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Thread: TIG welder... which one should I buy?

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Old 09-15-2010, 01:26 AM   #1
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Default TIG welder for aluminum... what specs and features?

2 years ago I started brazing to make iron tubers.
now brazing/welding has become a hobby and I want to go further buying a TIG welder.

I've watched many tutorials, read what I could find on the net and so on, but I really can't tell what kind of equipment I need to start.
I mean, I know the basics... for example... I want to weld aluminum, so I need an inverter capable of AC.

may anyone tell me what should I look for?

maybe listing the minimal features that I need, more than just telling me which model and brand.
I live in Italy, and I don't know if I could find the exact model you suggested, so it's more useful to me knowing what technical details I should look for in what I can find around here.

I will mainly need it to weld small parts of aluminum (ex. tubers and frames for scalers), so don't suggest me something over-the-top that costs thousands of /$. I know TIG welders for aluminum are not that cheap, but I don't need it to build a real truck either!

thanks in advance!

Last edited by bazur; 09-16-2010 at 01:34 AM.
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Old 09-16-2010, 01:33 AM   #2
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I want to specify that I'm aware of this other thread:

Help me choose a welder.

but it's just a list of brands and models... what I need is some insight about what to look for in a TIG welder for aluminum that can be cheap without being crap

tnx!
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Old 09-16-2010, 04:38 PM   #3
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The other thread is for a mig (wire feed) machine. Completely different than what you are asking about.

As for tig you want a high freqency machine for aluminum and if it has a pulse feature that is great as well.

Your best bet is to go to a local shop and talk to them about what you are after and what your future needs are. There are many types of machines and many options on them.

Jason
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Old 09-16-2010, 06:11 PM   #4
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There are basically two main types of Tig welders, inverter welder (which you mentioned) and transformer welders. For the small RC type fab you will be able to rule out the larger 250+ amp machines. That being said the smaller transformer welders will be much more cost effective and more user friendly to a new welder. The inverter welders have alot more options for adjustine the arc, which is a good thing.....unless you are new to welding, I think it would be very confusing. I believe most transformer machines are 240volt input and the inverter machines are multi voltage meaning you can plug them into any voltage.

Miller makes 2 smaller transformer machines a 160 amp and a 180 amp and a 200 amp inverter

Lincoln makes a 175 amp transformer machine and a 205 amp inverter

I believe Thermal arc made a 175 amp inverter

I would stay away from any Esab machine only because their customer service is the worst in the industry, Millers is the best and Lincoln is right behind, I have never owned a Thermal arc machine so I can't vouch for their customer service.

New the small transformer machines start arround $1700 and hold their value very well so used ones generally sell fairly close to new. New inverter machines start arround $2500 and hold their value as well so expect to pay $1700 - $2000 If you are not in a hurry watch the internet and you may be able to run across a better deal, the more options and accessories the more $$$. For aluminum a water cooled torch is very nice, but will will add probably $600-$800 to the price and for thinner material and short welds I'm sure you would be fine with an air cooled model. You stated for aluminum you needed an inverter with AC, you are half correct you do need a welder that will weld AC, but it does not have to be an inverter, either the transformer or inverters will weld aluminum as long as they have the AC option. The inverters are better for thinner materials IF you understand what all the options are for and what they do.

Whew....did you understand all that LOL!
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Old 09-17-2010, 02:32 AM   #5
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jhghah - because of previous experiences, I don't trust the customer service of the shops around here...

thank you tigman250! those were the informations that I was looking for!
I really appreciated all the suggestions you gave me
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Old 09-17-2010, 10:33 AM   #6
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no problem, I finally found someone with a question I could actually answer
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Old 09-17-2010, 10:39 AM   #7
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I picked up a Diversion 165. Great for most stuff, but only goes down to 10 amps so the smaller items are really tough. A lot of tack and go. You will want a foot pedal control unit.
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Old 09-17-2010, 10:47 AM   #8
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Miller Syncrowave 200, costs around $2k USD and is a little amperage hungry but is a great machine. Has pulsed TIG and SMAW capabilities and is AC/DC capable. I've had mine since it came out and its a great welder. Lincoln also makes a model with similar capabilities at around the same price point which is also a good welder.
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:06 PM   #9
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tnx again guys, I'll see what I can find around here now that I know better what I need to look for
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