the verdict on TIG?

Hi all, Have been thinking for quite some time about buying a TIG machine for home and possibly commercial use. This machine would initially be for me to
brush up my skills, then once up to scratch i hope to offer TIG to the local community and make a few dollars off it. Ive never owned a TIG machine before, though Ive used a couple, mostly older machines.
Ive been trying to compare the middle of the range offerings from the bigger brands to the top of the line products from no names made in china. here in australia, i middle of the range 200A inverter machine with pulse, AC/DC and HF is likely to come in somewhere around the AU$6000 mark, with maybe a basic torch, but no regulator or foot pedal. Compared to that, some of these budget offerings have top of the line all singing all dancing 300A+ machines with more settings than you can scratch your head over for $1500 including regulator, foot pedal, water cooled torch etc etc.
Here are the questions, in no particular order, worth 5 points each redeemable for beer
has anyone had any experience with these chinese units? Do they hold up to a few years use? how is the quality of the arc?
there sure do seem to be a lot of settings, most of which are self explanatory..... inductance, pre flow, post flow, peak current, basic current, pulse duty, pulse frequency, clean width, arc force, slope up, slope down. how many of these settings are actually useful? what the heck is clean width anyway? or pulse duty/frequency for that matter?
is pulse very useful in TIG? I have used the top of the line $25k+ fronius inverter do all machines for MIG aluminum in a production environment, and the synergic pulse setting on these machines is a godsend - spatter free, and a beautiful stable arc.... unbeatable for positional welding in aluminum. Is pulse useful on a similar level when doing aluminum TIG? is all pulse created equal?
on a MIG, I would never buy a cheap unit like this.... because most of the parts are going to break down quick. The gun will fall to bits, the rollers will have endless feed problems, there will be no spare parts available and the quality of the arc will never be quite right, though y ou can get a good weld out of them. Is this true of cheaper TIG units also? am i better off biting the bullet? Looking at these things, im guessing the torch and pedal are probably junk, but what youve got left is pretty much just a powerhead. Is the quality of the arc in TIG machines critical, and is there a big variation between the better and lesser offerings?
ok, i know im in dream land and a $1500 unit is never going to match up to a $6000unit, but how much will the difference be in the real world?
Thanks, Shaun
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wrote:

A crappy TIG welder will be just as annoying/painful to use as a crappy MIG. Those Chinese machines are a dice roll. If you get one that's works, you might have a deal. But if you are not so lucky you will regret it. Take the claims of service on those machines with a grain of salt. If you comb the web for Chiri and other similar names you'll find some pretty P.O'd people. Yes, you are better off biting the bullet or buying a good used machine.
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I can't offer any real help, but since I've seen no good answers to your questions, I feel motivated to say the little I think I can add...

Not I. I don't even know what you are speaking of. The only units I've used are 5 or 6 different Miller units which they have in the welding lab at the school I'm currently taking welding in. (Hey, I just passed a simple 1G steel cert test on Tig today so I can call myself a certified welder now!).

I've never heard of clean width. DCEP is what creates the cleaning action for aluminum and on squarewave types of machines that allow you to adjust the square wave duty cycle you can control how much cleaning action happens by regulating how much of each square wave cycle is spent as positive and how much is spent as negative. This adjustment is called "Balance" on the machines I've seen and the ends of the control are thought of as "more cleaning" or "more penetration". I could believe that a different brand might label the same control "clean width" as a reference to how wide the positive half of the cycle is.

I've never used it so I don't know. I've heard it can help on out of position aluminum but it's all comes indirectly and I've never talked to someone that has actually used it and said it was good. I've heard that you can use it to basically spot weld out of position aluminum so I guess you adjust the pulse cycle to match your filler action and have each pulse melt a new spot where you then add the filler and move on to the next and wait for the next pulse. It allows the aluminum to cool between hits so you don't have problems with sagging (I guess).
If there are other reasons to use pulse with Tig, I don't know what it is.

My guess is that pulse is not a required feature and that it's only a extra that can make some types of welds easier - an extra that I suspect a lot of the better Tig welders won't even bother to use. But this is all just a guess on my part.
Two of the teachers at the school have a lot of Tig experience but I've never asked either about Pulsed Tig. I'll try to remember to ask them and see if they use it and see if they think it's an important feature to get.

No real clue. But because Tig has no moving parts, I bet it doesn't have as many of the mechanical issues that cheap mig might have - so cheap units might not be that much different.

Well, the Miller syncrowave 200 has pulsed Tig, and you can get the Tig-runner version which comes with the wheel cart and all all the cables for stick and mig for only $1800 USD. If 200 amps is enough for what you want to do, you don't have to spend $6000 USD for a name brand. But it is a 200+ lb transformer machine which needs a lot of supply current amps because it's got a bad power factor.
And if you can live with 150 amps and can live without AC, you can go real low end on Miller with something like their Maxstar 150 machines which is a very small inverter (17 lbs?) that includes pulsed DC Tig as well as stick for around $1600 USD complete.
I'm currently thinking about the Miller Dynasty 200 which is an inverter Stick/Tig AC/DC but it will cost more like $3500 USD once you add all the cables.
If you need to do thicker aluminum and need AC and higher currents, then sure, you are just going to have to spend a bit more money.
Personally, I wouldn't trust off-brand machines if I was going to be serious about welding. I would buy something like that for example if I didn't know what I was doing and wanted to get something just to play with, or if I was just going to use it for unimportant hobby projects.
But when I say that, I'm thinking of some of the cheap things I've seen at places like Harbor Freight and maybe the units you are looking at are actually very good machines in a different class from the cheap stuff I've seen and read about???

--
Curt Welch http://CurtWelch.Com /
snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com http://NewsReader.Com /
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On 06 May 2007 06:35:26 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:

Its really handy when welding thin sections of aluminum together. I managed to tig two aluminum beer cans together not long ago..and could only do it with pulse.
Shrug..Im NOT a welder by any stretch...shrug
Gunner
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On May 6, 2:35 am, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:

Although i have not used pulse TIG either i DO Second all of Curts findings
I have the option to use it (though apparently with a rudimentary pulser) and in general since i learnt non pulsed tig i've welded non pulsed and had results that are surprising for an electronics geek like myself
I am a Synchrowave 200 user because portability was NOT that critical to me and the power factor is LESS of an issue than the electric baseboard heaters i already have installed in my house
Due to the shipping costs associated with Australia the price gap between transfromer and inverter machines might be FAR closer over there (30 transformer machines to a shipping container compared to 600 inverters) guess which one costs more to send "Down under"
You might also be able to investigate Thermal Arc who are a name brand and i believe are actually Made in japan
IF the unit is made in the land of the rising sun it is possible that you could avoid some significant back end shipping costs compared to the American and European units and yet still have a unit made nearer to you in the pacific rim with proper quality as opposed to the mass imported mainland china POS'es
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