What is a Multi-process Welder? (In-depth Guide)

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It's an important question. 

You may be asking, what is a multi-process welder? Well, the answer to that question is an important one.

Multi-process welders are welding machines with many functions, and they have become very popular in recent years because of their convenience. These machines can perform MIG welding, TIG welding, gas metal arc welding (GMAW), flux-cored arc welding (FCAW), and plasma cutting all at once.

If you're a welder you need to know what type of process is best for the job. Let's say you're a welder at a construction site and your boss orders to work on some metal scaffolding. You know that MIG brazing is the best process for this job because it's quick, easy, and fast.

But what if Gas Company comes in to weld the pipes together? Well then TIG brazing would be better suited than MIG braze since they are thinner metals.

The great thing about multi-process welders is that they can do all of these processes without any problem at all. This saves time as well as money when needing multiple pieces of equipment for different jobs.

You may have heard people call them "welding machines with many functions." And indeed they are! In addition to all of the processes listed above, you can also do MIG welding and TIG welding with these machines.

Let's dig a little deeper into what is a Multi-Process Welding Machine? How does a multi-process welder do? And what is the best Multi-Process welder for you?

What is a Multi-Process Welding Machine?

A multi-process welder is a welder who specializes in different types of welding, not just one thing. For example, this might be someone who does MIG Welding, Stick, and TIG Welding or plasma cutting.

A multi-process welding machine is specifically for multiple processes. That way you're able to weld with copper wire or a flux-cored arc without changing out your equipment.

Instead, you can effectively weld all metals without any modifications to the machine other than what's needed for each process type that you want to use it for.

Some machines come with optional modules or pins that can set it up for particular tasks like large joist root pass welding where an extra-long reach and extra power are necessary for big jobs where getting close to the weld area is difficult.

A professional welder can choose to use a multi-process machine because it has more than one way of welding. The different ways are stick and flux-cored welding, MIG, and TIG.

The best thing about this machine is that it can also do flux-cored welding. And not too long ago, the technology was not very good with this kind of machine. But now the power current is much better and reliable, so contemporary machines can handle many jobs well.

Most multi-process welders are dual voltage which means they run on 120V or 240V power but only some houses have 240V outlets so if you don't have one you'll need to get a transformer or something like that in order for your machine to work.

Multi-process machines can be used for a variety of welding applications including but not limited to: arc, gas metal arc (MMA), and gas tungsten arc (TIG). Exact technical specifications vary based on the specific needs of the machine purchaser.

Before choosing a multi-process unit, it’s key to determine which welding processes are predominantly used on the job. As mentioned, the most common combination includes TIG, MIG, stick, and flux-cored processes. Some units even feature a plasma cutting capability but are this necessary?

There are four combinations of metalwork that can be done with a welder. They are  

  1. MIG, Stick, and flux-cored Combination.
  2. TIG and Stick welding Combination.
  3. MIG, Stick and TIG welding Combination.
  4. TIG and Plasma Cutting Combination.

01. MIG, Stick, and flux-cored Combination.

MIG welding and flux core welding often work together because MIG welding uses a wire that you feed from a spool with an electrode. Sometimes, the welder can do flux-cored or stick. The most common arc process is stick.

02. TIG and Stick welding Combination.

There are two kinds of welding. One is called TIG, and the other is called stick. Together these can make almost anything. That's because one does really heavy work, while the other makes things that are very thin and delicate.

In my opinion there's nothing better than this combination for working on just about any kind of metal, including those with a wide range of thicknesses. The big advantage to TIG welding is its ability to produce an extremely clean surface finish without damaging or distorting the underlying material like many types of high-current power sources do. Stick welding has no such downside as it applies sustained pressure throughout its arc length so every welded area becomes fully embrittled through molecular diffusion in both heat affected zones (HAZ) and base metal.

03. MIG, Stick and TIG welding Combination.

These types of welding machine can weld in four different ways. This is because a MIG gun can also do flux-cored welding. Many good companies will sell you a welder that does all of these things together.

04. TIG and Plasma Cutting Combination.

TIG and plasma cutting combinations as welding processes go are rare things. Combining them makes it possible to cut metal pieces and then weld them without stopping what you're doing. This only applies to certain types of metals which cannot be cast iron though.

While adding plasma cutting to the multi-process welder adds versatility, it can also replace stick welding when it is not needed as often.

What is the best Multi-Process welder for you?

The best multi-process welder for you depends on how much you are willing to spend and what your needs are.

The Lincoln Electric POWER MIG 210 MP is an affordable solution for 100% of your welding needs. If you are looking for a little more power and control, then the Miller Electric 120/240VAC Input Multiprocess Welder might be the one to purchase. With many options in terms of connecting wire, gases, and a number of active processes built into a single machine.

Do I need a Multiprocess welder? This is a question that you should ask yourself. Multiprocess welders offer the convenience of having one machine for all your welding needs, but they are not without their disadvantages.

They can be bulky and expensive to purchase, especially if you don't already have two machines in place (which many welder's shops do).

You might also find that these multi-process welders aren’t as good at any particular process as other individual machines due to combining processes into one machine - maybe it doesn't plate well or Tig AC poorly?

Single Process welders are more specialized but will provide the best experience with each specific process. If you're considering getting a multiprocess unit because of its versatility then please make sure it has the process that you need to use most often.

A multiprocess welder is a good investment for those who can afford it, and already have two machines in their shop or are willing to spend the money on purchasing both separately. If not, then I would recommend getting a single-process unit instead of as they will be better at what you do most frequently.

For more information about welders see our Best Multi Process Welder Buying Guide which reviews all of the features and types of welding equipment available today.

In conclusion, there really isn't one machine that does everything well so if your goal is 100% versatility then consider spending up to $3000 (or more) on a Multiprocess welder like an Lincoln Electric POWER MIG 210 MP or Miller Electric 120/240VAC Input Multiprocess Welder. If you're looking to save a few bucks, the Weldpro 200 Amp LCD Inverter 5 in 1 Multi Process Welder at $900 will meet 100% of your welding needs and is my personal favorite for a multiprocess welder.

How does a multi-process welder do?

In order to perform 3 processes, a device needs to have some things. For MMA welding, it needs an open-circuit voltage and for TIG welding, it needs a second gas solenoid valve.

When using the TIG process without any disadvantages there is a need for a TIG socket with an internal gas supply or external feed connector with evacuation options of up to 400 lpm flow rate using small diameter tubes (L), large bore tube (F), or hose (H).

On the other hand, a PCB module is needed for use with a TIG U/D torch and self-shielding flux core wires that need welding on the negative pole.

The multiprocess welder control system must be able to regulate the gas solenoid valve for TIG and MIG/MAG, motor controller for MAG process, flux core wire feeder spool stand.

There are different solutions in welding control systems depending on the manufacturer, complexity of products, and the user's demands.

More recently we have seen a trend for manufacturers to develop portable multiprocess welding machines with preconfigured standard functions that can be used by customers without programming knowledge or skills.

The three most important parameters for multiprocess control are: number of processes, welding current range, and the maximum wire feed speed.

In addition to the multiprocess welder parameters, its safety is also important for user safety. This is especially true when connecting an auxiliary power source to a device via a control relay module because it will increase requirements as regards overcurrent protection, disconnecting devices, and in some cases a cooling system.

The simplest multiprocess control solution will have welders with only one process (e.g. MMA) controlled by high/low contactors connected to the same power source with a common auxiliary contactor module for all processes.

A more sophisticated solution is to use a controller with digital input and output modules, such as:

  • Microcontroller (MCU),
  • Analog interface module.

The process is started by pulling out the end of the MIG wire; when it's done, MCU sends a command to the HMI system, and its graphics display the end of the process.

There are also solutions with several MCU modules and an analog interface module for each process, connected to a PC via serial/USB. To start a process, the user needs to click on its icon in the HMI system.

To finish it, there is no need for a new operation, just click on the end of the process icon.

Other control solutions are based on PLC systems with different kinds of I/O modules: analog or digital input and output modules, Ethernet interface modules, etc.

Multi-process Vs Standard Welding systems

Welding systems are different in that they do different things. Some special devices just do one thing, but others can do more than one.

TIG welding is done with a wire feeder that has high-frequency ignition to make it easier to weld.

MMA welding has arc stability and ignition properties so it does not need the extra power of a wire feeder.

MIG and MAG welding has many setting options for the metal or you can be set automatically depending on conditions around you.

The multi-process welders are designed so you can use them for any task. The small size lets you take your welder anywhere with ease, but some features like high-frequency ignition increase its weight and slow it down.

On the other hand, the standard welding systems just do one thing, but they are easier to use for any job you need to do. They come in a small package and are easy to understand because the settings don't have too many options.

When Do You Use a Multi-Process Welder?

A multi-process welder is a welding machine that can do a different process each time.

With the proper applications and techniques, sites just need to have various MIG welders onsite for complete versatility.

It includes TIG wire feed welders, brushless MIG welders, TIG torch welding machines, and more.

The uses are varied depending on what you intend to accomplish with your project; whether you're looking for high strength or ease of use at the site.

Moreover, multi-process welders are perfect for applications that regularly require welding work on:

  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminum
  • Copper alloys and other sensitive materials.

With the rapid technology industry nowadays, many people are still not certain on what type of welder they should invest in. A multi-process welder certainly makes for a good investment because it is well suited to do hard and intricate jobs that require either plasma or flux-cored arc welding processes as well as stick welding or MIG welding.

It's basically capable of working with any type of material. Here are just some of the areas that a multiprocess welder is best suited for: 

01. Water services

This is a project that's very likely to encounter pipes of different materials, thicknesses, and types. You need a multi-process welder because you're working with water pipes (which are mostly made of steel), mains or sewers, but you also have to work with copper pipe lines (that are more sensitive). High pressure water might leak without the proper equipment.

You may need to do some grinding or cutting on metal, so you'll need a multi-process welder with pulse settings for that specific purpose.

02. Highway construction  

Construction sites are built upon different ground types—sand, concrete, asphalt etc.—and use various types of cables for their guardrails, traffic cones etc. These are usually made out of aluminum or stainless steel. The above-ground materials also differ greatly; i.e., the highway is built with asphalt, which requires a different type of welding than concrete or metal pieces. A multi process welder will help you get through that difficulty because it can do MIG, TIG, and stick welding.

In addition, you can't take a break between works because the projects require continuous round-the-clock work for as long as it takes to complete them. A multi process welder is perfect in this situation because it's lightweight and portable so that you can shift between jobs quickly without any problem at all.

03. Car manufacturing  

There are many different elements to car assembly; even the tiniest parts require welding or that they are heat-treated for strength. The best way to make sure that everything is done well and in a timely manner is by using a multi process welder. You should have one machine, preferably TIG, for welding and another one for brazing.

You'll need a multi-process welder because you're working with different types of metals; according to the car manufacturer's recommendations (which they have in most cases), you'll be using steel, aluminum, or stainless steel to make the different parts of the vehicle. Brazing is also required when you need to weld two pieces together and it will be up to you to decide how those fusion welds should look like.

04. Utility companies and power plants (gas lines)  

Utility companies are constantly working on utility poles that are made of galvanized steel, aluminum and various pipes. But even if you're working on a common home repair, you'll need a multi process welder because it will allow you to work with different types of materials; i.e., copper (which is very sensitive), brass etc.

05. Automotive fabrication and repair

Because you're working with different types of materials (aluminum, steel, stainless steel) and using various welding processes (MIG, stick, TIG) you'll need a multi-process welder to get the job done quickly.

06. Aerospace industries  

You'll need a multi process welder when you work on airplane parts that have to be made of a variety of different types of metal. These metals are very sensitive and you'll need proper equipment (welding machine) in order to get the job done right. You should also consider a multi-process welder because it can help you save on costs, time, and energy; as one machine will allow you to do more welding processes than you could do with two machines.

07. Independent welding shops

 If you're running your own business, it's crucial to have a multi-process welder. As there won't be anyone ordering specific equipment for you (which is normally the case with companies), you'll need a versatile machine that can help you get through any specific job. You should also consider purchasing an advanced model which will come in handy in situations when you need to do some modifications and maybe even small repairs.

08. Military  

You're required to do a lot of repair work on guns, tanks, and other heavy machinery which is why you should have at least one multi process welder; it will make your job much easier as it can handle all sorts of jobs without any problem.

09. Golf carts  

These need some pretty heavy welding (if you're building it from scratch) as well as electrical and mechanic work. You should consider a multi-process welder because it can make the intricate repairs easier, faster, and more efficient.

 You can also use it to repair batteries and other crucial parts of the cart; that way you don't have to replace a perfectly good battery, which would cost you more money than fixing it.

Conclusion 

A multi-process welder is a type of welding machine (or torch) that can perform multiple types of welds. This means you don't have to buy separate machines for different metals or uses, and it saves money by not having to add more equipment on your shop floor. But which one should you choose?

If you are looking for a new welder, it can be difficult to choose the best one. But with so many option out there, your choice should come down to what type of welding process do you need and when would you use that process? Keep in mind that multi-process welders provide more versatility than standard welding systems, which is why they're often favored among professional metal fabricators.

Last Updated on August 18, 2021 by weldinghubs

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