Problem with mig is you usually need a spool gun for aluminum. You can do it without one, but from what I've heard it's nothing but headaches from wire feed jam-ups. A spool gun can run anywhere from $250 on up on top of the price of the mig.
Originally Posted by Machine
I see lots of opinions in this thread without the experience to back it up....
Thanks for the info, didn't know that you needed a spool gun and you couldnt use the standard machine spool device. Lincoln's site says their cheaper mig welder welds aluminum. I guess maybe there's more to the story.
Originally Posted by Forestgnome
I don't know if you're talking about me, but I readily admit I'm not experienced at all in welding other than a little stick and gas welding. Just trying to learn like everyone else. Fee free to share your wisdom, oh enlightened one.
Originally Posted by Boostinjdm
That wasn't aimed at you specifically since you alluded to the fact that you didn't have direct experience. I weld for a living. All processes, all materials. I've already given my 2 cents, but I'll add to it. Avoid all imports, I don't care how cheap they are. Only exception I would make would be Thermal Arc. They have a decent reputation and seem to stand behind their products. Plus a DOA Thermal Arc machine is a rarity, not common practice like the other imports.
Originally Posted by Machine
I have owned a multitude of tig machines, Miller Thunderbolt with HF, LTec Heliarc 250HF, Miller Maxstar 140, Miller Maxstar 150, Dynasty 200, Dynasty 300, and my TA 300GTSW.
And I used to service machines and for a few more months, at least, am a Miller Authorized Tech.
I would never, ever, ever, go back to a transformer machines. Inverter machines weld so much easier and have so many more capacities when you get to the higher models. Lighter and use less power too. Parts can be just expensive on a Transformer machine, main board on a Synchrowave can be anywhere from $700 to $1000.
BigBoy, a Dynasty 200 is a good machine but overkill for what you want. Thats why I brought up the Diversion. That is unless you can find a dynasty for a deal.
ForestGnome, Machine, you do not need a spool gun to do aluminum. Just keep your whip as straight as possible and use U groove feed rollers and you will be fine. We used to have one company that we shortened the whips down to 6' and they used small lincoln boxes to mig weld tire rims.
The problem with aluminum mig is it is very finicky to get set up right. You need to use oversized or aluminum sized tips. Feed too low and the wire burns back and welds itself to the tip. The tip must be tossed at that point. It alloys with the copper. And you are running in spray so everything is very hot.
I use a spool gun on my XMT-304. It is pretty difficulty to weld thin aluminum with it unless I put it into pulse mode (I have the Optima pulser).
I don't understand all the hate for transformer machines? The ONLY adjustment I wish I had on my machine is AC balance to cut down on the white lines. Other than that I don't see anything justifiable for double the cost. In fact I hear of problems, can't use pure tung, can't get dust in them, parts are expensive and they do go out from what I hear, but at least its small and light so its easy to carry back and forth from the welding shop getting fixed.
What is the duty cycle on inverter machines?
My cheap import was used by a professional welder (20 years) for about 6hours and his verdict it was a good welder. he was looking to get one fas a site welding machine... I've given mine a beyond hobby level year of use. I'll admit it didnt work when it arrived. However it ws fixed by the supplier its worked since apart from one day. Inverter welders are relatively simple cheap electronics. The issue here is mechanical finish and details that improve reliabilty, but does the difference in mechanical design warrant the extra two to three thousand dollars?
Originally Posted by Boostinjdm
Remember even if its made in U.S. the boards inside were probably assembled in the far east. (I was product manager at U.S. industrial electronics company).
These boxes are so simple that a UK company is offering to fix them any fault £150 including UK shipping... that tells you there isnt much inside any of them
from any country.
I would pay an extra $800 (£600) but not $2K to $3K for a good support network.
There is no hate. It's just technology that is becoming obsolete.
Originally Posted by vpt
Early machines did have issues as all new machines did in their time. That has been resolved and the machines are now rock solid. You will always run into problems when you cut costs like with the Thermal arc dust issue. But dust ingestion is not a problem for inverters alone. I have had to repair burned up connectors in transformer machines for the exact same reasons. And parts for inverters are often no more expensive than transformer machines.
In the time period of me repairing machine I rarely saw inverters in for service. Most of the time it was for user error.
Not being able to use pure. Not true. You can. But you don't need to. It's quite the opposite. Transformer machines MUST use pure. Using thorriated on a transformer causes the tungsten to create little nodules on the edges of the ball that will effect arc stability. Inverters dont have this issue since the tungsten does not ball. This means you only need to keep one kind of tungsten on hand that works for everything. Second, since the tungsten does not ball you have much more precise arc control with the pointed tip.
Duty cycle is about comparable for a like machine.
There are no disadvantages to an inverter other than their higher initial cost. If you use the machine a lot it will save you money in the long run.
This is a fantastic thread. Learning tons with every new post. Thanks to macona, boostinjdm, derekm and the rest of the experts. Appreciate the insight and advice, I will definitely make good use of it when I buy my machine. Question though: is the Lincoln 175 an inverter or transformer machine? That was one of the possibles on my shopping list. Seems most like the ones they have.