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If you are just getting started in MIG welding, you might have noticed multiple welding process techniques. There is a circular pattern, a weaving pattern, and a whipping pattern. But how do you know which pattern to use for your project? Should you use the weaving pattern on your current welding project?
When you are welding large joints, you can use a weaving technique. However, in some places, weaving is forbidden when welding.
Like a shipyard, some places do not allow you to use a weaving pattern, but in general, you should use a weaving pattern when you are not working on a critical joint. If you want to learn more about weaving in MIG welding, continue reading.
Should You Weave When MIG Welding?
Weaving while MIG welding is comprised of swirling your hand with the welder. The amount of curling is up to your personal preferences. You can make straight lines in a zig-zag pattern or make it curly, like writing the letter L in cursive over and over again. Weaving is a technique used to control the amount of heat being conducted during the process.
You can either push or pull the welder. Pushing the welder towards the joint is the most common option and the easiest for beginners to learn. It is also called the forehand method. It gives you a shallow penetration. The backhand method, or pulling, is when you drag the welder over the surface.
Weaving is the right technique for welding a wide, flat joint or welding unusually thick metals. It might take some practice before you get it right because it involves making a shape repeatedly throughout the entire joint. It also takes some patience because the joint is room temperature before you start welding, to wait for it to heat.
Depending on the welding position, you might choose not to weave when welding because of the welder’s angle to the joint. Certain positions lend themselves better to specific patterns, although you can choose the pattern based on your personal preferences in most cases.
The basic positions are flat position, horizontal position, vertical down position, and vertical up position. The position is dictated by where the joint you are welding is located. The flat position is the most comfortable and most versatile, so if you can put the joint in front of you on a table, that would be the best one to pick.
However, most people do not have the luxury of merely moving joints around to best suit their position. One of the top pieces of advice that senior welders give to people just starting is to find a way to comfortably maintain whatever strange position you have to contort yourself into just to reach the joint you are welding.
For some of the more difficult welding positions, you might need to find something to prop yourself against so that your body is held steady while you weld.
As noted above, this is the preferred position for all welders and the easiest for beginners to practice in. Most joints will not give you this ideal position, but you will want to practice in a flat position when you are first learning to control the welder’s movements. Here, your welder is pointing straight down to the joint.
You can use any pattern from this position. Many people prefer to use the holding still pattern because it runs much hotter than the other patterns, and this position is perfect for moving quickly and turning up the heat, but it is up to you. The hotter you set the welder, the more likely it that the weld will penetrate and the joint will hold when you have finished.
Your welder is pointing up around forty degrees and tilted around twenty-five degrees towards the weld in this position. You will have to keep track of the weld puddle to make sure it is not pooling in one specific area and also that it is not dripping anywhere. Remember, it is liquid molten metal and can damage people and objects if it drips onto them.
Whatever type of joint you are welding, try to keep to tight stringer beads to prevent this kind of thing. If you are comfortable with whipping, that is the best pattern in this position, although some people also use the circular design.
Vertical Down Position
This position is not much harder than the flat position. When welding this kind of surface, you should always remember to begin the weld at the top and move down. Move the welder back and forth to ensure that you cover the sides. The main issue in this position is your timing. You will have to be faster than the weld puddle, so there is no time for a coffee break.
Vertical Up Position
The vertical up position is the most challenging way to weld. You have to keep laying down small layers of a weld and then work up from those layers. Even the most experienced welders have trouble with the vertical up position. People often find that the weld sticks out pretty far from the joint and does not look aesthetically pleasing, but it gets the job done.
Some people grind a small notch or dent where they will be welding to give the welding material something to hold onto.
Alternative Patterns For MIG Welding
When you should not weave for MIG welding, you have three other options. Those options are comprised of the circle, holding still, and whipping. Whipping is distinctly different from weaving, and the circle pattern technique is a combination of the two. Like weaving, there is a separate forehand and backhand method for each pattern.
Whipping is the most straightforward moving technique for beginners. Weaving takes some practice because the weld puddle expands pretty far, and it takes longer because it does not heat the joint before it is filled with metal. The circle pattern combines the best parts of the two other techniques.
As the name implies, you set up the MIG welder in the place it needs to be and then hold it steady. When robots perform welding techniques, they often rely on holding still because they will not have to be programmed to judge where to weave or whip the metal. You steadily move the welder forward in the direction you want to go without anything fancy.
This technique also allows you to have an extremely hot weld. Many people have found that when the weld is hotter, the project turns out better. Often, when people perform out of position aluminum welding, they prefer to use this technique.
If you want to use fillet welds or stringer beads, this technique works better than weaving. The whipping pattern contains the weld puddle in a small space. Beginners are often taught this technique because it saves the welder some time by heating the joint before it is filled with metal. You bring your hand forward a bit, then straight back half as much.
People who have tried out both the whipping and weaving patterns might find that a combination of those works best. The circle pattern can be used on most types of joints without any significant issues. Like weaving, you make a small circle, but then you whip the welder forward and make a second small circle.
Depending on your preferences and your welding position, you may or may not choose to weave. If you do not weave, you have plenty of other options to spread the weld puddle around the joint. However, you decide to do it, happy welding.