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Grape Vine - General Discussion Shop Talk - Bench Racing, No political or religious topics are allowed.

Poll: Which would YOU buy?
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Which would YOU buy?

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Old 10-08-08, 09:05PM   #1
Speargun
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Arrow Looking for a new welder. MIG or TIG?

I'm in the "what do i want" stage of picking out a new welder and am looking for some input.

First, a little background info on me.
I have been welding since around 1983 and did it for a living for 3 years around '89 - '92. During that 3 years I welded many different thicknesses of material at all angles. I became certified, 6GR I think, (aluminum - all positions) during that time as well as getting certified mil-spec to weld on the govt. CFR's. (Crash Fire Rescue. The big airport firetrucks.)
I worked at E-ONE, a firetruck manufacturer, and welded pretty much the entire cab portion of the truck for those 3 years so I have the experience with a MIG and aluminum & don't think I will have any trouble picking it back up.

I'm kinda undecided on if I want to go with a TIG or MIG.
The MIG is easy to use and costs less.
The TIG can do a bit more, i.e. thinner material, has a better looking weld, but is slower & costs more.
Like everything in life, $$$ matters so I want to invest in something that is going to last me.

I've looked at two different units so far; both Miller.
1) Millermatic® 180 with Auto-Set™

2) Diversion® 165

Both are lower cost units aimed at the home user. Although I would like a little better unit, the next step up is about another $1000 or so and out of my reach right now.

I can pick up the MIG for around $800 & the TIG for about $1500.

My questions ARE aimed at those of you that have a TIG;
Is it worth the extra money?
If you could only choose 1 for most home/shop type work, which would it be?
Do you find that you do more projects/detail/creative work since you got a TIG?

I'm sure that I'll have more questions, but I guess this is as good of a place to start as any.

Thanks in advance!
Jeff
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Old 10-08-08, 11:56PM   #2
sprint250
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Default Mig or Tig?

Hobart , Lincoln,Esab,Rediarc, Miller and there are some others out there now as well, make some very good feature packed/compact economy inverter style tig welding machines that will fill the bil for you.
I have seen some amazing stuff from the current crop of 110 volt inverter type power supplies.
It just depends on what and how much you are going to do.
Any low end machine is going to be short on features you will want later on.
They are ok you just have to realize their limitations.
Look first for some good used equipment that still has manufacturer parts & service support.
You might find a bargain on a more feature packed machine.
The ideal is to get a unit that is a good power source that you can build around/expand as your requirements change.

We have a machine at work that that is an older POWCON (no longer made) inverter style unit that does stick, mig, tig & plasma cutting. The only thing it lacks is the high frequency provision required for tig welding aluminum. Very versatile machine in all other respects and great for a repair facility.

A Miller SynchroWave 250 (my favorite) is a Caddillac unit that does it all except plasma cut but they are rather large and expensive.Nuthin'ike a liquid cooled tig torch handle though.

Mig lends itself very well to production high speed welding where you are fabricating just one type of metal for long periods of time.
Mild steel all day long , no problem.
With mig everytime you change materials you will have to change out the wire spool, quite possibly the shielding gas and in the case of aluminum also the gun liner.

Tig gives you more control over the process ,is more precise,cleaner but is slightly faster than traditional oxy acetylene gas welding but without all the excess heat. The way you feed the rod is just like oxy acetylene style welding .Heat/amp control on the torch handle is nice for out of position welding where you cannot set up a foot pedal position.
You will still have to have different sheilding gases for the different types of materials you plan on joining.
Steel,Stainless Steel & Aluminum usually weld best with a gas mix formulated just for that metal.Argon is a safe bet for almost everything but aluminum usually requires helium or helium/argon mix.
The beauty of tig is you can keep a lot of different types of rods around so changing materials is not as big a chore as it is with mig.
Different materials require different types tungsten electrodes for the tig torch.Aluminum does best with rare earth tungsten electrode.
If you plan on tig welding aluminum you want a machine that will:
1- have enough amps to do aluminum because aluminum dissipates heat much faster than steel
2- have some sort of high frequency or "hi frequency start" provision for doing aluminum."scratch" start(ok for steels) for tig on aluminum sucks because it contaminates the tungsten and can give you less than perfect welds.
3- have a post flow timer on the purge gas so purge gas flows onto weld area for a preset time when you stop.
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Old 10-09-08, 12:26PM   #3
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For a TIG machine look into an inverter from thermal arc, its a really nice machine and smaller than a breadbasket but packs a nice punch. I have welded intake manifolds with this machine,dont let the size fool you
SPECS:

230v Input (16A Fuse)
5 - 200amps Output
Duty Cycle 25% @ 200amps
Foot Pedal Current Controller
Digital Display of Parameters
5 Program Memory
Touch Pad Panel Controls
Full Digital Control of Functions
Current Slope Up/Down Control
Pre/Post Gas Control
Squarewave AC Output
Full Tig Pulse Control
AC Balance Control
AC Frequency Control
Rugged, Damage Resistant, Plastic Casing
Arc Welding Mode
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