Buying a Welder, Need Some Help Sorting Out the Vast Array of Choices

If you're rich, it doesn't matter. If you're not, the amount of work you have a demand for usually dictates the purchase of new equipment.
MIG or TIG? Depends on your use. I was never fond of MIG for aluminum, but there has been light years of advances since the very early 90s when I was exposed to it. Consumables and metal are spendy, so your demand should tell you the answer.
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The process is still yours to decide. But i can give you some food for thought form a more business type perspective to help you along to an answer dont think of it from the perspective of the guy with the helmet think of it for a bit as the guy handing out the invoice
the two biggest drawbacks to TIG are the slow speed and the vulnerability to the gas being blown away. Tig is not a good field repair process compared to stick and mig/fcaw there is a lot more setup in trying to get any given part out of the wind and getting yourself into a position where you can weld the part so setup time is more making the weld more expensive at the outset.
the welding itself is slower and deposits less metal once again making for a longer repair and more hours and more time.
a tig welder job can request a premium for the jobs that cannot be done any other way since you do need more skill to truly tig some parts... but that might not apply to you.
first question is are your customers willing to pay the extra for tig and a tig welder when a mig or arc job will be more than sufficient. You need to be reasonably fast and efficient and not price yourself out.
the other question to ask is how often will aluminum or stainless actually cross your path? tig does excel at multi meals and fast changeovers if you would expect to see a half dozen different metals in a day then that leans for tig but if you need to be ready for stainless or aluminum every few weeks or so then having a spool of the right wires ready for a mig makes way more sense since youre ready for most things instantly and you can handle the occasions with stainless or Al when they crop up.
Its more economical to have a spool of AL or SS handy if you are mainly doing mild steel jobs and depending on the situation you could have a portable wirefeed to do field repairs or use a spoolgun.
Just remember that youre looking at that from a business perspective and as such solid welds as quickly as possible will help you be a more affordable welder and get you more business overall
Just some food for thought from a small business perspective
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I've been mulling this over in my mind so long that I just got myself all bound up. I was looking at it from the 'toys' perspective.
I think Grant's original reply to me about swapping out the AC buzz box I have for an AC/DC model and getting as much MIG as I can afford is the right way to go.
Thanks for your help too. -- As Iron Sharpens Iron, So One Man Sharpens Another. Proverbs 27:17
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Good point. I'm going to go with the MIG machine. It makes the most sense at this time. -- As Iron Sharpens Iron, So One Man Sharpens Another. Proverbs 27:17
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"rvb" wrote
Start there, and see if the income or "toy" aspect dictates more equipment. Remember, BUY LINCOLN OR MILLER! You'll be glad you did.
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I'm going to buy the Millermatic 252. I think I'll wait on the spool gun to see just how much aluminum I'll be asked to do. Worst case, I can borrow a machine and spool gun to do some aluminum stuff.
Thanks to everyone for the replies.
Reply to
Rick Barter (rvb)
I bought my 251 last year, sans spoolgun. Admittedly I'm a hobbyist looking to go semi-pro, but I haven't needed to weld aluminum yet. And I'm very happy with my 251!
Reply to
Todd Rich
I've got a Miller 200 DX TIG machine and have played with welding copper a little bit with some success. Rather than reinvent the wheel, does anyone have suggestions as to the welder settings, electrode type, gas mixture, or anything else relevant to this endeavor?
What I'm welding is thin, 1/16" or thinner, along with #12 copper wire. I've used the wire for a filler and it seems to work fine.
Thank you.
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Twice the amperage of steel or aluminum, so 2 amps per 0.001" of thickness for a flat butt weld, full penetration, single pass. Pure argon works fine for thin copper, but once it gets above 1/8" you should really use a Argon/Helium mix. The Helium really boosts the heat.
For filler I use a spool of 18 ga bare copper wire. You can buy deoxidized copper filler rod, but I have never found it worth the price.
I have welded something close to 200 feet of continuous seams on copper sheet for various odd roof flashing and decorative metals jobs.
Make sure to wire brush the weld before running a second pass.
Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

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