Will the Esab/Thermal Arc/Tweeco Ultima 150 Plasma arc welder do alumiunum well?
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  1. #1
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    Will the Esab/Thermal Arc/Tweeco Ultima 150 Plasma arc welder do alumiunum well?

    Hi Folks,

    I have a chance to buy one at a great deal but from docs and not clear on if it will do aluminum as it is DC only.
    I currently have a DC MIG setup with a Miller XMT304 and push pull gun for aluminum and also use the XMT with a tig torch for Tig on SS but can't do aluminum as I have no AC for cleaning (I have never used any TIG for aluminum, only for SS).

    Please let me know if this will do aluminum well? I want this or AC/DC Tig for slower, better looking beads on pipe, etc than I can do with my bulky push pull setup on MIG..
    Darrell

  2. #2
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    Re: Will the Esab/Thermal Arc/Tweeco Ultima 150 Plasma arc welder do alumiunum well?

    It sounds like you already know that you need an AC/DC machine to do normal aluminum tig welding - so you've answered your own question.

    DC aluminum tig is done on heavy aluminum using 100% helium. But based on your post, you are likely not talking about that method.
    Dave J.

    Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. ~George Bernard Shaw~

    Airco 300 - Syncro 350
    Invertec v250-s
    Thermal Arc 161 and 300
    MM210
    Dialarc
    Tried being normal once, didn't take....I think it was a Tuesday.

  3. #3
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    Re: Will the Esab/Thermal Arc/Tweeco Ultima 150 Plasma arc welder do alumiunum well?

    Hi Dave - well, you are right - i know that with a TIG setup you typically need AC, except for like you said with helium/ special purpose. But, this machine is PAW, Plasma arc welding, so I need someone knowlegable on PAW and hopefully this machine, to tell me if the PAW process allows welding on aluminum without AC.
    It may sound stupid, but as I can do aluminum with only DC using a different process now (MIG) using the argon for shieding/ cleaning I think it is possible that the PAW process, being still different may allow aluminum welding as well....

    docs are unclear- state that all metals which can be done by TIG can be done by PAW... but doesn't state if all metals done by AC/DC tig can be done by PAW...

  4. #4
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    Re: Will the Esab/Thermal Arc/Tweeco Ultima 150 Plasma arc welder do alumiunum well?

    AWS handbook on welding processes does state
    "Aluminum and Magnesium alloys can be welded with DCEN, however extreme cleaning measures must be taken due to the tenacious surface oxides formed on these alloys"

    You may get mixed/poor results welding aluminum DC with PAW. You will definitely need to clean the material well. Is there any way you could have the seller allow you to do a test run?

    As an aside, I have done some work with PAW aluminum on AC. Attached photos show some welds done with a Thermal WC100B console and a Heliarc 281 AC/DC tig welder for the power supply. Used pulse AC on dirty material. Results were great

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    Last edited by weldinON; 09-07-2018 at 12:33 PM.

  5. #5
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    Re: Will the Esab/Thermal Arc/Tweeco Ultima 150 Plasma arc welder do alumiunum well?

    Quote Originally Posted by Northeaster View Post
    Hi Dave - well, you are right - i know that with a TIG setup you typically need AC, except for like you said with helium/ special purpose. But, this machine is PAW, Plasma arc welding, so I need someone knowlegable on PAW and hopefully this machine, to tell me if the PAW process allows welding on aluminum without AC.
    It may sound stupid, but as I can do aluminum with only DC using a different process now (MIG) using the argon for shieding/ cleaning I think it is possible that the PAW process, being still different may allow aluminum welding as well....

    docs are unclear- state that all metals which can be done by TIG can be done by PAW... but doesn't state if all metals done by AC/DC tig can be done by PAW...
    Are you looking for a variable-polarity plasma arc welder?

    It was a while ago, but I seem to remember it listed that way for aluminum plasma welding?
    Dave J.

    Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. ~George Bernard Shaw~

    Airco 300 - Syncro 350
    Invertec v250-s
    Thermal Arc 161 and 300
    MM210
    Dialarc
    Tried being normal once, didn't take....I think it was a Tuesday.

  6. #6
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    Re: Will the Esab/Thermal Arc/Tweeco Ultima 150 Plasma arc welder do alumiunum well?

    Thanks for the info and pics. I would love to have the setup and skill to end up with welds like that.
    I have read the term variable polarity in some of the paw docs online but I dont understand it all yet.
    To be clear I was hoping or planning to pick up a small used or cheaper model new ac/DC tig machine in the next couple of years for some pipe and finish type work on a small cabin on the aluminum boat that I built. But a friend got this machine by luck on a great deal and then decided to just get a small tig set up instead without ever hooking it up. I can try it first but the price is peanuts so I wouldn't bother not taking it anyway as my gas to drive it back is close to what he wants for it. He is being very good to pass on the deal to me. He lucked out and was in the right place and time when a shop didn't need it anymore and said make me an offer. If it won't do aluminum well it will still be fun to try but if it will I will be over the moon.

  7. #7
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    Re: Will the Esab/Thermal Arc/Tweeco Ultima 150 Plasma arc welder do alumiunum well?

    AC for alum. Without AC you'd need to be a super expert, and use helium. If you think welders are expensive, buy a tank of helium.

    Heliarc was the magic welding process of my youth. Amazing things came out of the secret G. E. plant. They used sine wave, but with helium as shielding gas. These days it's argon that is used. helium can't always be had, and when it can, it is expensive.

    If aluminum is your metal of choice look for AC. Square wave is very nice, adjustable balance is a plus, adjustable frequency is nice. Inverters use less electricity. Aluminum needs POWER! look for 200+ Amps, with 60% duty cycle. You will then have an aluminum welder.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  8. #8
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    Re: Will the Esab/Thermal Arc/Tweeco Ultima 150 Plasma arc welder do alumiunum well?

    Variable polarity = Alternating Current. As I mentioned, I wouldn't get my hopes up about being able to weld aluminum well with it.
    Sounds like you have a fun project on your hands experimenting with the unit. It really is an cool process to play with.
    Make sure you get the torch and any consumables with it you can find.

  9. #9
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    Re: Will the Esab/Thermal Arc/Tweeco Ultima 150 Plasma arc welder do alumiunum well?

    Thanks for all of the info. Yes the company had just bought a new torch and consumables before they got out of using it so that all comes with it. Looks like I'll play with it and maybe eventually sell it once it can be shown working an get an ac capable tig unit
    .

  10. #10
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    Re: Will the Esab/Thermal Arc/Tweeco Ultima 150 Plasma arc welder do alumiunum well?

    Quote Originally Posted by weldinON View Post
    Variable polarity = Alternating Current. As I mentioned, I wouldn't get my hopes up about being able to weld aluminum well with it.
    Sounds like you have a fun project on your hands experimenting with the unit. It really is an cool process to play with.
    Make sure you get the torch and any consumables with it you can find.
    I don't believe you will ever be happy with it. I have a few cheap clunker welders that have only gathered dust. Good cheap stick welders are plentiful, but I consider the big older monsters to be more desirable. Good cheap TIG welders modern, are as rare as honest lawyers.

    As for aluminum, features cost money. The head moderator here uses an antique big as a refrigerator. His work is incredible. Minnesota Dave has virtually the same machine painted yellow. His work is beautiful. I have possession of that machine in three phase, I can't power. I haven't brought it home, and can't give it away. I may scrap it.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  11. #11
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    Re: Will the Esab/Thermal Arc/Tweeco Ultima 150 Plasma arc welder do alumiunum well?

    Willie - I do appreciate your view and reasoning. And I would not at this point buy something I can't at least use at all, i.e. 3 phase only..

    I guess I figured that even if won't do aluminum, it should be still fairly valuable / useful at doing mild and especially SS, even in thin pieces, once set up.
    my cost in it will be quite low - if i tire of it, would i not be able to sell a working (glorified TIG..) PAW machine for something in the range of $500 - 1000.
    I see them on ebay for $1500US (taken from surplus/ shut down factories) and also anywhere from $3000 to even $9000 advertised locally in Ontario - same model but likely newer..
    Last edited by Northeaster; 09-08-2018 at 08:40 PM. Reason: sp

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