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  • Syncrowave 180SD vs Thermal Arc 185TSW

    Hello I am new to the forum but not to welding or fabrication in general!

    I am interested in buying a 220v TIG machine for my business as we are beginning to do work with aluminum and stainless steel. We build and design aftermarket car components, and we want the better quality TIG welds to go along with our laser cut and CNC parts.

    I registered on this forum to hear what you guys think of the Syncrowave 180sd vs the Thermal Arc 185tsw. I am not brand loyal to either (I actually have a few Lincoln MIG welders in the shop) and I just want to hear from the Miller side about their TIG machine. They both reside in the same price range as well (within $100USD of each other).

    I like both machines, I like the TA due to all the adjustable features, small size and being semi-lightweight. I like the Miller due to it being a transformer welder (never hear of many issues with transformers failing) and having such a large North American backing. The drawback with the TA is that it is built overseas and by the sounds of it warranty work will be tough to come by. With the Miller it seems the adjustability is lacking in regards compared to the TA. I am a fan of being able to tweak everything so keep that in mind, how is the Miller for adjustability?

    I just want unbiased factual information about the Miller vs. the Thermal Arc and also what you personally think about either. I plan on buying either machine in the next month or so. I am really interested in hearing what you all have to say!
    Thermal Arc 185TSW, Lincoln SP135+, 4-post automotive hoist, 2x media blast cabinets, 50 ton press, 80gal air compressor, 4-1/2"x6" bandsaw, 4'x4' Torchmate CNC table with plate marker, Hypertherm Powermax 65 plasma cutter, ultrasonic cleaning stations

  • #2
    I have used both of these machines. The 180SD at work and the TA185 at home. They both produce excellent results with stainless but I get consistantly better results with the TA185 on aluminum. The portability of the TA185 is a big plus. I just bought it, so I have no experience with the service after the sale. You certainly have a tough decision to make. Good luck..

    Jeff

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    • #3
      Originally posted by JHanko
      I have used both of these machines. The 180SD at work and the TA185 at home. They both produce excellent results with stainless but I get consistantly better results with the TA185 on aluminum. The portability of the TA185 is a big plus. I just bought it, so I have no experience with the service after the sale. You certainly have a tough decision to make. Good luck..

      Jeff
      Thanks for the reply! So do you know why the TA in your case produced consistantly better results?

      I won't be carrying the TIG machine around...but I want something small to fit on a cart that will move around the shop with ease. The compact size is definately a consideration...not as important as weld quality or welding "ease".

      So how did the TA compare to the Miller with stainless steel? Mild steel even? Do you like the adjustability of the TA? Too much?

      Sorry I'm asking so many questions, but dropping 2 grand on my first TIG machine...I want to make **** sure I get the best machine I can (that'll be easy to learn on as well as being versatile once I become experienced).
      Thermal Arc 185TSW, Lincoln SP135+, 4-post automotive hoist, 2x media blast cabinets, 50 ton press, 80gal air compressor, 4-1/2"x6" bandsaw, 4'x4' Torchmate CNC table with plate marker, Hypertherm Powermax 65 plasma cutter, ultrasonic cleaning stations

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      • #4
        isn't the TA an inverter? That would explain why is more adjustable and might give better alluminum welding performance ( high freq) have you looked at the Dynasty 200DX?
        Dynasty 200 DX
        Millermatic 175
        Spectrum 375
        All kinds of Smith OA gear

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        • #5
          TA185 is an inverter

          it has also receved good reviews on the hobart site, the only issue seems to be availability of service for it witch will depend on youre location, check around and see if you can get local service is the best ideal. it will give better results on aluminum due to being an inverter with more tweekability (humm is that a word )

          keep in mind that the syncrowave 180 will also do a fine job on aluminum and as a transformer based welder it is bullet proof, with manny years of great service behind the desine. bolth will do DC welding about the same.

          as stated above you have a tuff choice to make i tryed to make that choice 1 time befor and ended up choosing the dynasty200DX I'm still trying to figure out how to pay for it
          thanks for the help
          ......or..........
          hope i helped
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          feel free to shoot me an e-mail direct i have time to chat. [email protected]
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Laiky
            isn't the TA an inverter? That would explain why is more adjustable and might give better alluminum welding performance ( high freq) have you looked at the Dynasty 200DX?
            Yep the TA is an inverter based system while as the Miller is transformer based. The Dynasty looks to be a very nice machine, but it's $600-700 more than the TA185 or the Miller 180SD. That's out of my budget range.

            Originally posted by fun4now
            it has also receved good reviews on the hobart site, the only issue seems to be availability of service for it witch will depend on youre location, check around and see if you can get local service is the best ideal. it will give better results on aluminum due to being an inverter with more tweekability (humm is that a word )

            keep in mind that the syncrowave 180 will also do a fine job on aluminum and as a transformer based welder it is bullet proof, with manny years of great service behind the desine. bolth will do DC welding about the same.

            as stated above you have a tuff choice to make i tryed to make that choice 1 time befor and ended up choosing the dynasty200DX I'm still trying to figure out how to pay for it
            Ya I have heard tons of good reviews of the TA185 as I've been doing research on a TIG machine in the $1700-1900USD price range for the past 3-4 months now.

            As for service...ya...the TA185 isn't CSA approved so it isn't allowed for sale in Canada. I figure American houses are just as prone to burning down as Canadian so using that welder in Canada won't affect anything. Haha. So for myself to buy that welder I need to buy it in the US and bring it into Canada...so service is pretty much null and void in my case.

            I just basically don't want to buy a machine that I will hit a limitation on, while I could have done the job with the other machine. Quality of welds from both the machines I bet are similar, but I just wanted to hear first hand if one had an edge over the other in certain cases...or if one had a shortfall compared to the other machine.

            So no Dynasty for me, I don't want to get stuck on trying to pay it off. I've still got a lot of other equipment to buy.
            Thermal Arc 185TSW, Lincoln SP135+, 4-post automotive hoist, 2x media blast cabinets, 50 ton press, 80gal air compressor, 4-1/2"x6" bandsaw, 4'x4' Torchmate CNC table with plate marker, Hypertherm Powermax 65 plasma cutter, ultrasonic cleaning stations

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            • #7
              Check out the lincoln 185. Comes standard with pulse. $1725. here
              LICENSED ELECTRICIAN
              BAKERY MECHANIC

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TOMWELDS
                Check out the lincoln 185. Comes standard with pulse. $1725. here
                I have checked out the Lincoln as well...apparantly the pulser feature is a joke (or so I hear) compared to the TA. I asked about the Miller since I figured there would be a lot of Miller folk here to back up their product. I will be asking similar questions on a Lincoln forum to hear how their product stacks up as well.

                Right now it seems the TA is on top (in terms of reviews), but I want to make sure I get the full story and get every angle. I'm just not very experienced with TIG yet so I just want to hear what the long time experts have to say.
                Thermal Arc 185TSW, Lincoln SP135+, 4-post automotive hoist, 2x media blast cabinets, 50 ton press, 80gal air compressor, 4-1/2"x6" bandsaw, 4'x4' Torchmate CNC table with plate marker, Hypertherm Powermax 65 plasma cutter, ultrasonic cleaning stations

                Comment


                • #9
                  How thick are the pieces you want to weld? Obviously the Miller and the TA are close in amps. Anything over 3/16" in aluminum is pushing it. Probably even 1/8" for any length of time will be hard on either of these machines in a production atmosprere.

                  Steve

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Before you spend the money on a SD180, check out this thread....

                    http://www.millermotorsports.com/mbo...ead.php?t=2719

                    Because of the PC-300 discontinuation, the SD180 DOES NOT have pulse capability even though Miller advertises that it does. If the accessory is not available as a current offering from the company, the functionality doesn't exist either.

                    http://www.millerwelds.com/products/...ve_180_sd.html

                    You may be able to find an used PC-300 but don't bet on it.

                    Because of PLS, the PC-300 isn't the only thing being discontinued without telling the user community.

                    Since I had recently purchased a SD180 after checking first that the PC-300 would specifically be supported, I am understandably really upset as are others. The lack of any company response from Miller in respect to our requests for further information speaks volumes as for what to really expect for service after the sale.

                    One of the reasons why I bought a SD180 is that I found that the costs of repairing an inverter based welder (including those of Miller) are MUCH more expensive than a transformer based machine. Funny how that never comes up in the inverter discussions. What I also found was that most inverter based welders are soon sold after their warranty period expires.

                    So, if I was going to buy a smaller TIG today I would look at the offerings from Lincoln (175 Pro - which has its own loyal following and comes with pulsing capability) or consider the TA185 (which has gotten very good reviews including reliability) before considering the SD180. If you feel that you must buy the SD180, I would wait since it is likely that Miller will be releasing a version with a self contained pulser due to the competition from Lincoln which Miller considers (rightly so) as their threat to market share.

                    TMT

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by orgalmeister
                      How thick are the pieces you want to weld? Obviously the Miller and the TA are close in amps. Anything over 3/16" in aluminum is pushing it. Probably even 1/8" for any length of time will be hard on either of these machines in a production atmosprere.

                      Steve
                      For aluminum I'll be doing light gauge, up to as thick as 3/16". I know the limit I want to spend, I just want to get the "better" of the two machines considering they are basically the same cost.

                      TMT I read your first link...kind of scary and definately something that I will have to watch out for. So from what I gather the 180SD has no pusler, the Lincoln has a "joke" of a pulsing feature...and the TA185 gets rave reviews. This topic is making my decision easier, I am also going totally unbiased into this as I do have a few Lincolns and have never touched (let alone seen in person) a Thermal Arc unit.

                      costs of repairing an inverter based welder
                      That is what I am afraid of considering if I want the TA I have no local support at all. I don't see anything wrong with inverters, they are new technology, more efficient but the fact that you hear of ANCIENT transformer units that have been working fine since day one. But then if the TA185 is getting great reliability reviews then maybe I don't have that much to worry about. I think my decision would be 100x easier if I could go to my local welding shop and pick up a TA and have local support, while as I could do that with Lincoln or Miller...but I don't want to have to buy an "inferior" machine just because I can get it locally.

                      How common is it for a TIG machine to need serious repairs? I know it all depends on the environment and useage...but I have never really delt with TIG or know of the maintenance rate they go under.
                      Thermal Arc 185TSW, Lincoln SP135+, 4-post automotive hoist, 2x media blast cabinets, 50 ton press, 80gal air compressor, 4-1/2"x6" bandsaw, 4'x4' Torchmate CNC table with plate marker, Hypertherm Powermax 65 plasma cutter, ultrasonic cleaning stations

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I thought I heard somewhere that CSA approval for the TA-185 was going to happen. Did you try calling Thermal Arc and see if they have any idea if that is true? That may help your decision some

                        Thermal Arc

                        PS...Though I am still somewhat of a newbie weldor I have a TA-185 and love it. No problems with anything so far.

                        John

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Conrad_Turbo,

                          Welcome,

                          The TA185 and the Sync 180 are clearly different beasts. For Alum, the TA would have more arc features over the Sync. As for the rest, it should be comparable. It seems you did some research already about where these units are built and the service network in your area. If I new I could get service and aluminum was most of what I did, then maybe the TA 185 is a good choice for you.

                          Good luck

                          Andy

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Conrad_Turbo
                            TMT I read your first link...kind of scary and definately something that I will have to watch out for. So from what I gather the 180SD has no pusler, the Lincoln has a "joke" of a pulsing feature...and the TA185 gets rave reviews. This topic is making my decision easier, I am also going totally unbiased into this as I do have a few Lincolns and have never touched (let alone seen in person) a Thermal Arc unit.

                            That is what I am afraid of considering if I want the TA I have no local support at all. I don't see anything wrong with inverters, they are new technology, more efficient but the fact that you hear of ANCIENT transformer units that have been working fine since day one. But then if the TA185 is getting great reliability reviews then maybe I don't have that much to worry about. I think my decision would be 100x easier if I could go to my local welding shop and pick up a TA and have local support, while as I could do that with Lincoln or Miller...but I don't want to have to buy an "inferior" machine just because I can get it locally.

                            How common is it for a TIG machine to need serious repairs? I know it all depends on the environment and useage...but I have never really delt with TIG or know of the maintenance rate they go under.
                            In regards to the SD180, if you KNOW that you will never want pulsing capability then I would consider it a good choice for a transformer based machine since the design has been around long enough to work the bugs out. I do know that one of the very capabilities that Miller proudly proclaims with its other welders is pulsing capability so they do consider it to be an important feature. The irony is that they don't apparently consider ongoing product support to paying customers as important. I also know that several prospective buyers for used welders that I have talked to are now using the fact that the PC-300 has been discontinued as negotiating leverage with sellers when shopping for an used SD180 to get lower prices.

                            As for repair rates on inverter based machines, those figures are closely guarded by both Lincoln and Miller. I would suggest doing what I did. Talk to a number of dealers and their support depots to get a feel for what welders are being repaired. The ones that don't come in for repair are the ones you want to buy. I also checked what major subassemblies cost for both the various transformer and inverter based welders. Be sure to be sitting down when they give you the prices....you won't believe the numbers. One theme I saw was costs for inverter modules that exceeded the cost of the welder. In other words, once the warranty is expired if a major failure occurs the welder will be uneconomical to repair. I would consider the length of the warranty for an inverter based welder to be important and would weight that heavily in my purchasing decision. When I was shopping for a TIG, I checked and Miller did not offer an extended warranty so I did not buy a Miller inverter TIG.

                            Good luck with your research and let us know what you end up getting.

                            TMT

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I found out there are ThermalArc dealers in Western Canada...I called them and they let me know that the product isn't CSA approved and he wouldn't know when it would be approved.

                              I am leaning more and more to the TA as it seems to offer so much with a very competitive price, the only drawbacks is the quality of the case (plasitc vs metal) and the warrenty support if I ever need it.

                              Any of you have pics of some welds from a TA or 180SD? I definately want the pulsing feature as I will be doing thin sheet metal work along with wanting good cosmetic looking welds.

                              PS. TMT you sound very bitter about Miller. LOL! I can see where you are coming from though, if you invest thousands of dollars into a piece of machinery you **** well expect a mfg. to support you and keep you in the loop of product development.
                              Thermal Arc 185TSW, Lincoln SP135+, 4-post automotive hoist, 2x media blast cabinets, 50 ton press, 80gal air compressor, 4-1/2"x6" bandsaw, 4'x4' Torchmate CNC table with plate marker, Hypertherm Powermax 65 plasma cutter, ultrasonic cleaning stations

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