I've been in the welding industry for something going on 40 years. I've seen a lot, and to this day I still see a lot of welding operations out there that put some crazy contraptions on their welding fixtures to get their welds done. Some of them make sense for the applications, but a lot of times they're doing it to their own detriment.
When it comes to fixtures - the types of positioners that are made for a machine or an automatic torch, I find that there are a lot of welding production plants out there still putting semi-automatic or handheld guns on these fixtures and manipulating it. I know why they do it... for cost savings. In the outset yes, you do save on that initial expense of buying a cheaper handheld MIG gun and running it on a high 300 to low 400 amp setting, but over time what happens is that handheld torch gets run way too hard for it's duty cycle, and plants are tearing through contact tips, replacing wire all the time, and burning through their cables at a higher than normal rate. Why's that happening? Because they're not using the right torch for the right application!
If you're taking your handheld MIG gun and putting it on a fixture then trying to weld heavy steel I-beams, pipes, tanks, etc., you're costing yourself on the back end with the incredible amount of consumables you're probably going through. Think about what the right torch for the job at hand would be. If you're using a fixture, or a positioner, you need to look at automatic or machine MIG guns to properly use that fixture. These guns are designed and built to run at higher amps, greater loads, and can take the punishment. And what's better, you'll run through way less consumables and save yourself time and money on the back end because you have the right tool for the job.
Using an automatic torch like the Binzel AUT 750 shown here can drastically lower churn through your MIG guns depending on the job.
I'll never forget this one manufacturer I met years ago in Utah where I literally encountered this exact issue. This company manufactured oil tanks, and they welded them together with a handheld MIG torch on a fixture. Not surprisingly they were burning the torch up, replacing it the gun often, and going through consumables at a ridiculous rate. I came in for a visit insisting that their best route for this particular welding pplication was to use an automatic or machine MIG gun.
Well, the Shop Foreman - a very nice man - told me that just wasn't possible because they used the handheld that was on the fixture to do finish welds at the end. They literally were putting this gun on the fixture, manipulating it to perform the weld with a clever little wire lever system, then taking the torch off to perform the finish welds before placing it back on the fixure to do the same process all over again. It was a matter of cost, I was told. The handheld was a cheaper upfront expense and easier to justify burning through that than the unknown of an automatic or machine torch.
In the end, this manufacturer could save themselves thousands over time by just buying the right torch for the job from the outset and getting a handheld to do those finish welds at the end. They could have increased their productivity so much and burned through less consumables and torches it would have paid itself back in no time.
So when you look at your production process, ask yourself if you are using the right tool - the correct tool - to get that job done. And then ask yourself if there is a better way? You can always contact us, and we can help with our own line of Binzel automatic and machine torches.