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MIG welder upgrade


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Hi guys!

I've started to work with welder 2 years ago. My first welder is awesome, and I've never had any problems. But I've decided to change it because I'm already an experienced guy and want to work with an advanced unit. This is the stupid question but how can I know is this an advanced welder? How did you choose yours? I've googled a bit and some sites say R-Tech brand has advanced welders. Is that so? For example, R-Tech 180 seems like mine (mine is "cheap" AmicoPower Arc-160 that I've ordered on Amazon) and doesn't have any specific features. I'm confused a bit. But I didn't check other models, maybe other units are for advanced users.

Please, share your thoughts and opinions here.

Thanks in advance!


Amazon links removed per TOS

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Good Morning,

Welcome to this site. There is a ton of knowledge and information here, you just have to relax a bit, pack a lunch and explore the history.

If you have been playing with a Mig Welder, what are you playing with? The type of welding machine(?) you want is generally controlled by how much you spend. The ability is inside you.


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I'm in the states, so brands of manufacture are different here.

I'm not sure of your "advanced" statement...

But how I judge mig welders for use:

primarily, brand name. Is it a well known company? Do they have a reputation for decent products?

How much amperage can it handle? The higher the amperage rating- the better the weld penetration/capabilities. 

Fine tuning controls- the selector knobs for amperage and wire feed speed... are they a "set selection" meaning you have only certain positions to select? Or are they a variable selector that you can adjust smoothly across the range? Is there only three or four power/amperage choices? Or ten that you can adjust to or even between? This allows you to more competently adjust your weld to the materials you're using.

Ergonomic design, or clean lines on the trigger and the stinger head. Cheaper ones tend to be blockish, uncomfortable to hold and use, and hard to get into tight areas. Older spool type guns are notorious for being heavy, and hard to use.

Dual capabilities- is it just a flux cored welder- or is there a decent gas connection for the shielding gas? Can you attach a good regulator? Does it come with a good regulator? What can you set it up for? Can you weld aluminum with it as well with the right setup?

Portability- there will be a time you need to weld and move it to what needs welding. Are you going to be able to move it easy? Will it fit a good cart? Can you readily organize cables, cords and supplies all together for it on the cart?

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Electric requirements are a concern if the welder is to be used in multiple locations.  Look at the duty cycle listed for that machine.  20 per cent duty cycle means you can only use it for 2 minutes and them must let it sit idle for 8 minutes before welding again.

Ask about the availability of spare parts or where do you take it to be repaired.  It matters whether it brakes under warranty or out of warranty.  Here you can get Lincoln, Hobart, Miller and other name brands serviced at many welding supply stores.  The major brands have on line tutorials on how to use the machine and helpful information to support their product.

Many times the welding supply stores have used or demo machines for sale at reduced prices.  These have been checked out before they go up for sale.

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More than one welder is the norm for me. I have found out that there is no do everything welder. I have 4 welders (5 if you count the O/A torch set), a Lincoln Tombstone AC, a generator DC welder combo for using where there is no commercial power, a HF wire feed for light quick work and a Hobart 187 handler MIG that I use the most. They each have their place in my shop.

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The wording "advanced" is a bit fluffy--yes, you can go for the gold and get a combo CC/CV pulsed AC/DC welder that includes sequencer programming features for post/pre flow and ramping at both ends of the cycle for keyhole filling with a wire feed, push pull spool gun, etc.  It's wonderful...and expensive.

If you are talking MIG only, just get something tried and true..an example is a millermatic 252 that can run both a spool gun and standard wire feed.  252 allows both guns to stay connected and you just choose the one you are using that project.  One trick is to research spray transfer mode.  It varies with the gas used but if you can cross over to spray transfer mode (pretty high amperage required), it's like the welds magically become cleaner and easier.  If your welder can handle the amps and voltage requirements for the chosen gas, you might find that the existing machine suddenly performs like a $ 10K fancy welder for the kinds of work you tend to do (not thin stuff..has to be a bit heavier work to handle spray transfer mode).

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