Multiprocess machines have come a significant way, and a lot of the information comparing them against dedicated machines is often wrong or out of date. The truth is, both multiprocess and dedicated machines have their own pros and cons, but they’re often not what you think. In this article, we look at the real evidence so you can make the right decision for your situation.
There’s a common misconception with multiprocess machines: They only make sense if you frequently MIG, TIG and stick. Otherwise, you’re sacrificing either performance or cost to buy a machine with functions you won’t use very often. In essence, multiprocess machines are viewed as jacks of all trades, masters of none.
The truth is, a multiprocess machine can often stick, MIG and sometimes TIG just as good (or even better) than a machine only devoted to one process. For instance, the ESAB Rebel 215 has two variations, one is a multiprocess unit and one will just MIG. When it comes to performance, the multiprocess unit will MIG just as well as the dedicated machine - but it will also TIG and stick.
So there’s no sacrifice for performance (with an exception we'll mention later), but what about cost? This ultimately depends on what you’re looking for. For instance, the Millermatic 211 is currently sold at Welding Supplies from IOC for $1,675 (Sept. 2021). The Millermatic 211 is a dedicated MIG machine, one of the most popular in the world. On the other hand, the Lincoln Power MIG 210 MP Multiprocess unit is only $1,799. That’s just a $124 difference. Now we’re not saying one machine is better than the other here, we’re just pointing out that pricing between an excellent multiprocess machine and a dedicated machine is more comparable than most welders realize.
Even if you mainly MIG, TIG or stick, there’s not really cost or performance reasons to exclude multiprocess machines when buying a new welder. As long as you sometimes use another process or plan on learning another one, it makes more sense than buying two separate machines.
What About AC TIG Welding?
Most multiprocess machines can stick and MIG with the same performance, features and benefits of a dedicated machine. However, TIG has been a different story when it comes to aluminum. You can DC TIG weld aluminum, but it gets pretty ugly. The preferred method is definitely AC TIG welding.
The problem is that up until recently, multiprocess machines could only DC TIG weld. This meant that a dedicated AC/DC TIG welding machine always had a leg up the multiprocess machines. If you welded aluminum, there was no point even considering a multiprocess machine.
But that all changed recently with a new wave of multiprocess machines capable of AC and DC TIG welding. Millers’ Multimatic 220 and ESAB’s Rebel 205ic can weld aluminum just as well as any dedicated TIG machine. This revolution has really opened up a new world for multiprocess units.
What about costs? That comes down to what you’re looking at. Let’s examine a little scenario: Say you MIG and TIG weld. A brand new dedicated MIG machine like the Multimatic 211 is about $1,650. An excellent dedicated TIG machine like the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200 is about $2,200. That’s a total of $3,850. On the other hand, a multiprocess machine capable of AC/DC TIG runs about $3,750. So if you’re going to buy both a MIG and AC/DC TIG machine anyways, the cost is about even with one of these new multiprocess machine. Again, we’re not saying one setup is better than the other, but price shouldn’t be your main deciding factor.
The Winner is…
With all the facts laid out, you’ll notice there’s no clear winner—even when considering TIG welding aluminum. Multiprocess machines have become increasingly popular over the years, but dedicated machines still hold a strong place in the welding zeitgeist.
Ultimately, your decision should come down to your preferences and which machine offers the specs and features that fit your needs. As we mentioned, cost isn’t nearly the deciding factor you might have thought, even if you only weld the majority of the time on one process.
For more information on finding the perfect machine for you, check out Welding Supplies from IOC. You’ll find tons of helpful info, details and specs about every machine we sell. We’ve also got the best customer service on the web and thousands of product reviews from welders just like you.