Advice on MIG (and TIG) welder

  1. Tom Mooijman Member

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    Hi everybody,

    I'm quite new to this forum although I've been stalking it for a while. I was hesitant to start another 'what to buy' thread, but after debating with myself for a while, I would really appreciate some of your thoughts!

    I'm an engineering master student in the Netherlands and work on the family dairy farm, where I'm in charge of the mechanical repairs and projects. I've stick welded since I was young and like to think that I'm ok at it. I also have quite some experience with mig welding, that was with a EWM Picomig, and needless to say that was comfortable.

    Right now all we have on the farm is an old TICO 160A inverter for stick welding, though it gets the job done, I'd like to step up the projects and be a little more versatile. So ideally, I would like to be able to mig, tig and stick weld. I don't have a lot of experience on tig welding, but the process appeals to me and there would be plenty of work for a tig welder.

    So what is your opinion on the multiprocess welders? Do you think they are worth while, or is it better to get dedicated machines? To be honest, the new 'Fantasy Welder Over 250' appeals to me (http://welderfantasy.com/?page_id=4834). Available at fachowiec in Poland. It's an MIG, ACDC TIG and stick welder that would set me back €1200 excluding tax. Which is at the far end of my budget. The welder fantasy brand seems to be similar to 'LCDVision' in Germany, 'Free inverter' in Belgium and Everlast welders in the US. The Everlast brand is quite popular and the welder described seems similar to the mts 252 STi.
    The reason why I'm considering this welder is for a couple of reasons; the max welding current (250A 35% at 40°), which is nice for larger equipment. ACDC pulsed tig and just the versatility of the multiprocess machine.
    I might be traveling through Poland in 2 weeks, so I could actually pick it up.
    But what's holding me back is that I'm not familiar with the brand, and I am afraid that since it's a multiprocess machine, it might just mean it's not really capable in all processes.

    Or you think I should get a dedicated mig welder from a trusted brand with less bells and whistles but the assurance it is good at what is does(I've read some good things about Parweld)? A Tig option is not a must, but I personally like to make 'nice' things rather than Mickey Mousing things together. I've read the big 'Sherman - Jasic' discussion, and so it might be an option to buy a proper mig welder, since that is priority, and later on get in on a Sherman?

    Sorry for the elaborate post, but I appreciate you taking the time to read this. I am very open to any suggestions.

    Tom
     
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  2. Nick DV

    Nick DV "You must unlearn what you have learned."

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    Welcome to the forum Tom :hug: I'm too much of a newbie to advise, but I'm sure someone who can will be along soon :thumbup:
     
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  3. tom2207 Member

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    Hi , I would start with a MIG only second hand with a decent name behind it , and something you can get serviced or repaired locally , then when your up and going evaluate the tifg thing again , on the combi machines there are too many compromises made on the tig end to be worth the bother , you would out grow the basic tig in a fortnight , then never use it again ... just my thoughts .
     
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  4. Munkul

    Munkul Jack of some trades, Master of none

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    This is absolutely correct.
    MMA/Stick welding is pretty common to find on inverters, both MIG and TIG, but without spending LOTS of money you'll struggle to find something that does MIG and TIG both well. It's one process, and the other is an afterthought. Even on my industrial multiprocess XMT set - it's set up for MIG permanently, occasionally changed for stick, and never for TIG, because it doesn't have the controls that a real TIG set would have.

    IMO most people are best served by a separate TIG set and a separate MIG set. Most modern TIG sets stick weld pretty nicely, so that's your three processes in 2 machines.

    general purpose farm repair and light fabrication - IMHO - can almost all be carried out using stick, and AC/DC TIG. But that's my opinion.
    In my shop, the MIG gets the least use, but I don't do all that much heavy fabrication or body repairs.
     
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  5. tom2207 Member

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    Exact opposite on the farms I work at , reach for the mig , its fast and simple , and fills up big gaps with ease and keeps things simple , if I need something tidy , or more specialised , I bring my own tig.
    The farms I work at tend to want to see results fast , not stunningly pretty and slow , which is expensive.
    But as above totally agree on the multi process , too many compromises to get it all in one machine .
     
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  6. Pigeon_Droppings2 Forum Supporter

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    Problem with multi process is when you MIG breaks down and you reach for your MMA welder...it's also busted.

    Would be fine if the triple process machines were cheaper...but they aren't...they are big bucks.

    You can buy a Kemppi minarc mig...and a Jasic acdc Tig with MMA...and have plenty of change Vs the expensive triple process machines I've seen.
     
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  7. Munkul

    Munkul Jack of some trades, Master of none

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    absolutely :) horses for courses. We have a smaller farm and more field repairs probably than some, so stick makes more sense - as well as being far easier to run in position than MIG.
    The MIG comes out more for fabrication work than for repair, and always in the shop.

    I can imagine a lot of setups will use their MIG set more than us with the type of stuff they're making or repairing.
     
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  8. Tom Mooijman Member

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    Thanks for the advice! I usually am a big fan of buying second hand, but when I was looking for a second hand welder I kind of got lost in what to look for and separating the junk from the decent machines. And since the welder does get quite some work, we figured a new machine would be a good investment. But that does clarify some things regarding the combi machines, thanks!
     
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  9. Tom Mooijman Member

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    Location:
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    I did indeed find that the multiprocess machines are very limited in the process functions, without spending a whole load of cash. Good to hear from someone who owns a multiprocess machines. From all the replies it seems like a multiprocess machine isn't really worth it.

    I agree that stick allows for the quickest repair if there's not that much time for prepping or if its outside in windy locations. So I'd definitely would like to keep that option, but I think a MIG machine would be a really good fit for the work I am doing and planning to do. I think a TIG machine would be the last on the list.
     
  10. Tom Mooijman Member

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    Location:
    The Netherlands - Rotterdam
    Thanks everybody, all messages confirm what I was already 'afraid' of. I think a multiprocess welder is out of the race. That means I am looking for a MIG welder, the max would probably be a 1000 euros (unless you can convince me it's a reaaally good machine). Does anyone have recommendations?

    It could either be single phase or three phase, I think the max welding current should be around 250 amps (correct me if I'm wrong please). I've seen some discussions on pulse migs, are they worth the extra money? Would I benefit from a 4 roller, or would that mean I should also get a much longer hose to really benefit from it, or weld aluminium? Welding aluminium is not really that important for now, and I would like to get a dedicated TIG machine later on.
     
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  11. Munkul

    Munkul Jack of some trades, Master of none

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    If you have 3 phase, then that changes things. A second hand 3 phase 250-300 amp MIG is what you want, from a good brand. You'll often find a 4 roll feeder setup on a 300 amp set, which is nice for aluminium.
    3 phase sets are built right and run smoothly, generally will last a long, long time.

    See if you can find a Kemppi, Miller, Lorch, Thermal arc, Migatronic, Esab, around 300 amps :)

    I wouldn't worry about pulse MIG, not for steel.
     
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  12. Tom Mooijman Member

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    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
  13. tom2207 Member

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    if you have 3 phase your laughing , most hobby / diy folk want single phase , leaving 3 phase big heavy machines unloved and un wanted and in your case , as total bargains , same as everything else , drills ,grinders etc etc etc ..
     
  14. Tom Mooijman Member

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    Well I hope so.. I found a Migatronic Sigma Select 300 that is just over a year old. They are willing to sell it for €1800, which is way more than my original budget, but probably a bargain for the machine itself.
     
  15. Munkul

    Munkul Jack of some trades, Master of none

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    Its a bit... fancy... but it's a Lorch, so it will probably be really nice to use. Not sure about getting spares for them any more though, it looks like quite an old model, but should be pretty decent.

    I wouldn't have a fancy Migatronic. They go wrong and expensive to fix. But then, that probably applies to most inverter or CPU-controlled machines, and it never stopped me buying old inverters :dontknow:
     
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  16. Tom Mooijman Member

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    Location:
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    Ah ok, so stay away from the fancy machines? Sorry this might be super obvious to you, but I might be ruined by looking at all the new, affordable Chinesium welders with a 1000 options. Do you personally mess with 'synergy' welders? Or do you prefer setting it up by feel or experience.

    [edit: I found one of your old posts, answering some of my questions, including some second hand mig welder suggestions in the same price range, thanks.]

    A Thermal Arc Fabricator 330 for €800:
    https://link.marktplaats.nl/m1573406420
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020
  17. Tom Mooijman Member

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    Location:
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    I found a Miller MXT with a Miller ST 44 wire feeder and a Miller Coolmate 3 all for a total of €1400, which I am planning to buy. A little more than I was planning to spend, so do you think it is worth the money? I know the Miller XMT is a good machine, thanks to this forum.
     
  18. Munkul

    Munkul Jack of some trades, Master of none

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    Which model of XMT?

    The early 300 was a terrible machine by all accounts, but the 304 and 350 are very, very good machines.

    There's a few things to check - I'd open it up, check visual condition of the main capacitors, give it a blow down and torque all the PCB bolts down (they come loose and fry the board)
    Also does it have autoline or autolink? useful if you want to switch voltages or phases.

    No idea about the ST 44 wire feeder but it looks like a nice unit, a bit handier than a benchtop feeder as well.

    Check the age of the XMT by finding serial number and looking on the Miller website, they are very good at keeping info around on models through the decades.

    In the UK it would have to be made this side of 2000 and in good visual conditon to be worth that much IMHO, but not sure about in europe.
     
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  19. Tom Mooijman Member

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    Location:
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    Thanks for your reply, those are some really good pointers.
    Sorry, it is an XMT 304. From the serial number I've found that it is built in 2008. And in the pictures it seems to be in good condition, but we'll know for sure when I go to take a look at it.
    I don't believe it has autolink, which would be very nice to have but it's not a dealbreaker.

    It's a lot of money, but Millers are really hard to find here, and considering the age of the machine I think it's reasonably priced.
     
  20. Munkul

    Munkul Jack of some trades, Master of none

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    It's a relatively new machine then, that's good.
     
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