Every welder thinks they know what “Duty Cycle” means until their machine starts smelling like burnt plastic. In fact, here at IOC, many of our most-asked questions are about Duty Cycle. It seems like a simple concept, but understanding it will make a world of difference for your welding and the life of your welder.

So, What is Duty Cycle?

Millermatic 212

Millermatic 212

Duty Cycle is how long you should run your welder before it’ll shutdown. Duty cycle is given in a percentage out of 10 minutes. For instance, the Millermatic 212 at 160 amps (at 24.5 VDC) has a 60% Duty Cycle. This means it can weld continuously for 6 minutes straight before it has to reset itself. Welders with 80% Duty Cycle can weld for 8 minutes straight before the machine has to reset. It’s worth noting that all the machines sold on Welding Supplies from IOC will reset themselves unlike some cheaper machines sold by some big box stores that could burn up if their duty cycle is maxed out.

Why Should I Care About Duty Cycle?

Most welders don’t realize that the quality of your weld can decrease once you’ve hit your duty cycle time limit. Depending on your process, your welding pool might become increasingly stiffer and more agitated. If you’re a capable welder and you’re trying to figure out why your welds all look terrible, let your machine take a break. This’ll give you a second chance to double check your parameters and get ready for your next weld.

What Happens If I Exceed My Duty Cycle?

Probably nothing… At first. Quality machines will automatically switch off if they become overheated. However, some welders can actually catch fire if left running too long. Marshmallows anyone?

How Do I Figure Out A Welder’s Duty Cycle?

Most machines have the duty cycle listed on the front of the unit or with the wire parameter information. If the welder’s still in production, you can probably find it here by typing in your welder and looking under the “Manufacture’s Specs.” If it’s an older welder, you should still be able to find its specs through the manufacture’s website.

Still Got Questions?

Good, because we’ve got a team of experts to answer those questions. Duty Cycle’s a lot more important than most welders realize. Give us a call at 866-854-7380.