Powermig 350 Multimaster 260 ...

I'm (happy to be) in the rare position of setting up new shop with a good budget to work with. I'll be putting together proto-types made
of metal, plastic, wood, and who knows what else. (https://www.hugllc.com/index.php )
I'm currently using my Lincoln SP 175T MIG and Maxstar 200 to get by as the shop is being built and I'm shopping...
I'm approaching this like it's my own garage shop but with a bigger budget - I want as much versatility as I can get because I'll be doing all of the work myself and it will be so varied. Also in the balance is that the equipment won't see high volume for extended periods. When a product is moving into production mode it will be taken over by others and in a different shop.
I started looking at a Millermatic 251 setup with aluminum spool gun so I could do steel and the occasional aluminum anytime without change-over, up against a similar Lincoln Power MIG 255C. A friend used the hell out of an ESAB for years day-in and day-out until it started spattering, and likes the new one he replaced it with - so I had to ask how ESAB compares and the salesman claimed the Multimaster 260 actually welds better than the blue and red, plus you get stick and TIG.
Saving money on buying a TIG got me thinking about the Lincoln Power MIG 350MP instead of the ESAB...
I want to use excellent tools for the job - like my Maxstar has proven to be, so I'm wondering if I need to go to something like the XMT (or higher) to get a truly good multi-process welder for whatever I need, and if I would be just as well, or better off to get a great MIG and a great TIG separately. While multi-process seems really cool and handy for an R&D shop, I've also got those early all-in one printer-fax-scanner wonders haunting my mind...
That said I'm wondering if the pulse on the Power MIG would be worth the step up... metal core out of position, thin aluminum MIG...
I'm going to demo some of these but I like to do some homework first so I can really go through the paces. Maybe I need to wait until I go to the FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show 2006 to decide...
Your input is most appreciated...
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Of those 2 I would go with Miller for a better spoolgun.

ESAB......Yechhh! Whether or not it has a good arc I don't know, but I hate the way they build their machines, especially since they insist of running spoolgun gas through the machine.
With the Miller machine you can keep the steel and aluminum setups ready at the same time, with 2 bottles of gas.

Be aware that all of these multi task machines are DC ONLY. None of them have AC TIG.

If you were planning on construction welding then a XMT would make sense. Great industrial power supply, but very basic.

You are better off with a good MIG machine for steel and aluminum wire feed, and a good TIG / Stick machine.

The Powermig 300 is a really nice machine if you plan on doing light production welding on aluminum, for everything else it is overkill.

Think Millermatic 251 with 30A spoolgun for wire feed, and a Syncrowave 250 DX for TIG.
If you have the cash, get a Dynasty 300DX for TIG.
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Thanks Ernie,

I was wondering about that - I'm looking at the Dimension literature, and I see you have to buy a separate high freq unit and that's only for TIG start, not welding AL.

A few things are attracting me to the Power MIG 350MP.
Pulse-on-Pulse improves cleaning action when welding aluminum and delivers a TIG-like appearance to the weld beads.
Power Mode maintains a stable, smooth arc for short arc welding on thin material-great arc length control for aluminum welding.
~ what that means exactly I don't know, but the salesman claims he can MIG pop cans with it. If the Power MIG is better for welding aluminum that's a strong selling point. But you don't like the Magnum 250LX Spool Gun? I guess I could live with re-feeding the 25' push-pull ($2,000 yikes) versus the convenience of a spool gun.
I also really like the idea of running metal core wire, which I understand requires pulse to run out of position?
Synergic control of voltage with wire feed speed allows you to set weld procedures with only one control for simplicity.
He says you can control the wire speed and heat from the gun with one knob. That would be kind of neat for, like welding on a ladder, if it works well. Where I really see a possible advantage is when less experienced people want to use the welder, it could simplify their lives.
I also think the option of downloading "future wave forms" is just cool.
It's starting to look like I could spend way more for the Power MIG 350MP over the Millermatic 251 though, if I have to go to the push-pull. But that doesn't rule it out because this will be part of the core of the metalworking shop and probably never get used to death (if the electronics are robust). We may also get into some 1/2" + steel weldaments and although Miller says the 251 can weld 1/2" in a single pass I'm a little skeptical, and the extra power of the 350 is attractive...
How bad is the spoolgun? Please let me know if I'm gulping sales slime on any of these points!
Thanks,
Ed
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I am not a big welding expert, but my experience is that a lot of my welding needs involve welding small things to other small things. For that, I think, TIG offers very good capabilities.
i
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I have used Pulse-on-pulse lincolns on aluminum and it is quite impressive (even if the arc does sound really weird)

Yep it works.

That gun is actually made by Systematics and is a bit of a dinosaur. The Miller 30A beats it hands down for functionality and ease of use. The other spoolgun offered by Lincoln is the MK Prince gun. Again a second rate gun compared to Miller's.

Where a Lincoln Powermig shines is with the MK Python push pull system. That combo has filled a niche between heavy industrial aluminum wire feed systems and little hobby machines.

Metal Core wire is not intended for light fab, it is a heavy steel fab welding process.
Small wire Dual-shield is lovely stuff. My favorite dual-shield wire is ESAB 7100 Ultra. The 0.035" wire runs smooth as silk and makes lovely welds in all positions without any fancy pulsers.
Mind you I love pulsers, but with MIG they are only really beneficial with aluminum.

Miller has the same feature on their Optima pulser with runs on a XMT 304 just fine, with either a push pull system or a spoolgun.

Yes there is a cool factor involved, but I hate seeing people spend to much on overly fancy machines instead of getting other tools.

I have welded 2 inch plate with my Betamig 250. Thickness is not a problem once you are above 200 amps, just how many weld passes.

BIG, clunky, badly balanced.

Not being misled, just wanting more machine than you really need.
If you like commuting in freeway traffic in a Lamborgini then go ahead and get a massive expensive machine, but I just don't recommend it. Buy "enough" machine to do what you need to do NOW and a little more for growth. You can always resell it and upgrade if necessary. If you buy quality machines they keep their value.
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The pulse for aluminum does sound good, I could end up doing a bunch of it but even if not, it's such a picky character to weld I wouldn't mind the help. Especially with thin stuff.
The salseman says I can get a Cobra spool gun with the Lincoln that has interchangable parts with the push-pull option gun. Does that sound good, or is it the same as the other one you mentioned as being not so good next to the Miller 30A? He said he'd recommend the Cobra spool gun even if I went with the Miller, too.
Another welding shop says the Miller 350P is easier to setup than the Linc. 350 MP and has better arc quality. Whereas the first shop dropped me off the 350 MP to try and says don't bother with the Miller! So far I am amazed with how easily and nice the 350MP welded some 3/16 aluminum angle together, but we couldn't get it to weld 16 ga aluminum worth a darn. The somewhat un-knowledgable salseman blamed it on the AL alloy (unknown), so I'm going to pick up some 6061 or 5052 and try again. We also coulnd't get the pulse to be worth a darn vertical up welding, vert down was okay. I played around with the standard MIG mode for a while and had a little better luck but not overly impressive results yet. Same as the Millermatic 251 would do I would guess...
I'm going to go to shop #2 to try the Miller 350 P with a salseman that actually welds to see what he's talking about. He seems to share your opinion that welding AL is the only real good reason to go up to the 350 pulsed MIG's.
If I decide to go with the pulse, do you like blue or red?
Also, I know what you mean about welding thicker stuff with a 250 machine with more passes, but I did love turning the feed way up (at the gun) and filling a massive groove between (2) 1/2" plates lickety split. If I end up welding much heavy plate it would be plush...
Thanks for the help, it's fun to talk shop with someone with experience, a good head on his shoulders, and no vested interest. I love news groups!
Ed

So you chip the slag then? Do you just use it outside in the wind? I tried metal core at a demo show at it was amazing, a fillet looked almost like it was machined with no spatter. I was thinking of running that in the new MIG and for light steel change wire or run my SP170T with standard wire...
Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:

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The "Cobra" spool gun he is talking about is the Prince gun. yech. The Miller 30A is far better.
With the Prince gun (and any MK gun at that) to switch from spray to short circuit you have to use different length tips. With the miller you just adjust the tip to cup position.
The miller has better balance and easier wire changes.

He sounds very wise.

I am a big fan of Blue, but I have to admit the Lincoln Powermigs have an amazing arc. If both machines have the same weld quality and the same price I would go Blue because Miller has a much better repair parts system than Lincoln, with much faster turn around on parts to repair shops.
My friends in the weld repair business say both Blue and Red break at about the same rate, but Blue is easier to fix because of how they build them and the parts are much faster to get.

I did that with a Hobart MegaMig 450RVS running 1/16" Dual Shield. Cranked it up to about 39 volts and 500 amps. Ran a single pass weld , full penetration on 1" plate. I was only able to run the bead for a few inches. Any more and I would have melted the gun. That is why they make water cooled MIG guns.
BTW whatever MIG you get, if you are going to be using a standard gun, and not the push-pull system, then I highly recommend Tregaskis 400 amp Toughguns.
Hands down the best MIG gun I have used on any machine. I converted all the heavy wire feeds at South Seattle CC to Toughguns years ago and they proved to be much better than Tweco, Bernard, OXO, or Binzel.
The stock guns that came on our Miller 251's were the smaller Tregaskis 250 amp guns. These lasted about 2 months in the school shop before falling apart. After 6 years we have yet to break a 400 amp Toughgun. You wear out liners, nozzles, diffusers and tips, but the guns keep working.
I got one for my Betamig 250 from eBay since I was melting the stock OXO gun with all the dual shield I was running.

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On Sat, 14 Oct 2006 20:15:06 GMT, Ernie Leimkuhler

Well, now you tell me. My equipment senses my positive vibes and never breaks, but if my Lincoln did fail anytime while I own it, I appreciate your comments and now I'm potentially worried.
Stuff might happen.
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First off I owned a Powermig 300/ Python and Prince push-pull, and have used a Miller MM-350p. I tend to favor the Miller unit for it's ease of use. Both are really nice machines.I do now own a Mutimaster 260 fully outfited and it is a excellent machine in it's own right. The spool-gun is clunky because I have the heavy-duty unit, but it's tough as nails. I wouldn't want to use it everyday. The pulse is synergic though the spoolgun and does not run through the machine like Ernie says. It's steel mig arc is better then the MM-350p and Powermig 300 and the steel pulse works very well. It does fall down on aluminum pulse compared to the other units. What does suprise me, is the DC tig arc is way better then a powermig unit. Very smooth like a inverter. Stick is great too.
I could be happy with any of the three machine I had or used. For me the Esab has been outstanding machine and has been out the longest. If you want the very best inverter mig arc I would look at a Esab 350 mpi.
xray wrote:

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I have a Powermig 350 demo on hand so it's hard to compare with the time I got at the welding shop playing with the Miller 350p. While the Miller seems a little more standard, it seems the Lincoln is actually easier to setup.... again maybe because I got more time to get used to it. But you set the process, then wire speed, and when you adjust your voltage the machine indicates where the "sweet spot" is by indicating if you're above or below it with an led that lights up above or below the voltage setting.
The salesman with the Miller wasn't big on pulse, but after pulse welding aluminum with the Miller, then going home to play with the Lincoln "pulse on pulse", it seemed there was no comparison. Once I got it dialed in on some 16 gauge it was like caulking, or decorating a cake for that matter.
I finally noticed the "power mode" process number on the front panel and tried it with some 035 dual shield on 16 ga mild (it's the smallest wire I have), and that seems cool, too.
So for ease of use and welding aluminum, I've been thinking it's Lincoln, plus it has bells and whistles to boot if you like playing with that stuff (I do).
Maybe I'm missing something, what did you find easier about the Miller. Also, I might look at an ESAB, but I'm surprised that you think the arc is better then the Lincoln. It seems like you can make the powermig 350 put out any kind of arc you want by fiddling with the settings...
Oh, there is one downside to the powermig 350 vs. the Miller 350p and the smaller powermig, the spoolgun doesn't talk to the welder so you, technically, have to measure the wire speed and tell the machine. You also can't use the lead-in and crater-out feed settings with the spoolgun. That's push-pull only. That was a bummer, but the more I think about it, I think I would mainly use the spoolgun for convenience with little SS , Al or other odd wire jobs. Otherwise, if I were doing serious Al welding it seems the push-pull would be preferred anyway...
Ed
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Pulse on pulse is nice but I really don't care for the look all that well. It works well but just something about it??
On the arc of the Powermig 300 I had, you could change it quite a bit but I never liked how it wetted out the weld puddle. Others that I talked to (coming from MM-200 and XMT 304 noticed the same. Even with the inductance and different slopes it was not quite how I like it.
I can run 16GA non-pulsed aluminum with my esab mpi 350 without burn through so sometimes pulse is really not that hot. I really do not like outside corner beads on thin aluminum with the current pulse machines. Fillet welds are good but Tig still kicks it butt overall on some joints. I am waiting for the Lorch Thermal machines to see how those stack up. They will have the python and there own pulse on pulse deal.
Use the power mode #40 on aluminum and set the inductance on 10-. Great for building up parts. Edges of props, etc. I like the Lincoln machine real well and am only commenting on the 300. I did see some fantastic .050 SS outside corner beads done with the MM-350p. It looked like a tig bead by somebody thay knew what they were doing.
They all do something better then each other, but all are nice units. I could live with all of them and be happy.
Scott
Ed Fasula wrote:

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I'm happy for you (-:
However... Beware the trap of setting up a proto shop and being able to do what "the floor" can't do, because you have tools and processes that they don't have - and won't be able to afford.
Enjoy the shopping and evaluation process though.
\R PS, let me know about any lightly used demo equipment that might be going cheap.
Ed Fasula wrote:

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I'm happy for you (-:
However... Beware the trap of setting up a proto shop and being able to do what "the floor" can't do, because you have tools and processes that they don't have - and won't be able to afford.
Enjoy the shopping and evaluation process though.
\R PS, let me know about any lightly used demo equipment that might be going cheap.
Ed Fasula wrote:

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Ed Fasula wrote:

and brother I am AMAZED...........with this welder I can do a weeks worth of work in a day and on monday I am going to finance a new unit. buy my calculations it will pay for itself in 3 weeks
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