What is a combination welder? basically it is one machine which performs two or more functions and this machine is an inverter based MIG welder with a maximum output of 250 amps and a stick or ARC welder with a maximum output of 200 amps in one machine, basically it will MIG or ARC weld.
Doing some research online revealed many alleged professional welders slated them and claimed they were cheap Chinese welders which they ARE NOT, they use components from around the world as every other welder manufacturer does, the casing and cables may be Chinese but the IBGT modules which are the bits that matter come from either Germany of America as they are the most reliable. This machine is very modular which means easy and cheap repairs in the event of a failure in the future and R-Tech stock all the parts for many years, so peace of mind.
Being a 240 volt machine meant it can be run from the mains at home, but requires a power input of 22 amps which means a normal ring main of cable at 2.5mm being the standard cable can run the machine at full power, but you would need to install 32 amp rated industrial plugs for full power operation, but these are relatively cheap, or it can be used at 160 amps from a standard domestic 3 pin plug.
Duty cycle is impressive as it is based upon the maximum continual welding time over a 10 minute cycle at a working temperature of 40 degrees centigrade, and this is where most higher powered welders fall down, its duty cycle is rated as:
Duty Cycle @ 250 amps 35%
Duty Cycle @ 200 amps 60%
Duty Cycle @ 160 amps 100%
So what does this mean? it means that at a temperature of 40 degrees centigrade the machine can run at 35% of any 10 minute period continually or 3.5 minutes before tripping out on thermal, or at 200 amps for 60% or 6 minutes continually before tripping out, or at 160 amps it can run continually, now the issues? in the UK we get nowhere near 40 degree temperatures so the machine will run longer. This is an industrial rating.
Many machines give high power outputs and when we look at their duty cycles they are so low they would easily trip out as they use lower working temperatures and much lower duty percentages, basically they try to impress the uninitiated and fail to perform.
A couple of E-mails to R-Tech were responded to quickly and questions were answered honestly which left a good impression, so an order was placed, in less than 24 hours the machine was delivered by courier and even the courier was polite and courteous and actually asked me to inspect the packaging before signing for the parcel to accept delivery. R-Tech even threw in a spool of 0.8mm MIG wire.
Opening the box and removing the inverter soon revealed it was a cheaply constructed casing as a couple of screws were out of alignment, but everything opened and closed as it should, and it had twin top mounted carrying handles, and for such an impressive power output on both MIG and ARC welding it was very light and compact and could easily be carried or lifted into the boot of a vehicle, and being compact meant it would fit most vehicles boots. Checking the rest of the machine showed it as durable in the areas that matter and opening the accessories pack revealed plenty of spare contact tips, a spare drive roller, a spanner, and even a gas regulator along with the MIG umbilical, earth lead and gas pipe
The machine was fitted with a 32 amp industrial plug and the rest of the machine was assembled in around 3 minutes, the MIG wire was installed and a test weld was made on 0.8mm MIG wire to set it up, it ran beautifully on materials of all thicknesses and pot down quality welds, the inverter really impressed me and it is as good as any of our machines at work. As the power was increased to above 160 amps the weld quality dropped slightly and this is easily explained as when you exceed this power output on 0.8mm wire, the wire lacks the cross sectional area to cope with the power, but it was still a good weld. Switching from 0,8mm wire to 1mm wire was a revelation, if anything the weld quality was even better from around 130 amps all the way up to the maximum 250 amp output, it was as good as any fully industrial machine at work, and better than most.
After pinching a Dinse connector from work I made up a lead for ARC welding and switched it to ARC mode on the selector switch, the Dinse connector was plugged in and a 5mm electrode (Lincoln brand) was placed into the rod holder, these rods recommend a current of 180-215 amps, the machine was would up to its full 200 amps and welding commenced, it was too much current. I wound the machine down to 180 amps and it was still spraying which is fine for certain types of weld, so it was wound down to 160 amps where it dropped the 5mm electrode perfectly, and in all positions, so a 6mm Lincoln electrode was tried and this also dropped a perfect weld at 200 amps despite the recommendation being 270-310 amps.
So would I recommend this machine? yes, inverter is certainly the way forwards and the ability to weld with a dual function machine is a bonus, if you MIG weld and run out of wire or gas you can finish a job by switching to ARC welding mode, it is light and compact and can be thrown in the boot of most cars with a half sized gas bottle if you unscrew the umbilical, and if you throw in a welding lead for ARC and electrodes you have both functions.
After taking it to work I switched the umbilical (standard fitting) for a 4 metre umbilical with a Teflon liner and set it up with 1mm aluminium wire, it worked exceptionally well with aluminium which gives even more capability; everyone in our fabrication department tried it and loved it, and there are some pretty experienced welders in there, and they all said they would replace their own machines with one of these. They did put it through its paces at all levels and in all positions, and when such a compact machine out performs welders costing 10 times more you know its good.
R-Tech do a smaller version and this is the 180 amp MIG and 160 amp stick, its downside is that it will only accept the smaller 5Kg rolls of MIG wire, but is this really a problem when you compare it to other similar machines? not really if it is a home use machine or a portable machine for work purposes.