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How to Select Your Plasma Cutter Air Compressor

Air Supply Requirements for Plasma Cutting Systems (Plasma Cutter Air Compressors)

Plasma is a superheated ionized gas. In a plasma cutting system, you can think of this as a lightning bolt inside a tornado.

The electrical current (lightning bolt) contains a massive amount of heat energy. The gas (tornado) ionizes, controls the arc, and blows away the molten material. In order for a plasma cutting system to perform optimally, the gas supply must be clean, dry, and properly regulated. When using bottled gas, these factors are relatively simple to control. Since most modern plasma cutting systems rely on shop air for the majority of cutting processes, more variables are introduced into the equation, often causing performance and consumable life to suffer when the air supply is less than ideal.

Here we’ll discuss the three factors that contribute the most to the performance of your plasma cutting system, and how to make sure that your tornado can keep up with your lightning bolt. 

Before we can discuss what a plasma cutter needs to breathe, we need to understand the design and operation of air compressors. A typical air compressor is comprised of a motor-driven compressor and a storage tank. The storage tank size will be represented in gallons or liters, with portable systems having tanks as small as 1 gallon and stationary systems having tanks 100 gallons or larger.

Flow rate capacity is a product of output pressure and storage tank size. The higher the output pressure is set, the lower the flow rate capacity will be. It is important that you are confident your compressor can keep up with the flow rate requirement of your cutting system when set at the required output pressure.

It is highly recommended that your plasma cutter air compressor be dedicated to running your plasma cutting system. If you plan to run other pneumatic devices simultaneously, you will have to add the flow rate requirements of all devices together to ensure that your compressor can keep up without exceeding its duty cycle. 

1. Pressure 

Pressure is the force of the compressed air being fed to your plasma cutter. The value for gas pressure may be represented in pounds per square inch (psi), megapascal (MPa) or bar.

Air compressor system pressure is preset and is usually between 100 psi and 135 psi and output pressure is adjustable via the pressure regulator. Inlet pressures vary by system. For a small handheld plasma cutter running at 20-30 amps, you’ll need as little as 80 psi (5.5 bar). Larger, automated plasma cutting systems in the 130 to 800 amp range may require 115 psi (8 bar) or more.

Most commercial industrial air compressors for plasma cutters will be capable of generating pressures in this range. It is important to note that the inlet pressure at your plasma cutting system will be lower than the output pressure of your air compressor due to pressure drops between the two points which can be caused by leaks or restrictions such as undersized fittings or filtration units.

You may need to set your compressor’s output pressure slightly higher than the inlet pressure requirement of your plasma cutter to compensate for pressure drops. Consult your operator’s manual to determine the best pressure for your system. 

2. Flow 

Flow is the rate at which air is being fed to your plasma cutter from the air compressor.

The value for flow rate may be represented in cubic feet per minute (CFM or ft3/min), standardized cubic feet per minute (SCFM), cubic feet per hour (CFH or ft3/h), standardized cubic feet per hour (SCFH), liters per minute (l/min), or liters per hour (l/hr). The flow capacity of a compressed air system is largely determined by the size of the tank.

As a good rule of thumb, select a compressor that has a flow rate capacity of at least 1.5 times the consumption rate of the plasma cutter. You’ll also want to make sure that the hose or tubing in use is rated for the pressure the system will handle, large enough in diameter to handle the flow rate requirements, and will not corrode or cause excess moisture to develop inside the line.

Copper is preferable to steel and aluminum pipe. Lines shorter than 75’ should use 3/8” diameter hose or tubing. Lines longer than 75’ should use ½” diameter hose or tubing. If using a flexible hose, you should take care to make sure the hose is not pinched or kinked.

The orifice size of all fittings used should match the ID of the hose or tubing. Flow rate requirements also vary by system and you’ll need between 3.5 scfm (99 l/min) and 6.7 scfm (189 l/min) depending on your system’s requirements. 

3. Filtration 

While inlet pressure and flow rate vary by system, filtration requirements do not. At surface level, it may seem that this makes filtration the simplest variable to account for.

In truth, filtration is the biggest gremlin in many air supply systems. It is often misunderstood and operators assume that because they have invested in the proper filtration equipment, they cannot possibly be experiencing a filtration issue.

The design and layout of a compressed air system can have a large impact on the amount of moisture that becomes trapped in the system, and where it ends up. Gravity can be your friend or enemy in this regard. Air filtration devices should be used to remove water, oil, and debris from your air supply and should be placed as close to the plasma cutting system as possible.

Under most conditions, a common coalescing filter with an automatic drain is sufficient. If cutting in a high humidity environment, a refrigerated air dryer should be considered. 

Taking the time to ensure a proper supply of clean dry air to your plasma cutting system will provide you with better cut quality, less downtime, and longer-lasting consumables. If you need help selecting the proper air compressor or air system components, visit your local supplier for assistance! 

If you’d like to learn more about plasma cutting, you should read our blog detailing how to properly replace your CNC plasma consumables.

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Welding Hazards & Risk Management 101

How to Approach Welding Hazards

Welding and fabrication require the use of specialized tools and equipment to perform processes that present elevated risks that must be understood and mitigated in order to work safely and prevent death or serious injury to the operator and other nearby persons. It is very important to recognize what these risks are, how and when they appear, and what to do in order to ensure that the chance of bodily harm through acute or cumulative exposure is as low as possible. 

The Types of Hazards in Welding & How to Prevent Them

There are a variety of high-risk factors in welding. Here’s what they are & everything you’ll need to know about each.

Radiation 

Electromagnetic radiation is the way in which energy moves from one place to another. Most welding and cutting processes produce one or more forms of radiation. This radiation varies in 

energy depending on the wavelength or frequency. Radiation with a shorter wavelength (higher frequency) carries a higher density of energy than radiation with a longer wavelength (lower frequency). Exposure to higher frequency radiation (such as a welding arc) for even a short amount of time can cause severe damage to the eyes and skin. In the eyes, radiation exposure can cause photokeratitis (arc flash burn), retinal scarring, cataracts, and even blindness. Ultraviolet radiation attacks the electrons in skin cells, causing burns on exposed skin.

Prolonged exposure can eventually lead to skin cancer. In order to prevent radiation damage to the eyes, protective eyewear and lenses which meet ANSI Z87.1 and ANSIZ49.1:2005 should be used. To prevent UV damage to exposed skin, clothing should be worn in accordance with OSHA standard 1910 which covers as much exposed skin as possible, including the neck, face, and forearms. 

Electric Shock 

Exposure to as little as 100 milliamps (1/10 amp) of electrical current can be fatal. Electric shock occurs when the human body accidentally becomes part of an electrical circuit. When this happens, electrons in the atoms of human tissue resist the flow of electrical current and quickly absorb the resulting heat, which causes severe burns, tissue damage, or death. Since many welding and cutting processes use electricity to generate an arc, it should come as no surprise that according to OSHA standard 1910.332, welders face a higher-than-average risk of electric shock. When poorly maintained or improperly connected equipment, sweat, moisture, and incorrect operation are added to the risk formula, the potential for death or serious bodily injury rises considerably.

Many injuries resulting from electric shock are caused when the injured party falls after sustaining a shock, as the muscles spasm involuntarily. To mitigate the risk of electric shock welders face, operators should be trained and familiar with the proper operation of equipment.

Additionally:

  • Equipment should be well-maintained and turned off when not in use.
  • Operators should inspect the condition of their equipment, especially the cables, on a daily basis.
  • When extension cords are used, they should be rated for the application, properly grounded, and routed away from moisture and moving equipment.
  • Welders should wear personal protective equipment that insulates them from electrical current and take care in wet environments or when perspiring excessively as sweat is highly conductive.
  • Welders performing tasks above ground level should follow fall protection protocol. 

Fires & Burns 

Welding can be a violent process, generating sparks and sending bits of molten metal onto nearby surfaces which can burn operators and cause fire or explosion. Cutting torches are often used which can burn in excess of 4,000°F and require the use of compressed highly-flammable gases. Welders can sustain burns either directly from the process they are performing or from fire ignited as a secondary hazard of the process. In order to reduce the risk of fire, welders 

should be trained on fire prevention strategies including the segregation of combustible materials, care of oxygen and fuel gas storage cylinders, and inspection of equipment. Welders should also wear flame-resistant clothing, have access to fire extinguishers, and be trained in their use. Burns may be sustained either directly from the equipment being used, from sparks or molten metal originating from the work surface, or via residual heat from the workpiece. To prevent burns, welders should wear proper gloves, sleeves, aprons, and footwear. Welders should also have access to and be trained to use first aid equipment to treat burns such as bandages and compresses. 

Fumes & Gases 

Many welding and cutting processes generate hazardous fumes and gases. You should absolutely avoid this welding hazard.

Fumes and gases are produced when a material is heated above its boiling point and vapors condense into tiny particles which become airborne. These particles may or may not be visible and may originate from filler rod or wire, base materials, or coatings or plating.

When inhaled, these fumes and gases may cause nausea, dizziness, headache, fainting, or disorientation. Prolonged exposure may cause emphysema, lung cancer, brain damage, and even death.

Zinc fumes are particularly hazardous and can induce a condition commonly referred to as “metal fume fever” which has symptoms similar to the flu. Because of this, welders should take particular care when welding or cutting zinc plated or galvanized material.

Perhaps one of the most dangerous substances which can be transformed into a toxic gas by welding or cutting is hexavalent chromium or hex chrome. Hex chrome can cause cancer, ulcers, respiratory distress, and allergic reactions. Other common metals which produce hazardous fumes to welders are aluminum, manganese, nickel, cadmium, beryllium, iron, mercury, and lead.

To reduce the risk of fumes and gases generated by welding or cutting, welders should wear respiratory personal protective equipment such as powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs), use fume extraction devices, or both. 

Noise Hazards 

It takes a lot of energy cut, weld, bend, twist, form, and work metals. When this energy is transmitted, sound is often a byproduct. This sound can range from barely noticeable, such as in the buzz of a TIG torch, or powerfully deafening, such as in air carbon arc gouging. OSHA requires companies to implement a hearing conservation program when employees are exposed to noise at or exceeding 85 decibels (dB) averaged over eight working hours. Unfortunately, it takes far less than eight hours of exposure to high-decibel noises to cause permanent hearing damage. At noise levels above 112dB, hearing damage can occur in seconds. Noise hazards are extremely common for welders; however, they can be easily and effectively mitigated with earplugs or ear muffs with the proper attenuation rating for the environment. In extreme environments, both may be required to reduce sound levels below the 85dB threshold. 

Taking appropriate measures to increase workplace safety will help ensure that every employee goes home healthy at the end of the day. Free welder safety training is available online from the American Welding Society.

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Robots in Welding: Why you Should Weld with Collaborative Robots

Why Use Robots in Welding?

Should you use collaborative robots for welding (cobots)?

For some, it may become a necessity in the near future to help keep up with product demand.

Keep reading to learn about robots in welding and how they could help increase your productivity.

Man Using Robots for Welding

The History of Robots in Welding

For many years, the option to integrate a robot into a manufacturing environment was binary.

Companies could choose to continue to utilize a human to perform a task or they could choose to replace that human with a robot. This spawned an entire subcategory of science fiction where robots were portrayed as a blue-collar competitor at best, and at other times an evil automaton determined to overtake humanity in the name of efficiency or logic.

A 1964 episode of The Twilight Zone, entitled “The Brain Center at Whipple’s” sees the greedy owner of a manufacturing corporation (Mr. Whipple) replace all 283,000 of his employees with robots in the name of progress despite the pleadings of his Plant Manager, Mr. Hanley. At the end of the episode, after replacing every single employee with a robot, the board of directors replaces Mr. Whipple with a robot as well. Only then does he realize what a grievous mistake he has made and expresses sympathy for humanity.

Collaboration in Welding Between Humans and Robots

Unlike Mr. Whipple, businesses are no longer forced to choose between a human or a robot. Today, a third option exists called collaborative robots, or cobots.

Unlike previous robots, cobots are designed to work with and alongside their human counterparts and supplement their capabilities where human labor may not be readily available.

Sensors allow cobots to be integrated much more quickly by existing employees and to work right next to them without the need for a dedicated enclosed space.

If a cobot senses potential contact with their human coworker or an unexpected object, it will rapidly decelerate to prevent injury or damage. Cobots can be mounted on tables or carts which can be moved around a production floor as needed. Programming can be accomplished kinematically, or manually guiding the robot into the proper position, instead of using a program to write complex G code.

Some systems even allow programming using a smart device app. A variety of arm attachments increase the number of tasks a cobot is able to perform.

The possibilities are vast and still rapidly expanding as cobot manufacturers expand the reach, weight capacity, and available attachments.

The Role of Cobots in Welding

Since cobots can be adapted to a wide range of applications and there is a severe shortage of skilled welding labor, it should come as no surprise that welding is a natural fit for cobots.

Due to the flexibility and deposition rate, GMAW is the most popular weld process used with cobots. Once the proper mount has been fitted to a cobot, a torch can be attached which is optimized for the application, taking into account factors such as amperage, cable length requirement, duty cycle, mounting method, length and bend of the gooseneck, and type and size of consumables to be used.

Choosing the proper torch will allow the cobot to reach its full potential and maximize productivity.

To further increase output, attachments which ream spatter from the nozzle, trim wire, and apply anti-spatter solution can be added to the work station.

With cobots performing bulk production work, human welding labor resources can be reallocated to work requiring more skill, finesse, or experiences such as one-off jobs, repairs, or welds requiring other processes such as GTAW or SMAW while the operation of the cobots can be done by other employees.

Fixturing is simplified as well, with standard jigs and clamps being utilized on standard welding tables versus custom-built fixtures which can take days or weeks to produce.

Since one operator can effectively manage multiple cobots simultaneously, it has become commonplace to set up tandem workstations where a cobot can work on one side while an employee loads, unloads, or retools the opposite work station. This process can double output without adding additional labor or requiring additional cobots.

Companies who Provide Cobots

With so many possibilities to integrate a robot into a production welding environment and a shallow pool of available labor, companies such as Hirebotics have jumped in to bridge the gap between demand and access for these cobot welding systems.

Instead of making a large upfront capital investment in cobot welding systems, Hirebotics has partnered with Red-D-Arc to allow manufacturers to “hire” a cobot welder the same way they would hire a human and pay per week of use. This also allows companies to “lay off” the cobot if a job has been completed or if the needs of the business change. This model stands in stark contrast to traditional robotic weld cells which can cost over $100,000 and must be purchased outright.

Cobots are the Future of Welding

Business owners can take the 21st Century approach to manufacture with technologies such as Cobots. Cobots are used to help companies become more responsive to product demand, bid on more jobs, and boost profit margins through efficiency improvements.

If you’re interested in learning more about Cobots, providers like Hirebotics could be a great resource for you!

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Hardfacing 101: Making Tough Tougher

Hardfacing Makes Tough Tougher

Have you ever needed to increase the strength of a metal part to help prevent wear?

Hardfacing is a fairly simple and effective way to decrease wear on your metal parts, helping them to succeed in their intended use. Keep reading to learn what hardfacing is & how to use it to your advantage in welding.

What is Hardfacing?

Hardfacing Process

In simple terms, hardfacing (also known as hard surfacing) is a layer of impact-resistant and wear-resistant coating. This helpful coating can be applied to a part in order to increase its durability and service life.

The hard-facing process allows the equipment to be subjected to very harsh environments with fewer breakdowns and less downtime.

Hardfacing alloys come in a wide variety of specifications which are carefully selected to maximize the performance of the component to which they are to be applied. The hardfacing process can be used to build up surfaces that have already become worn down due to use, or to proactively armor surfaces on new parts before they are put into service. Hardfacing can be accomplished using a variety of processes, both in a shop and in the field, making it very versatile and cost-effective.

Additionally, using this process on new parts can extend service life by up to 300%. Still, if you hardface worn parts, you can save up to 75% versus replacement cost. Hardfacing does not require any specialized equipment and can be accomplished using equipment commonly found in many fabrication shops, repair departments, and garages.

What Parts Are Hardfaced?

Carbon steel, stainless steel, manganese steel, cast steel, cast iron, and a variety of alloys can all be hardfaced. The most commonly hardfaced items include those in various industries including:

  • Mining industry: (crusher rolls, buckets, bucket teeth, screw conveyors, pan conveyors, blades, sprockets, rollers, hammers, and trackpads)
  • Agricultural industry: (sweeps, teeth, shares, shoes, shovels, furrowers, plows, knives, cutters, rippers, hoes, chisels, spikes, blades)
  • Construction industry: (augers, buckets, bucket teeth, moldboards, dozer blades, shears, grousers)

These tools often see extensive use in some of the most demanding environments on earth and may only last hours or days without being hardfaced. Spending a few hours of time hardfacing these items can yield weeks or months of service life gain, eliciting the famous Benjamin Franklin proverb “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

How Is Hardfacing Applied?

Hardfacing can be accomplished using a wide variety of processes including:

  • flux-cored arc welding (FCAW),
  • gas metal arc welding (GMAW)
  • submerged arc welding (SAW)
  • shielded metal arc welding (SMAW)
  • oxy-fuel welding (OFW)
  • plasma transfer arc (PTA)
  • welding, resistance (stud) welding, and thermal spraying

The process selected is typically a result of what is available, what type of coating is to be applied, and where the application will take place.

Shielded Metal Arc Welding

If a piece of equipment in a remote area breaks down, it would be impractical to choose a submerged arc process to repair it, as the equipment is large, heavy, and stationary. In this instance, shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) would be a better choice, as this process can be performed quickly and inexpensively in the field.

Alternatively, if new equipment is being fielded for the first time, automated processes with a higher deposition rate are preferred due to speed and repeatability.

Flux-cored Arc Welding

Similarly, flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) is performed using inexpensive, readily available equipment in either a shop or field environment. Consequently, it’s one of the most popular processes for hardfacing applications. There are 3 patterns commonly used for FCAW and similar processes.

  • Waffle Pattern: In the waffle or herringbone pattern, you can crisscross welds to form squares. Next, smaller aggregates such as sand, dirt, and gravel can form a “dead bed” which acts as a secondary protective layer.
  • Dot Pattern: For equipment that will often encounter larger aggregates, a dot pattern may be chosen. This method consists of a series of dot-shaped welds which can vary in size and distance to both minimize warping of the base material and to allow a “dead bed” to form with the size of the aggregate that the equipment is expected to encounter most often.
  • Stringer: The third common pattern is a stringer. Stringer beads are run in parallel and spaced at various distances from .25” to 1.5”. For larger aggregates, the beads should run parallel to the material flow. If you are considering hardfacing a piece of equipment, there are many options for achieving the desired result. If you are unsure of what process, filler, or shielding gas is appropriate, please contact your local welding supplier.

Hardfacing is Not as Hard as it Seems

In summary, hard facing is an effective and not-so-difficult way to reduce wear on your metal parts. Hopefully, you now know more about what hard facing is, its uses, and the standard application processes.

To read about other welding tools and processes, you can view our resources to learn more!

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A Simple Guide to Selecting the Right Welding Helmet in 2021

A Simple Guide to Selecting the Right Welding Helmet in 2021

Before you select a welding helmet, it’s important to ask what you need it to do.

This answer may seem obvious. You need it to protect your eyes, right? Of course! However, there’s a variety of other factors to consider.

  • Do you need it to cover the top of your head?
  • Your throat?
  • The nape of your neck?
  • Do you need air filtration or ventilation?
  • Do you need a fixed shade lens or auto-darkening?
  • How many sensors should it have?
  • Are you working indoors or outdoors?

How to Select a Welding Helmet

In this article, we’ll help you find the answers to these questions and ultimately select the perfect welding helmet for your needs.

How was the Standard for Modern Welding Helmets Developed?

The first welding helmet was invented by Fibre-Metal founder Frederick M. Bowers in 1905. His early design looked more at home on a medieval knight than the modern welder. It took him 10 years to receive a patent, and 12 more to begin selling his invention commercially.

For many years, welders’ choices in eye protection were limited and welders didn’t pay much attention to the harmful effects of radiation. There was no standard related to safe practices for welding prior to 1944 when War Standard ASA Z49.1-1944 was developed under the auspices of the American Standards Association. This standard has been updated over the years to its current version, ANSI Z49.1:2005, which is also the basis for OSHA Standard 1915.153.

What shade of lens do I need?

According to the selection guide in ANSI Z49.1:2005 (AWS F2.2), the shade you should use depends upon the welding process being performed and the arc current amperage.

Soldering and brazing may only require a shade 2-4, while high amperage arc welding may require a shade 11-14. For the most common welding practices, a shade 8-10 lens is appropriate.

A lens shade that is too light will not provide adequate protection from the welding arc and may cause the wearer to squint to block some of the intensity of the arc. A lens shade that is too dark will not allow the wearer a sufficient view of the weld zone.

This is one reason why adjustable auto-darkening filters have become so popular for welders who perform a variety of processes.

Should You use a Helmet with a Passive lens (fixed shade) or an Auto-Darkening Lens?

This is largely a matter of personal preference. Welders who perform a variety of processes typically prefer a helmet with an auto-darkening filter that is adjustable on the fly.

Welders who work in dynamic light conditions (partially shaded areas or areas with competing bright light sources) may find that the sensors in their ADF helmets do not perform correctly under these conditions.

It is also possible for dirt, debris, or other objects to block light sensors, leading to inconsistent and dangerous functioning of the helmet.

This is why most premium auto-darkening helmets will have multiple light sensors. Pancake and Pipeliner-style helmets are popular with welders who regularly perform welding processes that generate a high amount of spatter, such as stick welding (SMAW) and flux-core welding (FCAW).

How much coverage/protection do I need?

At a minimum, a welding helmet should cover your eyes and face, from your chin to the top of your forehead and your ears. Ideally, your entire head and neck would be protected.

Realistically, you’ll have to balance the level of protection with the level of comfort and practicality.

If you are welding at waist level at low amperage, a beanie or cap may be sufficient protection for the top of your head. If you are welding overhead in the 4F or 4G position, you will most likely find that a beanie offers poor protection from the shower of hot sparks raining upon your head.

Alternatively, if you have a beard, you will most definitely want to tuck it into your shirt or wear a helmet with a fire-resistant bib.

If your work environment requires you to wear a hard hat, you will need an adapter or bracket to allow your welding helmet to attach to your hard hat.

In confined spaces, a traditional welding helmet may not work and a welding mask, such as those available from Miller Welding and Jackson Safety, may be needed.

How will I protect my lungs?

Although this may seem like an odd question to ask when considering welding helmets, it is one of the most important.

Inhalation hazards are ever-present in the welding world and respiratory equipment should be worn which is compatible with your welding helmet. At a minimum, welders should be wearing a NIOSH N-95 rated mask under their helmets to reduce the amount of dust and particulates they inhale.

Many welders have chosen to upgrade to powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) units which are made specifically for welding and attach to the welding helmet.

These systems provide a consistent flow of cool, filtered air to the welder and are highly effective in preventing welding-related illnesses such as metal fume fever.

If you opt to go without respiratory protection, you should at least make sure that your workspace is well-ventilated or that you have some sort of fume extraction equipment available to draw contaminated air away from your face.

How much does a quality welding helmet cost?

The short answer to that question is “a lot less than the medical expenses related to not using one”. The long answer is that it depends on what features you want.

Basic helmets can be had for less than $40.00 while premium PAPR equipped units can run in excess of $2,000.00. If you’re unsure what to buy, go see your local welding supplier.

They will be more than happy to point you in the right direction and keep you safe.

If you enjoyed this content you can always learn more about our processes by looking at our other available resources.

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Multi-Process Welder Roundup: Who’s the Best? (Part II)

20 of The Best Multi Process Welding Machines of 2021 Part II

Why spend thousands on multiple machines when one can do it all? In this two-part series, we take a look at the best multi process welder machines from the masters of versatility!

See Part I

Forney

Think you can’t afford a multi-process machine? These options from Forney are budget-friendly and neon green. What’s not to love?

Easy Weld 140MP

best multi process welder - Forney Easy Weld

This 120-volt machine from Forney is the most affordable on our list. At 20 pounds, it’s also the most portable. With the 140MP, you’ll get a 140A of maximum output (30% duty cycle @ 90A), a single-pass capacity of ¼” mild steel, 8″ spool capacity, a 10′ MIG gun, an 8′ electrode holder, and a small handful of consumables.

To keep the price low, they don’t include a TIG torch (we recommend a 9FV series). Considering the MSRP of $470.29, this is quite a bargain machine and would be a great first choice for the hobbyist welder who doesn’t need TIG capability out of the box.

220MP

A significant jump up from its baby brother, the 220MP gives the option of 120V or 230V input coupled with 220 amps of output power. The increase in power will bump up the duty cycle to 40% @200A at 230VAC and give you a single-pass capacity of ½” on mild steel. You’ll also get an upgraded 12.5’ Pro-Grip MIG gun, dual gas ports (no more changing gas connections between processes), and a metal drive system. 17FV TIG torch and foot pedal are optional. MSRP is $1,149.49, and the warranty jumps from one year to three years.

Hobart

Multi-Handler 200

For all intents and purposes, the Multi-Handler 200 is the baby brother of Miller’s Multimatic 215. The two machines are identical in weight at 38 pounds, both are rated for single-pass welds on 3/8” mild steel, and both feature a full-color LCD display. The Hobart isn’t quite as powerful with a 200A rating @ 15% duty cycle at 240VAC versus the Miller’s 230A @ 20%, but this is a small tradeoff to save over $600.00.

The Multi-Handler also comes with a TIG torch, where the Multimatic 215 does not. Welders should seriously consider this machine when looking for out-of-the-box performance without being nickeled and dimed. MSRP is $1,199.99.

Lincoln

Despite being one of the most well-known brands in the industry, Big Red brings a lackluster offering to the table for the best multi process welder machines.

Power MIG 140 MP

This lightweight, portable unit from Lincoln isn’t exactly going to blow anyone’s skirt up, but it may be just what you need. This compact unit boasts up to 140A of output with a duty cycle rating of 60% @ 90A on 120-volt power only. The output will allow you a single pass capacity of 3/16″ on mild steel.

Included in the box are a 10′ Magnum PRO 100L MIG gun, a 10′ electrode holder, and a handful of consumables. You won’t get a TIG torch or foot pedal with this machine, although both are available as optional accessories, as is a spool gun for aluminum MIG welding. MSRP is $899.00, which is $100 more than the Eastwood Elite MP200i, and that machine is dual voltage, far more powerful, and includes a TIG torch in the box.

Power MIG 210 MP

best multi process welder - Lincoln Electric

The Power MIG 210 MP is Lincoln’s most popular multi-process model. This machine will run on 120 volts or 230 volts and weighs only 40 pounds. It’s rated for 210 amps of maximum output and rated for 20% duty cycle @ 200A on 240 volts. The model will get you a single pass capacity of 5/16″ on mild steel. Out of the box, you’ll get a Magnum PRO 175L MIG gun, a 10′ electrode holder, a handful of consumables, and two sample rolls of wire.

Expect to pay extra for a 17V TIG torch and foot pedal, as well as a DINSE adapter to connect the torch. With an MSRP of $1,699.00, Lincoln doesn’t exactly impress anyone with the (lack of) value with the Power MIG 210MP, especially when compared to the Everlast Power MTS 251Si. This more powerful machine also has a high-frequency start, pulse mode and includes a TIG torch and foot pedal for $160 less.

Miller

From our selection of the best multi process welder machines, novices and pros alike will benefit from Miller’s ease of use if they can afford the price tag.

Multimatic 215

Miller’s entry-level multi-process offering isn’t exactly budget-friendly, but it is feature-packed. The Multimatic 215 is versatile and very user-friendly.

It runs on 120 volt or 240-volt power, weighing only 38 pounds, and features Miller’s proprietary Auto-Set Elite function and Smooth-Start technology. The Multimatic 215 also includes automatic spool gun detection, Fan-On-Demand, and an MVP plug system. This machine has 230 amp of output and is rated for a 20% duty cycle @ 200A on 240 volts.

With that output, you should get a single pass capacity of 3/8″ on mild steel. It includes a 10′ MDX-100 MIG gun and a 13′ electrode holder in the box. Somewhat disappointingly, Miller does not include a TIG torch or foot pedal with the Multimatic 215, and getting set up for this process will tack on an additional $500 or so. With an MSRP of $1,815.00, this is a tough pill to swallow.

Multimatic 220

The fourth of the AC/DC machines on our list, the Multimatic 220, is one of the best well-rounded multi process welder machine capable of filling any role in the shop. In addition to all the bells and whistles of the Multimatic 215, you’ll get a slight boost of 10 amps of additional output as well as high-frequency start, pulse TIG mode, QuickTech auto-setup function, and ProSet parameter assistance.

The extra capabilities of this machine do add some heft, though, contributing to a weight of 56 pounds. In addition to the 10′ MDX-100 MIG gun and 13′ electrode holder, it includes a WP-17 torch and foot pedal with the Multimatic 220. This eye-popping package carries a to-be-expected price tag of $3,455.00

Multimatic 235

If you need a true industrial class machine without the capability for AC TIG welding, the Multimatic 235 should fit the bill very well. It is a 240 volt-only machine with a 60% duty cycle rating @ 170 amps. It has a 12″ wire spool capacity with dual drive rollers and twin shielding gas inputs, and while it does not offer a high-frequency start for TIG welding, it does retain pulse mode (DC only). The Gun-On-Demand feature recognizes whether the operator has a MIG gun or spool gun attached and automatically recalls the settings with the first pull of the trigger. The Multimatic 235 also comes standard with an MDX-250 MIG gun. TIG torch and foot pedal are sold separately. The capability of the Multimatic 235 will set you back $2,335.00.

Harbor Freight

Just a few years ago, no professional worth his salt would be caught dead using Harbor Freight tools. Times have changed, and you should take these multi-process machines seriously.

Titanium Unlimited 200

best multi process welder - harbor freight

This machine has many similarities to the Eastwood Elite MP200i, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they made them in the same plant. They are identical in nearly every way, including amperage, spool capacity, duty cycle, design, control layout, and price. The only real notable difference is the weight. The Titanium Unlimited 200 is listed as weighing only 24 pounds, which is surprisingly light for a 200A machine. Could this possibly be a typo in the marketing literature? This machine comes with a 10′ 180A MIG Gun, 10′ 150 TIG torch, & 10′ electrode holder. While there are 2T and 4T switch modes, it is essential to note that there is no foot pedal option. The price is the same as the Eastwood Elite MP200i at $799.99.

Given that these two machines are so very similar, it’s also necessary to compare the warranty. The Eastwood Elite MP200i has a 3-year warranty. The Titanium Unlimited 200 only has a 90-day warranty.

Vulcan OmniPro220

If, after reading this, the Lincoln Power MIG 210 MP is still on your shortlist, the Vulcan OmniPro 220 should knock it off. It bests the Lincoln with a larger display, single-pass rating of 3/8″ on mild steel, and a significantly lower price tag. The two machines have the same max output, duty cycle ratings, and input voltage options. The Lincoln Power MIG 210 MP only has the Vulcan beat in two areas: weight (40lbs vs. 49lbs), and warranty (3 years vs. 90 days). If the last two factors aren’t a deal-killer for you, the OmniPro 220 retails for $1,099.99 ($550 less than the Lincoln).

Let’s Recap. Who Came Out As The Best Multi Process Welder?

  • Best Budget Machine: Eastwood Elite MP140i
  • Best All-Around: Everlast Lightning MTS 275
  • Most Feature Packed: Miller Millermatic 220

 

Click Here For a Comparison Chart:

Multi-Process Welder Comparison Chart

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