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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Adelaide
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    4

    Default Budget welder for occasional aluminium welding..

    Hi people. New to the forum (but an old visitor to Woodwork forums) and I've read and searched (probably poorly) and can't find an answer specific enough. My apologies if this has been covered ad nauseam.

    I do not do much welding but I am looking for a basic unit which will also allow me to weld aluminium (2-3mm). I'm being told to look for a mig/stick and a spool gun, but basic. To give an idea, one recommended was the Viper 182 MIG-MMA. With a spool gun it will (supposedly) do a decent job on aluminium (once I practice enough, I am told) and with the kit it runs to around $1000. Is something like this a credible option? I do not know enough to look for second-hand options.

    Cheers,

    Mark
    silkwood

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Sydney, NSW, Australia
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    Default

    If u have a $1000 budget try get a cheapie pulse mig i thin BOC does one but unsure on price but keep in mind the guys here dont think highly about the BOC mig's

    i have the Sydney Tools Italco 150 mig and have ran a few beads they came out good and i etched some cuts of the welds and it had just enough bite into the aluminium but the guys here were saying it wasn't good enough, i used the regular torch with steel liner although the machine is spool gun capable

    think i paid around $299 for my machine and the spool gun sells for $249

    all be it crap welds and etches here it is

    take note i can't weld for crap! so take my pictures and advice with a grain of salt
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    NSW
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    583

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by gazza2009au View Post
    If u have a $1000 budget try get a cheapie pulse mig i thin BOC does one but unsure on price but keep in mind the guys here dont think highly about the BOC mig's
    Hmmm interesting. All their machines I have used have been good. Out of price range for this discussion, but their German made machines, the white ones, are up there with the other top players. Saw a guy using the 3 phase machine doing a full penno single pass fillet weld on 10mm plate with no prep. Blew my mind. But I guess that's the difference between buying for questionable competence, and buying for productivity.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Norwood-ish, Adelaide
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    58
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    6,240

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by silkwood View Post
    I do not do much welding but I am looking for a basic unit which will also allow me to weld aluminium (2-3mm)... To give an idea, one recommended was the Viper 182 MIG-MMA. With a spool gun it will (supposedly) do a decent job on aluminium (once I practice enough, I am told) and with the kit it runs to around $1000. Is something like this a credible option?
    One thing that you do need to get better at welding is practice. All metals have different characteristics, but Al is not one of the simplest to weld. MIG looks easy but getting a good (strong) weld from it is more than point and shoot. If you were going to do a lot of welding with it (say build a boat), it might work but if you will only do a small amount once every few months, I think you have a long learning curve ahead of you.

    I would suggest taking a step back and asking how much Al you really need to weld. If it is not much then you may be better finding some one who could do it for you.

    I try doing things sometimes against good advice, just for the learning experience, as well as to gain insights into the skills used in various processes, so don't think I'm saying absolutely don't do it, but do consider other options as well. Maybe try a TAFE or WEA course to even see whether MIG works for you (for 2 to 3mm I would be voting for TIG myself, but I'm probably biased )

    Michael

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Geelong, Australia
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    56
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    2,323

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    General issue with welding aluminium not only do you need the equipment to do it, you also need straight argon.
    If you buy a MIG (and BTW you don't necessarily need a spool gun for ally), then you need a mixed gas for steel welding, so the straight argon would be a different bottle/cost etc.

    As Michael said - how much aluminium are you actually going to weld, and I'll add - what sort of items?
    I've had a few welders over the years and currently have a Chinese AC/DC TIG/MMA/Plasma machine, and a 250A Unimig MIG
    If I could only have one welder I would buy a reasonable DC TIG/MMA machine. The TIG will do a beautiful job of mild steel and stainless, and using MMA (stick) electrodes you can do thicker material and can get different rods to weld different materials such as tool steel etc.
    You will need a bottle of argon though.

    A MIG is great if you are doing a lot of welding, but cheap ones suck. I've had a couple and the wire feeds are junk - a source of pure frustration.
    TIG/MMA either works or it doesn't - there's no stuffing around.

    If you really want to do the occasional bit of aluminium, then stretch the $$$ and get an AC/DC TIG.
    Once you can TIG weld steel and stainless etc happilly you'll find that aluminium really isn't that much different. And you only need some different filler rod and electrode - just the straight argon for every material.

    Steve

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Sydney, NSW, Australia
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    If u go down the TIG road over the Mig there are a few Chinese welders out there with basic settings 3-4 dials 3-4 switches than there are models with 10 dials 4 switches

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Lebrina
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commander_Keen View Post
    Saw a guy using the 3 phase machine doing a full penno single pass fillet weld on 10mm plate with no prep.
    Was that with Fluxcore or solid wire? A 10mm fillet is an awful lot of metal to deposit in one pass, while maintaining actual full penetration of the root. Submerged Arc will do it any day of the week and 1.6 Fluxcore could probably do it as well, but no way would I contemplate it with solid wire. It is quite easy to lay a 10mm fillet in one pass, but maintaining 70% minimum throat and root penetration will be your undoing in that scenario.
    As regards the EWM machines that BOC market, we were sold a 500A machine to replace an elderly Transmig 500 on a mine site. The EWM was an overpriced, unreliable boat anchor. The first machine died and was repaired under warranty three times in the space of two months and BOC were going to repair it yet again until we demanded a brand new machine (I would have preferred a refund and the old Transmig 500 back). The EWM machine would have been lucky to have run a full spool of wire that it suffered the breakdowns.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    near Rockhampton
    Posts
    6,158

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    If you are only going to do a piddly amount, why not those Aluminium soldering sticks.

    It is what I use.
    Gold, the colour of choice for the discerning person.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Adelaide
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Thanks for all the feedback, people. As stated, I appreciate the advice as I do not know the first thing about MIG or TIG (well, I know the basics I have read up on).

    Well aware I will need to practice- a lot- but I am determined to do this. I am pretty handy with stick welding, I am keen to get more ability with other welding to broaden my flexibility and, as mentioned, to try welding aluminium.

    As many have suggested TIG to be a better option for me (not to mention not requiring a gun and/or putting up with feed issues), would something like this be a good option?

    Unimig tig 200 ac/dc

    https://www.gettoolsdirect.com.au/unimig-tig-200-amp-tig-ac-dc-kit-kumjr200acdc.html?gdffi=c5b8f06f736c40afa55474409bb4f069&gdfms=B30AE883C07C40449E03F6AEED880A89&gclid=CjwKCAiAqaTjBRAdEiwAOdx9xrverEFpBBOJux9R9pwK9FhDhAeAH4khECs7ciLBPmiwUo3GuLNynxoCXpwQAvD_BwE

    Cheers,

    Mark
    silkwood

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    Geelong, Australia
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    Seems to have reasonable reviews, and available from lots of different places so if you buy try and get somewhere local thats good to deal with if you do have an issue.
    In regards to Unimig in general - I've had a UniMIG 250 Inverter MIG for around 5 years now and am quite happy with it. It did have one of the power boards die about a year ago (out of 3yr warranty period) which cost me $300 to get repaired, but no problem actually getting it repaired. I've a suspicion that the failure might have been related to lightening as it was plugged working fine one weekend, we had some bad weather during the week and then it was dead the next weekend when I went to use it.

    There are a few options for your gas bottle. I'm on a D plan with BOC for my mig gas. Pricing is reasonable and much better than their standard monthly rental if you're using a couple of bottles a year, but the refill charge is definitely higher than if you were renting.
    Bunnings and Total Tools etc allow you to either buy the bottle or pay a once-off refundable deposit of a few hundred.
    Look at the options that suit from a cost and covenience perspective but don't forget to factor in the refill cost in the big picture.

    Steve

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Sydney, NSW, Australia
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    I have the Unimig 180a stick welder turned into a tig machine it welds so bloody nice and smooth i was maxing my machine out on 8mm steel it took a little while to heat up and than run the bead but it done it nicely

    u need to keep in mind the Unimig tig AC/DC unit is a advanced unit so it has all the bells and whistles u can get lost and confused with than may leave u thinking why did u buy the machine... there are more basic learner AC/DC Tigs around

    check out this one its a 9 or 10 year old design Everlast actually came out with the first analog model come with 3 years warranty and is in Australia https://www.staffordwelding.com.au/s...d-ac-dc-185-hf click across on the main picture to see the welder

  12. #12
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    Nov 2017
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    Geelong, Australia
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    Have to disagree with you there Gazza.

    Of those two machines I'd definitely choose the Unimig. Although there are more knobs I don't see a need to get overwhelmed by them.
    Pulse related settings ==> turn off pulse function for starters and ignore the related knobs (pulse frequency and width)
    Pre and post gas ==> controls how how long the gas flows before and after the arc. Set them to the mid point to get started
    Down slope => controls how the arc tapers off when you release the trigger
    AC balance ==> you'll definitely need that for aluminium, but ignore it for DC
    Nothing there that's going to cause much confusion I wouldn't think.

    Once you put all those aside you're pretty much left with a base current to set. As you advance, you've got the machine flexibility when you want/need it.

    Steve

  13. #13
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    Aug 2009
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    Sydney, NSW, Australia
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    I tested my unimig 200 razor mig today on six mm alloy needed to go a little hotter but it welds, my machine is still set up for steel i just wanted to see what it could do so when i change over the liner and roller my welds should improve

    this was just using stock settings on the chart i ended up turning up the wire feed but it didn't do much so i ever so slightly turned up the voltage and it was biting into the material more but i ran out of material to weld and spool started slipping i had tensioner lose as not to birds nest
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