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3-in-1 welders

There are three welders in Tweco’s new machine

U.S.-based Tweco, a division of Victor Technologies, thinks it has the ideal solution for those who can’t justify the expense of buying three different welders. Tweco’s new Fabricator line of welders put MIG, TIG and Stick capability into one affordable machine. The Fabricator line includes four different models with varying outputs.

Tom Wermert, Tweco’s brand manager, thinks the Fabricator 211i model, which is rated at 210 amps, best suits the needs of most farm workshops. “For a farmer, to do everything he wants to do, the 211i would be the ideal machine for his shop,” he says. “With the 211i, he can weld up to 3/8-inch thick steel on a single pass. He can weld the thicker materials he comes across, like hitches and things of that nature.”

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The 211i can operate on either 115 or 230 volts, but its output is limited when running on the lower voltage. When connected to 230 volts it requires an outlet with a 30 amp breaker.

“Its portable,” adds Wermert. “You can throw it in the back of a pickup truck and run it off a generator.” If you plan on running the 211i off a generator, you’ll need one with a 4.5 KVA output to use it at the 115 volt setting. To run it on 230 volts, the generator will need to kick out 7 KVA to get full output.

The 211i retails for US$1,500.

Tweco’s Fabricator welders are fully integrated systems, incorporating a built-in gas solenoid valve and wire feed system for MIG welding. They all accept four-inch or eight-inch spools of MIG wire. The 211i & 252i will also accept 12-inch spools.

But why bother getting a welder than incorporates all three processes? “It gives the farmer many, many options for all the things he runs up against on the farm,” Wermert explains. Having access to MIG, TIG and stick welding is ideal, because each process has its limitations and advantages.

MIG (sometimes referred to as gas metal arc welding or GMAW) is ideal for welding thinner materials, like sheet metal. It’s also fast and easy to use. But if you want to use it outside the workshop, that might be a problem. Wind can blow the shielding gas away from the arc as you work, creating brittle, porous welds. However, if you use self-shielding flux-cored wire, no gas is required, that will solve the problem.

When the welder is equipped with an optional spool gun, MIG is the ideal process for welding aluminum.

TIG can be used to make very good looking welds. It is also suited for welding stainless steel.

“The advantage of using Stick is an operator can join (thicker) material with multiple passes,” notes Wermert. “He can switch to a stick electrode and make multiple passes on that joint and get super penetration and not worry about cold cracking, where he might have that problem if he was using the MIG process.”

The 211i will accomodate up to 5/32 electrodes when stick welding.

“(Using the Stick process) you can do hard facing of plow tips or (loader) buckets,” he explains. “You can do some very aggressive, heavy stick welding. Also the operator can switch to stick and do cast iron repair using a nickel or special alloy rod.”

Learning to use MIG or TIG isn’t that hard. In fact, they’re easier to master than Stick welding.

“MIG is the easiest,” says Wermert. TIG is the second easiest and Stick is the hardest. With the Stick-electrode process, you not only have to travel at the right speed, you have to hold a consistent arc length. So, you have to push the electrode in (as it burns down) to keep a consistent arc length. With the MIG process all you have to do is pull the trigger, move the torch and travel at the right speed.”

“With TIG, all you’re doing is creating an arc between the material and the tungsten electrode. You then take the TIG rod and dip it into the molten puddle to add filler material. If you’re doing fusion work with TIG, like corner joints, you don’t even have to add any filler.”

“With our machines, when you open the door, there’s a big chart. All you have to do is pick the material and the wire you have on and it tells you where to set the dials on the machine. There’s no guesswork involved at all.”

Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at [email protected].

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