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Hey everyone!

I had a question, and was wondering if anyone would mind letting me know, or make suggestions here. I'm in the market for a Mig Welder, for small to medium projects I have on the side. Looking to mostly weld aluminum.

Does anyone know of a company they could suggest with a good model that's pretty cheap? I don't want to go too crazy with the price, but also don't want to give up too much in performance. Any suggestions?
Thanks
 

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You will regret cheap. LIncoln or Miller. Preference is Miller for a MIG welder.
 

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Why are the reasons you want a MIG for Aluminum? You should check out a TIG if that's mainly what you are going to be doing.

Also, go with a unit that is 220V because as you get more ambitious in your projects, you'll be glad you got something that can handle it.

I have a Millermatic 211 MVP which is able to run off 110v and 220v. I love it cause the place I'm at currently doesn't have 220V in the garage so I can run it off of 110.
 

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I just picked up a Thermal Arc. Does 220 and 110, it's inverter powered, and does tig, stick and mig.

Only downside is the tig won't do aluminum. To do aluminum, you have to go with a spool gun.
 

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I'd go with as large of a Miller or Lincoln MIG welder as you can afford. The multi voltage machines are awesome. Also, figure in the cost of the gas bottle and, if you get a mig machine, the additional cost of the spool gun.

I just picked up a Thermal Arc. Does 220 and 110, it's inverter powered, and does tig, stick and mig.

Only downside is the tig won't do aluminum. To do aluminum, you have to go with a spool gun.

If you run straight helium, you can DC tig Aluminum.
Takes more prep and more skill, but it can be done.

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_DwA0vzKXI

I've seen some miller and lincoln pulsed mig machines that can do excellent MIG welds in aluminum, but those machines are _VERY_ expensive.

I have been looking at the ThermalArc 252i MIG/TIG/Stick machine myself. I currently have a MillerMatic 175 machine and while it's good for most of everything I do, I have noticed that when welding 1/4" steel, the arc isn't as stable as I would like it to be (very nice for thinner stuff).

At this time, I am thinking I should have gotten the MM211 or 252 instead. The ThermalArc 252 though would be a really nice upgrade.
 

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Yeah, the thermal arc has no problem hooking a clean arc for thinner stuff. Mine is the 252
 

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Miller 211. Its dual voltage and can be used with an optional spool gun. Pretty much the best of all worlds.

If you do not have the option for 220v then the hobart 140 is a good machine and made out of Miller parts.

Nothing wrong with Lincoln, I am just not familiar with their line.
 

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Mind splaining that one.

The first thing I ever TIG welded was aluminum. Come to think of it, it was the only thing I've ever TIG welded. I think that's where TIG came from in the first place but they used to call it heliarc back in the day.

Change the shielding gas, filler material, the electrode and settings then start banging out aluminum.

Those Thermal Arcs are interesting looking machines. I like the multi process in one box. It seems like just the thing for an occasional welder and the prices aren't too bad either. I'd like to have one.
 

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Mind splaining that one.

The first thing I ever TIG welded was aluminum. Come to think of it, it was the only thing I've ever TIG welded. I think that's where TIG came from in the first place but they used to call it heliarc back in the day.

Change the shielding gas, filler material, the electrode and settings then start banging out aluminum.

Those Thermal Arcs are interesting looking machines. I like the multi process in one box. It seems like just the thing for an occasional welder and the prices aren't too bad either. I'd like to have one.
You need high frequency AC current for GMAW on aluminum. Some machines are low freq. DC converted units. The higher frequency is a cleaner weld and without it you will get bad results and cracking with aluminum. There are a lot of machines out there, I lean more on the miller side. I would rather TIG than MIG aluminum myself. If wire is a must then is go with a standard high frequency tig/stick machine and a buzz box to go with it
 

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Live and learn. I thought their TA 186 was good for TIGing aluminum. I think it goes up to 150HZ AC, is that not high enough? What would you say is the bottom end frequency wise?

Yeah I know Miller is the choice for pros. but you have to be making money with it to pay for their welders. I'm just a DIY occasional welder of sorts.

Almost anything would be better than what I have now, a Ready Welder or stick with either batteries or the alternator and underhood welder in my truck. A big PITA to be sure but still better than nothing at all. Just slightly better than batteries, jumper cables and coat hangar wire. LOL

Still I figured that setup was better than a little 110 welder at home in the garage when you're broke down out on the trail. It has lots of thankful Jeep tie rods under it's belt so at least it saves on hauling beer.

You need high frequency AC current for GMAW on aluminum. Some machines are low freq. DC converted units. The higher frequency is a cleaner weld and without it you will get bad results and cracking with aluminum. There are a lot of machines out there, I lean more on the miller side. I would rather TIG than MIG aluminum myself. If wire is a must then is go with a standard high frequency tig/stick machine and a buzz box to go with it
 

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Live and learn. I thought their TA 186 was good for TIGing aluminum. I think it goes up to 150HZ AC, is that not high enough? What would you say is the bottom end frequency wise?

Yeah I know Miller is the choice for pros. but you have to be making money with it to pay for their welders. I'm just a DIY occasional welder of sorts.

Almost anything would be better than what I have now, a Ready Welder or stick with either batteries or the alternator and underhood welder in my truck. A big PITA to be sure but still better than nothing at all. Just slightly better than batteries, jumper cables and coat hangar wire. LOL

Still I figured that setup was better than a little 110 welder at home in the garage when you're broke down out on the trail. It has lots of thankful Jeep tie rods under it's belt so at least it saves on hauling beer.

thats about all you need. im no whiz, but this explains it pretty well, alot better than i could....

http://www.millerwelds.com/resources/articles/Inverter-technology-revolutionizes-TIG-GTAW-frequency/

basically the same reason you cant OXY/ACY cut stainless steel, the oxide that forms to protect the base metal has a higher melting point that needs to be cleaned away before the base metal will comply.
 

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Well then according to that, "In general, 120 to 200 Hz provides an ideal frequency for most aluminum welding." The 150Hz of the Thermal Arc should suffice for an occasional TIG welder or home use.

- AC Frequency: Adjustable frequency of the AC square wave when welding on aluminum for optimized set up (15 Hz - 150Hz).
- Wave Balance: Adjustable for optimized penetration or cleaning action when welding on aluminum.

Sure it not as good as 400Hz or so and there are much better units out there but then there is that big cost tradeoff to consider. As I said I don't weld very often and don't try to make a living at it. I just want something that will likely do for my home garage without spending big bucks for Pro equipment that will never get used enough to pay for itself.
 

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Well then according to that, "In general, 120 to 200 Hz provides an ideal frequency for most aluminum welding." The 150Hz of the Thermal Arc should suffice for an occasional TIG welder or home use.

- AC Frequency: Adjustable frequency of the AC square wave when welding on aluminum for optimized set up (15 Hz - 150Hz).
- Wave Balance: Adjustable for optimized penetration or cleaning action when welding on aluminum.

Sure it not as good as 400Hz or so and there are much better units out there but then there is that big cost tradeoff to consider. As I said I don't weld very often and don't try to make a living at it. I just want something that will likely do for my home garage without spending big bucks for Pro equipment that will never get used enough to pay for itself.

I wasnt sure on the Hz but there it is. im not saying you have to have the best, but there is a couple necessities for aluminum, obviously. I agree, if it works it works! I have a DC miller tig/stick machine and i love it. I got a good deal on it. It would be nice to have more otpions but I have never needed to weld aluminum at home anyways
 

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I just used my buddies lincoln weld pack 100 (the home depot one lol) and its a nice little welder. I welded shock mounts and spring perches to my 80 axle. I have full confidence they will hold. He has done the SAS on his 4 runner, exo cage, cross members and some pretty serious fab with it and he loves it. You need some 20amp plus power to it or it hates life. Welds about as good as the 300amp mig that i use at my friend shop, you just have to go a lot slower with the little guy.

I was looking into a 200v welder, but after using that one i think i may just pick one up and not worry about re wiring the garage. If i need a bigger welder ill just do that work at a friends shop.
 

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I just picked up an AHP 200x TIG welder. It was $750 and does AC, DC, and pulsed TIG. AHP listened to the reviews and sourced a much better flow meter than the dual gauge unit. (the same as the ML50 that Mr TIG recommended to upgrade with). Torch is a 17 style and takes standard consumables -First thing I Did was got a gas lense kit for the torch. It works awesome, though I am considering getting a water cooled torch now...

Considering that I have NEVER TIG welded before, I am putting down some pretty good welds according to the pro's who've looked at my welds.

If it were my paycheck I Was earning with the machine, Miller, Lincoln or ESAB, hands down, no questions asked. But considering that this AHP 200x feature wise is on par with welders that cost 3-4x as much and that I am justl earning the process, I think it was a good investment. If I start making money with the machine, I'm going Syncrowave 350...
 
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