MMA or Stick welding, as it is commonly known, as the preferred choice of most welders. The welds produced by an MMA welder are of average quality compared to methods like TIG or even MIG. But one area where stick welding excels is the cost consideration.
MMA welders are widely available, and their large market share has resulted in a range of welders to suit every budget and need. MMA welders are generally small, and those that use advanced materials tend to be no larger than a car battery. This portability is a feature that is essential for most professional welders who work in outdoor environments, particularly construction and repairs. A large number of MMA welders actually come with multi-functional features that support more than one form of welding. Some even go as far as to incorporate all three processes – MMA, MIG, and TIG. Such welders are, of course, much more expensive than a simple MMA welder.
A multi-function welder may seem attractive, but it is important to consider you own needs and requirements. For a professional or a hobbyist on a budget, the cost is the most important factor. However, that does not mean that you have to settle for a sub-par MMA welder.
Low-cost MMA welders are widely available to meet the most common welding needs. If you never plan to weld thick sheets or work on a project that needs an ultra-fine finish, a basic MMA welder will do just fine. Here are a few features that you must keep an eye out for to land yourself a fabulous deal.
Output Current Range: Look for an output current rating that is as wide as possible. Most basic MMA welders start around 30 and can handle up to 150 amps. While higher ratings may come easily, it is hard to get a cheap entry-level welder that can handle ultra-low outputs like 10 amps. Such low amperage is generally only used for very thin sheets, so it is unlikely that you will ever truly need it.
Active Cooling: MMA welders generate a fair bit of heat, especially when used for extended periods. Try to get a welder with a cooling fan that has high rpm and air flow characteristics. Overheat cut-out should be a standard feature even on the cheapest MMA welders.
Multiple Electrode Capacity: Look for a welder than can handle electrodes of varying thickness. A common range that satisfies most needs is 2 – 3.2 mm.