Welding is the intricate process of fusing two metals. And this is done in dozens of industries and different applications. Getting clean, good-looking welds from the same or different metals depends on several factors. Possibly the most important is how the two metals are initially positioned even before welding begins. Welders don’t always have that extra pair of helping hands in getting the workpiece aligned just the way they need. But the use of magnets, clamps, and magnetic clamps enables and saves on expensive fixturing equipment. And the time these welding accessories save can be put to better use.
What are Welding Magnets?
Welding magnets – also called magnetic welding holders or magnetic square clamps are used to temporarily secure ferrous workpieces in the desired position. They do this with strong magnets placed between metal plates. The plates extend beyond the magnet and help to hold in place round flat, or uneven metal items. The gap also is useful in keeping the magnet away from the high temperatures of melting metals once welding begins.
When and Where are Welding Magnets and Magnetic Angle Clamps Used?
A welding magnet and a related magnetic angle clamp come in handy when welders need to lift, align and affix two items of ferrous metals before or during a weld. The strong magnet holds the workpiece in place and assures you get the right angles. Magnetic angle clamps are versatile in that they allow for varied angles at which the items can be positioned. This includes setting ferrous objects at 30. 45, 60, 90, or 135 degrees.
The high holding strength of both welding accessories makes them useful in initial tack welds in heavier items, as well as irregular structures, particularly welds in pipes, Different sizes and shapes of magnets and the adjustability of angle clamps allow welders to achieve clean welds in inner and outer angles, and in small or particularly large workpieces with the use of more magnets and clamps at a time.
Besides welding, magnets and magnetic angle clamps have proven their worth in soldering and brazing, as well as grinding and polishing applications.
Benefits of Welding Magnets and Magnetic Clamps
I’ve touched on the primary use of magnets and clamps and the convenience of a hands-free experience. Besides holding the workpiece, magnets and clamps allow for faster workflow, since the initial setup is relatively quick and easy, and you don’t have to stop to align the pieces mid-way. This gives them the edge over traditional welding clamps.
Magnets and clamps are used in varying workpieces, from circular, flat, or uneven, so a single magnet or magnetic angle clamp can be used for various welding applications. They’re particularly good at getting quick and clean welds in sheet metals. Lastly, let’s not forget safety. You won’t be risking injuries from heavy metal objects slipping from your hands, or burns when too close to the weld pool.
Are There Any Cons?
Magnets are sensitive to heat, and the higher temperatures that come with welding can affect magnetism and their ability to hold the workpiece in place. Though this is rare, especially with magnets fitted with neodymium, and to a lesser extent ceramic magnets, preheated workpieces can become difficult to work with. Magnetism and holding power can also be reduced in damaged or cracked magnets and clamps. In addition, magnetism can interfere with the electric arc from the torch, particularly when using direct current from the welder. These, however, are minor issues that don’t go against the magnet and clamp’s primary purpose.
Types of Welding Magnets
Besides angle clamps that have high holding force (up to 70 kilos in some versions) and are used in welding heavier workpieces, there are dozens of smaller magnets used in small and medium-duty applications. They take different shapes and have varying features to make welds easier and faster. Some popular types include multi-angle magnets with fixed angles at 30, 45, 60, 90, and 180 degrees, as well as square magnets set at 90 degrees and ideal for welds at tight right angles. Arrow magnets are shaped like arrowheads and are good for getting smooth outer and inner welds in smaller workpieces. If you need welds at odd angles (between 30 and 360 degrees) then consider adjustable welding magnets. These are often used in pipework, DIY projects and more. L-shaped corner magnets are good for the inner corners in tack welds as well as squaring, soldering and a range of other applications, Lastly, consider ON/OFF or switchable magnets with strong neodymium magnets that allow for higher precision, adjustability and versatility in all types of welds. Switchable magnets are also easier to use, as well as removed from the workpiece when not needed. In addition, they can be safely stored in any toolbox, and won’t attract metal shavings when set to OFF.
When to Use (Non-Magnetic) Welding Clamps
Magnets have taken over from traditional welding clamps, especially in light to medium jobs. The latter often need more time to set, so are preferred in more complex workpieces with some heft to them. Traditional C or G clamps, with fixed top and screw adjustable lower jaws, are general-purpose welding accessories used in many cases. Sliding and pipe clamps, with a sliding bar pipe set between two clamping jaws, are faster to set, have the same high holding force as C/G clamps and are chosen for their versatility. Dozens of other clamps (quick release, locking, spring, two-axis clamps etc.) are used for more specific jobs where more speed, holding force or limited space are determining factors.