If you enjoy working with your hands and aren’t afraid of handling molten metal, have you ever thought of starting your own welding business? If so, you’ll need have a handle on business processes as well as welding techniques.
The boring bit of starting a welding business – administration
If you aren’t already a skilled welder and you don’t want to hire someone right away, then you will need to learn how to weld. The American Welding Society School Locater can help you identify an accredited welding school near you.
Once you know what you’re doing with a welding torch, you’ll need to get yourself licensed to wield your welder. For that, contact your state licensing board. You will also need a business license. Topics that are likely to appear on the exam for your welding license are likely to include:
- Welding processes
- Welding equipment
- Repair processes
Next, you will need to purchase your equipment. If you’ve passed the licensing exam, you will already know that you will need to buy:
- MIG and TIG welding machines
- Plasma and air cutters
- Fume extractor
- Welding & Respirator helmets
- Safety gear – welding blankets, goggles, abrasives and hoists
You’re going to need a van or a truck to schlep all that gear to your customers’ sites. Customers. Yes, you will have to advertise for those. Identify businesses that will need your services. Leave no stone unturned. Aircraft manufacturers, for example, sometimes need small numbers of really weird parts, like fabricating weld end extensions for odd-sized maintenance wrenches. Make liberal use of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.
The fun part – welding techniques
Gas Tungsten Arc Welding. Arc welding techniques include TIG welding (Tungsten Inert Gas welding) and MIG welding (Metal Inert Gas Welding). Both use metal electrodes and an inert gas that acts as an oxidation shield at high temperatures.
In the above video, you learned about the touch and lift technique, also known as restart technique, to create a series of lap joints. Restarts work better with a sharp electrode. You can hold round parts in place using a positioner or any of the other techniques in the video.
Electric resistance welding. This category of welding techniques includes spot welding and seam welding. The electrical resistance of a substance relates to how difficult it is to pass an electric current through it. The unit of electrical resistance is the ohm. The opposite of resistance is conductance.
How can you make this property work for you in the welding business? Small pools of molten metal form at the point of highest electrical resistance when you apply a current of 100 to 100K amps through the metal.
While resistance methods are efficient and environmentally friendly, their use is limited to relatively thin materials. Also, the equipment cost can be high.
Butt Welding. This is a form of resistance welding and refers to the process of joining two components together so they are joined (“butted”) together but not overlapping. You can do this by gradually heating both edges and then sticking them together so they melt into one another, or by heating both pieces using pressure. You can achieve this by either MIG welding or TIG welding.
While the concept is easiest to grasp by thinking of welding two flat edges together, butt welding really shines when you need to join awkwardly shaped or differently sized pieces together. Here, you would use flash welding, bringing the two pieces together while applying a flashing high voltage.
It has other advantages. First, you get to say the word, “butt” a lot. Second, it doesn’t require the use of additional end fittings, so it reduces manufacturing time.
Oxy-fuel welding. Instead of metal, oxy-fuel welding uses oxygen or other gases to weld materials together. It can also be used to cut through materials. The gas is used to increase the flame temperature and allow localized welding.
There are other types of welding, such as submerged arc welding, electroslag welding, and shielded metal arc welding.