View Full Version : TIG Welder Advice Please
08-21-2006, 08:00 PM
Looking for advice on what to look for in a new or used TIG welder. Thanks!
08-21-2006, 11:21 PM
More reading first!
And when I come back in a week, I know you'll still be reading! :D
08-22-2006, 04:13 PM
also try Millers web site,then go on net for used tools...IA
08-22-2006, 10:21 PM
not sure exactly what you want to weld or the intended use of this machine. Those are pretty "serious" factors, if you DONT want/need to weld aluminum and are looking for a great, portable, non-power hungry machine that will weld using a conventional stick on DC and/or TIG on DC ONLY to 150 amps I'd recommend Millers Maxstar 150. The STL model is the TIG unit. Air-cooled torch with flow-thru hose...very nice. Bought one myself awhile back and I"m more than happy with it. It will plug in to either 110v or 220v, you can easily carry it around...think it weighs something like 14 lbs. 'Course if you're thinking of carrying it for TIG you'll have to carry the gas bottle too....if however, you plan on getting into aluminum you'll need one with AC capability...as an example, for 1/4 inch aluminum plate/bar/whatever you'll need around at least 300 amps and preferably more.
If you're new to welding, particularly TIG, looking around for a machine can be a bit bewildering....let us know what you plan to do with it and maybe you can get a few more specific pointers...good luck & take care,
08-23-2006, 02:10 PM
I've used both Hobart and Lincoln --they make great machines-- but I'm still a Miller kind of guy.
Miller's Welding Library (http://www.millerwelds.com/education/library.html) is a good resource for tips, advice and guidelines for TIG.
check out the lincoln....miller makes a better wire feed but lincoln is top
when it comes to tig.... i use a miller 210 wire feed and a lincoln 185 tig
love them both....most stores will let you go in the back and try them out...
best results go to a vender that sales both..i just went through this process
a few months ago it took me 2 months to make up my mind....and i went with the 185 lincoln.....
08-24-2006, 06:50 PM
the Lincoln's a nice machine for sure. I've used all the lincoln TIG machines. Problem is you need a fairly beefy power supply for the transformer type welders. For an inverter style the current draw, hence breaker/panel size is minimal...
09-07-2006, 12:34 AM
Thanks for the ideas. First, this TIG will be used primarily for bronze pieces.
Based on the following considerations, Please give me your recommendation.
I am at a crossroad: The Miller Synchrowave 200 and Lincoln 185 are both good choices, though I am leaning toward the Synchrowave. However, I am also strongly considering a slightly used Miller Dynasty 200 SD or a NEW Maxstar 200 DX (both inverter types).
The used Dynasty 200 is the SD model so it lacks the pulse on/off and pulse frequency of the DX model which I am told is good for precise detailed work. But again, this unit is slightly used so I question if the warranty will be honored.
I don't have any plans for aluminum so the new Maxstar DX is also a good choice plus I would get the benefits of the DX model. I also like the option to drop down to lower amps with the inverter types if needed and they don't draw as much electricity.
On the other hand the Synchrowave is less expensive and I really don't need the portability of the inverter style. Plus, I would get the full warranty without worry.
Big question...can anyone tell me if the extra options of the inverter type and the DX model make quality precision welding easier than the Synchrowave?
I have a Syncrowave 250 (transformer) and a 304xmt (inverter) set up side by side in my shop, and use them interchangeably, depending on which one is free.
There is no difference in the quality of weld, assuming you are a good tig welder.
Both will give excellent results.
The inverter does offer more options- lift arc, which is easier than scratch starting if you are site welding with an aircooled torch.
My inverter is more expensive than the maxstars you are looking at, but the advantage is that, except for AC welding of aluminum, it will do everything. It is an excellent stick power supply, and will run a mig welder- in fact, the inverter mig quality is noticeably better than my transformer mig welder.
So if you may need other types of welders as well, you might consider one.
The maxstar and other inverters are lighter, easier to move, and will run on a wide variety of power types- different voltages, phases, etc.
One thing to consider is to do some testing to make sure the amperage is sufficient.
I have found that copper alloys really suck up the amps- pure copper is the worst, but bronze alloys also seem to require more amperage than the same size steel sections. So make sure 200 amps will do what you need.
Dont discount the portability of an inverter either- it makes it very easy to do site welding, clean, neat, and with minimal fire danger. I have dragged inverter welders to all kinds of unlikely places, making cheaper and easier installs possible.
09-07-2006, 01:30 PM
If your going to spend 2000.00 on a 200amp tig you might as well pony up and get a 300amp machine.....lincoln is tops in my book
I guess im in the same boat as you todd I'm trying to decide who to go with miller or lincoln. the lincoln 185 is a pretty bulky machine from what I remember it weighs about 200 pds vs a maxstar ls dx or whatever the entry level maxstar is it weighs about 50 Pds. Big diff whe youre trying to lug it around the shop. I have alot of questions too about which welder to get. I'm looking to weld bronze pieces as well and even get into larger lifesize projects. Syncrowave sounds badass though and sounds like an expensive machine im wondering if I could get away with using the smaller maxstar. Basically im concerned about doing fine precision silicon bronze welding getting a decent duty cycle and a machine with some good power that is at a professional level and will last in a sculpture shop. You guys seem to have your personal preferences but where I'm new to this I have no experience to draw on from which welder will suit these tasks. A few questions air cooled vs water cooled. I'm assuming these exted the duty cycle? what are the pros and cons of each? does air cooled come standard to most torches and is it worth buying the water cooling systems and what do you guys think about them? How much better arethe higher end machines really compared to say a maxstar? What could you do with those machines that you couldn't with the smaller tigs?Like you said all the welding terminology is alot of jargon to understand when buying a new machine. Explain inverters vs transformers?
09-08-2006, 09:37 PM
I'd definitely go with the inverter. I think at some stage you'll be happy you did. The Synchrowave is a fine welder, and as somebody mentioned it does fine work (depending on the operator) and its not too costly but the inverters are tops in my books. I use mine mainly for repair/maintenance and fabrication of various "lawn art" pieces so the portability & variable voltage connections are sometimes handy (as opposed to a transformer type where you'd have to open it up and rewire). If I had the cash and was committed to buying new I'd definitely go for the Dynasty over the Maxstar too. You never know when you'll want to do some aluminum. As for the pulse and things like that: In my opinion they're nice features but unless you have a dedicated use for them (i.e. in some production type work they'll have 20 different guys using the same pulse frequency and all dipping the rod "on the pulse" so that the beads look fairly similar between items)....I don't find them that handy for general day to day stuff. Usually you want to light it up and go and not ass around with pre-flows, post flows....etc etc etc. Now if you're doing thin stainless or something really intricate it COULD be handy but of course you should backpurge it with Argon as well....maybe use chill blocks or a trailing shield. This type of thing is usually fairly "one off" unless thats your business. You'll probably find that you dont use currents below 5 amps as much as you think you would either. Its all well and good for a company to state that their machine is variable from zero but in reality, unless maybe you're welding tinfoil space sails for nasa or something its not alot of use. As I understand your situation I'd get the most current output I could afford. If you're SURE you only want to deal with ferrous metals then skip the AC (but I wouldn't), and definitely go with the inverter. One day you're going to want to move that thing...if nothing else, and you won't need a forklift!
09-08-2006, 10:15 PM
Sorry I didn't see your post 'till I posted my last. Might as well weigh in on that one too!
A transformer type machine uses a large, heavy transformer to supply welding current. These machines are physically HEAVY and large and require heavy wiring/breakers. An inverter machine on the other hand uses power electronics to modify the power supplied to it and fire it out the other end of the machine in a usable form. Thats the nutshell version (in truth I forget the details...think the inverters use IGBT's (integrated gate bibolar transistors ???) to alter the frequency or some damn thing....the power consumption is lower and input current requirements less. Dont let a welding salesman tell you you'll save a fortune on your hydro bill though....the difference is fairly insignificant...unless maybe you've got 50 of these things going at once or something...
I don't know which Maxstar you're talking about here but the smallest Maxstar, the 150 comes in three variations. One is stick only, the second the "STL" is a stick AND DC tig unit, and the third is similar to the STL with a few more tig functions I believe (I'm not exactly sure) the STL will run you about $1700 cdn. For this you get a small 15 lb "box", argon regulator, torch, hose & cables. Plug it in and you're ready to go for DC stick "outta the box" get yourself a bottle of argon and you're ready to go for DC Tig. The syncrowave also comes "new" with all the cabling, etc for not alot more money....BUT...the syn'wave is a transformer type machine so it weighs probably in excess of 200 lbs, as well any transformer machine (and generally they're much cheaper than the inverters) will require you to have heavy wiring and breakers (up to 70 amp in some cases) available for it, an inverter style machine with an identical power output will not require anywhere near that. I don't have all the specs at hand but make sure you CHECK THIS OUT....the power requirement....and make sure the place you'll be using this machine can support it without some expensive rewiring. The Maxstar 150 will even plug into a normal 110v 20A household socket and let you weld 'till your hearts content! Not that efficient (I try to run mine on 220v as much as possible....20A breaker...and its used almost daily). ONe point to note if you're considering buying a maxstar for tig is it doesnt come with a remote. Assuming you want to use one, and in my opinion it kind of decreases the entire point of having a tig machine if you dont, You'll need to buy either a foot pedal or hand control as an add-on. That'll run you another $200 cdn. IMHO well worth it, especially welding thin mtl or near the edges of thicker sections. Keeps them from having a "smeared" appearance. A remote is sometimes called an "amptrol" and it allows you to actually control the current, and thus the heat of the torch as you weld. With either a spring loaded foot pedal (my personal preference) or a variety of switch/knob type configurations that are usually velcro'd to the torch and controlled with your thumb.
To clear up a few things about TIG welding: it is indeed the "cadillac" of welding process'. Its one of the most versatile, the most expensive in terms of equipment, the most difficult to learn and requires the highest skill level of most of the manual welding process'. BUT....its not perfect for everything. There's many times when I find it simpler or just "better" to use the trusty ol' oxy-acetylene set. In my opinion thats a vastly under utilized process. Extremely versatile and VERY CHEAP! Wherever possible you should use stick welding...VERY FAST and also CHEAP! For something like silicon bronze you might be better off with a mig machine. Check out this link: http://www.lincolnelectric.com/knowledge/articles/content/brianrussell.asp, I don't own a mig machine but I have used them extensively, for steel. They're very fast, very simple to operate and again, a hell of alot cheaper than a tig machine. Tig is great for tacking up parts prior to welding them with stick (alot of pipeline work the "root pass" is done completely with tig), it makes a clean weld (no slag...which is the melted flux and various surface impurities that must be chipped off a regular old stick weld) and it doesn't, depending on the operators skill level, require you to put alot of excess heat into the area being welded...for many instances there is no substitute but definitely investigate the other welding process'.....and don't under estimate oxy acetylene! Hope this info was some use to somebody...take care!
09-08-2006, 10:25 PM
me again !! Just to clear up something I said in the last post: the Maxstar 150 models dont come with an amptrol. I assume the larger Maxstars do!!
09-11-2006, 06:12 AM
I have a Kemppi (Kemmpi?) 150 Minarc & very happy with it. Weighs about 6kg & the size of a large lunchbox. Have welded castings with it in stainless steel & bronze, welding together pieces up to half inch thick like butter. Thicker stuff takes a bit longer but most castings shouldn't have wall thickness much more than that anyway. I don't think you can go wrong with one of these. Cost was about $1500 (Australian) with torch & everything i needed to get going including a small bottle of argon gas & some rods & electrodes. Does not do aluminium. But neither do i. 240V (10 amp) so runs off my ordinary house power.
Even if this somehow turns out to be too small, like if you're running a factory situation, i reckon you could very easily sell it on as they are lovely to use. A very smooth weld, though it is scratch start. i find it marvellous.
Has a safety thing where it shuts off the power in event of it thinking you're being electrocuted, which sounds good to me. Not that i've used this facility.
Kemmpi is a great Finnish manufacturer- but unfortunately, they have no corporate presence here in the USA- no offices or official imports whatsoever.
A few gray market machines sneak in, but no parts, service, or consumables are available.
Its too bad, because they have a good rep world wide, and, like all Finnish products, they look great- the Finns believe in Industrial Design.
It looks like they have dropped your little 150 from their lineup- their current starter DC tig machine is the MinArch 180.
09-16-2006, 05:18 AM
Thats a real shame that you can't get them in america.
Yeah the design is great, and orange & black are good colours, same as KTM motorcycles :)
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