Debunking 5 Common Myths About Using Suitcase Wire Feeders on the Jobsite
August 13, 2019
From poor feeding capability to questions about durability, we’re debunking common misconceptions about suitcase wire feeders.
Using wire welding processes
A few persistent myths about suitcase wire feeders may be keeping contractors from switching to more productive wire welding processes — and from reaping the benefits — on construction and fabrication jobsites.
From poor feeding capability to questions about durability, we’re debunking the most common misconceptions about wire feeders and setting the record straight about feeder quality and performance.
Myth 1: Operators aren’t comfortable using wire feeders
FACT: Some wire feeders are designed for simplified setup, allowing operators to change the wire and drive roll in a matter of minutes. And wire welding processes are generally easy to learn and use compared to traditional processes like stick and TIG — making them an efficient option when training new welders. Advanced wire processes such as pulsed MIG and modified short-circuit MIG make it easier for operators to control the weld puddle, and they are more forgiving to variations in part fit-up or changes in contact tip-to-work distance. This can help less experienced operators complete quality welds more efficiently.
While switching from stick and TIG welding to wire processes on the jobsite may require some training, productivity gains can be significant. One contractor making the switch from TIG to modified short-circuit MIG on the root pass and from stick to pulsed MIG on the fill and cap passes found the training necessary to vary — with a welder’s experience using a MIG gun and with open root welds as the biggest factors impacting training time. The arc is programmed to be more forgiving and easier to use, which contributes to ease of use and faster training.
Myth 2: Wire feeders are always having feeding problems
FACT: When operators experience wire feeding issues like bird-nesting or burnback, the wire feeder often gets the blame. In reality, these problems are typically caused by a different culprit somewhere downstream. For example, cranking the drive roll tension too tight can deform the wire and result in wire feeding problems, as can dirty, damaged or improperly installed liners or contact tips.
Miller® SuitCase® wire feeders deliver smooth and consistent wire feeding, thanks to new technology that helps reduce drag on the wire. Inlet guides (which direct the wire coming off the spool and into the gun) that use an offset goalpost-style design help minimize drag and wear on the wire. Also, suitcase feeders that use a scaled wire pressure knob help prevent feedability issues that result from overtightening the drive rolls.
Myth 3: Wire feeders aren’t durable enough for field welding
FACT: The design and construction of suitcase wire feeders have come a long way in recent years. Today’s wire feeders provide durability and performance on even the most demanding jobsites. For example, Miller SuitCase wire feeders are encased in polypropylene with built-in slide rails that allow the operator to drag the feeder into position by the handle and still protect it from wear.
Myth 4: Wire feeders can’t be used for advanced wire processes in the field
FACT: In addition to standard MIG and flux-cored welding, some wire feeders also provide the capability for advanced wire processes such as pulsed MIG and Regulated Metal Deposition (RMD®), a modified short-circuit MIG process. These processes can offer substantial productivity improvements compared to stick and TIG while maintaining high weld quality. The RMD process is excellent at bridging the gap in root passes, and operators can create a thicker root pass — often allowing them to omit the hot pass when switching from a TIG to RMD root.
Myth 5: Voltage and wire feed speed adjustments are time-consuming and difficult
FACT: Changing weld parameters on the jobsite doesn’t have to be difficult. Miller wire feeders with ArcReach® technology allow welders to make adjustments right at the feeder, eliminating the need to walk back to the power source to make changes. When paired with XMT® 350 FieldPro™ power sources, these wire feeders also include Cable Length Compensation (CLC™) technology, which adjusts voltage based on weld lead length, ensuring that the voltage a welder sets is the voltage he or she gets — even hundreds of feet away from the power source.
Wire feeders on the jobsite
The technology in suitcase wire feeders has improved significantly since their introduction. Today’s wire feeders offer simplified setup, smooth and predictable wire feeding, and durability for demanding jobsites. A versatile wire feeder delivers the capabilities for a range of wire processes in the field — allowing you to save time and get jobs done more efficiently.
Learn more about how your operation can improve productivity and save money with wire processes and suitcase wire feeders in field welding.