Help me pick my first TIG machine
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  1. #1

    Help me pick my first TIG machine

    I have been welding with various MIG machines for the past 15 years. Primarily with my MillerMatic 210. 99% of my welding is for fun these days, primarily on various offroad vehicles. (Everything from repairs to full custom chassis). With that said, I have always wanted to own a TIG machine for precision work and welding materials other than mild steel. I am pretty set on a Miller machine, but do not know a ton about the current available options. I have used an old syncrowave before, but that was many years ago. I would consider myself a very novice TIG welder, however I have a LOT of MIG experience so am not new to welding altogether.

    I am ruling out the maxstar series due to wanting to weld aluminum.

    The diversion series looks like good intro machines, however they seem to be pretty limited in their capacity. I am not worried about duty cycle, however being limited to 3/16 on a single pass is not ideal and I fear that I would want to grow into a higher end machine pretty quick.

    It seems that the dynasty series are the newest/best that Miller has to offer with the Syncrowave series being the "old tech" - so Dynasty series it is unless someone can make a really great argument for something else?


    As far as the dynasty series goes, there seem to be a ton of options.

    - I think the 210 would be enough for me. If I ever was going to weld thicker than 1/4 I could make multiple passes, use the MIG welder etc...

    - The DX model seems like a upgrade easily for the few hundred extra since I will be doing lots of aluminum

    - From what I can tell the CPS option is for the cooler? Can you only add a cooler to the CPS models?

    - I have only used an air cooled torch. Is the liquid cooling worth the extra money for someone just playing in their garage and not in a production facility? Its not cheap...

    - Foot pedals - worth it? Wireless?


    I have no problem spending the money on the best machine for my needs. If I could go back in time I wish I would have stepped up to the MillerMatic 251 back in the day for the infinite voltage control, so I do not want to make that kind of mistake with my TIG machine. However I also do not need to buy things that are really only beneficial in a full time fab shop. Also for example, if you can upgrade to a liquid cooling unit later that would be an option.

    Any advice is welcome, talk to me like I know nothing about TIG machines!

    Thanks in advance
    Last edited by Dark Eternal; 04-19-2017 at 04:10 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    5,988

    Re: Help me pick my first TIG machine

    The diversion series looks like good intro machines, however they seem to be pretty limited in their capacity. I am not worried about duty cycle, however being limited to 3/16 on a single pass is not ideal and I fear that I would want to grow into a higher end machine pretty quick.
    The diversion has no options, no adjustability and over priced IMO. I had one, wasn't impressed. Wasted a ton of gas with no post flow control especially if doing aluminum.

    It seems that the dynasty series are the newest/best that Miller has to offer with the Syncrowave series being the "old tech" - so Dynasty series it is unless someone can make a really great argument for something else?
    Syncrowave 210 is an inverter. In a big case.

    - I think the 210 would be enough for me. If I ever was going to weld thicker than 1/4 I could make multiple passes, use the MIG welder etc...
    The interface on that syncrowave 210 would make me want to throw it against the wall. By the time you get the 210 (which seems very limited) and upgrade to make it work with a damn you may have already bought the 210dx.
    - The DX model seems like a upgrade easily for the few hundred extra since I will be doing lots of aluminum
    The 210dx has a lot of options as it comes, you probably won't need any upgrades
    - From what I can tell the CPS option is for the cooler? Can you only add a cooler to the CPS models?
    The advantage is to plug your cooler into the welder so when the welder is on the cooler is on. If you don't have the CPS plus your cooler into the wall. Miller seems to charge a lot for this feature.
    - I have only used an air cooled torch. Is the liquid cooling worth the extra money for someone just playing in their garage and not in a production facility? Its not cheap...
    Depends on what you do. If you are welding high amperage a lot and having to put the torch down because it's hot then it's worth it. I have one and hardly ever use it. I weld 160amps on a CK9 flex and always use my air cooled #9. Even though my water #20 is within reach, I don't need it for short hot runs.

    - Foot pedals - worth it? Wireless?
    Never used one but some people swear by them. If you move around a lot i can see it being worth it. If you sit at the same bench all the time, I can't see it being beneficial.


    Hope this helps. If you are stuck on the miller thing. They are good, but not my cup of tea.
    Cyberweld usually has the best price and now they have a rebate....which comes out to about the same price as it normally is without the rebate lol
    Torchmate 2x2 CNC with Flashcut CNC controls
    Hypertherm Powermax45
    2015 AHP Tig
    Razorweld 195 Mig
    Razorweld 200ac/dc Tig
    ViperMig 180
    Razorweld, SSC Foot Pedal & MK Products & Atlas Positioner Dealer

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Forest Grove OR
    Posts
    98

    Re: Help me pick my first TIG machine

    I had a MM210 for a few years, and later got a Syncrowave 180 SD. I've had it since 2003, and many hundreds of hours of use. I'm actually pretty happy with it. Enough power that unless you do heavy aluminum or thick steel in single apass, you can do pretty much any hobby project. It's rated for 1/4" aluminum, but I've welded 3/8 with a good pre-heat. Depends more on how big the object is than just thickness. A big object will be hard to weld even with pre-heat, and something thick and small welds just fine. The air torch that came with it is rated at 150 amps, but I've run it at 180 before.

    I upgraded to a watercooler after a year or so when I got in to doing a lot of aluminum manifolds, the air cooled just got too hot too often (hard to hold, but didn't damage it). I've run it full power for long periods, pretty good duty cycle. Most low end inverters have poor duty cycle. Only thermally tripped the 180SD once, and didn't do any harm to it. That was about 15 minutes of almost continuous weld at full power. I've also seen syncrowaves in 200 and 210 amp range. Mine has a full load power input of 60 amps, inverters require a lot less input amps per output amp. I could run a 280 inverter machine with the same input. Be sure to consider that.

    Even with the inverter features that the syncrowave lacks, there are user techniques to still produce a very good product. The added features make the whole process easier, but with skill you can still turn out a great product.

    I've seen similar newish syncrowaves used on CL for about $1k, and for as much use as mine has seen with zero maintenance and zero problems, it's a pretty good investment.

    Get in inverter if you want, just don't think you need that stuff. With only light hobby use it will be hard to cost justify the added expense.
    Last edited by Chad86tsi; 04-19-2017 at 06:04 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    1,424

    Re: Help me pick my first TIG machine

    If you plan to weld much aluminum, plan on a water cooled torch and cooler.

    Also, the duty cycle is pretty weak on the Sync210 (20% at 210A) if you plan to weld much aluminum. For comparison, the Sync250 gives you 250A at 40% DC (and a max of 310A), and as a transformer machine as opposed to an inverter, it's probably gonna have more headroom and a longer lifespan...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    84

    Re: Help me pick my first TIG machine

    Don't see how the OP would get by without a footpedal or thumb control on the torch.?.. Did say- planning to weld Aluminum
    IdealArc Tig 300 300 ( Mag Amp control)
    Idealarc Tig 300 300 ( SCR control) on loan till owner needs it back
    Chicago Electric Power Mig 150
    Lotos Ltpdc2000d plasma/arc/tig
    Victor Oxy/Acetylene torch set

  6. #6

    Re: Help me pick my first TIG machine

    This is all really good info. It sounds like the liquid cooler is something I can add later if I need it without it being a very big deal. I would say probably 50% of the use will be aluminum such as fuel cells, custom dash boards and center consoles for various 4x4s etc..

    The wireless foot pedal sounds cool but also quite a bit more expensive. I assume a wired one would work just as well for me.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Chicago
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    5,988

    Re: Help me pick my first TIG machine

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Eternal View Post
    This is all really good info. It sounds like the liquid cooler is something I can add later if I need it without it being a very big deal. I would say probably 50% of the use will be aluminum such as fuel cells, custom dash boards and center consoles for various 4x4s etc..

    The wireless foot pedal sounds cool but also quite a bit more expensive. I assume a wired one would work just as well for me.
    Like the water cooled torch if you wanted to add the wireless pedal later on you could. Plus there will be more coming to the market soon..
    Torchmate 2x2 CNC with Flashcut CNC controls
    Hypertherm Powermax45
    2015 AHP Tig
    Razorweld 195 Mig
    Razorweld 200ac/dc Tig
    ViperMig 180
    Razorweld, SSC Foot Pedal & MK Products & Atlas Positioner Dealer

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    206

    Re: Help me pick my first TIG machine

    I decided to go with the dynasty 280dx with cps. Nice to have the extra amps. I bought just the machine so I could add my own torch and pedal and ssc foot pedal. Very happy with it. The cps will turn your cooler on and off as needed whereas if you plug straight to the wall its on all the time. I love running water cooled, especially with the aluminum.

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