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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Basics of MIG Welding: MIG Gun Liners

Basics of MIG Welding: MIG Gun Liners

Have you ever encountered feeding problems in MIG Welding? MIG Gun Liners can help.
Oftentimes, feeding problems can be prevented with the right equipment maintenance.
Welding MIG Gun Liners
Welding problems are a mild inconvenience at their least. At their worst, they contribute substantially to lost productivity and cause delays in the fabrication process.
MIG gun liners tend to have some kind of mysterious aura surrounding them and even some veteran MIG welders don’t fully understand the design, function, and replacement process of their liners.
However, we’re here to simplify the use of MIG gun liners and provide you with a more in-depth understanding of their role.

What’s the Function of a MIG Gun Liner?

The basic function of a liner is to act as a guide for the wire electrode from the drive rolls to the contact tip. Sounds simple, right? Well, yes and no.
While the job of a liner is pretty straightforward, the dynamics of a MIG gun and wire feeding system present a unique set of challenges. When the wire encounters resistance on its journey from the spool to the pool, a myriad of problems may occur.
The most common symptoms of a wire feeding issue are erratic wire feeding, burn back, and bird nesting (this can occur at either end of the liner). Consequently, you should carefully choose liners to fit the application.
Most liners are manufactured from carbon steel wire (also called music wire or piano wire), which is tightly wound in a coil to allow for a balance of rigidity and flexibility. The profile of the wire can be round, oval-shaped, or flat, with each shape lending itself to the optimum function of its design.
Liners for use with stainless steel, flux-cored, or aluminum wire will often be coated with a polymer such as Teflon to reduce drag, wear, and contamination. Tightly fitted insulation wrapped around the base of the liner prevents shielding gas from seeping through where the gun cable exits the feeder. Additionally, the insulation is often bent at a more substantial angle as gravity pulls it downward.
Liners are typically sized to match both the diameter of the wire and the length of the gun cable. There is some margin of error on both accounts.
Typically, moving up one or two sizes on the diameter of a liner will not impede proper feeding (example: a .045” liner being used with .035” wire). The fit is more critical with smaller diameter wire than with larger sizes. A.023” wire may not feed properly through a .035” liner.
Where you are likely to run into problems is trying to squeeze a larger diameter wire through a liner that is not designed for it(such as .035” wire through a .030” liner).
Liners are typically a foot or so longer than the gun and cable assembly, which allows the operator to trim it to the proper length.

When should you change a MIG Gun Liner?

Liners don’t get the attention they deserve. They sit silent, ignored, and unmaintained until a problem happens. Truth be told, they don’t need a lot of attention, but a little bit of love goes a long way. The single most important measure a welder can take to prolong the service life of their liner is to keep contaminants out of it. This can be accomplished by keeping your wire feeder closed or off the floor and blowing out your liner with compressed air. It is generally recommended that the latter be done every time a new roll of wire is installed in the feeder. Simply remove all wire from the MIG gun, remove the contact tip, remove the MIG gun, and shoot a few blasts of clean compressed air from the power pin end. You should be able to feel the air pressure at the front end of the MIG gun. When the liner inevitably does reach the end of its life, you will likely encounter feeding issues. If a MIG gun cable is bent too sharply, the liner may become kinked. While the rest of the components inside the cable will return to shape, a coiled steel liner that has become kinked must be replaced immediately. If you take care to keep contaminants out of your liner and not abuse your MIG gun, you can expect an average of 6-12 months of service life.

How to Change a MIG Gun Liner

Proper installation is critical to the liner function. Liners may be damaged during installation and trimming a liner too short is a sure way to encounter feeding issues. Any burrs left from a poorly cut liner will catch your wire and may shave off metal or even cut through the wire entirely. To properly change a MIG gun liner, you will need the following: A new replacement liner of the appropriate diameter and length, a clean area long enough to lay your MIG gun out with the cable straight, a tool for clipping the liner, pliers, and a liner gauge or ruler. Some designs may also require a 5/64” hex key or a 10mm wrench. Here are a few key steps you need to take to change a MIG Gun Liner.
  1. Shut off the shielding gas and purge any remaining gas from your system. Turn off your machine and unplug it.
  2. Remove the MIG gun from the feeder and lay it out straight on a table or the floor. Remove the nozzle, contact tip, and diffuser.
  3. If the power pin has a guide cap or threaded nut, loosen it by turning it counter-clockwise. If the liner is retained with a set screw, loosen it with a hex key.
  4. Grip the liner from the rear with a pair of pliers and remove it from the MIG gun.
  5. Feed the new liner into the MIG gun from the rear, being careful to avoid kinking. Twist the liner clockwise if needed.
  6. If your power pin is threaded, tighten the liner collet with the 10mm wrench. If your power pin uses a guide cap, install it at this time. If your power pin uses a set screw, tighten while making sure that the o-ring is fully seated in the bore of the power pin.
  7. Trim the front end of the liner to the proper length according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. This distance may vary from 3/8” to ¾” depending on the design. Do not use helpers! A cutoff wheel or diagonal cutting pliers are the best choices. If there are any burrs, dress the end of the liner with a small round file.
  8. Reinstall the diffuser, contact tip, and nozzle. Reinstall the MIG gun on the feeder, making sure that the power pin is fully seated.
  9. Feed the wire into the MIG gun and set your drive roll tension.

MIG Gun Liners

If you take care of your liner, it’ll take care of you!

If you want to learn more about welding equipment & maintenance, we have plenty of material just 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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Multi Process Welder Roundup: Who’s the Best? (Part I)

Top 20 Multi Process Welder Machines of 2021 Part I

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

See Part II

Eastwood

Eastwood claims their machines are “Built for The Professional.” We’ll give you the facts, and you can decide for yourself if they live up to that moniker.

Elite MP140i

muti process welder - Eastwood

The first multi process welder machine on our list is The Eastwood Elite MP140i. As one of the least expensive machines on our list, one might expect it to be sorely lacking in features. After all, how much can you expect for something only 1/7 the cost of the most expensive machine on our list?

The MP140i, however, should be considered a serious value contender. It features 140A of output @ 30% duty cycle, 8″ spool capacity, a heavy-duty metal drive motor, IGBT inverter technology, digital display, built-in spot weld timer, and 3/16″ single-pass capacity on mild steel. You’ll also get a 10′ Trafimet ERGOPLUS 15 MIG gun, 10′ WP-17V TIG torch, and 12.5′ electrode holder, all for an MSRP of $499.99!

Elite MP200i

The MP200i is one of the lightest machines in its class at only 34 pounds. It is just as feature-packed as its little brother, just with more muscle. The MP200i is rated for a 20% duty cycle at 200A of output. It will also run on either 120VAC or 240VAC and has a 3/8″ single-pass capacity on mild steel.

The package includes a Trafimet ERGOPLUS 24 MIG torch, WP-17V TIG torch, and electrode holder. It is also spool gun compatible if you want to weld aluminum. Note that Eastwood does not offer a foot pedal for this machine. The MP200i also has a built-in spot weld timer. At $799.99, the MP200i is also one of the most affordable machines on our list.

Elite MP250i

Eastwood really knocked it out of the park with the MP250i. If you need a machine for serious, all-day-long work on steel, put this one on your shortlist. With a 60% duty cycle @ 250A, a 12″ spool capacity, and dual bottle mounts, you’ll have the power to run hot and fast with the MP250i. You’ll also get a Trafimet ERGOPLUS 24 MIG torch, WP-17V TIG torch, foot pedal, and electrode holder. Don’t expect to tote this powerhouse around the job site, however, as the large number of features tips the scale at a whopping 160 pounds (without gas bottles). For the price though, this package is hard to beat at an MSRP of $1,299.99.

Esab

When it comes to multi process welder machines, Esab brought their A-Game. The machine boasts features across the board, such as a multilingual TFT display, exclusive sMIG technology, and a five-handle “roll cage” chassis.

Rebel EMP 205ic

The EMP 205ic is one of the most feature-packed machines on our list. It is one of four machines capable of AC TIG mode (a must-have for serious aluminum work) and includes a pulse mode for DC TIG as well as high-frequency arc starting! It has a maximum output of 235A. Included in the box are a 180A Tweco Fusion Velocity MIG gun, Heliarc HW-17 TIG torch, foot pedal, and electrode holder.

A Tweco 200A spool gun is available separately, although this is hardly needed with the AC TIG mode built right in. However, these bells and whistles come at a cost, with the EMP205ic being limited to a 25% duty cycle and breaking the bank at $3,499.00.

Rebel EMP 215ic

The EMP 215ic is Esab’s most budget-friendly multi-process offering. It sheds nine pounds of weight versus the EMP 205ic (40lbs vs. 49lbs) and gives a slight boost to maximum output at 240 amps. The EMP 215ic does give up AC TIG mode, pulse capability, and high-frequency arc starting. If you can live without those features, you’ll save quite a bit, with an MSRP of $2,149.00 (significant savings over the EMP 205ic). Included are a 180A Tweco Fusion MIG gun, 17V style TIG torch, foot pedal, and Tweco electrode holder.

Rebel EMP 235ic

muti process welder - Esab

The EMP 235ic is a heavy-hitter. With 250A of maximum output and single-pass capacity of ½” mild steel at a reasonable 40% duty cycle, this machine will take the heat and keep on ticking. You’ll change your wireless frequently with this model as well, with a 12″ spool capacity versus 8″ on the smaller models. MSRP is $3,455.00. With this machine, you’ll get a Tweco Spraymaster 250 MIG gun and electrode holder. It does not include a TIG torch (we recommend a 26 series torch).

Everlast

Next up on our list, we have four power-packed multi process welder machines from Everlast. If you’re not familiar with Everlast, you should be. They are all built on IGBT inverter technology, offer some of the best-in-class machines for the money, and they back all of their machines with an impressive 5-year warranty!

Power MTS 211Si

The MTS 211Si is Everlast’s 210A entry-level multi-process machine and is a serious bang for the buck. It features digital controls with a 9-program memory, high-frequency arc starting for TIG mode, 40% duty cycle, and a robust metal wire feed system. You’ll also get control over start/end amps, up/downslope, pre/post flow, and both 2T and 4T control for TIG mode. The MTS211Si package includes a 10′ 15 series MIG gun, 12.5′ 26 Series TIG torch, 10′ electrode holder assembly, and a foot pedal for precision TIG work. All of this comes with a price tag of $1,199.00.

Power MTS 251Si

As the big brother of the MTS 211Si, this machine is sure to be a fan favorite with its combination of features and price. The MTS251Si has 250A of output, a 12″ wire spool capacity, pulse mode for both MIG and TIG processes, and high-frequency arc start. With a 40% duty cycle and 3/8″ single-pass capacity on mild steel, this machine will be right at home in any fab shop or garage. The MTS251Si package includes a 10’ 24 series MIG gun, 12.5’ 26 series TIG torch, 10’ electrode holder assembly, and a foot pedal for precision TIG work. Add the optional water-cooling unit, and you’ve got a serious TIG rig! MSRP is $1,539.00.

Lightning MTS 225

The Lightning MTS 225 is the lead-in unit to Everlast’s second-generation multi-process machines. This machine features 160A of output @ 35% duty cycle on 240V, a synergistic Power Set function, LCD display, AC TIG mode, 16 slots of memory, pulse mode on both AC and DC TIG, high-frequency start, and square wave AC function. Included in the box are a 10′ 15 series MIG gun, 12.5′ 26 Series TIG torch, 10′ electrode holder assembly, and a foot pedal for precision TIG work. The Lightning MTS 225 is the second of the four machines on our list with AC TIG mode and by far the least expensive at $2,000.00.

Lightning MTS 275

According to Everlast, the Lightning MTS 275 “has about everything you need, and nothing that you don’t.” We tend to agree! This machine is the best all-around multi-process unit available today and includes all of the features of its little brother with 250A of output @ 60% duty cycle and a 12” spool capacity. You’ll also get upgraded to a 36 series MIG gun and 18 series TIG torch. All of Everlast’s units are compatible with their TIG torch water coolers and a 20 series torch, but the MTS 275 would see the most benefit due to its higher amperage. With an MSRP of $2,500, this machine tops our list and lands almost $1,000 below comparable units from Esab and Miller!

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10 MIG Welder Preventative Maintenance Tips

All trade professionals rely on their tools to make a living. Like any piece of equipment, your MIG welder requires regular preventative maintenance to maintain optimal performance. Below are some tips to keep your equipment in tip-top shape.

mig welder maintenance - keep it covered

10. Keep It Covered When Not In Use

Using a cover is one of the most straightforward steps you can take to maintain your MIG welder and often one of the most overlooked. In most fabrication environments, dust, grime, and metallic particles settle and adhere to almost every surface. Just as these can make you sick, they can seriously impair the proper function of your machine.

Dust buildup on the wire spool may be fed into the liner, causing wire feeding issues. Metallic particles can find their way onto sensitive circuitry and cause expensive and dangerous shorts. Grime may obscure small problems such as a cracked wire guide, often leading to wire feeding issues. To avoid these scenarios, simply cover your machine when you’re not using it. Many machines have optional fitted covers, but a common drop cloth will suffice.

9. Turn Off The Gas and Purge Your System

Purging is a good habit to get into whenever you shut down your machine for the day. Turning off your gas bottle and purging the shielding gas from your machine and MIG gun will extend the life of hoses, fittings, valves, regulators, and solenoids and prevent the loss of costly gas if a leak happens to develop while you are away.

First, turn off the tank valve. Then, with the MIG gun pointed away from you, depress the trigger until the regulator output gauge drops to zero. Your MIG gun will feed a few inches of wire during this time, which you can simply snip off. If you wish to avoid this, relieve the tension on the drive roll prior to depressing the trigger on the MIG gun.

8. Hang It Up!

When you finish working for the day, coil your MIG gun loosely and hang it up off the floor. Not only is this a good general practice for keeping your work area clean, but it will also prevent your MIG gun from becoming damaged when not in use and keep the liner from becoming kinked from being would too tightly.

7. Inspect The Ground Lead and Clamp

It can be easy to take ground leads and clamps for granted. We tend to assume that it’s doing its job if the clamp is touching the workpiece or table. The truth is that your ground lead and clamp serve a critical function in the welding process, and they need a little attention from time to time when doing MIG welder maintenance.

First, inspect the cable for damage. Then, check the tightness of the connections at the machine and at the clamp. Lastly, ensure that the clamp is clean and the contact surfaces are free of buildup.

6. Inspect The Cables

Cable checks are just as crucial for safety as it is for the proper function of your equipment. First, unplug your machine. Then start at the back and inspect the power cord for cuts, burn marks, cracks, and any other damage. Ensure that the plug is installed correctly and fits tightly into the socket.

Then, inspect the MIG gun cable. Look for damage. Ensure the strain relief springs are properly attached. Check to make sure that the power pin and control plug connections are secure. Pay special attention to the front end of the cable. Most cable damage occurs within six feet of the handle. If you find any damage, repair the cable or replace the MIG gun.

mig welder maintenance - check gas

5. Inspect Gas Hoses and Fittings

Ensure the shielding gas tank is properly secured. Turn on the tank valve and set the output flow rate, then shut off the tank. Inspect the tank and valve for visible damage. Do the same for the hoses, regulators, and fittings.
Wait until at least fifteen minutes have elapsed and check the output gauge. If the reading is lower than initially set at, you have a leak. Fill a spray bottle with soapy water and begin spraying your fittings and hoses. You should see bubbles where the leak exists.

Follow these steps depending on the scenario:

  • If the leak is occurring at a fitting, tighten the fitting.
  • If this does not resolve the problem, undo the connection, clean with compressed air, and reconnect.
  • If the leak is stemming from the hose, repair or replace the hose.

Although MIG welding shielding gases are inert, they are not free, and leaks will not only cost you money but can lead to weld defects such as porosity.

4. Clean Your Liner

The liner is the hidden hero of your MIG gun. It keeps wire feeding smoothly from the feeder to the contact tip. Because it’s not visible while installing the MIG gun, we tend to forget about it until we experience a wire feeding issue (which always seems to happen at the most inconvenient time).

A little bit of love goes a long way with your liner. Get in the habit of cleaning it out every time you change your wire spool. To do this, first, unplug your machine. Then open the side panel and loosen the power pin retaining screw. Unplug the control plug as needed. Pull the MIG gun away from the machine and clip the wire in front of the drive roll (if you clip it behind the drive roll and the spool is full, it will unwind itself and make a mess).

Remove the consumables from the front of the MIG gun and pull the wire out. Then, using a cloth to seal, blow out the liner using compressed air. Reassemble the MIG gun and reconnect it to the machine, and it’s ready in less than five minutes.

3. Keep Your Machine Clean

Even if you follow the first tip and keep your machine covered when not in use, eventually, debris will find its way inside. When you notice that there is an accumulation on and inside your machine, dust it off. Compressed air and a clean cloth work very well for this task. A clean machine is a happy machine!

2. Inspect Drive Rolls and Check Tension

Drive rolls are durable; you do not need to replace them very often, but that doesn’t mean they are maintenance-free. Another good habit for MIG welder maintenance to get into, is that when changing wire spools is to remove and inspect the drive rolls for corrosion and debris buildup. Remove any metal shavings, debris, or rust with a small wire brush. When reinstalling, ensure that you have aligned the right groove with the wire type and correctly set the tension.

1. Clean or replace consumables

It may seem like common sense, but your consumables take a lot of heat. If they are getting long in the tooth, hit them with a wire brush or reamer, clean the spatter off, apply a coating of anti-spatter, or replace them. Waiting until your consumables fail to replace them can come back to haunt you in the form of weld defects and lost time. The cost of a contact tip is small compared to the cost and hassle of fixing a burnback failure or chasing porosity due to a clogged nozzle.

For Tougher MIG Welder Maintenance, You May Need To Contact The Supplier

Following these ten easy preventative maintenance tips will keep you and your machine productive and yield better quality welds with fewer headaches. For more in-depth maintenance, consult your machine’s operator manual or your local welding equipment supplier.

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