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From Semi-Automatic to Automatic: Tips for Selecting a Welding Gun

From Semi-Automatic to Automatic: Tips for Selecting a Welding Gun

Choosing the right equipment for a welding operation is critical to achieving high weld quality and productivity while also eliminating costly downtime. And that includes welding guns.

In many cases, companies may have a mix of welding processes and guns. For example, in heavy equipment and general manufacturing, it’s common to have semi-automatic welding along with robotic welding. In oil and gas and shipbuilding applications, semi-automatic welding and fixed automation are prevalent. The combination of welding processes and equipment allows companies serving these industries to weld a variety of part volumes and sizes.

These process mixes, however, can pose challenges in terms of gun selection. That’s why it’s important to know the best welding gun features to look for to achieve the desired weld results — and the best efficiencies.

This article has been published as a web-exclusive on thefabricator.com. To read the entire story, please click here.


The Importance of Cutting a Welding Liner Properly

The Importance of Cutting a Welding Liner Properly

Installing a welding liner correctly is, first and foremost, a matter of proper training. For traditional systems, it’s critical that welding operators understand how to measure and cut the liner to the required length for the gun. 

A welding liner that has been cut either too short or too long can lead to a host of issues, most often poor wire feeding. That, in turn, can lead to weld quality issues and rework — both factors that contribute to unnecessary and costly downtime. 

The Bernard® AccuLock™ S Consumable System can help eliminate installation issues. First, however, it’s important to understand the pitfalls of standard liner installation to understand the value of this solution. 

The problem
The position of the gun and power cable factors significantly into whether liner installation is successful. If the gun and power cable are twisted or coiled before the welding operator trims the liner, the liner can end up either too long or too short, due to how the cable is constructed. 

Inside the power cable is copper that is wound around a central conduit in a helix or spiral. If the cable is twisted or coiled, it will grow or shrink based on how the copper helix is also twisted. Think of a spring — if it is twisted one way, it grows; if twisted the other way, it shrinks.  

For this reason, it’s important to lay the gun and cable straight to avoid any kinks that would lead to an incorrect reading when trimming the liner. Generally, longer power cables are more prone to twisting, so welding operators must take even more care when installing liners in them. 

Welding operators may experience the following due to an improperly trimmed liner:

  • Poor wire feeding
  • Erratic arc
  • Birdnesting
  • Burnbacks
  • Wire chatter

A new solution

The Bernard® AccuLock™ System eliminates the need to measure the liner for replacement. The liner locks into place so it can then be trimmed flush with the power pin cap at the back of the gun and power cable. It is still important to lay the gun and cable flat, avoiding twists. 

Digital image demonstrating how to trim an AccuLock S liner with no measuring required
Digital image of the back end of a BTB semi-automatic MIG gun AccuLock S power pin installed

The welding operator can conduct a visual check to determine the liner is in the proper place. This check isn’t possible with a traditional liner if it has been cut too short; the liner will be hidden under the nozzle and gas diffuser, and not visible to the welding operator. 

The AccuLock System reduces wire feeding issues through the gun, as well, since the liner is locked and concentrically aligned at both the power pin cap and contact tip. This dual lock helps ensure the liner won’t extend or contract as the welding operator changes positions and the power cable naturally bends. The result is the elimination of gaps or misalignments at the front and back of the gun for a flawless wire-feeding path. 

As an added benefit the concentric alignment of the liner reduces mechanical wear on the contact tip that could lead to burnbacks or keyholing, both of which shorten the contact tip life. 

For more information please visit the AccuLock S consumables product page

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 | 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.

                    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.”