How To Wire Feed Welding? [A Step-by-step Guide]

how to wire feed welding

Using wire feed weld is required for attaching two metals together. While it is generally done by experts, sometimes, you may need to do some basic activities by yourself. For that, learning to use a MIG welder is necessary. Because the machine is handy and sort of easy to use if you know the process. 

MIG welder uses a thin wire to melt and penetrate a metal surface. Now it may sound very easy but you need to know certain tactics to use it. Unlike normal TIG welders, MIG welders have thin wires for welding. So you should learn about the device fully before you start using it. 

To help you out, I am here with the article explaining A to Z about wire feed welding. Starting from how it works to how you should use it correctly, all topics will be covered here. Hence, sit back and stay with me to learn how to wire feed welding. 

How Does Wire Feed Weld Work? 

Before you learn how to hold the welder and use it properly, you must know how the device works. As different welding machines work differently, knowing the mechanism of the particular devices helps a lot. 

Therefore, here are the basic points on how a MIG welder works to wire feed the metal: 

  • Wire electrodes are used to melt and penetrate a metal surface.
  • The welder has a holder for the wire electrode. You need to install the wire inside the holder. This is the wire that will weld the metal. 
  • Now you need to push the trigger to bring the device into action. 
  • As the device gets a power supply, it springs and rollers in the device get started. 
  • The device releases shield gases as the arc gets started. 
  • With this, the rollers start to release the wire and melt the part of the metal. 
  • As the arc gets heated, it heats the metal as well as the wire electrode. This melting of two metals creates the welded attachment.
  • The shield gas being released throughout the process protects the environment from harmful contamination. 

The best part of this process is that you don’t need to replace the electrode or stop in between the process. You can keep going as the wire keeps burning. 

Wire Feed Welding: The Considerations And Cautions 

The simple process is to load the device with wire, turn on the machine, and hold the wire to the place where you want the metal to melt. But remember that this task requires expertise. Even you need to hold the wire feed welder at a certain angle to get the desired result. 

Consequently, to accomplish the task properly, you need to know a few factors and learn some skills. To help you out with the process, here are some considerations and cautions that you should keep in mind:

1. Direction: Pushing Or Pulling: 

In general, welders are to be dragged for welding. The wire has to be pulled towards you to do the task. But in the case of wire feed welding, you need to push the electrode wire. 

In this method, you have to push away the wire out of the load. Pushing away from the arc from the puddle creates only a flat and shallow penetration. This forehead method is suitable if you want more visibility of the joint to pass the wire through the joint. 

But in the other method, the wire is pulled away from the metal surface leaving a deep penetration with a thin bead. This type of welding supports more metal deposition. It is necessary to remember the direction of welding while working with a wire welder. Don’t make the mistake of pulling the wire. 

2. Welding Angle: 

Now the angle of holding and pushing the wire matters a lot in wire feed welding. The angle depends on the metal, its thickness, and the type of joint. 

Let’s have a look at different angles you can apply while using a wire feed welder: 

  • Flat Position:

The type of joint decides the angle while welding in a flat position. 

For instance, butt joints ideally need welding at a 90-degree angle. The heated wire should be placed across the joint and you must maintain welding the joint at a particular angle. Tilt it 5 to 15-degree angle if required and maintain it till the process ends. Move back and forth across the joint to make the gap shallow. 

On the other hand, a T-joint requires you to hold the wire at a 45-degree angle against the workpiece. However, this technique requires a level of expertise as you may need to alter the angle.

Altering the angle is done to avoid deep undercuts and make the welding position even. In contrast to this, a lap joint has to be welded at a 60 to 70-degree angle. 

  • Horizontal Position: 

When the workpiece is placed horizontally, gravity becomes an obstacle. Due to the force of gravity, holding the welder steady becomes a bit difficult. Thus you should keep moving the welder over the joint area and alter the angle between 0 to 15 degrees angle. 

You must keep altering the angle and use both push and pull methods. Otherwise, the metal may roll over. Following this technique would give a smooth and fine finish. 

  • Vertical Position: 

Welding in a vertical position is even harder than doing it in a horizontal position. Setting up the welder and the workpiece requires expertise and time while welding vertically. 

After positioning, you should weld the joint by holding the wire between 0 to 15 degrees angle at a perpendicular dimension. Rather than holding the gun steady, you have to try the weaving mechanism to make the penetration flawless. Also, it keeps the weld puddle in position making it easier for you to make the joints. 

  • Overhead Position:

The overhead position is a very difficult one and you have to be an expert to do this. Without being a pro in welding, you can never get an accurate result. 

There is no definite angle of welding in the overhead position. In this position, the welder has to scrutinize the joint and decide the working angle. It totally depends on his judgment.

However, if you want to practice this technique, use practice sheets to refine your welding skill from the overhead position. Then you can make the penetration correct. 

3. Selecting The Wire:

Another major consideration before you use a wire feed weld is to decide the type and length of wire you should use. Let’s start with the type of wire you must have: 

  • ER70S-3
  • ER70S-6

The standard type of welding wire is the first one, ER70S-3. This is the one that you can use on all types of metals and is excellent for welding on any clean metal surface. In contrast, ER70S-6 is usually used for repairing old metal. Especially on rusty and layered metals, this wire is used for welding. 

As you select the wire, you also need to select the length. The length selection would depend upon the metal you are welding. For example, welding a solid and thick metal would require a wire of 0.035 to 0.045 inches. It would depend on the output you want to get. 

On the other hand, the standard wire length to use is between 0.030 to 0.035 inches. For moderately thick metal sheets, you must use a 0.035 inch of wire to make the process effortless. Like for motorsports activities, this length is the ideal one.

However, if the metal sheet is very thin, using a 0.023 inch of wire would suffice. When the wire is small, the heat output is limited too thus making a fine penetration in the thin sheet. 

While talking about the wire length, the length that sticks out of the weld also matters. Ideally, a 3/8th portion of an inch should come out of the welding device. If you make it longer, keeping the gun steady will become difficult and the device will tremble with a sizzling noise. 

4. Selecting The Shield Gas:

The shield gas selection not only reduces the emission of harmful gases but also enhances the quality of welding. If you don’t select the gas combination properly, it would pollute the air and also invite health risks. 

The ideal combination for shield gas is a blend of 75% Argon and 25% Carbon dioxide. Perfect for welding all types of carbon layers, it produces only a little spatter, draws a fine penetration without burning the sheet, and makes fine beads. 

Some people also use 100% carbon dioxide but the spatter production is high and the beads are not fine. But it is also a great alternative to the previous one, the argon and carbon dioxide combo. 

5 Best Tips To Wire Feed Welding: For Better Accuracy

For your performance to get better, I am listing some tips for you that I have been following:

1. Choose The Right Wire Diameter: 

Besides the length of the wire, the diameter also affects the welding quality. Especially depending on the type of sheet (thin or thick), you should choose a suitable diameter of the wire. 

Ideally, you should go for a 0.9 mm wire diameter. Though this is the standard diameter, you can use wires of 0.4 to 4 mm. It would depend on the thickness of the metal and the joint. To determine the right wire diameter to make the process efficient and effortless. 

2. Select The Right Wire Material:

Selecting the wire material also affects the welding performance and ease. You should go for a wire that has deoxidizing layers on it. With these layers, the original metal remains protected and intact. Also, the contamination of harmful gases is reduced with this type of wire material. 

3. Shield Gas Selection: 

Shield gas is what keeps the air healthy while welding. Ideally, a combination of argon and carbon dioxide works the best. Not only does it cut off the harmful effects, but it also enhances the productivity rate. The working environment stays healthy and the penetration is directly affected by it. 

4. Keep The Current On:

One of the biggest benefits of using a wire welding machine is that you don’t need to stop. As the wire burns and melts the joint, more wire comes out of the gun. 

To get the best result, keep the current on. Remember that you must keep the voltage right depending on the sheet thickness and use the right wire. The continuous force penetrates the joint smoothly. 

5. Practice Before Going In Action:

I never miss out on practicing before I start welding. This opens up my hands and increases flexibility. Also, I adjust the temperature, check the wire, make other settings beforehand and test it before going into action. 

Practice welding on thin sheets first. Remember that you will have to adjust the temperature to let the metal cool down. So apply these tactics during the practice session and then go for the final welding. 

A Few Safety Measures For Wire Feed Welding:

Welding is a risky task as it emits sparks, gases, etc. So no matter how expert you are, some safety measures should be taken. And if you are new at this, you should know the safety measures. 

Here are a few safety concerns that you must keep in mind: 

  • Wear a welding helmet
  • Put on leather armor gloves
  • Put on protective goggles for eyes
  • Wear flame resistant gear/ jackets
  • Boots for foot protection
  • Wear a face mask to avoid smelling harmful fumes
  • Do the task in a ventilated space

These are a few considerations to stay safe while welding with a wire feed weld. Remember to take these precautions to stay safe and sound. 

Related Questions About Wire Feed Welding:

What Is Wire Feed Welding Good For?

Wire feed welding is an excellent technology that attaches metals at high speed. Also, anyone can learn it by putting in minimum effort.

Wire feed welding is good for attaching thin and thick steel. Basically, MIG weld is used for joining steels. And this particular technique is suitable for attaching steels only. 

Does A Wire Feed Welder Need Gas?

Practically, wire feed welding requires gas in some way or other. Though you don’t need a separate gas cylinder, gas is needed. 

While some have self-shielding layers, other welders need shielding gas. Shielding gas protects the air from the harmful fumes of welding. Yes, a wire feed welder needs gas. Now that can be in the welder already or you may need to use it separately.

Do You Pull Or Push-In Wire Feed Welding? 

Pushing and pulling both are allowed in wire feed welding. But generally, the wire is pushed to the welding joint with the MIG in wire feed welding. The penetration is fine and shallow with this technique. 

However, for a thicker and deeper penetration, you would need to pull away from the wire, move across the joint, and do the welding. Hence, the pushing and pulling depend on what kind of penetration you want. But usually, pushing is done in wire feed welding. 

Is Wire Feed Welding Stronger Than TIG Welding? 

TIG welding produces more precise penetrations and can be used for multiple purposes. TIG weld’s performance is, therefore, definitely stronger than wire feed welding. 

TIG can be used for almost all tasks. But MIG or wire welding is required when you need to join two metals. Also, MIG is used for small and minor tasks only. But all the pro-level works are done with TIG weld. Thus it is evident that TIG is stronger than wire feed welding.

Is Learning Wire Feed Welding Easy? 

Using a MIG weld is comparatively easier than using a TIG weld. While MIG weld uses a metal wire, TIG weld uses a metal rod. Besides, MIG wires melt slowly but the metal rod in TIG is moved constantly to create penetration. 

Learning MIG is not that hard if you practice holding it at the correct angle according to the type of joint. Also, learn to adjust the temperature and choose the right wire size to get the best result. Otherwise, operating the MIG weld is not that tough. You just need to know the tactics and practice; that’s all. 

Which Is Better: Wire Feed Or Stick Welder?

Both wire feed and stick welder are good. But their suitability depends on which material you are working on. 

For example, working on hard metals would require you to use a stick welder. It provides more force with a powerful arc to weld hard materials. Also, in outdoor conditions, a stick welder is better. But for delicate metals, using a wire welder is better. So the suitability depends on which material you want to weld.

How Does Wire Feed Speed Effect Your Weld? (Video)


To conclude, I must mention that you can learn to perform wire feed welding if you note the tips and safety guidelines. Maintaining these factors would allow you to perform it more accurately and confidently. However, don’t forget to practice well before going for the final task. 

Therefore, read the article again, go through the user manual of the device, practice well, and start wire feed welding by yourself. 

You may also want to read:

Can You Weld Stainless Steel To Mild Steel

How To Purge Stainless Steel For Welding

How To Store Welding Rods

Kaosar Ahmed

This is Kaosar Ahmed. I’m the main publisher of this blog. Welding Leader is a blog where I share welding tips and tricks, reviews, and guides. Stay tuned to get more helpful articles!

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