How do you get started?

                        To configure the right MIG welding gun, look at the needs of your welding application. One answer influences the next choice.

                        1. Determine the type and thickness of the base material on which you typically weld. This will dictate the welding wire selection and welding parameters, and in turn the amperage of MIG welding gun needed.
                        2. Think about the expected arc-on time and length of the welds. Again, this impacts the amperage needed and also the duty cycle.
                        3. Consider ergonomics. Decide what handle and neck style you prefer, as well as the cable length needed (shorter ones are lighter and easier to maneuver).

                        What affect does the weld cell have?

                        The physical space of the weld cell factors into MIG welding gun configuration. Consider these factors:

                        1. If there are fixtures or jigs to work around, you may need narrower MIG welding consumables to access the joint.
                        2. Space limitations and welding position impact cable length. Shorter cables are necessary for confined areas and are best for repetitive welding at a table since they are lighter. For out-of-position welds, a longer cable allows for greater movement (beware of coiling or kinking).
                        3. The available workspace and joint access affect the length and bend angle of the gun neck you can use.

                        Taking the time to consider the factors that impact how you configure your MIG welding gun can go far in ensuring you have the exact one for your application.

                        See options for configuring a Bernard® MIG gun

                        This article is the first in a three-part series discussing how configuring a MIG gun can improve the welding operation, as well as what to consider in the process. Read article two, How to Choose Welding Gun Parts, and article three, Selecting the Right MIG Welding Consumables.
                         

                          Taylor Forklift Operation Reduces Downtime, Costs with Bernard

                          Taylor Forklift Operation Reduces Downtime, Costs with Bernard

                          Taylor Machine Works Inc. has spent over 90 years building a reputation by engineering and producing exactly what its customers need. The company manufactures more than 85 models of powered industrial trucks, including forklifts and material handling equipment for a range of industries.

                          Taylor’s “Big Red” forklifts, featuring the company’s distinctive “Big Red” logo, can handle material weighing up to 125,000 pounds.

                          “We manufactured roughly 750 pieces of rolling stock last year and 40 percent to 50 percent of that is highly customized,” said Matt Hillyer, director of engineering for Taylor, based in Louisville, Mississippi. “Our job is to build products that answer the customer’s needs.”

                          Taylor’s “Big Red” forklifts, featuring the company’s distinctive “Big Red” logo, can handle material weighing up to 125,000 pounds — everything from palleted goods and empty shipping containers in waterfront shipyards to equipment encountering brutal hot and cold environments. Many of Taylor’s customers are small operations with from one to three pieces of equipment. Just one piece going out of service reduces production capacity by a large percentage.

                          “Having high durability, high return on investment and low cost of ownership, those are all very imperative to our customers to make them successful,” said Hillyer. “It’s important for us not only to make custom products that are advanced in technology or state-of-the-art, but we also have to make products that are very simple, easy to work on and have lots of uptime. That’s what our customers are looking for.”

                          Taylor employs some of the best welders in the business to meet those customer demands, but even great welders can’t overcome their tools’ limitations. When Taylor decided to try Bernard® semi-automatic MIG guns and Centerfire™ consumables, they discovered their talented team could take productivity up a few notches —and still gain the best quality.

                          Application photo of a welder in the process of welding
                          All the advantages found by using Bernard Semi-Automatic MIG Guns and Centerfire Consumables align perfectly with Taylor’s commitment to quality and meeting the customer needs.

                          Making the change
                          According to Taylor, sometimes it takes trying a new technology to realize what you’ve been missing. That was the case with the Bernard products — the manufacturers of the Big Red material handling machines had a business epiphany.

                          “Before we changed to Bernard welding products, we didn’t really know we were having a problem,” said Steve Nazary, quality assurance supervisor at Taylor. “When we started using Bernard [MIG guns and consumables], we found that they were much easier and more economical to use for our process.”

                          Bernard semi-automatic MIG guns at 400, 500 and 600 amperages delivered more business benefits.

                          Savings on service repair. “We can replace the liners, the tips, the nozzles” Nazary explained. “You can replace everything on a Bernard gun instead of throwing it away and buying a new one.” The previous guns Taylor used could not be repaired and components weren’t replaceable, resulting in increased costs for new purchases for their large manufacturing operation.

                          Productivity-boosting ergonomics. “The Bernard MIG guns have a better handle on them,” Nazary said. “It fits your hand better. It has an easier trigger to pull. It doesn’t get as hot as the guns we were using before. We were using some handles before that got so hot, you couldn’t hold them anymore.”

                          “Those twisty necks, as I call them, we can loosen them and change the angle to get in harder places. And you can reset them back straight, turn them on any angle. The employees love them.”

                          Craig Callahan, Quality Control Welding Inspector

                          Easier-to-use rotatable necks. Guns with multiple neck position options that are all easy to adjust let Taylor welders operate comfortably and precisely in more situations. Rather than turning the entire gun to get the right position to reach a weld joint, welders simply adjust just the neck of the gun to a better angle.

                          Rather than turning the entire gun to get the right position to reach a weld joint, welders simply adjust just the neck of Bernard Gun to a better angle.
                          Rather than turning the entire gun to get the right position to reach a weld joint, welders simply adjust just the neck of Bernard Gun to a better angle. 

                          Nazary added that it’s also easy to change necks on the Bernard MIG Guns to reach into tighter spaces. “We have multiple necks and they only take two or three seconds to swap them out,” he said.

                          Centerfire™ consumables also proved to last much longer than products Taylor had used previously, reducing the need to change contact tips from multiple times per day to just once a day, on average. These consumables feature a non-threaded contact tip that is tapered at the base to seat easily in the gas diffuser. The result is better heat dissipation and a longer life. Plus, they are quick to change over. 

                          Welder leaning over project in a weld cell
                          When Taylor decided to try Bernard™ Semi-Automatic MIG Guns and Centerfire™ Consumables, they discovered their talented team could take productivity up a few notches —and still gain the best quality. 

                          “We can change the Centerfire consumables with ease. We don’t have to have tools. You just twist the nozzle off, pull it off and pop another contact tip in and twist the nozzle back on,” said Nazary.

                          Centerfire consumables also provide better gas flow for better welds and less rework.

                          “With the other consumables that we were using, you would get different gas flows,” said Nazary. “With the Bernard products, we have consistent flow all the time.”

                          Helping Taylor Machine Works serve customers
                          All the advantages found by using Bernard semi-automatic MIG guns and Centerfire consumables align perfectly with Taylor’s commitment to quality and meeting the customer needs. And the reliability of the products fits well with the company’s slogan: “Depend on Red.”

                          “It’s absolutely imperative to make our products successful for the customer,” said Hillyer. “We also look to our suppliers, like Bernard to provide us with the best technology. They help us incorporate the right technology to make sure that we do have the most durable truck on the market.”


                            Self-Shielded Flux-Cored Welding: Choosing Your Gun

                            Self-Shielded Flux-Cored Welding: Choosing Your Gun

                            For structural applications, some contractors have made the switch from stick welding to self-shielded flux-cored welding to increase productivity and give themselves a competitive edge.

                            Self-shielded flux-cored welding offers much greater travel speeds and deposition rates compared to stick welding, while also eliminating the frequent stopping and starting required to change out stick electrodes.

                            For contractors considering this conversion, there are some key factors to keep in mind to help choose the right self-shielded flux-cored welding gun for the job — and to use and maintain it properly. Gun options such as heat shields, configurable necks and adjustable cable lengths can help improve weld quality, efficiency and operator comfort in self-shielded flux-cored applications. 

                            Considering self-shielded flux-cored welding

                            Self-shielded flux-cored welding is becoming more common on jobsites for several reasons. In addition to the greater productivity and deposition rates of the process, it also doesn’t require a shielding gas to protect the weld pool, eliminating the hassle and cost of buying and storing gas containers on the jobsite.

                            Image of person self-shielded flux-cored welding.
                            Self-shielded flux-cored welding is becoming more common on many jobsites, as it offers greater productivity and deposition rates compared to stick welding.

                            Not using shielding gas also eliminates the need to set up tents or wind shields to protect the weld from the elements and the need to use specialty nozzles to control gas flow as is common with a gas-shielded flux-cored process. 

                            Some training may be required for welders who are used to the stick process. The different ergonomics of the self-shielded flux-cored gun compared to the stick electrode holder require approaching the weld from different angles and using different travel angles and pressure.

                            When stick welding, the operator typically begins with the electrode (and therefore his or her body) farther from the weld. As the rod shortens during welding, the welder gets physically closer to the weld, applying pressure to the stick electrode as it melts into the weld pool. In self-shielded flux-cored welding, the welder stays in the same spot, maintaining a consistent distance between the contact tip and the weld pool. The proper contact-tip-to-work distance depends on the application, but at least 1/2 inch is a good rule of thumb.

                            Self-shielded flux-cored welding can be prone to slag inclusions if proper technique isn’t followed. Regularly inspect the contact tip to ensure it’s free from spatter and debris buildup, which helps ensure smooth wire feeding. Properly clean the weld between passes.

                            Self-shielded flux-cored gun options

                            Welding guns for self-shielded flux-cored applications are available in various configurations. Choosing the right gun can help contractors tailor it to their specific needs and applications. Consider these features:

                            Heat shield: One of the most common features on self-shielded flux-cored welding guns is a hand guard or heat shield, which is available in different sizes. In applications that require access to a corner joint, choosing a smaller guard increases maneuverability and provides more access. When welders need to run at a higher voltage and deposit more filler metal into the weld, using a larger guard helps deflect the higher heat.

                            Neck lengths and bends: Gun necks are available in varying lengths and bend angles. A slimmer neck provides a better view of the weld pool and improved access to tight areas, for example. A shorter neck typically provides more control compared to a longer neck. Lightweight, rotatable necks can also reduce operator fatigue and improve weld visibility.

                            Replaceable or fixed cable liner: Some self-shielded flux-cored gun models are available with either a replaceable cable liner or a fixed cable liner. A replaceable cable liner provides benefits in harsh and demanding environments, since self-shielded flux-cored welding can be hard on equipment and consumables. Replaceable power cable liners provide quick and easy cable maintenance and can extend product life since welders can change out components that experience high levels of wear. In addition, choosing a replaceable cable liner with internal trigger leads means there is no external trigger cord that can catch on surrounding objects. Conversely, fixed cable liners tend to be larger, which can be an issue when welding in corners or tight spaces.

                            Dura-Flux MIG Gun with a replaceable liner
                            Some flux-cored gun models are available with a replaceable cable liner, which provides quick and easy power cable maintenance. Replaceable cable liners can extend product life thanks to the ability to change out individual components that experience high levels of wear.

                            Dual schedule switch: A self-shielded flux-cored gun with an optional dual schedule switch allows for wire speed adjustment while welding. In some guns, this switch is integrated into the handle to keep it protected from spatter. The ability to toggle between weld parameters easily — without having to stop welding and change settings — saves time and improves productivity.

                            Proper maintenance, cleaning and technique

                            There are ways to extend the life of the gun and consumables. The necessary frequency of gun and consumable maintenance depends on the application and the welding environment.

                            Conduct routine checks to ensure front-end consumables are in good shape and all connections are tight. This helps keep heat resistance low and ensures proper electrical conductivity so the gun and consumables last longer. Consider using a rotatable gun neck with a collet-style connection, which makes it easier to drop the neck in and tighten it. Consumables that use compression fittings also provide more efficient energy transfer and less overheating to help extend product life.

                            Be sure to keep the contact tip clear of spatter buildup and inspect the tip for signs of wear or keyholing, and also inspect the cable for any damage or nicks.

                            While the self-shielded flux-cored process is capable of welding material with dirt, oil or mill scale, remember that better surface preparation delivers better results in any welding application. Properly cleaning the base material will help produce better welds.

                            Because flux-cored welding produces a slag and spatter, there is also a need to remove the slag between passes and for post-weld cleaning. Be aware that travel angles beyond 20 or 25 degrees can increase spatter and arc instability. With flux-cored welding, it’s recommended to use a drag technique with a travel angle of 5 to 15 degrees.

                            Optimizing self-shielded flux-cored welding

                            As more contractors look for ways to increase productivity and efficiency on the jobsite, the use of self-shielded flux-cored welding grows. Choosing a welding wire designed to improve a weld’s chemical composition or deposition rates can provide even more benefits.

                            The self-shielded flux-cored process can be a good alternative to stick welding in many outdoor applications that boosts productivity and reduces costs.


                             

                              Fume Extraction Gun: Features and Techniques to Improve Performance

                              Fume Extraction Gun: Features and Techniques to Improve Performance

                              Limiting exposure to welding fumes is an increasingly important issue for many welding operations, as it provides a cleaner, more comfortable work environment and helps companies stay compliant with changing regulations.

                              The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other safety regulatory bodies set the allowable exposure limits for weld fumes and other particulates, including hexavalent chromium, with the aim of protecting employees against potential health hazards in the workplace.

                              Some companies may choose a centralized fume extraction system designed to protect the entire shop area. However, these systems can be a substantial investment and often require installation of new ductwork. In some welding applications, they are not a feasible or efficient fume extraction option.

                              A fume extraction gun is a viable alternative in certain welding applications, including when the welder is in a tight or confined space or must move often to complete welds on a large part. Welding guns with built-in fume extraction are commonly used in heavy industrial welding, such as truck and trailer, rail car and heavy equipment manufacturing.

                              Fume extraction welding guns capture the fumes generated by the welding process right at the source, over and around the weld pool, and they can be tailored to best meet the needs of a specific application or to welder preferences. Consider these key factors to help choose the right type of fume extraction gun for the job — and learn more about available features that can help improve gun flexibility and performance in certain applications.

                              Image of live welding with a Clean Air fume extraction MIG gun
                              A fume extraction gun is a viable alternative for fume control in certain welding applications, including when the welder is in a tight or confined space or must move often to complete welds on a large part.

                              Fume extraction gun options

                              Fume extraction guns are available in a variety of amperages and handle designs. Common amperages for fume extraction guns range from 300 to 600. Keep in mind that amperage is tied to gun weight. The higher the amperage, the more copper required in the power cable and therefore the heavier the gun will be.

                              Due to this additional weight, use the lowest amperage gun possible that will still allow the job to be completed. Along with the added weight, higher-amperage guns typically cost more than lower-amperage guns, so it may be a waste of money to buy more gun than necessary for the application.

                              However, automatically buying the lightest gun available may not provide the amperage or durability needed for the application. Some lighter and more flexible guns aren’t durable enough for heavy industrial applications. Always consider a gun’s duty cycle rating, and keep in mind that it’s a balancing act between gun weight and durability when choosing a fume extraction gun.

                              Features to consider

                              Some fume extraction guns on the market offer features and capabilities that help optimize fume capture while also providing benefits for operator comfort and ergonomics, gun performance and ease in producing quality welds. When choosing and configuring a fume extraction gun, consider these options:

                              Image of Clean Air fume extraction MIG gun with straight handle
                              Tailoring the gun handle and neck to the application and welder preferences can help improve weld pool access and reduce operator fatigue. Most guns are available in curved and straight handle options.
                              • Adjustable vacuum chamber: The nozzle on the front of most fume extraction guns is covered by a vacuum chamber. While vacuum chambers on some guns are fixed in place and can’t be moved, other guns have adjustable vacuum chambers that can be moved to several positions. This provides better joint access and visibility and helps welders dial in vacuum flow to eliminate porosity. Adjustable vacuum chambers can also improve ergonomics, since they reduce the need for the welder to position his or her body in uncomfortable positions to get a better view of the weld pool. Adjustable vacuum chambers that snap into position also provide greater durability than friction-fit chambers, which can loosen over time and eventually fall off. This can require replacement of the vacuum chamber. Some gun manufacturers also offer various vacuum chamber options, such as a short vacuum chamber that helps increase visibility and access to the weld pool.
                              • Suction control valve: Most fume extraction guns offer a way for welders to control the vacuum suction and optimize gas flow. Look for a gun with a vacuum regulator — often positioned at the front of the handle — that allows welders to balance suction with shielding gas flow to protect against porosity.
                              • Flexible, crush- and snag-resistant hose: A vacuum hose designed to be crush- and snag-resistant eliminates the need for a protective hose cover in many applications. This helps reduce overall gun weight and increases flexibility of the hose. However, be aware that some heavy-duty welding applications requiring extremely high heat will always need a leather cover to protect the hose. Note, a gun with a vacuum hose that swivels also improves flexibility, visibility and joint access and helps reduce wrist fatigue.
                              • Handle and neck options: Tailoring the gun handle and neck to the application and welder preferences can help improve weld access and reduce operator fatigue. Some brands of guns are available in curved and straight handle options. In higher-amperage applications, welders may want to put the gun cable over their shoulder with the gun trigger on the top. Straight handle guns allow for this because they trigger can be positioned on the top. Some fume extraction guns also have additional neck options in a variety of bend angles, such as 30, 45 and 60 degrees. This provides even more ability to tailor a gun to specific needs and improves ergonomics. When choosing a gun with a straight handle, consider one with a rubber overmold on the handle to help reduce vibration and provide a better grip.

                              Fume extraction gun best practices 

                              As with any fume extraction equipment, proper use and maintenance of fume extraction guns is important to achieve optimal results. Operating a fume extraction gun is similar to using a standard MIG gun, with many of the same recommended best practices. However, there are some techniques that welders can follow to help get the best performance from a fume extraction gun: 

                              1. Degree of angle: Perhaps the most important tip for optimizing performance is using the appropriate degree of angle. With solid wire, use a push technique and an angle of 0 to 15 degrees for optimal fume capture. For flux-cored wire, use a drag technique with a 0 to 15-degree angle. If the parts are set up at a 0 to 30-degree angle and the gun is kept straight (vertical) during welding, the fume will rise, allowing optimal fume extraction by the gun. 
                              2. Pause at the end: At the end of each weld, pausing for 10 to 15 seconds and holding the fume extraction gun in place without depositing weld metal allows the gun to capture residual fumes as the weld bead is cooling.
                              3. Wire type determines stickout: The contact-tip-to-workpiece distance can be longer — about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch — when welding with flux-cored wire and a fume extraction gun. With solid wire, stickout should be kept to 1/2 inch or less to maximize fume capture. 
                              4. Frequent inspection: Inspecting the front end of the gun is key to optimizing fume extraction. Regularly inspect the nozzle, contact tip and vacuum chamber for signs of spatter buildup, which can block fume extraction and obstruct shielding gas flow. Replace consumables when spatter buildup appears or clean them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, routinely inspect the vacuum hose for damage, cuts or kinks and replace the hose as necessary.
                              5. Proper maintenance: As with any welding equipment, fume extraction guns benefit from preventive maintenance. More frequent maintenance is required when using the guns with flux-cored wire because of the slag and fumes the wire generates. Regular maintenance helps prevent a clog or spatter buildup, which can limit the gun’s fume capture rate.

                              Getting results

                              Some fume extraction guns are designed using a common consumable platform, which means any consumables used on a standard MIG gun or even a robotic MIG gun can also be used on a fume extraction gun. When fume gun replacement parts — nozzles, contact tips and gas diffusers — can be the same as those used on standard MIG guns, this offers greater flexibility and helps reduce a company’s consumables inventory. Additionally, it may be important for some companies to choose a fume extraction gun that is compatible with vacuum systems from most major manufacturers.

                              In the right applications, fume extraction guns can help companies maintain compliance with safety regulations and create a cleaner, more comfortable welding environment for employees. When choosing fume extraction guns for MIG welding, look for features and accessories that will provide additional flexibility, time savings and advantages for welder comfort.

                                Managing MIG Guns and Consumables for Multiple Applications

                                Managing MIG Guns and Consumables for Multiple Applications

                                Image of  a welder on using a MIG gun
                                Understanding how to pair the best gun and consumable with the job can pay off in workflow and cost savings, and help improve the quality of completed welds.

                                The fabrication and manufacturing industries continue to experience demands for greater productivity, increased efficiencies and higher cost savings — often times with less labor to support the efforts. Every improvement companies can make to achieve these goals is beneficial, from offering more operator training to implementing lean practices. Managing MIG guns and consumables that meet the needs of multiple applications is also an important element in achieving those goals, both from an inventory perspective and as a matter of eliminating unnecessary downtime.

                                There are rarely, if ever, welding operations that require only one type of MIG gun or a single consumable. In fact, it’s not uncommon for many companies to have multiple MIG guns and consumables in use as a routine part of their daily operations, especially within the automotive manufacturing and pressure vessel industries.

                                Automakers, for example, often have handheld and automation weld cells all in the same building. Similarly, welding operators working on different-sized pressure vessels may have a 1,500 gallon tank being welded together with a larger, higher-amperage MIG gun, while welding operators are fabricating a smaller tank nearby with much smaller, lighter-duty MIG gun.

                                Understanding how to pair the best gun and consumable with the job can pay off in workflow and cost savings, and help improve the quality of completed welds. In addition, minimizing the part numbers for MIG guns and consumables can simplify inventory, which ultimately saves time for management and saves storage space. It can save time during the welding process, too.

                                In the shipbuilding industry, for instance, welding operators move around frequently so they do not have the capacity to swap out MIG guns to address multiple applications. Instead, they often standardize on one type of MIG gun and swap out the necks, installed with a jump liner that replaces the front part of the liner system (the rest seats in the power cable). Doing so allows them to keep the same gun for the job, while gaining access to a new joint with the appropriate neck length or configuration.

                                Below are five tips to help streamline welding operations and remain competitive by managing MIG guns and consumables effectively.


                                1. Standardize on a shorter power cable length across weld cells. As a rule of thumb, always use the MIG gun with the shortest power cable possible. A MIG gun with a longer power cable can cause welding operator discomfort since it is heavier, which can cost money and time if he or she has to stop to rest due to fatigue. Additionally, a shorter power cable minimizes the risks of kinks that could cause poor wire feeding and/or an erratic arc, and result in downtime to address birdnesting or rework.

                                Using fewer power cable lengths throughout an operation is possible when there is a difference of two or three feet between each application. For example, it may be possible to standardize on a 15-foot cable for weld cells that need this or a slightly shorter length — without causing issues with kinking of poor wire feeding. Doing so minimizes inventory and storage space requirements. It also takes away the guesswork when it comes to replacing this part of the MIG gun, as it eliminates the risk that a welding operator or maintenance employee will install the wrong length power cable on a MIG gun.

                                TOUGH LOCK consumables family
                                Use one type of contact tip across applications whenever possible. For companies that have both robotic and semi-automatic welding operations, common consumables can be especially helpful to streamline processes and inventory.

                                2. Choose one type of liner, when possible. There are different styles of liners available for MIG guns, including steel liners, D-wound liners or Teflon® liners. Teflon liners are well-suited for wires that are difficult to feed, including stainless steel or aluminum. Standardizing liner types across multiple weld cells, when possible, can reduce downtime for changeover and costs for inventory. Always make sure the liner is properly installed; otherwise, problems like birdnesting and feeding issues can result.

                                3. Use the same contact tips, even across semi-automatic and robotic weld cells. Use one type of contact tip across applications whenever possible. For companies that have both robotic and semi-automatic welding operations, common consumables can be especially helpful to streamline processes and inventory — while also reducing costs. It is not uncommon in robotic welding applications for welding operators to change contact tips long before they become worn, as it helps ensure that there is minimal downtime for problems associated with failures. These contact tips, however, still have life in them and can be used on semi-automatic MIG guns to reduce part numbers and count in inventory, and overall costs.

                                It can also reduce confusion as to which contact tips to use across the welding operations. Too many different types of contact tips, for instance, can be confusing and can lead to a welding operator using the wrong parts on the wrong MIG guns. That misstep can bring production to a slowdown or a halt.

                                In some instances, it may be possible to use the same amperage of MIG gun for multiple applications to help streamline the welding operation.

                                4. Adapt the power pin. It is not uncommon for companies to have multiple types and brands of power feeders throughout the welding operation. When possible, standardizing the power pin used in every MIG gun, via an adaptor at the feeder, can help streamline the management of various power pins to match these feeders. If a company also has various types or brands of MIG guns, an adapter can also help with gun standardization. The guns can be ordered with the same power pin and plugged into any wire feeder throughout the facility, again streamlining ordering and inventory, and minimizing costs.

                                5. Review MIG gun amperage and select one to streamline. In some instances, it may be possible to use the same amperage of MIG gun for multiple applications. For example, if 200 amp and 300 amp guns are both part of the inventory, using 300 amp guns in each cell can make it easier to manage inventory. It can also help prevent the potential for overheating if a smaller gun is accidentally used in place of a larger, higher-amperage one for a higher duty cycle job.