Best Gasless MIG Welder

MIG welding is not a one-size-fits-all process. There are so-called “all-around” MIG, sure. Still, there are times when it’s best to use a specific type for specific situations and environments. It is not to mention a specific skill set.

It is not rocket science, but that doesn’t mean you can wing it and hope you get good results. If you want to do it right, you need to use the proper tools and execute the right techniques. 

Speaking of proper tools, there are two types we’ll talk about. The Gas MIG Welder (also called “Gas shielded”) and Gasless MIG welder (also called “Self-shielded”).

Yes, MIG without gas is possible. We’ll go through everything you need to know. It is sometimes called no-gas MIG.

Summary

We tested various products and found that the best gasless MIG welder was the Forney Easy Weld 261. YESWELDER produces the best gasless MIG wire. Gasless MIG welders’ main advantage is that they’re easy to use outside. The gasless MIG welders’ main disadvantage is that the result isn’t quite as strong as alternative methods, although they still provide reasonable results.

Here is the summary of our testing:

  • Best value: Forney
  • Best luxury: YESWELDER

Best gasless welder machines & wire

Are you simply looking for recommendations on the best gasless welders to get you started on your projects? We’ve carefully reviewed the options on the market to bring you the best contender in each category. Here’s our selection of the best gasless MIG wire and tools to try!

Company
Best value
Forney
Best luxury option
YESWELDER
Best cheap option
YESWELDER
Best wire
YESWELDER
Photo
Forney Easy Weld 261, 140 FC-i Welder, 120V, Green
YESWELDER Digital MIG-205DS MIG Welder,200Amp 110/220V Dual Voltage, Gas Gasless MIG Welding Machine MIG/Lift TIG/ARC 3 in 1 Multiprocess Aluminum MIG Welder, Spool Gun Compatible
YESWELDER Large LED Display 125Amp 110V ARC Welding Machine, MMA Welder Machine, Portable Mini Stick Welder
YESWELDER Flux Core Mig Wire, Mild Steel E71TGS .030-Diameter, 10-Pound Strong ABS Plastic Spool Welding Wire
What we like
Great value, wire feed control & accessories included
Digital display, impressive quality & adjustability
Impressive, cheap machine
Great gasless MIG wire at an unbeatable price as well.
Our rating
5/5
5/5
4.5/5
5/5
Customer review
"Welding 1/2” to 3/16” was a breeze!!"
"Awesome welder for the money"
"Definitely worth what I paid"
"Very, Very Impressed"
Best value
Company
Forney
Photo
Forney Easy Weld 261, 140 FC-i Welder, 120V, Green
What we like
Great value, wire feed control & accessories included
Our rating
5/5
Customer review
"Welding 1/2” to 3/16” was a breeze!!"
Best luxury option
Company
YESWELDER
Photo
YESWELDER Digital MIG-205DS MIG Welder,200Amp 110/220V Dual Voltage, Gas Gasless MIG Welding Machine MIG/Lift TIG/ARC 3 in 1 Multiprocess Aluminum MIG Welder, Spool Gun Compatible
What we like
Digital display, impressive quality & adjustability
Our rating
5/5
Customer review
"Awesome welder for the money"
Best cheap option
Company
YESWELDER
Photo
YESWELDER Large LED Display 125Amp 110V ARC Welding Machine, MMA Welder Machine, Portable Mini Stick Welder
What we like
Impressive, cheap machine
Our rating
4.5/5
Customer review
"Definitely worth what I paid"
Best wire
Company
YESWELDER
Photo
YESWELDER Flux Core Mig Wire, Mild Steel E71TGS .030-Diameter, 10-Pound Strong ABS Plastic Spool Welding Wire
What we like
Great gasless MIG wire at an unbeatable price as well.
Our rating
5/5
Customer review
"Very, Very Impressed"

Forney Easy Weld 261

The Forney is our top pick, so let’s cover it quickly.

NameEasy Weld 261
BrandForney
Country of Origin‎China
FeaturePortable
Item Dimensions16.7 x 12 x 8.1 inches
Max amp140

Pros

  • It’s a great starter machine.
  • It has several thousand reviews.
  • It’s perfect for small repairs.
  • It makes less spatter than we thought it would.

Cons

  • There are cheaper options out there.
  • It’s basic and can only output 140 amp.
  • If you’re getting serious about welding, you might want a more serious machine straight away.
Forney Easy Weld 261
We love this Forney machine.

Here’s what we’ll look at in the rest of the article:

Table of Contents

Gas vs. Gasless: What are their differences?

One major difference is that one uses an external shielding gas while the other equipment doesn’t. Can you guess which is which? This shield protects the material from contamination and oxidation caused by exposure to the atmosphere.

There are many ways for welders to generate this, but most use a cylinder to pull it off. Let’s take a closer look at the craft of doing it without gas!

On the other hand, the gasless welder uses a self-shielding wire (also called “Innershield wires”). It’s a metallic tube filled with flux core.

Once heated, this wire causes the flux to melt. It produces a “shield” that will prevent oxidizing and contaminating the material. The melted flux also produces a protective slag that integrates alloys into the metal, which produces its mechanical properties.

(Note: It bears noting that this equipment is not really “gasless.” People have started calling them that because self-shielding wires don’t need a cylinder. With that said, we’re still going to use the term for the sake of those who prefer to use the term.)

Self-shielding wires have other benefits besides protecting the work from oxidation and contamination. They also generate an intense arc used on steel, specifically those thinner than 1.2 mm. 

Another major difference between the two is their polarity settings. “With shielding” gas MIG uses a single positive torch feed while gasless MIG welding uses a negative torch feed. In cases where the trigger drives the relay, polarity won’t matter at all.

Some machines can operate in both modes, thus allowing users to change the polarity of the torch based on the needs of the job. Of course, those that can use both modes are more expensive. It’s not even counting the upgrade kit that’s always required for “with gas” applications. 

Here’s the quick recap.

FeatureGasless WeldingGas Welding
CostGenerally less expensiveGenerally more expensive
PortabilityMore portableLess portable
Setup TimeLessMore
Suitable for Outdoor UseYesNo
Weld QualityNot as consistentMore consistent
Weld StrengthNot as strongStronger

Considerations

Gasless MIG welders are becoming popular in industrial settings for many good reasons. For one thing, using it means that companies don’t have to rely on shielding gas anymore. It helps them save up on costs, not to mention help them do away with storage issues at the job site.

Moreover, using it eliminates the expenses that would have otherwise been spent on tents or windshields. They’re typically used to protect welds from the atmosphere.

However, companies whose employees are used to Stick have to provide training to help them properly employ the techniques. Attuning themselves better to the process can take some time.

It also bears noting that the guns used for self-shielded MIG welders are also different from those used in Stick. Because of it, they require you to work at different angles and postures. If the techniques aren’t executed properly, slag is likely produced.

That’s why you must constantly check for the presence of spatter and debris in between passes. If you don’t, your wire feeding will be compromised with poor results to show for it.

When doing gas MIG, it’s ideal to use the electrode far away from the weld and then allow it to inch closer as the rod melts slowly. It’s different from gasless, in which you have to maintain the same position throughout the process. The recommended distance between the contact tip and the weld is at least a half-inch in this scenario.

Pros and Cons: Is It Any Good?

Now that you know their differences (and similarities), you’re probably wondering which to go for. To help you arrive at an informed decision, let’s go over the pros and cons of each type.

PROS

Here are the advantages of using a gasless MIG.

It’s more convenient.

When picking the right equipment, it only follows that you pick the most convenient one to use. In terms of convenience, the equipment has the advantage over its counterpart type. Firstly, these machines are much more compact and lightweight. It makes them easy to carry. It doesn’t hurt that you don’t need to clean the material before starting. 

Moreover, self-shielded flux-cored wire is better suited for rusted or painted-over surfaces. Why? Because the flux used in such machines allows the tool to fuse through rust and paint easily. For this reason, they are becoming the tools of choice in industrial settings. 

It’s great for outdoor work.

You might want to go for this type if most of your jobs are done outdoors. Why is it better than “with gas” MIG welders? Firstly, it uses shielded gas. This gas tends to be blown away easily when exposed to windy weather.

This causes the bead to become porous, which can compromise the quality of the bond. With self-shielded MIG equipment, you can work to your heart’s content in windy weather.

You won’t have to worry about your material getting contaminated or oxidized. Using this equipment is the way to go if you’re a craftsman who’s always on the move.

It’s got better arc control.

If paired with voltage sensing wire feeders, it can give you increased control of the arc. It allows for cleaner and more precise work. MIG that uses self-shielded flux-cored wire can be an “all-position” method given the proper filling materials.

It’s easier to use

Training with this method is relatively easy, especially if you compare it to a method like TIG. Because you don’t have to rely on high-strength pipes, you don’t have to keep monitoring a wide range of parameters. 

It is faster

It has much greater deposition efficiency than stick electrodes used in gas welding. It means less filler material is needed to complete the job. If speed is of the essence (and given that you can maintain the quality), using this type can help you get the job done fast.

CONS

There are also some disadvantages. If any of these disadvantages are a deal-breaker for you, then you’re better off using another type of technique.

Positioning is limited

To do the method right, you are relegated to limited positions. This makes overhead or vertical work very challenging. While working in these positions can be done, it takes some getting used to. 

Production of fumes

They don’t have flux coating that can cause the material to solidify faster. In other words, they don’t have a covering that holds the molten pool. This is important when you’re working in an overhead or a vertical position.

As a result, toxic fumes are more likely to escape. They can compromise your health upon exposure. No surprise there. Fumes contain:

  • argon
  • nitrogen
  • carbon monoxide
  • carbon dioxide
  • and hydrogen fluoride.

According to OSHA, short-term exposure can result in the following side effects:

  • Nausea,
  • dizziness,
  • eye irritation,
  • and kidney damage.

Long-term exposure to such fumes can also result in cancer.

Switching on Over to this Type? Mull on these Facts

Have you decided to switch to self-shielded MIG welding? Great! But not too fast. While switching is often a good choice, there are specific considerations you need to think over. There are measures you need to take to ensure that the transition goes smoothly. Here they are.

Compliance to codes

Before you switch, you need to be aware of the structural codes by the D1 committee of the American Welding Society (AWS). More importantly, you need to make sure that you’re complying with those codes.

Furthermore, you need to check if there are additional certifications you need to complete for specific tasks. You must get them requalified with the new procedures in mind if you already have certifications. With that said, it’s ideal that you undergo requalification regularly to ensure that the process is fast and efficient.

Choosing the right equipment

Choosing the right flux core or the best MIG welder is critical when starting this new craft. Self-shielded FCAW requires a constant-voltage power source. You must maintain the recommended voltage throughout the process. If your equipment cannot maintain a steady voltage, mistakes or irregularities (porosity) are expected. 

Selecting the correct wire

You need to use the correct wire for self-shielding to work, particularly the self-shielded flux-cored wire. It has different seismic requirements and requires the appropriate strengths. The wire you’re using needs to have the chemical and mechanical properties that can accommodate the structural applications required.

Best practices

While it is easier than most processes, it has attendant challenges that need to be addressed. Here are the key practices that will bolster your success with self-shielded flux-cored welding.

Maintain the right travel speed and angle

When performing work in the vertical position, aim your gun at an angle of 5 to 15 degrees. When working in a flat or horizontal position, make sure that the drag angle is 15 to 40 degrees. Maintain your speed as slowing down can cause the piece to puddle, resulting in slag production.

Maintain correct heat input

You need to maintain proper heat input to ensure that the metals fuse well. To pull this off, use the voltage recommended by the manufacturer relative to the wire diameter. Slag inclusions are likely to occur if you don’t provide enough heat. 

Clean the material thoroughly in between passes

By cleaning the surface of the base metal thoroughly between passes, you can remove contaminants that may cause fusion issues. You can remove any slag using a chipping hammer or a wire brush. 

Maintain the right penetration

Maintain the right penetration by monitoring how much metal is deposited into the joint within a given time period. You need to ensure enough space between the bead and the joint for the metal. It is especially important when you’re making root passes and maneuvering through wide openings. 

 The metal will penetrate the base metal and hang from the underside if you go too deep. To prevent excessive penetration, reduce the voltage range to the recommended settings and slow down the wire feeding. If it’s the other way around (lack of penetration), turn up the wire feed speed and increase the voltage range. Set up the joint to make the groove’s bottom more accessible without losing your hold on the wire extension and the arc.

Prevent porosity and worm tracking

Porosity in metal is not pretty to look at, and you’d do well to take the proper measures to minimize it. One good way to prevent porosity is to use filler meals that contain deoxidizers. Also, double-check that the wire stick-out (the wire’s extension length from the gun’s nozzle) is not 1.¼ inch apart from the contact tip. 

Another common issue with MIG is the incidence of worm tracks. They are marks made on the bead’s surface due to the fumes released by the wire once the flux has melted off. You can prevent this by maintaining the recommended voltage settings for the wire feed. Maybe you spot signs of worm tracks. The best course of action is to turn down the voltage by increments of 12 volts until the issue is fixed.

Which of these features are important to you?

  • Portability
  • Setup time
  • Cost
  • Weld quality
  • Outdoor use
  • Weld strength

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

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