Author Topic: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?  (Read 4503 times)

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Offline mrpackethead

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Probably not a typical electronics tool, but this community has wide interests and expereinces so worth a try.

I'm wanting to buy a low cost TIG / Plasma cutter combo. Ideally spend less than $1000.     Its not going to get lots of use, I'm doing a container building job, so have a bit of cutting and some welding to do, and thought i'd just buy the tools.     I've seen several models that are beign resold in NZ that are chinese imports, but i figure i can probably save a bunch of cash by buying it myself.


Does anyone have any suggestions.
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Offline blueskull

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2018, 02:37:49 am »
Call a tradesman, pay $50/hour, and get him to get it done for you.
If it's a one off job, it's almost always cheaper to out source than to buy-learn-do-retry.
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2018, 03:52:41 am »
Call a tradesman, pay $50/hour, and get him to get it done for you.
If it's a one off job, it's almost always cheaper to out source than to buy-learn-do-retry.

Thanks, but i actually want to do it myself.  If i had used that mentality for every skill and bit of gear i did'nt have, i'd have done nearly nothign.      Plus you won't get a 'tradie' in NZ for $50.  You'd be lucky if you can get them for $100 and you'd have to wait 6-9 months.
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Offline Mr.B

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2018, 04:36:13 am »
...You'd be lucky if you can get them for $100 and you'd have to wait 6-9 months.

Yip.
A Plumbing company here in Nelson that shall remain unnamed want $450 for a call-out, plus $155 per hour.
Their definition of a call-out is "Sometime in the next 7 days".

All of the trades are so busy in NZ at the moment and some can demand any price they want.

DIY mrpackethead... Agree with you that is the way to go.
Time is the overseer of all things.
 
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Offline BradC

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2018, 05:51:53 am »
Probably not a typical electronics tool, but this community has wide interests and expereinces so worth a try.

I'm wanting to buy a low cost TIG / Plasma cutter combo. Ideally spend less than $1000.     Its not going to get lots of use, I'm doing a container building job, so have a bit of cutting and some welding to do, and thought i'd just buy the tools.     I've seen several models that are beign resold in NZ that are chinese imports, but i figure i can probably save a bunch of cash by buying it myself.


Does anyone have any suggestions.

Wow, I'd typed up a huge wall of text detailing my experience, but checking E-bay they have gone up massively in the last 5 years, so no. Nothing I have is relevant to the <$1000 bracket although all my TIG/Arc/Plasma units were significantly less than that at the time.
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2018, 06:06:52 am »
Quote
I've seen several models that are beign resold in NZ that are chinese imports, but i figure i can probably save a bunch of cash by buying it myself.
Are you asking about ordering things on Alibaba? A lot of members probably have some advice on what to look for and what questions to ask a seller; maybe you'd get more hits if you worded the thread, differently. If you wanted advice about specific machines (not that I have any), it might help if you included the scale of the job. Thickness of steel, size of the containers, and what quantities. I'll be curious to see suggestions, myself, and your impressions on w/e you end up buying/using. I have been on the verge of buying a stick/TIG for awhile, now, for absolutely no reason, doing essentially no research, lol. Had one in my online cart more than once, but I chickened out.

 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2018, 06:14:37 am »
Don't know if this has any bearing on Southern hemisphere prices, but my son did a lot of research recently and concluded he couldn't get a decent set for under $1000.  He ended up getting an Everlast unit and is very happy with it, but it cost nearly $1400 on sale.  Both he and I know people who have the even lower cost units and all have had some level of dissatisfaction.  That $1400 doesn't include other necessary expenses like helmets, gloves, tips, rods, gas bottles and wire.  Count on another couple of hundred for those items.

I agree with you, it is often cheaper to buy than to hire.  There really are very few one off jobs, another use pops up periodically.  Sometimes annually, sometimes more often and rarely much less often.  If nothing else the "If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail." syndrome sets in.  You also get to control schedule and quality which is often worth quite a bit.  Throw in the fun of learning and it just works.
 

Offline TERRA Operative

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2018, 06:53:06 am »
When it comes to welding and cutting equipment, the term 'you get what you pay for' really does apply. There's only so much cost cutting that can be done to MOSFETS/IGBT's, transformers, and heat sinks before you adversely affect performance and reliability. You can't abstract out the cost of bulk iron, aluminium and copper etc like the price drops of computer parts etc with age.
Metal and silicon costs money. Less cost, less stuff inside the box.....

In my years of time fixing this stuff when I was back in Australia, I've seen lots of Chinese crap, and also some surprisingly well made Chinese stuff too.
The best bit of advice I can give if you are looking at Chinese made gear is to make certain that your supplier can supply spare parts. Things like control boards, IGBT/MOSFET modules, etc.
There are a lot of sellers out there that just sell a branded unit bought in a bulk shipment with practically no after-sales support (You wouldn't believe how many variations on the common 200 AC/DC TIG unit I've seen..) if you can't get a replacement board for your unit, you may as well use it as a boat anchor.
You may see 20 other brands of welder that look like yours, but the are almost all subtly different enough inside that mixing and matching parts from another seller can be difficult at best or impossible at worst. Many Chinese units are made to the end sellers specifications, so things often get changed slightly on the internals.

I started taking photos of the units I was fixing, I think I got to at least 15 variants of the common box shaped 200 AC/DC TIG welder, they all were very similar inside but only a few actually had cross compatible parts.
(I remember one rare case where it turned out our own house brand of part fit a customers welder, it turned out cheaper in the end and had extra output transformers and IGBT's in the switch mode output board. A rare case of more for less :D )

Basically, make sure to buy from a seller with a bit of repute behind them. Many of the Chinese units these days (besides the lowest of low end) actually work relatively ok compared with 10 years ago. When I started in the game, Chinese stuff was completely barely useable crap, but they improved surprisingly quickly to become a viable product for the small time user. The difference is mainly in the MTBF and features (depending how much you spend on the Chinese unit) compared with a name brand unit.
As long as you don't expect the quality and longevity of an ESAB, Cigweld or Lincoln Electric, the Chinese units can be great for a home or small workshop.

The first upgrade I would suggest if you do buy one is to replace the torch/hand piece with a Binzel or Tweco or similar type. Much better quality and much easier to get consumable parts.

My advice would be to look at second hand or refurbished name brand units, if you get a decent Lincoln, Kemppi, ESAB, Cigweld, etc, it'll last you decades.
If nothing turns up, then look at the Chinese units, but don't buy the cheapest one you can get, you'll regret it.....
Any circuit design must contain at least one part which is obsolete, two parts which are unobtainable, and three parts which are still under development.

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Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2018, 08:28:55 am »
In my years of time fixing this stuff when I was back in Australia, I've seen lots of Chinese crap, and also some surprisingly well made Chinese stuff too.

^^ This is very true for most stuff. I am regularrly buying thigns from China, and i'd say i get it right 9 out 10 times.  I've bought a Mill,  Laser cutter,  and other stuff thats been great. I buy componetns and PCBs every week.   Its all about doing your homework. 

This communtiy is great.. You get lots of good feedback. ( even feedback thats off topic is helpful )
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Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2018, 08:29:45 am »
Probably not a typical electronics tool, but this community has wide interests and expereinces so worth a try.

I'm wanting to buy a low cost TIG / Plasma cutter combo. Ideally spend less than $1000.     Its not going to get lots of use, I'm doing a container building job, so have a bit of cutting and some welding to do, and thought i'd just buy the tools.     I've seen several models that are beign resold in NZ that are chinese imports, but i figure i can probably save a bunch of cash by buying it myself.


Does anyone have any suggestions.


Im not adverse to spending more if i have to.


Wow, I'd typed up a huge wall of text detailing my experience, but checking E-bay they have gone up massively in the last 5 years, so no. Nothing I have is relevant to the <$1000 bracket although all my TIG/Arc/Plasma units were significantly less than that at the time.
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Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2018, 08:33:40 am »
Quote
I've seen several models that are beign resold in NZ that are chinese imports, but i figure i can probably save a bunch of cash by buying it myself.
Are you asking about ordering things on Alibaba? A lot of members probably have some advice on what to look for and what questions to ask a seller; maybe you'd get more hits if you worded the thread, differently. If you wanted advice about specific machines (not that I have any), it might help if you included the scale of the job. Thickness of steel, size of the containers, and what quantities. I'll be curious to see suggestions, myself, and your impressions on w/e you end up buying/using. I have been on the verge of buying a stick/TIG for awhile, now, for absolutely no reason, doing essentially no research, lol. Had one in my online cart more than once, but I chickened out.

Ideally Id love to hear from people have already bought one, and have got warnings or priase about it. 

My first job. I have three 40' shipping containers to deal with.   I've got to cut one side out of two and two sides out of the third. ( they are going to be stuck side by side ).. I'll have to weld in place some longer I sections above the cut out sections so the container does not warp.     Container steel is typically 2.5mm thick.   the alternatives to Plasma are to use a gas torch. but that is hard to get really nice, or an angle grinder, with cut off blades.  ( easy, cheap enough, but hugely tiem consuming and very hard on the old arms )



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Offline BradC

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2018, 09:11:43 am »
Ideally Id love to hear from people have already bought one, and have got warnings or priase about it. 

All 3 of mine were bought through E-bay.

I bought unit 1 to learn to TIG weld by welding up the alloy head for my car. Or, to re-arrange that, I needed the head in my car welded up and decided to buy a welder and do it myself. Guy at the welding shop called me a nutcase but sold me the rods I needed. Asked me if I'd ever welded (no) and what welder I intended to use (E-bay 200A cheapie). Then asked me (while laughing) to come back and show him photos of what was left.

Welded up the head, faced it on my neighbors mill and took it back to the shop. He's taken me seriously ever since.

Welder 1 was a 200A AC/DC TIG/MMA/Plasma. It came with a TIG torch (26 series air cooled - they pretty much all are a variant of that), MMA electrode holder, Plasma torch, Argon regulator and foot pedal. It was good for the head, but I wanted to do a lot of small stuff and it only went down to 20A, so I traded it to my neighbour in exchange for a larger air compressor. The Plasma was a scratch start and I had issues getting it reliably started on grungy metal. I did a lot of work with that welder over a couple of years.

Welder 2 was a mistake. I literally bought the wrong unit (wanting a replacement for my original) in that it doesn't do AC and was only rated to ~150A. Scratch start Plasma, no foot pedal. I've kept it as it comes in handy having a separate plasma when I'm doing a lot of cut & weld stuff. I really have no idea what I'd taken or drunk when I pressed that "buy it now" button, but it took me a couple of hours to figure out what I'd done and the figure out how I was going to hide it from my wife (You bought WHAT??).

Welder 3 was the winner. Essentially the same as welder 1. 200A AC/DC TIG/MMA/Plasma. Same features except this one goes down to 5A and has a pilot-arc start on the Plasma. Now I never have issues with starts. I feel like Darth Vader with a lightsabre, it just cuts anything conductive. Being able to really crank the current down comes in handy when doing things like building up a corroded portion of 8mm water pump shaft with minimal warping.

I did buy an auto-dark helmet with a huge window (locally, don't think I'd trust by eyes to an E-bay store) and I eventually spent a significant amount of coin on a small air-cooled C&K TIG torch with pyrex cups and a supple leather hose shield. I can honestly say when doing small/tiny work or spending quite a period of time at the coalface, a light and ergonomic torch is bliss. By small/tiny I mean things like aluminium cans or razor blades. Good practice for shaft buildup or work where you want minimal heat.

The C&K has a really cool swivelling head and I've used that up under the car when I wanted to get some locallised heat onto a hard to reach bolt and didn't want to risk busting out the oxy.

I can't find any direct links on e-bay to compare them to, but at the time it was a case of "not the cheapest, but near enough with the right features". And I didn't know what features I really wanted until after I'd spent time with Welder No 1 (down to 5A and Pilot Arc on the Plasma). I still use No 1 when my neighbor wants stuff welded up and I'm out of Argon. I just made an adapter for my little torch.

Get an Argon regulator with a proper flow-meter.

Torch : http://www.ckworldwide.com/130-150-amps-flex-loc%e2%84%a2.html
Consumables : http://www.ckworldwide.com/standard-kits.html with the pyrex cup they are awesome for visibility. If you spatter the cup by dipping the electrode, a nitric acid bath cleans it right up.
Helmet : https://www.machineryhouse.com.au/W003

For an absolute beginner, a foot pedal makes TIG welding a lot like soldering. I found it much easier to control the weld with the pedal while I learned torch control. Now I can do it with the on/off trigger, but I prefer the pedal if it's handy.

The torches that come with the E-bay welders are ok. I have a bucket full of consumables (again E-bay) and for bigger stuff I still use them. I'd been welding a few years with those before I treated myself to the C&K. The gas-lens consumables are available from BOC (over here anyway). When I bought the consumables I bought a stack of lanthanated electrodes. I'm still on those. If you learn to keep them out of the weld they actually last really well. I'm a slow learner.

Aside from welding, carbon rods make great arc-heaters. The TIG is useful for brazing and silver soldering tiny things and a set of good earth leads make great jumper cables.

I'm still not a welders arsehole, but it's nice to be able to patch machining errors, seal up a cracked casting (or leaky Ducati aluminium radiator tank) and cut the top out of 44 Gallon drums without breaking out the grinder. If I'd listened to that "yeah pay someone else to do it for $50" dude, I'd have missed out on a stack of fun stuff (and quite a bit of on-the-side work).

 
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Offline The Soulman

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2018, 09:54:15 am »
You sure you want to TIG weld together shipping containers?
Imho Mig is the better option or if you want to minimize the initial investment MMA (stick electrode) is more appropriate.
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2018, 09:58:18 am »
Quote
Guy at the welding shop called me a nutcase but sold me the rods I needed. Asked me if I'd ever welded (no) and what welder I intended to use (E-bay 200A cheapie). Then asked me (while laughing) to come back and show him photos of what was left.
I would ordinarily think that's hilarious. But the last few months of watching Youtube's recommended welding videos has made me feel like many professional welders are delusional about how rare their skills are. I mean, you learn from experience, but it isn't exactly juggling while riding a unicycle. It's probably just Youtube... but maybe it's the fumes? That and palpable disdain for anything not Lincoln or Hobart.

The damnedest thing.. watched a guy review a $100 welder, and he was stunned when he burned through rod after rod without overheating the unit. So then he complained that the display didn't feel like it was calibrated, correctly, putting out more amps than indicated. Total junk!  :-//

I have a professional welder in the extended fam. Whenever it comes up that she's a professional welder, she makes a point that she's not just a welder. She's a MIG welder! (Best for sheet metal, but otherwise isn't that the most limited and easiest of the bunch? :-//)

 
« Last Edit: August 14, 2018, 10:24:51 am by KL27x »
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2018, 10:17:02 am »
But the last few months of watching Youtube's recommended welding videos has made me feel like many professional welders are delusional about how rare their skills are. It's probably just Youtube... but maybe it's the fumes? That and palpable disdain for anything not Lincoln or Hobart. 

Yeah, theres an aweful lot of brand biggots.
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Online tautech

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2018, 10:21:10 am »
You sure you want to TIG weld together shipping containers?
Imho Mig is the better option or if you want to minimize the initial investment MMA (stick electrode) is more appropriate.
Yep, TIG is the wrong choice for a big job like containers,
Both TIG and MIG can be a PITA for outdoors usage but MIG would be my choice for shipping container mods when the weather conditions cooperate. You can mitigate conditions with gas-less wire and if things are really bad use CO2 as well as it's cheaper than the argon mixes.
A 150-180A MIG will eat 2.5mm panel but if you drop too low in the choice of Amps you'll have to run 0.6mm wire. (solid, not gas-less)
Mig will be the best choice as containers are made from HT Corten steel and MIG produces HT welds.
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Offline BradC

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2018, 10:21:18 am »
I would ordinarily think that's hilarious. But the last few months of watching Youtube's recommended welding videos has made me feel like many professional welders are delusional about how rare their skills are. It's probably just Youtube... but maybe it's the fumes? That and palpable disdain for anything not Lincoln or Hobart.

I dunno. My neighbour is a fitter & machinist who has also done huge amounts of coded and inspected welding. He's an absolute artist. He gets me to do the fiddly TIG stuff and I get him to do anything structural. The level of skill difference is many years of practice and I recognise, admire and learn from that. He's also a great teacher, so I've lucked out big time there. I did teach myself to TIG though before I started asking questions.

Most of the "professional" welders I've seen on YouTube probably sit midway in the spectrum. The really good ones can make a good weld with 2 car batteries, a length of coat hanger wire and some 3.2mm 6010 rods and while they value good gear, don't dump on the utility of the affordable stuff. But then they are few and very far between because most of them are too busy working to be recording video.

 I do rate Jody at WeldingTipsAndTricks though.

 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2018, 10:41:05 am »
Quote
huge amounts of coded and inspected welding.
No doubt there is knowledge and skill at work. If you have just one chance to get it right or people die, then you better have the thinking cap on. But as you say, just being able to do basic welds with basic equipment seems like it would be plenty useful for the average joe. My brother taught himself to weld for fun... and he's just a lowly doctor. You'd think from some of these vids you need a toolchest covered in Snap-On stickers to hold a torch, correctly.
 

Offline BradC

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2018, 10:49:15 am »
Quote
huge amounts of coded and inspected welding.
No doubt there is knowledge and skill at work. If you have just one chance to get it right or people die, then you better have the thinking cap on. But as you say, just being able to do basic welds with basic equipment seems like it would be plenty useful for the average joe. My brother taught himself to weld for fun... and he's just a lowly doctor. You'd think from some of these vids you need a toolchest covered in Snap-On stickers to hold a torch, correctly.

...you'd think you need a 3458a to check an AA battery...

It's not just welders ;)
 
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Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2018, 10:58:01 am »
Yeah, skilla nd experience.  Its taken me several years to be able to repeatably be able to produce error free PCB's off my PNP line. I'm not saying that welding is all hard.

The main thing i wanted to mo was use the plasma to cut the containers with.    I might be better to just buy a plasma cutter unit. They certainly are not super expensive.

I'm a newbie to welding, and did appreciate the note about MIG vs TIG.   

The combo units all seem to be plasma + TIG...

MIG woudl be a better choice in deed.
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Offline SparkyFX

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #20 on: August 14, 2018, 11:05:08 am »
I learned some welding 20 years ago at school (not certified), but after watching probably most of the welding channels on youtube and collecting some problems at hand that can be done by welding, a couple of weeks ago i bought a relatively modern 200A AC/DC pulsed TIG/MMA/Plasma machine with a 5 year warranty on the machine itself and a pedal. Chinese manufacturer, german brand distributor. Also bought the safety gear (jacket, gloves, auto darkening helmet, welding blanket) and exchanged the gas cooled torch against a flexible one (several types are compatible), plus a gas lens kit. Some quick connectors for the gas were useful, as the machine only has one inlet for pressurized air and argon. Price range for all of it roundabout 1400 Euro.

I already finished a few little things here and there, the learning curve is quite steep and it was fun to learn. For aluminum the pedal was really important to adjust the current while you go and not screw stuff up, blow holes into the material and control the puddle, the hotter the parts get the less current is needed to melt - or just pre-heat.

If you want to cut and weld containers we are talking about steel sheet metal and a bit square tubing, maybe working on a ladder on some distance away from the power. I don´t get why you would want TIG, as your job sounds right for MMA or MIG anyway - with MIG you could use shielded flux wire and therefore work without gas, as you do with stick. You can even work one-handed, which in this case is a huge advantage over TIG. Most TIG machines do come with MMA, but a MMA/Plasma combo is probably cheaper. If you already know the maximum thickness to weld, you might even get away with a lower amperage requirement (160A for up to 4mm?!).

I don´t know how you want to weld these together, but when running beads on sheet metal always take the shrinkage into account, otherwise it might deform drastically or simply crack. The grinder will still be your best friend, as you need to bevel thicker materials to really have penetration down to the root of a joint.

My advice for buying a machine:
- if you never want to weld aluminum, you can skip machines with AC completely, it will drop the price significantly
- check the inrush current to match your power supply (in my case i got a single phase 230V, slow 16A B-characteristic breaker, that works fine even under full load), the cheaper models have the tendency to pop the breaker, maybe you could use an inrush current limiter or have access to good three phase power
- check which duty cycle you get, a 20% rating means out of 10 minutes, you can operate it 2 minutes and need 8 minutes cooldown, the higher the better, may also mean it is more reliable in the lower ranges
- check for DINSE connectors (cylindrical with a notch) on the machine, or at least one that is useful, so you can replace the cable package with a longer one
- check minimum current setting as mentioned by BradC, should you want to work with finer gage sheet metal (rule of thumb for steel: 40A/1 mm for welding)

- for TIG you might want the amperage control next to the place you weld, so for working on a ladder you should consider a torch with control included in the torch
- a pulse machine helps controlling how much heat goes into the part, but the helmet should be able to work with it (helmet delay > maximum pulse off duration ... so you don´t flash yourself at the restart)

- the TIG torches are mostly compatible to the consumables you can find on ebay (for compatibility watch this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KroGM5e1dE)
- the plasma torches that come with it use pretty much standard consumables

- pressurized air supply should be sufficient (in my case 4.5 bar, 80 litres/minute)
- a 50A plasma cutter is rated for 12mm thick construction steel

for the actual job i´d say:
- practice various positions you will need to do (e.g. vertical up welding) with test pieces to find settings that work for you as much as you can before you start
- practice open root welding
- practice, practice, practice
- stay away from critical, potentially dangerous stuff, anything that people walk on or under

Really good channels for welding are ChuckE2009, weldingtipsandtricks, weld.com, the Fabrication series, This Old Tony and all i forgot. They all cover some aspects, but of course do not replace practice.


« Last Edit: August 14, 2018, 11:09:15 am by SparkyFX »
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Offline KL27x

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2018, 11:17:17 am »
I'll bow out and try to learn something. Gonna definitely check out Jody and some of ^ those I haven't seen before. This is a great thread, already.

Mr.Packethead, good luck. I was envious until you described the job in more detail. Now it sounds way too much like work!
 

Offline mzzj

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2018, 11:30:47 am »
Bought cheap AC/DC TIG/MMA machine 2 or 3 years ago from Germany (Stahlwerk brand, chinese made), had intermitted issues of not working at all. Checked all the connectors inside as it seem to be common problem with these, no improvement.
Pulled out the biggest control board and found dozen of ugly solder joints, including one place where pads were bridged with solder splashes. After giving the board a overhaul the machine has been working fine.  >:D

Perfect hobby machine  :-DD

Some pretty horrible looking solder joints and PCB was somehow funny, all the vias were bubbling during soldering..

 Stahlwerk has supposedly OK-working 5 year warranty but it was easier and faster to fix the damn machine by myself vs shipping back to Germany.

From what I have heard the chinese combo machines have been less reliable vs if you buy separate plasma cutter and welder.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2018, 11:34:29 am by mzzj »
 

Offline mzzj

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2018, 11:33:50 am »

Really good channels for welding are ChuckE2009, weldingtipsandtricks, weld.com, the Fabrication series, This Old Tony and all i forgot. They all cover some aspects, but of course do not replace practice.

Can't stand ChuckE2009 as for last couple of years he has been concentrating on blatant sponsor product advertising  :(
 

Offline SparkyFX

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2018, 02:49:17 pm »
Stahlwerk has supposedly OK-working 5 year warranty but it was easier and faster to fix the damn machine by myself vs shipping back to Germany.
Yep, that brand. Read similar stories about them, though. At least they now wrote on the website to do testing before shipping so delivery time is a few days more. Mine worked fine so far, have not yet tested MMA or the plasma torch. Similar looking machines are also available without branding, maybe the OP can get a hand on those.

There are higher quality german or european made brands, but for my occasional use not worth double or triple the money. It would be different if i worked in a commercial environment with it, need to transport it often or work in wet weather conditions. Which is why i would recommend watching those channels, they tend to point out the differences.

Quote
From what I have heard the chinese combo machines have been less reliable vs if you buy separate plasma cutter and welder.
If available space or other requirements are not an issue, take separate machines, i´d say too.

Quote
Can't stand ChuckE2009 as for last couple of years he has been concentrating on blatant sponsor product advertising  :(
If it floats the boat... i got no problem with that, i watch these channels (completely free of charge) to learn something and i am rarely disappointed -  even if - i had at least some english vocabulary training and feel entertained :-). I understand that it kind of decreases authenticity (which i value high), but that was not guaranteed in the first place by anyone, it is an assumption on the side of the viewer. People do make mistakes anyway, so as even there is no guarantee for factually correct content and absolute authenticity (try doing that as an individual), the sponsored content vanishes in the noise anyway.

Remember this is not straight journalism, it is people that make and edit videos and create content.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2018, 08:21:31 am by SparkyFX »
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Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #25 on: August 14, 2018, 02:56:51 pm »
I am an amateur welder, and my welds show it.  There is no substitute for the knowledge and experience (and native capability) of a good welder.   But equipment makes a difference also.  The quality of my welds made a huge jump when I made the step to a better grade autodarkening helmet.  Being able to see what you are doing matters.  Same applies to other parts of the process.
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #26 on: August 14, 2018, 02:58:19 pm »

Really good channels for welding are ChuckE2009, weldingtipsandtricks, weld.com, the Fabrication series, This Old Tony and all i forgot. They all cover some aspects, but of course do not replace practice.

Can't stand ChuckE2009 as for last couple of years he has been concentrating on blatant sponsor product advertising  :(

NYC CNC is also sponsored (was?) by Tormach.
YouTuber Nerdly just uploaded a video demonstrating how PCNC770 sucks.
Even NYC CNC himself uses a Haas for precision stuffs.
 

Offline mzzj

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #27 on: August 14, 2018, 03:11:05 pm »

NYC CNC is also sponsored (was?) by Tormach.

Thats another guy who talks too much   ;D  (and sometimes doesn't have too much clue what he is talking about)
 

Offline SparkyFX

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #28 on: August 14, 2018, 03:53:33 pm »
NYC CNC is also sponsored (was?) by Tormach.
YouTuber Nerdly just uploaded a video demonstrating how PCNC770 sucks.
Even NYC CNC himself uses a Haas for precision stuffs.
I saw that complaint video, but the few facts i could gather from it was: he bought the machine, complained about backlash issues when milling a circle (surprise!), but did not want to adjust the gibs, expecting to get a machine that works out of the box because he paid for a ready to use product.
When a support employee linked him a video on how to set up the gibs he complained about the video being from a 3rd party (nevertheless contained and showed the information needed). I don´t remember he mentioned on site support or something like that, no idea if they offer that anyway. Of course Haas is a different story.

- as off topic as it already is -
The thing with this kind of equipment (non-consumer electronics, metalworking tools, precision machines) is that you either have the skillset and tools to run it and check it or you don´t. I mean e.g. if the base of a machine is not level, a lathe starts to turn significant tapers and therefore can not be as precise. That alone means you can not just put it somewhere, turn it on and expect this to work perfectly.

The cheaper the thing was, the more attention to such things might be needed, but the general verdict in machining forums is that you always should do an initial check and setup. Often you need to remove the cosmoline from certain parts anyway before you start, so disassembling, cleaning and adjusting is the first thing to do. Sometimes those cheap machines come with the wrong (imperial/metric) lead screw or the wrong size gibs, which becomes obvious before it is switched on.

To make that somewhat relevant for the topic: it is important to aquire the skillset needed to make a judgement if the machine itself works properly or if it is a setup or operator issue. If that is not possible it might be helpful to visit a course or try to get training otherwise to build up the confidence.

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Offline blueskull

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #29 on: August 14, 2018, 04:18:22 pm »
The cheaper the thing was, the more attention to such things might be needed, but the general verdict in machining forums is that you always should do an initial check and setup. Often you need to remove the cosmoline from certain parts anyway before you start, so disassembling, cleaning and adjusting is the first thing to do. Sometimes those cheap machines come with the wrong (imperial/metric) lead screw or the wrong size gibs, which becomes obvious before it is switched on.

I have a $2500 Carbide 3D CNC, keep in mind that's $2500 made in USA. That means the parts are probably worth very little.
Still, I was able to get <2 mil overall error, despite the rated error is 6 mil (8"*6 mil/ft+1.5 mil repeatability+0.5 mil resolution).
I think it's better to rate conservatively than to rate aggressively.
Granted, I don't cut deep (<=1/2 mm/pass with 1/4" ZrN carbide end mill), and I machine only highly machinable materials (6061-T6511 and 7075-T6).
But the verdict is that with cheap machine and zero experienced user, accurate parts can be made.
 

Offline Nauris

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #30 on: August 14, 2018, 06:05:27 pm »
We had some cheap chinese plasma "CUT 40" or something like that. Trying to cut an 40' container in half, we had to resort to the angle grinder. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. Starting cut was always marginal, especially on painted steel. It had the HF-type arc starting. If the paint was any thick it had to be cleaned off to make it strike an arc and that was super annoying. And consumables were short lived and of poor quality needing much fiddling when you changed them. And no hope it would cut the advertized 15 mm thick steel. Luckily we managed to sell it to a local plumber. He charges by the hour so he has all the time in the world to fight with that POS.

We then bought some small Telwin plasma - not exactly a premium brand and quite cheap still but it is way, way better. Pilot arc start so works on rusty and painted too. And changing the consumables is not half hour project figuring which part is too much out of tolerance. Even the consumables we have bought from China have been good so far. And it can actually barely cut that 15mm steel althought it claims 12 mm is max thickness.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2018, 06:08:33 pm by Nauris »
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #31 on: August 14, 2018, 09:24:01 pm »
I'll bow out and try to learn something. Gonna definitely check out Jody and some of ^ those I haven't seen before. This is a great thread, already.

Mr.Packethead, good luck. I was envious until you described the job in more detail. Now it sounds way too much like work!

Meh.   Its not that big a deal.  Just some cutting, welding.. blah blah.
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Offline cprosser

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #32 on: August 15, 2018, 02:00:14 am »
I’ve taken 4 shipping containers, stacked them in a cube, welded them together, and then cut out the interior walls and made some windows too.

One thing to keep in mind with plasma and marine paint. Marine paint is some nasty stuff and you’ll be vaporizing it. In our case, doing the interior walls was a partially enclosed space. Even though my friend and I were wearing P95 (maybe even P100, it was a long time ago) respirators, we didn’t feel so well after a long day.

Oxy sucked. Super slow. Sawzall, that was just a bad idea. Plasma was really the bees knees. We used MIG for all the other work, we had a fluxcore Lincoln that we could drag around that worked great.

Sounds like a fun project!


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Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #33 on: August 15, 2018, 02:09:56 am »
I’ve taken 4 shipping containers, stacked them in a cube, welded them together, and then cut out the interior walls and made some windows too.

One thing to keep in mind with plasma and marine paint. Marine paint is some nasty stuff and you’ll be vaporizing it. In our case, doing the interior walls was a partially enclosed space. Even though my friend and I were wearing P95 (maybe even P100, it was a long time ago) respirators, we didn’t feel so well after a long day.

Oxy sucked. Super slow. Sawzall, that was just a bad idea. Plasma was really the bees knees. We used MIG for all the other work, we had a fluxcore Lincoln that we could drag around that worked great.

Sounds like a fun project!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Fluxcore MIG + Plasma sounds like the right way to do this project.   Fortuantely i'll be able to deal to all but one wall removal from the outside.

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Offline KL27x

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #34 on: August 15, 2018, 10:53:52 am »
ChuckE2009's 4 part Tig series is not bad!  :-+

I was skeptical going in, because I had seen his reviews of the HF metal lathe and Bauer portaband and, well... If you like ChuckE, do him a favor and don't watch those.
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #35 on: August 15, 2018, 09:32:31 pm »
I’ve taken 4 shipping containers, stacked them in a cube, welded them together, and then cut out the interior walls and made some windows too.

One thing to keep in mind with plasma and marine paint. Marine paint is some nasty stuff and you’ll be vaporizing it. In our case, doing the interior walls was a partially enclosed space. Even though my friend and I were wearing P95 (maybe even P100, it was a long time ago) respirators, we didn’t feel so well after a long day.

Oxy sucked. Super slow. Sawzall, that was just a bad idea. Plasma was really the bees knees. We used MIG for all the other work, we had a fluxcore Lincoln that we could drag around that worked great.

P95 or P100 is only specifying particle filtration. If it didn't state multi-gas or some other level, it probably has a small amount of hazardous gas filtration but not as much as one designed for welding.
Still way better than wearing nothing though.

https://www.3mcanada.ca/3M/en_CA/company-ca/all-3m-products/~/3M-Particulate-Filter-2097-P100/?N=5002385+8720550+3293734700+3294529206&rt=rud
 

Offline SparkyFX

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #36 on: August 16, 2018, 01:16:51 am »
Should you encounter galvanized steel remove that coating before welding to it or wear proper breathing protection.
Also it is not a bad idea to remove paint and other residue as well before welding or cutting, as it avoids breathing in those fumes.

A good preparation improves the weld in the first place and leads to more consistent results.
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Online tautech

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #37 on: August 16, 2018, 01:28:39 am »
Should you encounter galvanized steel remove that coating before welding to it or wear proper breathing protection.
Also it is not a bad idea to remove paint and other residue as well before welding or cutting, as it avoids breathing in those fumes.

A good preparation improves the weld in the first place and leads to more consistent results.
A great benefit of using 0.6mm wire in a MIG is the ability of it to penetrate even un-prepped hot dipped galv and still give excellent welds.
Grind the galv off if you must but then you need a respirator for prep and welding.
Easier to set up a shop fan and blow the muck clear of the working area.
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Offline KL27x

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #38 on: August 16, 2018, 02:16:11 am »
Quote
also it is not a bad idea to remove paint and other residue as well before welding or cutting, as it avoids breathing in those fumes.
W/e you do, don't use chlorinated brake cleaner. One whiff can end all your bad days. 
 

Offline BradC

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #39 on: August 16, 2018, 03:42:23 am »
A good preparation improves the weld in the first place and leads to more consistent results.

"Gee I wish I hadn't spent so much time preparing that weld"... said nobody, ever.
 
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Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #40 on: August 16, 2018, 04:13:40 am »
For an electronics forum, theres a huge amount of knowledge in other fields!   how did the pre-interneters actually learn stuff agaiin?
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Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #41 on: August 16, 2018, 04:32:07 am »
No doubt there is knowledge and skill at work. If you have just one chance to get it right or people die, then you better have the thinking cap on. But as you say, just being able to do basic welds with basic equipment seems like it would be plenty useful for the average joe. My brother taught himself to weld for fun... and he's just a lowly doctor. You'd think from some of these vids you need a toolchest covered in Snap-On stickers to hold a torch, correctly.
I think there's a saying about people blaming their tools.
 

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #42 on: August 16, 2018, 05:31:37 am »
For an electronics forum, theres a huge amount of knowledge in other fields!   how did the pre-interneters actually learn stuff agaiin?
Waaaay before the 'net as a teenager I learnt to arc weld with my uncles Young B. Burnt holes in most things (including me) but that's how you learn. Some 'over the shoulder' tips from those more experienced really helps with the basics and then you're away stitching everything in sight together.  :-DD
Got two arc units, a 3ph 400A monster, 150A TIG/stick portable, a 180A MIG and an oxy set now and there's not much I won't have a go at.
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Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #43 on: August 16, 2018, 07:17:30 am »
when i was in engeineering intermediate at university we had to go over to polytech on a Friday afternoon and do 'workshop' practicals..   the polytech tutors hated it, as univesity students were probalby pita.     I welded my scrap metal sample to the bench accidently, and had to grind it off!

So, prtty much now figured, that i'm after a seperate Plasma and MIG.   
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Offline BradC

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #44 on: August 16, 2018, 07:47:50 am »
So, prtty much now figured, that i'm after a seperate Plasma and MIG.

Make sure the Plasma has a pilot-arc start. Standard scratch or HF start will drive you batty.
Easy way to tell, a Pilot arc unit has 3 connectors. One for the gas/air, one for the switch and one single core (usually with a lug) for the return for the pilot arc. Most cheap Plasma units just have the gas & switch.
 

Offline mzzj

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #45 on: August 16, 2018, 08:06:37 am »
For an electronics forum, theres a huge amount of knowledge in other fields!   how did the pre-interneters actually learn stuff agaiin?
Waaaay before the 'net as a teenager I learnt to arc weld with my uncles Young B. Burnt holes in most things (including me) but that's how you learn. Some 'over the shoulder' tips from those more experienced really helps with the basics and then you're away stitching everything in sight together.  :-DD

"over the shoulder" tips  beat the Youtube hands down if you are trying to learn something like welding.
Assuming that :
A) you can find someone who knows their business  >:D
B) the someone is able to teach or tell you how to do it. (not everyone is natural-born teacher)  >:D

Youtube and internet forums are great when you are dabbling in a bit of this and that... titanium or inconel machining, metrology, welding hardened tool steels, ceramic insert sharpening, precision analog circuitry.  No need to limit your discussions about latest sports events  ;D
 

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #46 on: August 16, 2018, 08:45:08 am »
Quite right mzzj  :-+

The first real welding teacher I had was in my late teens and early 20's and hell could he weld anything !
He was famous at a place where we both previously worked for repairing busted hypoid dif gears out of heavy machinery. In the 70's there wasn't much in the way of spares available locally and they had to come from OZ or USA and at best it took a couple of weeks.
I've seen him weld three replacement teeth onto a crownwheel and one and a half onto the bevel pinion then grind his welds roughly to shape with an angle grinder then better finish with a stone die grinder. The last stage was matching the bearing faces with blueing against undamaged teeth then a full cleanup and back into service.
All of his work lasted long after the replacement parts arrived and IIRC his record was six months.
These were 10T Allis Charmers log loaders doing heavy work, not just some toy bit of gear.
Eutectic 680 rods were his choice for tricky stuff.

When he started his own business I worked there for ~5yrs when he taught me a bundle of skills and later after I moved on his son moved in and got the same stuff passed to him. Sadly he's now too poorly sighted to weld much at all so the son has picked up the welding duties. Now my eyes are aging I need to pass on the little I've learnt.
All the shite one learns over the years.....................
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Offline SparkyFX

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #47 on: August 16, 2018, 08:56:27 am »
"over the shoulder" tips  beat the Youtube hands down if you are trying to learn something like welding.
Assuming that :
A) you can find someone who knows their business  >:D
B) the someone is able to teach or tell you how to do it. (not everyone is natural-born teacher)  >:D
Yes, because most people don´t like it when you distract them during their work and they have to concentrate on it - totally understandable.

Youtube is different in this regard, as the content creator is intenionally trying to distribute an information and is a lot more efficient at it. Especially works for things that are hard to explain in text and work a lot better by seeing how it can be done.

It doesn´t replace a 1:1 conversation, specific questions or a professional training, but i guess even when you approach people with a little bit of research before asking is a lot better than asking when completely clueless, it´s better for anyone.

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Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #48 on: August 16, 2018, 10:41:29 am »
So, dragging this back to the orginal topic;

Does any one know of a Good ( but lower Cost ) plasma Cutter that i can buy out of china.
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Offline mrpackethead

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Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #50 on: August 16, 2018, 10:12:24 pm »
Maybe I've missed something mentioned before, but when I look on eBay there seem to be lots of plasma cutters for about $200 and up. I'm not saying that's the one to get, but there do seem to be plenty of cheap options.
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #51 on: August 16, 2018, 10:33:11 pm »
According to several folks, here, and several forums, you really want one that has a pilot arc, or it will fustrate you forever.
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Re: Low cost ( chinese ) Plasma Cutter / TIG welder Combo suggestions?
« Reply #52 on: August 16, 2018, 10:38:34 pm »
According to several folks, here, and several forums, you really want one that has a pilot arc, or it will fustrate you forever.
I think that's wise.
I've used a couple of TIG's without HF start and they're a PITA for a novice user. Why make it hard when advanced technology is available.
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