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I was planning on investing in a small welding machine. On the future, I intend to use it for car bodywork repairs, but for now I'll probably be practicing making small tools.

For a number of reasons (i.e.: available money, lack of experience with welding and physical space), the two types of machines that seem to fit my current situation are regular stick welding machines (either transformer or inverter) and gasless MIG welding machine. I heard about the latter through a bodywork professional, and it seems to be just a welding machine that behaves like a MIG (wire being fed to a gun, adjustable wire feed speed and current) but uses no inert gas.

Apparently, the advantage of the gasless MIG is being easier to use on small metal sheets, just like some that are used in car body panels. It's a little more expensive than the stick welders though.

I was wondering if the gasless MIG is a good investment or if in my case I should just stick with the stick welder (no pun intended :p).

  • Wouldn't you be better off with a simple oxygen acetylene setup? I'm thinking that would be way more useful. (Braze, heat shrink, carefully controlled weld beads, etc...) Check out hammer welding sheet metal repair. – zipzit Oct 18 '19 at 5:15
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    @zipzit - I would take gasless MIG over oxy/ace any day for sheet metal ... it's way too easy to get too much heat into your welds with oxy/ace, which can warp panels very quickly. MIG, on the other hand, is on/off. You press the trigger and it goes. Release the trigger and it stops. There can be a lot of heat, but it is much easier to control. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Oct 18 '19 at 12:51
  • @zipzit though it's more versatile, I guess a problem with the oxy/ace setup is the price and storage, around here most kits are way more expensive than a stick or gasless MIG machine – IanC Oct 18 '19 at 17:40
  • I hear you, but my experience with new guys on inexpensive flux core MIG machines always comes down to a two word summary. Pigeon Poop. I see MUCH better results for new guys with oxy-acetylene. No offense intended. – zipzit Oct 19 '19 at 21:54
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    Everything has value. Purchase an inexpensive flux core ONLY Mig inverter and that just won't hold its value. Pls look for a MIG machine that has the capability for gas shielding. Or look for a 150 amperage TIG machine. For whatever reason, TIG machines seem to hold their value extremely well. (I'm pretty sure I can sell my used AC/DC TIG machine for what I paid for it) – zipzit Oct 21 '19 at 6:02
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MIG is much easier to learn than stick , especially for thin steel/low amperage. Gasless requires flux cored wire to get an adequate weld . The ductility and toughness are not as good for flux cored as gas but good enough for sheet metal. I suggest getting a unit that can use gas or that gas can be added on later.

  • The 150A gasless MIG I was looking is from a brand that is well known here (V8). For the same price there's a 3 in 1 (stick and gas+gasless MIG) 140A machine from another brand I don't know (Azen). I'm not sure but I think there's a possibility to add a gas torch on the former, buying it separately. Now I've to decide between them :p – IanC Oct 18 '19 at 18:09
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Uh, gasless MIG doesn't exist. You probably mean flux core, which is also a wire feeding process very similar to MIG but the electrical polarity is flipped and instead of gas being used to provide shielding of the weld pool, the wire is cored with flux that melts and rises to the surface to protect the pool.

From extensive experience with my own projects involving thin metals, neither flux core or stick is well suited for the task. Stick is limited due to the diameter of the electrode you are using, and the thinnest 1/16″ electrodes are still too much for 16 gauge unless you are very skilled. Flux core with the thinnest 0.030 wire could be used to weld metals down to 29 gauge, but any thinner than 22 gauge and you will not be able to make a good looking weld- the thickness must be built up with cold weld then welded over hot to fuse it all together, then ground down to match the rest of the sheet or panel. This is quite difficult to do without alot of practice, and those who are inexperienced in it will have major problems with blasting through, distortion, and multiple weld defects with incomplete fusion, slag inclusion, and porosity.

If you don't have other options like brazing, soldering, spot welder, MIG or TIG, i would say flux core is the way to go… just run a bunch of practice tacks and beads on scrap before you try it. It will prove to be quite difficult, your welds will look like crap, you will have to grind alot, but it can be done.

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For thin sheet aka car body panels I would go with the gasless mig (the wire produces its own gas via the flux it is treated with, so you have to get gasless mig wire which is more expensive...).

I have used both and made many things with stick - even dung forks using old broken lorry halfshafts and 8" angle with 6mm rods to get the runs down faster. Would not use stick on car body though...

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