Walk into any sizable hardware store and you’ll see a range of welders, some a few hundred dollars or less.
If you need to expand welding capacity at your business or want to replace an older piece of equipment, you might be tempted to go with one of these relatively inexpensive options.
But if you care about weld quality, ease of use, reliability and safety - you’ll look for a professional-grade option.
Learn more about what you need to consider when upgrading your welding equipment.
“But we’ve always done it that way.”
Maybe you’ve gotten along just fine for years by using your hardware-store welder. But Kevin O’Brien, Welding Equipment Sales at OTC DAIHEN, explained why you might need to rethink that approach.
“I use the analogy all the time that doctors don’t use ice picks to do brain surgery anymore,” he said. “There have been advancements and there are better ways to do things now.”
Today’s professional-grade welders include technology that the older - or cheaper - welders just don’t have. For example, OTC DAIHEN’s welding power sources include processors that monitor the arc 50 million times per second and continuously adjust amperage, voltage, wire, feed speed and more automatically.
Most welders sold to the general public are also intended for hobby use - not an industrial setting.
“They’re for someone at home who wants to weld thin materials, work on a lawnmower - they aren’t production pieces of equipment,” said Danny Baumli, OTC DAIHEN Regional Sales Manager.
Save Time and Eliminate Cleanup Work
One of the biggest advantages of using professional-grade welding equipment is the ability to save weld programs in the machine or start from pre-defined parameters.
Instead of an operator needing to set up the machine correctly every time for the material, gas and wire type, they can choose from a saved mode. So one of your welders can set up the machine correctly once, and other employees can use it over and over again, boosting consistency from job to job.
“So now when you go to weld that same part again, you don’t have to spend any time figuring out what the correct parameters are. You can just hit ‘load program’, and boom, you’re done,” said O’Brien.
Another huge benefit is the reduced spatter that comes with a professional piece of equipment. By helping you choose the correct parameters and monitoring the usage as you weld, you’ll achieve a cleaner, better-quality weld and avoid the cleanup work that comes with excessive spatter.
Finally, improved quality on the machine’s end means your welders don’t necessarily need a high level of experience to create a good weld. If good welders are hard to find in your area, someone with less experience can still operate a professional piece of equipment while skilled welders take on more complicated jobs.
“I will take management that has no welding experience, get them under a hood, set the machine up and let them run beads with it,” said Baumli. “That's the difference with the machine.”
Better Machines, Better Safety
There are inherent risks in letting a machine get hot and run for hours or days at a time in an enclosed, dust-filled space.
Professional-grade welding equipment helps reduce these risks.
“We have a lot of safety redundancies on our machines,” said O’Brien. “Our latest welding power source design isolates and seals off the brains of the unit from the power and inverter elements. Also the number of electrical components has been reduced…fewer devices and electrical connections that can fail over time.
“The net result of these design and build changes is that our repair rate is way less than our prior model, and there's way less of a chance of you bridging something, something popping, exploding, getting electrocuted, anything like that due to a build-up of metal dust.”
Non-professional equipment, said Baumli, just isn’t meant to be used in an industrial setting: “It’s not manufactured to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Is a Professional-Grade Welder Really Worth the Cost?
Still not sure whether you need to upgrade your equipment? O’Brien offered one final comparison to help you see the difference between welders.
“It's like driving a Cadillac versus a Ferrari,” he said. “They're both great cars. It's just very different. You can do a lot more in the Ferrari.”
Explore all OTC DAIHEN manual welding equipment models here and learn more about our professional-grade technology.