.023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.
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  1. #1
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    .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    My little Lincoln 140c (120VAC) came with "smooth" rollers for .025/.030" AND .030" sized MIG process wire. Not to mentin a knurled .030"-.045" knurled "flux core" wire roller. That being said, I see many people here routinely talk about using either the .023/.025" wire diameter for a 120VAC welder or step up to the flux core .035" dimeter wire. I haven't seen anyone discussing pros or cons about the .030" wire on a 120V home garage type machine.

    My questions are:

    1) Does anyone regulary use the .030" wire size for a little 120VAC mig welder with 75/25 gas mixture? Am I missing something? So far, I've only used the .02" stuff and would like to try a slightly larger diameter wire size. I'd like to try welding some angle iron that just ever so slightly thinner than 1/4". I'd prefer to avoid the flux core stuff and I want the best penetration possible that I can get with using shielding gas on my little machine.

    2) Am I good to use the .030 for the steel slightly thinner than 1/4" or should I stick with the the .025" wire for all mig welding while utilizing a 120VAC mig welder?


    For what it's worth, I only use Lincoln "SuperArc L-56" wire for all my mig welding stuff. Yeah I know I should get a "bigger" mig welder if I want to ROUTINELY weld thicker material. As for now, that isn't going to happen. I have to stick to the 120VAC welder that I have.

    Thanks in advance for this beginner "lawn art" welder.
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  2. #2
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    I use .030 with a 120v unit and 75/25 all the time. Performance is marginal at best at lower voltage settings. On the higher voltage settings, the .030 welds just fine. If I had to pick one to keep in the machine, it would be the .023 as it's usable over a broader range of settings.

  3. #3
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Supe View Post
    I use .030 with a 120v unit and 75/25 all the time. Performance is marginal at best at lower voltage settings. On the higher voltage settings, the .030 welds just fine. If I had to pick one to keep in the machine, it would be the .023 as it's usable over a broader range of settings.
    Supe,

    Thanks for the reply. You lead me to another question. How is the .023" usable over a broader range? I know for thinner material the .023/.025" stuff is much better from everywhere I've been told. Is it just as good a performer on slightly LESS than thick 1/4" mild steel?

    Thanks again.
    Lincoln Power Mig 216
    Lincoln AC/DC-225/125

    Miller 625 X-Treme Plasma
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  4. #4
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    I don't use the .023-5 wire simply because I don't have a need for it. If I were to do thin sheet metal I would. From what I have read on the little 110 units is the .023-5 wire is usable from the bottom of the machine to the top of the machine. The .030 is only usable on the upper end of the machine.

  5. #5
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    Check your door chart and/or manual. It's in there.

    Small wire feed machines usually can run either 0.025 or 0.030 and C25 OK.

    But (there is always a but or two ) the 0.025 -usually- gives you more control and 'range' for thin stuff while the 0.030 gives you a little more 'top end'. That usually amounts to about 2 gauge 'sizes' difference between the two, ie the 0.025 can go down to ~24 gauge while the 0.030 can go down to ~20 gauge and similarly on the top end WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THE MACHINE!

    0.025 SuperArc L56 wire has listed short-circuit transfer parameters from 35 amps (100 ipm at 15-16V with C25) to 80 amps (250 ipm at 17-18V with C25).

    0.030 SuperArc L56 wire has listed short-circuit transfer parameters from 35 amps (75 ipm at 15-16V with C25) to 130 amps (300 ipm at 20-21V with C25).

    The limits of the 'little' machines on the top end usually limits the thickness using GMAW to ~14 gauge thick steel. For a little thicker than that with the 'little' machines, you can use FCAW as it runs 'hotter' than GMAW short-circuit. And it is not just a matter of making more passes, the little machines often do not have enough ooomph to get 1/4 inch thick metal hot enough to weld properly with GMAW.

    YMMV and sometimes some 'tricks' can help extend the thickness limits a little bit.

    But IMHO and (limited) experience, trying to push a little 120V machine to do 1/4 inch steel with GMAW is a no-go. Pushing the machine hard with some agressive pre-heat on the steel may get you to 1/8 inch steel with GMAW but not to 1/4 inch steel. That really is up into the thickness where you need a 240V machine.

    Remember the rule of thumb for welding is 1 amp per each 0.001 inch thickness, so 1/8 inch calls for ~125 amps and 1/4 inch calls for ~250 amps.
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  6. #6
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    I have found my 110v machine simply welds all applications better with .023. I used to swap back and forth but eventually just stayed with .023.

    I have welded body metal through large welds on some tractor equipment with the .023 which have been held up well to some serious abuse. I don't have any issue with weld penetration or integrity. It does take a little longer but my welder just loves the .023 on all levels.

  7. #7
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Young View Post
    I don't use the .023-5 wire simply because I don't have a need for it. If I were to do thin sheet metal I would. From what I have read on the little 110 units is the .023-5 wire is usable from the bottom of the machine to the top of the machine. The .030 is only usable on the upper end of the machine.
    That's basically what I found. I don't think there's any real difference with the .030 on and .023/.025 on the upper range of the mini-MIGs, but the .023 is infinitely better on the bottom end.

  8. #8
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    Superarc - suggest you read my old post 'Mig welds don't stick'.

    I had a similar problem using a 115 volt Campbell Hausfeld with only 70 amp output when using 0.023 inch diameter wire with CO2. Things improved when I changed to 0.035 wire at the slowest wire feed speed. In my case, I needed every little bit of heat I could get.
    (I terminated the problem later by buying a Lincoln 230 volt mig welder.)

    Here is an section of my old post...

    Bigger Wire
    Remember where I left off? “The only question left is – would I have more MIG success if I changed to larger solid wire diameter such as 0.030 or 0.035? Would I obtain enough heat input into the weld to obtain fusion to the lower base plate?”

    So, I went to the store. I got a roll of ENI ER49 S-6 solid wire of diameter 0.035. So I had exactly the same wire alloy but 0.035/0.023 = 1.52 times bigger in diameter; that is 1.52 x 1.52 = 2.3 times bigger in cross sectional area.

    I performed the same lap joint weld on the same 1/16 inch thick mild-steel plates as before. This time things were quite different.

    Run 1: Max current setting amp (70A), wire speed = 140 inches/min.
    The weld became dull red and was a mite lumpy. The end result was a wider weld but… I had good fusion the edge of the upper plate and partial fusion (Joy!) to the lower plate. I repeated this – same result.

    Run 4: Alright, so slow is good… I went to zero speed on my welder which is 100 inches/min.
    Max current setting amp (70A), wire speed = 100 inches/min. (Slowest wire speed I have.)
    This was the best; I had good fusion in both plates and a lower weld profile.


    Your 115 volt input welder is different but maybe my experience may be useful.

    Rick V

  9. #9
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperArc View Post
    Supe,

    Thanks for the reply. You lead me to another question. How is the .023" usable over a broader range? I know for thinner material the .023/.025" stuff is much better from everywhere I've been told. Is it just as good a performer on slightly LESS than thick 1/4" mild steel?

    Thanks again.
    So many good informative posts here. The way the smaller welder works best with the .023 has a lot to do with the start-up. With the bigger wire, you do need more amps to fully wet in the welds. The thinner wire gets a more complete puddle formed with it, and it tends to transfer the heat through to the base metal more efficiently with the thinner wire.
    That said, the limitations are the thickness of the metal. As was pointed out, you can get good results with aggressive preheat, but for many applications, it's not practical. Also, with the smaller welders, prep work is as critical as tig on aluminum. If you are looking to weld structural parts, from bumpers to swing sets to whatever, you will be well served by beveling properly, good cleaning...being religious on the prep work will give you good results.
    The others covered the amps to wire thing, and I agree with them. Yes, I can get 1/4" welded with a Lincoln 140. But I bevel, preheat, and multi-pass. And, I 100% weld the part, and I limit what I would weld the part up for. No aircraft work with that setup!!!!
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  10. #10
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoonRise View Post
    Check your door chart and/or manual. It's in there.

    Small wire feed machines usually can run either 0.025 or 0.030 and C25 OK.

    But (there is always a but or two ) the 0.025 -usually- gives you more control and 'range' for thin stuff while the 0.030 gives you a little more 'top end'. That usually amounts to about 2 gauge 'sizes' difference between the two, ie the 0.025 can go down to ~24 gauge while the 0.030 can go down to ~20 gauge and similarly on the top end WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THE MACHINE!

    0.025 SuperArc L56 wire has listed short-circuit transfer parameters from 35 amps (100 ipm at 15-16V with C25) to 80 amps (250 ipm at 17-18V with C25).

    0.030 SuperArc L56 wire has listed short-circuit transfer parameters from 35 amps (75 ipm at 15-16V with C25) to 130 amps (300 ipm at 20-21V with C25).

    The limits of the 'little' machines on the top end usually limits the thickness using GMAW to ~14 gauge thick steel. For a little thicker than that with the 'little' machines, you can use FCAW as it runs 'hotter' than GMAW short-circuit. And it is not just a matter of making more passes, the little machines often do not have enough ooomph to get 1/4 inch thick metal hot enough to weld properly with GMAW.

    YMMV and sometimes some 'tricks' can help extend the thickness limits a little bit.

    But IMHO and (limited) experience, trying to push a little 120V machine to do 1/4 inch steel with GMAW is a no-go. Pushing the machine hard with some agressive pre-heat on the steel may get you to 1/8 inch steel with GMAW but not to 1/4 inch steel. That really is up into the thickness where you need a 240V machine.

    Remember the rule of thumb for welding is 1 amp per each 0.001 inch thickness, so 1/8 inch calls for ~125 amps and 1/4 inch calls for ~250 amps.
    Are the numbers significantly different for CO2 than they are for C25?

    I have a 175HD. I tend to keep .024 in it. Most of the time I'm working on 14-18 gauge sheet and am happy enough with CO2, as it's cheap. If I work on 20 gauge or thinner I'll use C25.

    Every now and then, I want to work on something thicker. One recent example is a cage for a rock crawler, which is built of 1.75" OD .120" wall DOM. Am I likely to get any better weld properties by switching to .030 wire (or any other wire, for that matter)? It's a hassle but if it's worth it, it's worth it.
    Lincoln 175HD

  11. #11
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    Quote Originally Posted by slotard View Post
    Are the numbers significantly different for CO2 than they are for C25?

    I have a 175HD. I tend to keep .024 in it. Most of the time I'm working on 14-18 gauge sheet and am happy enough with CO2, as it's cheap. If I work on 20 gauge or thinner I'll use C25.

    Every now and then, I want to work on something thicker. One recent example is a cage for a rock crawler, which is built of 1.75" OD .120" wall DOM. Am I likely to get any better weld properties by switching to .030 wire (or any other wire, for that matter)? It's a hassle but if it's worth it, it's worth it.
    on that tube i roll with 0.030 or 0.035 but mainly tig it
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  12. #12
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    0.030 on my HH 135 no problems, I actually like it better then 0.023.
    Tim Beeker.

  13. #13
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    I use .030 fc in my little craftsman welder and it can produce some rather clean welds on 1/4 flat bar. just takes a little bit of a weave and it ties in good for the lap joints. I used my little wire feeder to build all sorts of stuff from 2 tables, welding diffs for cars, building exhausts, random brackets/hangers, etc. it's not the best due to its short duty cycle when turned up all the way tho. seem to spend more time waiting on it to cool off than I do welding lol

  14. #14
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    Quote Originally Posted by slotard View Post
    Are the numbers significantly different for CO2 than they are for C25?

    I have a 175HD. I tend to keep .024 in it. Most of the time I'm working on 14-18 gauge sheet and am happy enough with CO2, as it's cheap. If I work on 20 gauge or thinner I'll use C25.

    Every now and then, I want to work on something thicker. One recent example is a cage for a rock crawler, which is built of 1.75" OD .120" wall DOM. Am I likely to get any better weld properties by switching to .030 wire (or any other wire, for that matter)? It's a hassle but if it's worth it, it's worth it.
    CO2 usually uses 1-2 volts higher than C25 (for the 'same' amps). Thus, it runs a bit 'hotter' than C25 (because it has a bit more total power going into the weld).

    To me, running 0.025 wire for some 1/8" wall tube is stretching just a bit too far. I'd go with 0.030 or 0.035 wire with a 175-class machine (Lincoln SP-175Plus chart parameters top-out at 12 gauge with 0.025 wire, while 0.030 solid wire goes up to the same 12 gauge with CO2 (because the machine runs out of voltage output and not directly amperage) but is listed up to 10 gauge with C25. 0.035 solid wire with CO2 again tops-out at 10 gauge because of the voltage, but can push up to 3/16" with 0.035 solid wire and C25). YMMV.
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  15. #15
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    Re: .023/.025 mig wire vs. .030" questions please.

    I would definitely go with the .030 wire for thicker metal. I have an old SP-100 and I almost always run .030, only use .023 for the really thin stuff. A buddy of mine has a 140c and it's a really nice machine!

    I wouldn't build a skyscraper with it but for lawn art, you'll do fine.

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