Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal
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  1. #1
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    Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Looking at doing a lot of welding of sheet metal around 17 gauge. It appears that a pulse mig may make my life a lot easier, what's the best bang for the buck in that department - or is it worth it at all?

    I have a Miller XMT 350 cc/cv, and a Lincoln Mig Pak 180. I've been politely told I'm a loon if I think the Optima pendant is going to make my life easier.

    So, please suggest away, and if Tig is the answer then that's fine too

  2. #2
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    You will probably be better off using short circut or TIG, whats the joint configuration?
    Have we all gone mad?

  3. #3
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Quote Originally Posted by sn0border88 View Post
    You will probably be better off using short circut or TIG, whats the joint configuration?
    I thought short circuit was a subset of pulse? TBH I don't know enough about this crap yet. I've thought about TIG, but I'm planning on working on old car shells doing lots of cutting, replacing etc. Mostly butt joints I'd say. TIG scares me from a speed and lying on my back trying to work 3 things at once perspective.

  4. #4
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    GMAW-P can either be a modified form of short-circuit or spray transfer, but it is very different from both. It uses alternating high and low currents along with (sometimes) mechanical manipulation of the wire.

    Don't waste your money on the pulse machines, I am a huge proponent of them but I don't think you will see a benefit in you situation.
    Have we all gone mad?

  5. #5
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    So, you're suggesting any old MIG. Maybe something with finer controls than my MIG Pak 180 would be better. There are cheaper small pulse machines in Italy and other places it seems.

    I wonder how crappy this is:

    http://www.terwelding.com/186PULS.pdf

  6. #6
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Quote Originally Posted by hudson View Post
    So, you're suggesting any old MIG. Maybe something with finer controls than my MIG Pak 180 would be better. There are cheaper small pulse machines in Italy and other places it seems.

    I wonder how crappy this is:

    http://www.terwelding.com/186PULS.pdf
    Do you need high mobility?
    Why do you want a welding machine from another country?

    What if you need a part for this unknown machine?

    A "MIG PAK 180" Who made that? What brand?
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  7. #7
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Don't need high mobility, but short on space.

    Not really concerned about where the welder is from as long as it's not junk and the company will still be around in 5 years. I'm not using this in a money making shop environment. If it takes 2 weeks to get a part, it takes 2 weeks to get a part.

    The welder I have is the hobby grade 220v Lincoln Mig Box. Quite decent over all, but only has 5, maybe 6 heat settings. I find it great for around 1/16" and up to say 1/2".

  8. #8
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    I agree with sn0boarder here, the little lincoln should do just fine. Pulsing lets you use larger wire at lower overall amps. If you welded 8hrs a day the machine would pay for itself over time and make you money vs someone using .023/025 short circuit.

    I've set my PM300 to 60ipm with .045 and found it was just a bear to weld with because the pulses were so slow it was almost like a re-start, you have to weld steady and straight like a machine.

    Any welding with thin stuff just takes good technique and steady speed for a continuous weld. I have a heck of a time with it and a car/body guy just takes off and goes like it's easy (even with the itty-bitty 120v hobby migs).

    Matt

  9. #9
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    I would just pick up a good 110v unit from lincoln or miller, with your 220v for the bigger stuff it should be all youll need, and your only looking around $500 for a brand new machine.
    Have we all gone mad?

  10. #10
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Try a 140c. It's continous so the heat is more variable than what you have which I believe it tapped.(Hope I got all that right, I learned it here when I was MIG shopping). My little 140c was around 550$ IIRC and works very well for autobody type stuff. That is what I bought it for. I find it very difficult myself to run a continous bead without warping the metal. I just do short spots or beads and skip arond but I'm no pro for sure.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Their are alot of things you can do to mitigate warpage in sheetmetal, move around doing small welds from a similiar angle, precise fitup and understanding the cause of warpage, practice and patience.Keep high heat down. A shrinking disc can be purchased on ebay for futher help.Their is nothing wrong with the machine you have.

  12. #12
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    I must be missing something.

    I have 30-180A with 5 steps with my 220V Lincoln. Going to a 140C at 110V will give me 30-140A. Aside from the finer adjustment, what else does it have going for it?

    To me, this looks like a nice welder:

    http://wp1170699.wp111.webpack.hoste...0-puls-tge.php

    5 - 180 stepless amps, MIG/MAG pulse, MIG/MAG standard, MMA and TIG Liftarc welding as well as GMA brazing.

    Unless I'm missing something. EWM looks like a good solid german brand.

  13. #13
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Pistolnoon, I have shrinking disks 5" and 9", they work wonders as long as you don't over do it!

  14. #14
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    You're right, EWM is top notch German plant , that particular set IIRC also has a synergic setting for mig brazing, which might be of interest to you for car body work. I've not used that particular model, but I've used it's bigger brothers loads, and found them fantastic machines to work with.

  15. #15
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Baila, thanks for the info, as far as I can tell it's missing the top end fast pulse and the rootarc or whatever technology.. but other than that it looks fantastic.

    I'm not seeing anything from Lincoln / Miller / Esab that is all that toy for that price. Throw in $250 for torch and foot pedal and you have a Tig setup as well.

    It has a 4 roller drive system, so I __think__ you can use aluminum with a normal gun instead of a big and bulky spool gun.

    The brazing does sound like an interesting possibility.

    The smallest tip for that particular gun seems to be for .030 wire though.. not sure why.

  16. #16
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    That's a high end machine in the link, you already have a high end miller listed in your first post???

    The miller XMT may not have a rapid-arc/mig braze program built in to it but a little time tuning is going to get it so good that there will be no difference in real life.

    Even the Lincoln STT at 4x the price can't make up for problems with thin guage unless the operator is up to it. The STT is built for three things, weld stuff with big wire, make a low hydrogen conforming weld with dry Co2, and make up for a poor operator. It does the 1/16" wire thing with thin stuff pretty good, but anyone using one will tell you it's no good "if the operator can't keep up with the torch speed", then the last two are a bust.

    Also I should add the little bitty migs also come with little torches. I can weld thin stuff much better with the MK15 on my kemppi than the Binzel 250 & 350 torches on my other machines... It's just easier to me anyway.

    Matt

  17. #17
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Matt,

    The XMT is on loan and the 12VS suitcase has a massive torch (assuming 350A). I really have no need for 350A at home on any kind of regular basis.

    I'm thinking of the EWM as a replacement of my 180A Lincoln. Looks like it's simply far superior. I still won't have AC TIG, but aside from that and a plasma cutter that's all the toys I need in one box. I certainly prefer that option rather than getting a 140A box and keeping the 180A for the slightly thicker stuff I do.

  18. #18
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    I think you've been drinking too much of the pulse MIG koolaid thats been going around lately. They are great machines but without a skilled operator its useless. Additionally the "do all" machines that are supposed to work for MIG/TIG/Stick usually dont do any of them well.

    Matt- I have been under the impression that STT was developed for open-root pipe, i've never heard of it really being touted in any other areas. What were you referring too?
    Have we all gone mad?

  19. #19
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Hudson,

    Hate to be the bearer of "bad news" but there is no such thing as a "silver bullet" when it comes to welding sheet metal.

    In other words, there is no substitute for experience.

    I've got a Solar 120v mig (sold by Snap-On) that was designed specifically for "body work". Even has a built in "stitch" feature (basically pulses the wirefeed). It sits on the shelf collecting dust. I can stick a .023 liner in my HH187, load up a spool of .023 ESAB Easy Grind, and outperform the Solar any day of the week with just the mig trigger.

    Hood time, not "ad time" is the answer.
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  20. #20
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Quote Originally Posted by sn0border88 View Post
    Additionally the "do all" machines that are supposed to work for MIG/TIG/Stick usually dont do any of them well.
    I've put dual shiel, solid, metal core, alu, and various flavours of stainless wires though the ones I used, and they performed well . The MMA mode worked as good as any other inverter I've used and well, lift TIG is lift TIG I suppose.

  21. #21
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    I see that Jimmie just welded up his water table with pulsed mig and his powermig 300.
    No leaks and probably a overall better process then using short circuit mig. He was in a hurry and did not feel like tigging it. I think he has blown out the theory of pulse is useless for most things. Now I am going to see if it will work for me, and my even fancier pulse machine. (rapid-arc) Although .035 is the smallest wire you can use in that process. I did notice a Powermig 300/350 .023 stainless pulse a while back. #40 mode might work for a pretty good alternative too.
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  22. #22
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Cost no object, for GMAW-P capabilities, the Lincoln S350 with the 25M feeder is the hot ticket. STT serves virtually no practical purpose outside of open root pipe, and much of the design basis for that was pretty limited (closure spools on high energy pipe being the main focus).

  23. #23
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    I'ts seems that lately I can't seem to get out of body shops. I find that they generall have the same problem. When they are doing the "heavier structural" type work, which is 1/4" for them, they have not problem using short arc, but when it gets to thinner material, (20ga, 18ga, and so on, that tend to blow through, but still want to use .035 hard wire to do it. I would suggest going to maybe a .023 or.030 solid wire and using this process. It just takes a lot of current to get the .035 wire to short arc, which is too much than most of the thinner material can bear. I mean you will be around 60-70 amps trying to run on 18ga material and unless you go really quick you will most likely burn through. Pulse is a great process, but like others have said, it is not a silver bullet.

    Try smaller diameter wire and use the short arc transfer mode. You will still be able to do 1/4" material, but you will have an easier time doing the smaller guage items as well. Oh and 75/25 gas mix should be fine. No need to over complicate it with all the other gas mixes.

    Good luck!

  24. #24
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Thanks for all the responses.

    First off, I think everyone can agree that my 5 Tap 180A Lincoln is not the ideal machine for sheet metal. Money is an object, but time is as well. So the Lincoln needs to be replaced or augmented with another MIG, preferably without taps. So unless I score something nice used, it looks like ~$700 bucks to get a decent new MIG.

    About wire sizes, I only pull out .035 for stuff that can't be considered sheet metal. Generally I find (with my machine) that .030 is a lot easier to work with / less prone to burn trough than the .023". Hard to explain aside from just stating that I seem to regret throwing .023 in.

    I think the real question is, does the extra 2k to get MMA, DC Lift Tig, and Pulse Mig worth it as a welding package (I don't JUST weld thin sheet metal). While it looks like we can argue all day about whether pulse mig is useful/worth it for sheet metal, it's a slam dunk on aluminum no? I'd describe my Lincoln with the spool gun on aluminum as less than ideal.

    Don't forget the nicer machine has a 4 roller wire feeder. I have a feeling that would be a nice improvement right there.

  25. #25
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    Re: Best Pulse Mig for Thin Sheet Metal

    Quote Originally Posted by sn0border88 View Post
    I think you've been drinking too much of the pulse MIG koolaid thats been going around lately. They are great machines but without a skilled operator its useless. Additionally the "do all" machines that are supposed to work for MIG/TIG/Stick usually dont do any of them well.

    Matt- I have been under the impression that STT was developed for open-root pipe, i've never heard of it really being touted in any other areas. What were you referring too?
    I beg to differ,have you used an XMT or Multimaster to make statements like that ?
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