Seeking input on smaller tig welders. One of the guys took our old Miller Dial Arc machine home to weld some aluminum and his whole place, house and shop, burned to the ground including the Miller. It was huge and heavy, had the cooling water system, and about sucked the electric meter off the wall. Now I think I would like to replace it with a couple of smaller machines that are easy to move and can handle 3/16 material. Any recommendations? Thank you; Evan
The only thing more difficult to TIG weld than aluminum is copper. Both materials conduct heat away from the weld area so fast that a huge amount of current must be available to get a good weld. The best aluminum welding I've seen has been done with a water cooled TIG torch, a foot pedal current control, and a high frequency starting arc. Do the small portable machines have the high frequency starting arc available? If not, don't even consider one of them if you're trying to weld material much thicker than a Budweiser can! Jerry
The murder victim was drowned in a bathtub full of Rice Krispies and milk. The coroner blamed the crime on a cereal killer!
Cringe and wail in fear, Eloi- - - - -we Morlocks are on the hunt!
Evan, I have an Everlast 250EX [everlastgenerators.com], inverter type TIG machine that will handle most metals, including aluminum, up to the limits of its 250A, 60% duty rating. It has adjustable AC frequency, AC balance, HF start, good ability to set and control pulse parameters, and comes with a foot pedal, and a beast of a water-cooled 18 series torch (I prefer a smaller # 20 for most things, except thicker aluminum). Changing torches is easy, since it uses standard connectors. Weighs 60 pounds, so relatively portable. It's Asian manufactured, so a bit cheaper than other brands, except the no-names. There are some online videos that compare it to the Miller Dynasty 200 DX with roughly equivalent results. My machine is several years old, so I expect Everlast has newer models available, although they still sell the 250EX. Miller has newer models as well. Worth checking out Everlast, IMO.
My old Miller Synchrowave 200 has proven adequate in hobby use doing projects like these. It's low tech (not inverter) so used versions are inexpensive and plentiful.
I'm probably using it way below its potential because its cooling fan has only come on a few times in the approximately 15 years I've owned it. It cost about $1800 new including delivery to my front door.
A few years ago I thought I had to have a tig welder and spent a lot of money on a Miller dynasty 350 and a foot control and a water cooled torch and I never use it. I had been using a Millermatic 252 with push pull and I had a lot of trouble with it bird nesting. But tig welding is slow compared to wire. One of the guys working for me at the time asked me to buy a Millermatic with a spool gun. It is the best thing I ever bought. I use it all the time. I just leave the spool gun on it because I don't have the patients to switch from wire feed to spool feed. About all I use the Dynasty for is arc gauging. But my Miller D500 will do that just as well. The Dynasty setup was around $10,000 and the 112 with with the spool gun was less than $3,000 and I swear by the thing.