What does duty cycle do for you?
As a part of any tech information that you will find on any welder, one of the most prominent technical specifications listed should be the declaration of duty cycle. This is usually found on the front or rear of the welder. Historically, duty cycle has been an indicator of the soundness of a machine for a particular work application. The standard of 60% has long been considered to be a professional, industrial type of welder, whether it is MIG, TIG or Stick.
Duty cycle, in case you aren’t familiar, is the amount of time of 10 minutes that a welder can actively weld. This does not count idle time. The duty cycle standard of 60% means that the unit can weld continuously (or interrupted) for up to 6 minutes out of 10 minutes at the stated amperage the manufacturer has rated the duty cycle at. Now, there are duty cycles in the industry ranging from 100% to 15%. And, many companies are offering inflated duty cycles based off of lower than maximum amperage duty cycle ratings, because maximum amperage duty cycle ratings are not high enough to meet their target customers expectations.
But, if you use duty cycle to help you determine a units capability to stand up to your welding chores. you will be able to provide lower quotes to your customers if you select a machine that does not require you to have a lot of dead time, waiting for the unit to catch up and cool itself back down. Also, if you are working for yourself, selecting a unit that can meet your daily demands without concern for overheating, will help negate concerns about unit longevity as welding at or beyond the duty cycle will shorten the life span and can even affect weld quality. When looking for a new unit, consider duty cycle of the unit before you purchase and see if it meets your expectations.
If a 35% duty cycle machine meets your work load, then save the money and buy it. But if you know it will likely be a hindrance, spending extra may make sense so that you remain efficient and productive with minimal down time.