Thread: TIG or MIG welder
Actually i had the same dilemma before a couple of months. After spending a month reading forums and watching Youtube videos i decided on my choice.
For the price of a decent MIG and much under the price of a decent TIG or combine machine, I became an owner of 2 very good machines. Yes, Chinese, but not so crappy as many lead you to believe.
I feel that owning those 2 covers the basic needs of any hard DIYer, or even a small shop.
I acquired them in different order, but here is the order i recommend:
1. MIG+ ARC welder in one , 250A
This is unique as its 2 in one, 250A and at the time of my purchase there was no other similar machine, specially at that price. i bought it for 310eu, now is a bit more expensive i see. Works great and is my workhorse. the mig melts 10mm steel like a butter.
2. 200a Pulsed Tig+Arc+ 50a Plasma
This is the second toy. 5 year warranty should clear your doubts
Both work great in all modes, the Mig I still use with cheap C02 bottles.
And by the way you can weld aluminum with any of them. With the stick, the mig or even with the DC tig. Search you tube if you have any doubts.
I had many reasons why exactly these 2, but the main are-price,quality,versatility, run on 230v 16a household supply/yes even the 250A MIG/ ,. Even if a board is faulty, at aliexpress a board is 100eur.
PS. Every one of them payed itself by the first job i used them for
Hope that helps
Last edited by Boyan Silyavski; 22-11-2013 at 10:00 PM.
Granted, Argon mixes can give a better looking weld for inexperienced welders but once you learn how to set up correctly with CO2, it's more than adequate for home use, particularly at a fraction of the cost of Argon mixes. Personally, I'd rather buy a decent 2nd hand machine than a cheap Chinese one. Main reason is that I don't have much faith in Chinese electrical goods as they use low quality components to achieve the low prices. I very much doubt a Chinese welder would last 20+ years but I'm willing to be proven wrong...
Thanks for all the advice folks. So MIG it is then.
What about amps? I need the welder for my machine frame which is mostly 100 x 100 x 5mm, a little research suggests I need something up in the 250amp + range. This should cover 5mm and give me the option of welding thicker box section if needed in the future.
I'm not going to be production welding so how important is the duty cycle? If I aim for something around the -35% @ 250amps, would that be sufficient?
180A with a decent duty cycle (60%+) should be sufficient up to around 8mm thick. A 200A - 250A machine will have plenty of head room as you'll only use 100A - 150A for most DIY jobs. The extra ooomph may come in handy when you have some thick plate 10mm+ or your local farmer drops his tractor bucket on your front lawn for you to repair. I see the Oxfords are now £600. I paid £400 for mine 20 years ago and it paid for itself the first week due to my first car being a Vauxhall Nova which seemed to need new sills and rear wheel arches twice a year.
What sort of budget are you working to?
Thanks birchy. No fixed budget as such, just want something reliable and to give me some headroom on plate thickness, 10mm + should be enough. The Oxfords look more than suitable and I've also looked at Portamig, any idea on reliability of these? I know you can get cheaper but I do like to support British manufacturing whenever possible.
I've not used Portamig, so you'd have to do your own research on that. Obviously I rave about the Oxford welders because they're just good work horses. Just ask anyone who's owned one of their oil filled arc welders - most of them are about 40 or 50 years old and still going strong. Butters are decent quality, as are Esab, Miller, Lincoln, etc. Keep an eye on the power supply required. Many of the 200A+ machines will require a 16A supply. Even my 180A welder will take out a 13A fuse at the highest setting. I now have a dedicated 20A MCB for the welder socket.
I'd also make sure the welder can take a 15Kg spool of wire. It's much cheaper to buy the large spools as they're "industrial" size. Plus it indicates that the machine is capable of doing some man-work. If you're not sure what diameter to get, 0.8mm will be suitable for pretty much everything. If you'll only be welding 5mm+, then 1mm might be a better choice.
Last edited by birchy; 23-11-2013 at 04:57 PM.
Thanks birchy, I'll look into those makes. No worries on the power supply, I've just moved into a workshop with 240 & 3 phase supply, I'll get the leccy to install whatever breaker/socket is needed.
If you have 3 phase, get a 3 phase welder!
The 3 phase means you get a far smoother DC supply, which translates to smoother welding, and as birchy says, because very few people have 3 phase, 3 phase welders go for peanuts secondhand.
I think if it's a case of one or the other I'd go with the TIG. As been mentioned, TIG will get you out of a lot of tight spots in mild steel, ally and ss so it's pretty versatile. If you have a lot of mild steel welding though in terms of a large frame then MIG is twice as fast and simple once you get your set up and angles right.
However if it's an outside job on a windy day, welding gate posts etc.. my ancient Pickhill Bantam kicks ass everytime. (Once you have someone to reset the trip after the inrush into the coils knock the mcb).
Still for a lad with a workshop or garage I'd still go for TIG. The control you can achieve lends it to many applications. Even putting holes in work hardened stainless when someone calls over after trying to drill a hole in ss with high speed on their battery powered drill....(clamp a heavy washer around the hole first to limit the burn.)
Definitly agree about gas bottle rental. Don't dream of taking out a rental contract on your bottle, even the small ones. Pick on up second hand is your best bet.
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