Old Migs versus New Migs

I am currently researching the MIG market for a possible purchase.
It would appear that there has been a constant release of newer models
over the last few years. Another factor affecting the market is the
recent consolidation of the industry so in the United States we have
Miller/Hobart versus Lincoln as the major players.
One of the questions I have is this...have the newer models included
better capabilities and improvements or is this just a marketing
effort to keep the brand in front of the customer?
My guess is that it is a bit of both.
Consider that if one visits your favorite big box store, one will find
a number of consumer targeted MIGs (and if you are lucky a low end
stick welder). While I understand that the consumer MIGs are targeted
for the beginning welder, I suspect the competition that the companies
have had to face in this market has resulted in better ease of use,
cheaper consumables and better capability for all mig users. I would
also think that as these novice users move to better machines as their
skills improve and their needs increase, the competition for their
business will result in better mid range MIG machines being
In your opinion, are we seeing that occurring now?
What all this means to my efforts to buy a mid level MIG is whether
now is a good time to buy one or to wait for a few years to make the
purchase. I have stick and TIG capability so I can afford to wait if
need be.
Thanks for any comments that you may offer.
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As with computers, it seems to be the case that if you can wait, things get better and cheaper. Arguably, if you can wait, you don't really need a MIG right now - if you really needed it, you'd not be able to wait. You can weld anything with the TIG machine you have, and if you're not looking at a production schedule or other reason to need to go a lot faster, it's fairly hard to justify a MIG.
Since I have a powersource which will do both CC & CV at the flip of a switch (set up as stick at present), I'm considering a ReadyWelder...but I'm also considering a TIG torch, though I gather that without a very expensive add-on box the low end of current will be 20 amps, not 0 amps.
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It has been my experience that the major manufacturers have made improvements in their smaller MIG boxes, and it is no longer necessary to buy a big mig, as the smaller ones perform very well.
I have not found that to be the case. I favor the high end machines because once somebody starts welding, they weld more and more. In the low end machines, they hit the limits of the duty cycle, wear out hard to get parts, or otherwise outgrow the machine.
Yes, we are seeing a proliferation of machines to fit the demand. The only problem I see is that they aren't always good machines.
Why wait a few years? Get a quality machine right now that will last a lifetime, and get welding. It seems as though you don't do a lot of welding, otherwise you wouldn't even consider waiting a few years.
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Certainly buy the best you can afford. I have expereinced pulse arc wire feed machines and am impressed at their versatility. Manufacturers are starting to create custom current for each type of wire according to alloy, gas, and wire type. The very high end Lincolns allow one to "engineer" a current type to the owner's desires. Right now you are thinking about a particular welder with certain characteristics. These welding machines can reprogrammed to suit a new type of welding gas , wire or parent metal. An example is "metal cored" wire. I heard about it five years ago. Now it is taking over from self shielding flux core. Five years ago few machines could really maximize the benifits of metal core. If something else appears on the horizon you simply hook your laptop up to your machine and download a new program. This is a pretty fancy approach for the small operator but then at one time there were only mainframe computers and no one even considered having a computer that would actually sit on your desk. Randy
Reply to
Randy Zimmerman
The top makers haven't really improved their machines' welding abilities, but they have added bells and whistles like digital readouts and easier connections for spoolguns.
The 2 biggest players are Miller and Lincoln. Both companies make a professional line and a consumer line.
In Miller's case the Hobart line is their lower line.
Lincoln owns Century, which makes low end machines.
A Millermatic 210 with a Spoolmate spoolgun is a great combination.
If you want a cheaper, but very efective solution, buy a Readywelder Spoolgun and power it from your TIG.
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I own one. They work very well.
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Ernie Leimkuhler
I picked up one of these earlier this year for my repair shop:
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think it was about $1600 US before cylinder lease, wire, etc. It has digital readouts, which make it foolproof for a quick dial-in.
Here is his little brother:
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digital readouts, no fan on demand, and a multi-tap style voltage selector.
I couldn't be more satisfied with my MM251. Whatever you choose, buy locally for support for the product. The last two new machines I have bought had troubles out of the box. If I would have ordered them online it would have been a big problem for both.
Hope this helps
Reply to
John L. Weatherly
The latest three phase units use a fraction of the number of tips. The ones in our shop will give decent starts when the tip is so worn that the end is double the diameter of the wire. With one quick twist of the dial I can drop from 400 inches per minute down to under 200 and the machine will automatically drop me from full spray transfer to something like a short circuit only pulse mode. I can fill a gap on a root then twist the dial back up and be running production again. There is no fine adjusting of the voltage control. You still however have a trim knob to tune to your liking. There are several trigger switches on the machine and I have not even explored those options. If I change wires or gases I flip down a cover and start running through a menu to change characteristics to match the new wire or gas. Kinda embarassing if you change gun and drive rolls over from alumium and forget to change menus. There are selections up to eighty something and upgrades can be purchased. Oh yeh... There is a gouging and stick welding mode. In some large manufacturing operations these new machines will save enough on your electical bill to pay for themselves in as little as two years. With overhead boom and a water cooled gun ten thousand dollars will not even get you started. Yes I would say the new ones are better and it is more than just the digital readouts. I would expect these options filtering down in an amazing short time. Randy
Reply to
Randy Zimmerman
With Miller's Axcess power supplies, software updates are very easy since they come with Bluetooth wireless built in. A wireless LAN could link every power supply in a shop, allowing simple unified updates.
Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler
What machine(s) are in use in your shop? I have a small amount of time with a Lincoln Powermig with pulse on pulse and it has some very impressive capabilities, particularly on alu. It reaches well into what a few years ago was tig only territory. And clean up time (which matters quite a bit in a money making operation) is vastly reduced.
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These units are Powerwaves, about five years old, purchased used. Two of them are 600 amp. Most often we are using the pulse mode, 045 metal core wire. Our consulting engineer came in for his regular audit and was intrigued by the sound. Our procedures are really for conventional current but after I showed him the slight difference he seemed satisfied. For horizontal fillets maxed out I find that the pulse is more forgiving. I am less likley to accidentally get undercut. I haven't used the aluminum pulse other than tacking for the wleders. I did find that with the short gun lead, plastic liner, and aluminum wire rolls I could run some very nice tiny tacks rather than big gobs . Pulse certaily is the way to go for aluminum wire feed all postion. Randy
Reply to
Randy Zimmerman
They are using pulse, with metal core on steel as well as alu.? Any of the work out of position? Do you have less clean up? And is the deposition rate higher?
thanks, JTMcC.
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MIG pulse on aluminum all position is excelllent. There is no spatter and minimal cleanup. I worked two years as a fitter in a yard that used pulse arc for all the aluminum material ranging from 2mm to three inches. The fuel tanks held several thousand gallons and were 2mm thick. The fitting however had to be perfect. No high-lows allowed at all. In this shop we do aluminum horizontals and flat with the pulse powerwave. It is there on the machine so we use it. You are limited to an eight foot lead so for some work we used a push pull on an old miller 300 amp CV. We also use pulse on metal cored wire (steel) I don't really think that there is much difference in potential deposition rate between pulse or conventional curent. There may be a slight advantage. Literature that was given to me from Miller showed slight increase in deposition rate but not what I would call ground breaking. I like the pulse arc characterisitcs. I think the puddle does not get out of hand and too fluid when I crank it up. I have only experimented with vertical up on metal cored wire .045. It seems to work and although it was not as easy as some .045 flux core dual shield wire I could run a vertical. Metal cored wire is not intended for out of position. It is supposed to be a production wire. These are my personal ovservations and may have a personal bias. The pulse menu on the Powerwave that is intended for metal core is very forgiving. I was amazed when I welded a handle on one of the welding carts. The handle was .065 round tube to quarter inch thick square tubing. I turned the machine down and did a fast downhill around the diameter of the little tube. It looked like a quick .035 wire weld, smooth and well blended. There is no cleanup with metal core wire properly set up on either current. The best part about metal core is that there is no smoke... well almost no smoke :') The rules have changed abit this year on our Canadian Welding Bureau code. Previously prequalified joints with flux core processes were automatically prequalified on metal cored wire... Not so for hard wire. This was a big incentive locally to change over.
Reply to
Randy Zimmerman
Thanks, JTMcC.
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