Ideally when welding we would be able to use one piece of equipment that anyone can perform any type of weld using. Unfortunately there are so many different variables that some pieces of equipment perform better than others.

However there are machines that can perform multiple processes, depending on your requirements a multi-process welder may be the perfect choice.

We’ll be evaluating the top products currently on the market, allowing you to pick the best tool for the job.

 

Overall Best Multipurpose Welder

Lincoln PowerMIG 210 MP

 

Introduction

The 210MP is a multiprocess welder incorporating MIG, Flux-Cored, DC TIG and DC Stick. It boasts a simple to use interface, aluminium compatibility and a lightweight design at 40lbs (18.14 KG).

It’s also compatible with 120V and 240V, perfect for commercial or residential power supplies. Using 240V input you can achieve a maximum output amperage of 210A, more than enough for the vast majority of metal thicknesses.

Who is this machine ideal for?

Due to the versatility of this machine, it’s perfect for a wide range of applications. Despite the spool gun being sold separately, it has potential to be compatible with aluminium and a high enough output amperage to MIG weld up to 5/16 inch with mild or stainless steel. You can weld Aluminium up to 3/16 inch. DC Stick allows you to weld up to 5/32 in.

It also has a low duty cycle, 40% @ 100A (120V) & 25% @ 200A (230V). This machine wouldn’t perform well as the main machine in a production environment, however would do well if you need a versatile and portable machine – or just want to invest in a machine that will deliver in the long term.

 

Pros

  • Capable of four different welding processes (MIG, Flux-Cored, DC TIG and DC Stick).
  • Weighing just 40 lbs and measuring 14 in x 10.75 in x 19 in (356 mm x 273 mm x 483 mm), this unit is easily portable.
  • Feels well-constructed and made of quality materials.
  • Easy to use interface, no problem for any skill level.

Cons

  • Will only weld Aluminium with a spool gun accessory.

Specification

Model: 210 MP (Multi-process)
Height: 14 in. (356mm)
Length: 19 in. (483mm)
Width: 10.75 in. (273mm)
Duty Cycle: 40% @ 100A (120V) & 25% @ 200A (230V)
Input Voltage: 120/230V
Process Type: MIG, TIG, Stick and Flux Cored
Product weight: 40lb (18.14KG)
Amperage Range: 120V: 20A-140A DC. 230V: 20-220A DC.
Cored Wire Size Range: .035 – .045 in (0.9 – 1.2mm)
Wire Feed Speed Range: 50-500 IPM (1.3-12.7 ,/min)

 

Best Stick/TIG Welder

Maxstar 161 STL

Introduction

Millers Maxstar 161 STL is a TIG and Stick model capable of exceptional performance, in a lightweight package. Compatible with 120V and 240V input power means it’s perfect if you work on side and residential environments.

Miller also has a range of impressive features to make their machines easier to use. For example the 161 STL is extremely easy to set up, all you need to do is supply power to the unit, select process (Lift-ARC TIG, Stick or 6010 Stick), select amperage and start welding.

Who is this machine ideal for?

It weighs only 13 lbs (5.89 kg) and has a convenient handle and shoulder strap for easy transportation. Great if you require a portable machine, or favour lighter equipment.

It’s also ideal for users who require

Pros

  • Capable of four different welding processes (MIG, Flux-Cored, DC TIG and DC Stick).
  • Weighing just 40 lbs and measuring 14 in x 10.75 in x 19 in (356 mm x 273 mm x 483 mm), this unit is easily portable.
  • Feels well-constructed and made of quality materials.
  • Easy to use interface, no problem for any skill level.

Cons

  • Will only weld Aluminium with a spool gun accessory.

Specification

Model: 210 MP (Multi-process)
Height: 14 in. (356mm)
Length: 19 in. (483mm)
Width: 10.75 in. (273mm)
Duty Cycle: 40% @ 100A (120V) & 25% @ 200A (230V)
Input Voltage: 120/230V
Process Type: MIG, TIG, Stick and Flux Cored
Product weight: 40lb (18.14KG)
Amperage Range: 120V: 20A-140A DC. 230V: 20-220A DC.
Cored Wire Size Range: .035 – .045 in (0.9 – 1.2mm)
Wire Feed Speed Range: 50-500 IPM (1.3-12.7 ,/min)

 

Best MIG/Stick Welder

Everlast PowerMIG 200

What is a Combo Welder?

Otherwise known as an all-in-one welder, this type of machine is able to use multiple methods of welding within the same machine. The most common combinations are MIG, TIG and Stick.

It’s not uncommon to find a plasma cutter attached to a combo welder, although in my experience it’s not as good as a standalone plasma cutter.

By combining multiple processes into one machine, it’s much more convenient than having 3 separate pieces of equipment – more often than not it’s more cost effective too. Useful if you need to transport your welding equipment to different locations, or if you want a home unit for basic applications.

One drawback is most welders rely on DC current to operate, therefore meaning you wouldn’t be able to MIG weld aluminium.

It’s important with any purchase to find what suits your needs best, in this article we will be reviewing several models to find the best purchase for you.

Now you know what a combo welder is, it makes sense to go over the functions it can perform.

MIG

Using a continuously fed spool of wire and a MIG gun to create a molten pool of metal – otherwise known as the weld pool, to fuse two pieces of metal together. MIG is the easiest method of welding to adopt, being fairly versatile and simple to learn. It can be used across a wide range of metal types and thicknesses, such as Mild Steel, Stainless Steel and Aluminium.

MIG requires high heat which makes it unsuitable for thin sections of metal, such as car body panels. If the metal is too thin, you may blow holes in the metal called a “melt through”. You also can’t work with on rusty or dirt pieces of metal, or in rainy and wet weather due to the shielding gas not surrounding the weld pool.

TIG

An abbreviation for Tungsten Inert Gas, TIG uses a tungsten electrode to create an arc between the electrodes tip and your material. A filler rod is manually fed into the weld pool, while the other hand positions the torch. Many different shielding gases can be used as the inert gas, but Argon is most commonly used. Unlike MIG, TIG can be used to weld difficult positions such as overhead or hard to reach positions, and is suitable for thinner sections of metal.

TIG is more difficult to learn than MIG, a lot more precision and accuracy is needed in order to create lasting and quality welds.

Stick

Unlike MIG or TIG a single electrode is used when Stick welding to create the arc. The wire (called flux) contains the shielding gas – as the wire is consumed the gas is emitted and protects the weld from contaminants. Stick creates strong welds and is suitable for extremely thick pieces of metal, even used with cast iron.

Poor weather conditions won’t affect Stick welding, as the inert gas is produced from the flux being melted – not externally fed like MIG and TIG. You can’t Stick weld with thin pieces of material as it will melt through the sheets due to the high heat produced. This style of welding has a steep learning curve as it’s extremely difficult to create an arc without damaging the material in the process.

 

Best Multi-Process Welder combination?

For the vast majority out there, MIG TIG and Stick will suffice. This combination allows you to join most metals, whilst also providing you the best process to weld with. Unless you’re welding exotic metals, a model incorperating these processes will be perfect.

Many machines on the market provide an output between 100 Amps to 200 Amps. This power output range is a good compromise of affordability and usability, however it will limit projects you want to complete if you’re working with thicker metals.

To get an idea of power output, here is what thickness of steel you can weld with different power outputs:

140 Amp power output can weld ¼” Steel.

180 Amp power output can weld between 3/8” Steel.

200 Amp power output can weld 5/16” Steel.

250 Amp power output can weld ½”” Steel.

This means you will need 1 Amp of power output for every .001” thickness of steel.

 

Benefits of a Multi-Process Welding Machine

The benefits of an all-in-one unit over separate machine comes down to space, cost effectiveness and convenience. Having multiple units in a garage or small workshop can take a considerable amount of space, and you may find one type of welding process is rarely needed therefore difficult to justify a dedicated welder.

Not to mention three separate welders will cost considerably more than an all in one unit of similar quality, if you only use the welder occasionally for side gigs or home fabrication the initial investment may not be worth it. Instead you could use the extra money saved for safety equipment such as a welding mask, boots and gloves to make welding much more comfortable.

It’s also fairly convenient to have one machine cater to all of your needs, especially if you need to transport your equipment to different locations or jobs.

What to look for in a quality Combo Welder

When buying any piece of equipment, it’s always important to do your research and evaluate what you want from the product. Here’s a list of important points to consider.

With any type of welding the power output of the unit will dictate the materials you can work with. Ensure the output matches what kinds of material you want to weld, home fabrication requires a lower output than shop fabrication under most circumstances.

It’s also a great idea to check the kind of warranty offered, and the location of manufacture. As with any product there is the possibility of defects, lower quality units made in China may not have a warranty, or very limited cover. Trying to get a company to honour a warranty that is based in China can be hit or miss, as well as the quality of the product. You do get what you pay for, so it’s important to have realistic expectations in terms of your budget and your desired application for your equipment.

 

 

Precautions

Safety Equipment

Before purchasing any machine it’s important to ensure you can power it. Depending on the power input requirements of your new machine, a typical household plug may not suffice. Some welders won’t work on 110V and require a 220V plug, others will overload your breaker and be a potential fire hazard. In this instance there isn’t a one size fits all solution, so it’s best to check what kind of electrical infrastructure is currently in your house and consult a qualified electrician if you’re unsure.