Motionlab.berlin metal welding workshop experience report

WORKSHOP - INTRODUCTION TO WIRE-FEED MIG/MAG METAL WELDING

An experience report by Roxane

Is it possible to participate successfully in professional machine workshops at MotionLab.Berlin without any previous knowledge? Just a few weeks ago I would have claimed the opposite, but now I have to say clearly: YES! Why and how did I come to this? These are the experiences from my very first metal welding workshop at Motionlab.Berlin, the first experience I ever had in dealing with professional machines.

MOTIONLAB.BERLIN WORKSHOPS

My thoughts before participating in the new metal welding workshop at MotionLab.Berlin.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a MIG/MAG metal welding workshop organised by MotionLab.Berlin to learn how to use some of the equipment available in the metal lab, as well as safety requirements. MotionLab.Berlin organises workshops every week so you can learn how to use all the machines available and make the most of your membership, just don’t forget to book your workshop here! 

I was wondering about how in-depth this workshop would be, as I had zero knowledge about metal welding in general, and even less about the different kinds of welding options there are. So, is it possible to participate successfully in a professional machine workshop at MotionLab.Berlin without any previous knowledge? And what is MIG/MAG metal welding exactly, and is it within anyone’s reach?

WHAT IS MIG/MAG METAL WELDING

The technology and safety requirements

Gas metal arc welding (GMAW) procedures such as metal inert gas (MIG) and metal active gas (MAG) welding use heat generated by a DC (direct current) electric arc between a consumable metal electrode and a workpiece to melt the two together and form a weld pool that fuses to form a join.

Our instructor walked us through the workshop, which was divided into two parts, theory and practice.

We started by making an inventory of the equipment for metal welding, and what it is used for. The equipment is composed of the welding machine and the welding arc. You have to adjust the settings (voltage and wire speed) for your weld. The device at MotionLab.Berlin is beginner friendly, but if you want to make use of the atelier, you should probably pay attention to it. The wire is made of copper and will act as a melting point between the metal parts that you want to weld. 

When it comes to protective equipment, it is essential to ensure your whole body is covered (closed shoes, gloves, long-sleeved shirt, and pants, ideally in a natural fabric like cotton). Indeed, apart from obvious burning accidents that can occur, the creation of pollutants in welding fumes and ultraviolet (UV) radiation in the welding arc is a considerable long-term risk for skin cancer.

So why should you learn MIG/MAG metal welding, too?

MIG metal welding presents several advantages, a major one being that it is quite beginner-friendly (even I managed to make nice welds, according to our instructor) and you can use it for a variety of different metals and thicknesses. You can also use it with a few different techniques and positions, which makes it easy to handle. 

The welding position, welding gun angle, wire stick-out length, welding speed, and form of the molten weld pool are the most crucial factors in MIG/MAG welding. 

HOW TO - METAL WELDING

After putting on your protective equipment and setting up your machine, MIG metal welding is pretty simple. I first didn’t want to try it because I consider myself to be quite clumsy, so to me, it felt like the perfect recipe for disaster. After a motivational speech from the instructor and my peers, I decided to give it a go. Well to my surprise, the handle is far from being as heavy as I thought it would be, and the emanating sparks are no bother (when well protected obviously). 

The only “difficult” part is to manage the speed at which you’re welding. Meaning that if you go too fast, it can lead to incomplete fusion, which defeats the purpose of welding. So far, it sounds easy. Unfortunately, the speed problem was encountered at least once by every participant in the workshop. I noticed that if you’re not 100% focused on the speed, you will either go too fast or too slow, and in addition to being messy and unpleasant to the eye, the weld will be of poor quality.

REVIEW OF MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

My recommendation: Give it a try!

For the average person, metal welding can seem somehow unuseful, but I find it extremely handy in a post-apocalyptic scenario where we would have to rebuild the world. Indeed, for any project involving steel, aluminium, or stainless steel, MIG/MAG welding is the way to go and is very beginner friendly. Surely, it takes practice, but it is worth the time invested in!

Have you already participated in one of the MotionLab.Berlin workshops? I hope I was able to reduce your worries or skepticism. Just sign up and give it a try. Even without any previous knowledge!