Grinders can be an essential tool for both welding and cutting, but they don’t exist in a vacuum. If someone buys grinding discs, it’s entirely likely that they also have something to grind. For distributors, it’s a perfect opportunity to make it easy for customers to buy everything they need in one place.
A grinder’s job in the metal shop
Angle grinders are considered standard in metal fabrication shops and on construction sites because of their versatility. During the metalworking process, they’re used frequently both before and after the actual weld.
An impeccable surface is essential to preventing defects like porosity and cracking during the weld, so welders may use grinding discs or a wire-brush attachment to make sure their base metals are free from rust, paint or mill scale. Once the weld is complete, a grinder can be used to remove slag and other messes that were created during the process, as well as to smooth or polish the final piece.
In addition, grinders are often used to cut thinner metals.
RELATED: Arc Welding Equipment and Processes
What grinding and welding parts have in common
Just like the various discs that work with angle grinders are consumables that eventually wear out and need to be replaced, so are many parts of welding torches and cutters. In MIG welding, for example, which uses an electric spark to melt filler metal, the list of consumables includes:
- Contact Tip: Where the wire feed makes electrical contact with the torch.
- Feed Wire: MIG welding uses a continuously fed wire in order to create the weld puddle.
- Nozzle: Directs the shielding gas to the weld.
- Liner: Guides the wire through the torch.
Consumables are also a big part of plasma cutting:
- Nozzle: Focuses the plasma arc and funnels the gas flow.
- Electrode: Carries the current from the torch to the metal.
- Swirl ring: Channels the gas as it moves through the torch
- Shield: Protects the entire setup.
- Retaining cap: Holds the setup together.
These are just two examples — other welding and cutting processes also use consumables. Just like the high temperatures and moving parts that accompany grinding, the parts eventually wear down and need to be replaced. And just like grinder parts, welding and cutting consumables need to be purchased on the regular.
Crunching the Numbers
Your machine-shop or construction clients are likely going from your business to a job that includes welding or cutting, or maybe both. Where you don’t want them to go is to another store for the other consumables on their list, especially since fabrication is an expensive enterprise.
Where the average cost of consumables per grinder is around $500 per year, the costs for ancillary welding and cutting equipment are considerably more. Consider these examples:
- A customer has a 260A automated plasma cutting table with 1 torch running 2 shifts, 6 days a week. Average spend per year = $28,800
- A customer has 40 MIG welding stations running 2 shifts, 5 days a week. Average spend per year = $32,000
- A customer has 5 fiber lasers running 3 shifts, 6 days a week. Average spend per year = $72,000
Knowing your clients’ big-picture needs creates the perfect opportunity to become a one-stop shop for not only grinding equipment but also welding and cutting consumables. And a customer who can buy everything they need in one place will not only be likely to buy, they’ll thank you for saving them a trip.