Multi Process Welders and Thermal Dynamics Plasma Cutters –A 2019 Buyer’s Guide

Are you looking for new multi-process welders or plasma cutters? These tools are necessary for a host of projects, but choosing the wrong one can leave you with wasted time and money.

Finding a suitable machine for your unique construction needs can be a daunting prospect since there are many different models and brands out there. Each of these combo welders come with unique features, benefits, and price points.

While there is a great deal of information available on cutters and welders, sifting through them is time and labor-intensive. You can quickly become overwhelmed.

To help you out, we carried out extensive research to compile a list of high-performing, low-cost multi-process welders from reputable manufacturers.

In this guide, we will be taking a look at the buying considerations of some of the most popular machines that you can choose.

Keep reading to find the best combo welder or plasma cutter for you.

ESAB Multi-function Welders Reviewed

Multi-function Welding Processes

Since 1904, ESAB has been a leading and reputable producer of multi-function welding equipment in the U.S. A multiprocess machine provides users with added flexibility and a wide application range that includes mild steel, aluminum, and stainless steel.

If you usually carry out general repairs and maintenance, automotive work, light industrial projects, or DIY projects, you need a unit that is capable of, at least, TIG, MIG, and stick welding.

ESAB’s products are versatile, durable, impress with their portability and usability. Their control over voltage and inductance to reduce spatter and increase arc stability helps keep a safer workplace as well.

Manufacturer

ESAB is a popular multiprocess welder brand that focuses on several aspects to develop its products and service, including the voice of the customer, continuous improvement, and innovation.

When you purchase a product from ESAB, you can rest assured that you are receiving the best in terms of customer service, expertise, quality, and durability. Additionally, you have access to a wide selection of products from this manufacturer to ensure that all your welding needs are covered.

Warranty

With ESAB, you will receive a comprehensive warranty that covers your welding equipment. MIG, TIG, and stick equipment that is covered by a three-year warranty include power sources, wire feeders, and automatic and robotic GMAW controls.

A 90-day warranty covers many parts, including your GMAW torch, flux recovery system, joint tracking and positioning system, foot controls, arc starters, and pendants. This equipment is durable, but it’s reassuring to have the company’s backing should things malfunction.

wrenches, drills and other repair tools

Portability

Portability is a crucial buying consideration, especially if you work on different job sites or places like roofs. And, you don’t have to compromise on performance or process support for this feature.

ESAB’s units offer high-performance and versatility with its lightweight equipment. These tools also have roll cages and high-quality, comfortable carrying handles to improve portability. ESAB’s multi-process machines are also compact to allow for easy transportation and storage.

ESAB MiniArc 161LTS

Specifications

  • Automatic Primary Select operates on either 115V or 230V
  • Able to use cellulosic 6010 electrodes
  • 13.6 kg (18 lbs.) weight
  • 5A to 160A current range for DC welding
product image of ESAB MiniArc 161LTS

The ESAB Miniarc 161LTS Stick Package is a high-quality stick and DC TIG welder that can run off 115V or 230V power. It has an output range of 5A to 160A. This unit automatically configures to the primary input and features hot start, arc force, and lift arc TIG.

The MiniArc offers a wide application range, especially since it is capable of welding with E6010 electrodes. This model is suitable for use in light fabrication, general repair and maintenance, HVAC repairs, and automotive work.

Pros

  • Stick and DC TIG processes
  • The unit weighs only 18 pounds for added portability
  • Wide application range
  • Capable of lift arc DC TIG
  • Automatic Primary Select configuration

Cons

  • TIG torch and regulator are not included
  • May not be suitable for industrial applications

ESAB Fabricator 141i Welding Machine w/ TIG Torch

Specifications

  • Infinite voltage control, inductance control for arc stability and spatter control, adjustable burnback control
  • Durable metal feed plate features 2 roll drive system
  • Adjustable arc force control for optimum Stick (SMAW) electrode performance and built in hot start for easy arc starting
  • Lift TIG start provides TIG arc starting without the use of high frequency
  • Spool gun ready
Product image of ESAB Fabricator 141i

The ESAB Fabricator 141i multi-process machine can be considered a stick, TIG, and MIG welder and comes with a thermal arc TIG torch W4013802.

This integrated portable system offers a wide range of features, including 4T trigger control, digital meters, and overload protection, to increase the lifespan of the welder. These multi-process welders provide ample control in terms of infinite voltage, adjustable burn-back, and inductance to improve arc stability and reduce spatter.

According to many customer reviews, the141i is suitable for several applications, including general maintenance, agricultural equipment repairs, automotive work, and light fabrication.

Pros

  • TIG, stick, and MIG welding processes
  • TIG torch included
  • 4T Trigger control reduces operator fatigue
  • Overload protection
  • High value for the money

Cons

  • Not suitable for heavy duty welding

Rebel EMP 215ic Welding Machine Combo – Spool Gun and Free Gloves

Specifications

  • Best-in-class MIG, Flux-Cored, Stick, including 6010 Stick electrodes, and Lift TIG welding with Rebel EMP 215ic
  • Exclusive sMIG (“smart MIG”) provides a stable arc and superior, repeatable welds
  • Innovative display has larger display screen
  • Five-handle roll cage industrial design and unibody steel construction
  • Rebel Series models come ready to weld out of the box with Professional Grade TWECO accessories and Victor gas regulator
A product image of Rebel EMP 215ic Welding Machine

In addition to skill in stick and TIG, this multiprocess model also has flux-cored MIG or gas-based welding capabilities. Apart from general steel and automotive construction, you can also use the Rebel for light industrial projects.

The Rebel EMP 215ic differs from most other products in this category in that it features smart MIG technologies that “learns” the operator’s technique and styles. As a result, you will achieve a stable arc, consistent results, and an increase in productivity.

Other benefits that reviewers like include a clear view of the TFT screen when your helmet is down and a five-handle roll cage for added portability and stability.

Pros

  • Allows for MIG, stick, and flux-cored MIG welding
  •  Features sMIG technologies
  • Offers a wide application range
  • Spool gun included for aluminum welding
  • Lightweight and roll cage for added portability

Cons

  • A relatively high price tag
  • DC-only machine

ESAB Rebel EMP 235ic MIG/Stick/TIG Welding Machine w/ Foot Control & Gloves

Specifications

  • Rating :40Amp @60% Duty Cycle
  • Cutting Capacity:10mm Max
A product image of ESAB Rebel EMP 235ic

The Rebel EMP 235ic features MIG, DC TIG, and stick processes and can weld steel plates with thicknesses of up to ½ inches. Like the Rebel EMP 215ic, the 235 also comes with smart MIG technologies to adapt to your unique style and to produce a consistent and smooth arc.

The 235ic multi-process welders are compatible with the full range of wire up to 0.035”, solid wire up to 0.0445”, and cored wire up to 0.052”. You can also use this machine with rods up to 5/32” and TIG rods up to 3/16”.

Pros

  • sMIG technologies
  • Light weight of 53 lbs.
  • True multi-process capabilities
  • Suitable for use in a wide range of industries
  • Smooth and stable arc production
  • Comes with foot control and safety gloves

Cons

  • TIG Torch not included

Manual Plasma Cutting Systems

ESAB’s and Thermal Dynamics’ manual plasma cutters are usually fitted with a handheld torch to cut different types of metal. These systems are versatile and typically have low power requirements.

Manual plasma cutting systems use small shop air as the shield or plasma gas and can be used in several applications, including general maintenance, commercial manufacturing, and automotive repairs.

Automated Systems and Controls

Automatic processes control all the parameters necessary to run a plasma cutting system, so the operator doesn’t have to do it manually.

Automated systems and controls include, among others, current, arc voltage, cutting speed, and gases. Automation allows for parameter sets that are suited to the metal type and thickness.

High-performance 1Torch

The Thermal Dynamics 1Torch from ESAB is compatible with almost all plasma cutting power supplies and can work with a high-frequency start system, CD start system, touch start system, and blowback start system.

Installing the 1Torch on your power supply will allow you to benefit from its contemporary and high-performance technology.

a man using ESAB Thermal Dynamics Plasma

Advanced, Long Lasting Consumables

Thanks to Thermal Dynamics’s Xtremelife technology, you can benefit from advanced, long-lasting, high-precision plasma cutting consumables..

The long-lasting consumables allow for an excellent return on investment and an increase in production time.

Plasma Accessories

Thermal dynamics provides high-end plasma cutter accessories to improve productivity, reduce fatigue, and help you achieve precision cuts and quality results. Accessories include, but are not limited to, torches with cables, electrodes, nozzles, drag shields, and spatter guards. These accessories add to plasma cutting systems overall performance.

Thermal Dynamics 1-4200: Cutmaster 42 Plasma System

Specifications

  • One of the most affordable, highest quality 1/4-Inch (6 mm) plasma systems on the market
  • You can rely on the CUTMASTER 42 to cut all day at its recommended cutting capacity
  • Vent2Shield technology allows the use of a considerably smaller compressor (less weight to carry, can be used with 120V) compared to similar 40A units
  • Applications include: Auto Body/Marine Repair, Plumbing and HVAC, Home Shop, Metal Building and Roofing Construction, Rental Fleets
  • 4 yr warranty
A product image of Thermal Dynamics 1-4200 Cutmaster 42 Plasma System

The Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 42 plasma system is one of the most affordable entry-level models available today. Unlike most other plasma systems, this unit also can increase power from 27 Amps to 40 Amps when you switch from 120V to 230V.

The machine can easily cut steel with a thickness of ¼ inches. If necessary, you can cut steel that is up to 5/8 inches thick. The Vent2Shield technology allows the unit to run with a small compressor. As a result, the plasma system is lightweight and has complete compatibility with 120V.

Pros

  • Suitable for plumbing, roofing, and marine applications
  • High-quality ¼” cutting ability
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Increased power output at 230V
  • Features Vent2Shield technology

Cons

  • Not suitable for heavy-duty cutting applications

Thermal Dynamics 1-5130-1: Cutmaster 52 Plasma System

Specifications

  • Front panel LEDs indicate status conditions for maximum efficiency
  • Storage compartment for convenient access to spare parts and plasma cutting system consumables
  • Versatile 1 Torch with ATC disconnect makes it easy to add lead extensions or convert to a machine torch
  • True Guard roll bar provides easy transportation and protection for unmatched durability
  • Multi-voltage allows operation from 208 to 480 volts in a single power supply
A product image of Thermal Dynamics 1-5130-1: Cutmaster 52 Plasma System

Like all products in this range, the Cutmaster 52 was specifically developed to ensure that the recommended cut capacity is the same as the true cut capacity. As a result, you can rest assured that the machine will deliver on its specifications, which includes a cut capacity of 1.2 inches.

This plasma system features front panel LED’s, storage compartments for easy access, and a versatile 1torch with ATC disconnect. It also has an auto-pilot restart feature and a lightweight design for added portability and an impressive performance.

Pros

  • A true cut capacity of ½ inches
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Durable plasma system with high-quality components
  • Multi-voltage setting
  • Features drag cutting for added precision and cut quality

Cons

  • May not be suitable for industrial cutting applications

Thermal Dynamics 1-5631-1: Cutmaster 60i 1ph with SL60QD 1Torch

Specifications

  • 7.6 kw rated output, 50 percent duty cycle at 60A with automatic multi-voltage detection from 208-480v
  • SL60QD 1Torch quick disconnect with ATC allowing selective replacement of either the torch handle assembly or the torch leads
  • 5/8 in. (16 mm) recommended cut capacity with greater than 1-1/2 in. (38 mm) maximum sever and 5/8 in. (16 mm) pierce
  • High-visibility, oversized display
  • 4-year warranty on power supply and 1-year warranty on torch
A product image of Thermal Dynamics 1-5631-1: Cutmaster 60i 1ph with SL60QD 1Torch

The 60i is one of the newest additions to the plasma Cutmaster range and has the highest power to weight ratio in this line with a true cut capacity of 5/8 inches and a weight of 37 lbs. This system features an intelligent design, an output power rating of 7.5 kW, and a duty cycle of 100% at 40A.

Another standout feature that reviewers liked is the new modular SL60QD torch that can be separated between the lead and the handle. You won’t have to replace both when one or the other becomes defective.

Pros

  • A powerful and portable plasma system
  • Features a Modular SL60QD 1Torch
  • Built-in gas optimizer
  • High-visibility display
  • End-of-life consumable indicator

Cons

  • A relatively high price tag

Thermal Dynamics 1-1130-1: Cutmaster 82 Plasma System

Specifications

  • Front panel LEDs indicate status conditions for maximum efficiency
  • Storage compartment for spare parts and consumables
  • 1 Torch with ATC disconnect
  • True Guard roll bar
  • Multi-voltage allows operation from 208 to 480 volts in a single power supply
A product image of Thermal Dynamics 1-1130-1: Cutmaster 82 Plasma System

There is a lot to love about this plasma system. Firstly, you get a true cut capacity of ¾ inches that is the same as the recommended cut capacity. Despite being incredibly powerful, this machine only weighs 43 lbs., which, together with the TRUE GUARD roll bar, adds to its portability.

Other features include conveniently located controls, color-coded pressure status and setup errors, and a trigger latch feature that prevents hand fatigue during operation.

Pros

  • High power to weight ratio
  • Multiple torch capabilities
  • 60 Amp drag tip for high-quality plasma cuts
  • Versatile 1Torch with ATC disconnect
  • Auto-pilot restart feature

Cons

  • Consumables are relatively expensive

What Type of Metal Are You Working With?

Knowing the type of metal you mostly work with is essential when shopping for a new plasma system. If you get the wrong tool, you won’t be cutting all that much.

The Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster line can cut mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminum, to name a few. Some models can also cut cast iron.

Most manual plasma systems have cutting capacities of up to 1/2 inches.

Price Point

When it comes to price, the critical question is whether a budget model can handle your task, especially since you don’t want to pay more than is necessary. However, if you want a cutting capacity or more than 1 inch, quality cuts, and high amperage, it will be worth your while to consider models that cost more than $1,000.

The number of amps is also a vital determinant of the unit price, especially since it influences other performance metrics like cutting depth and power to weight ratios.

Voltage Range

A plasma cutting system’s power supply converts AC voltage into a consistent DC voltage that typically ranges from 200 to 400 VDC. DC voltage powers and maintains the arc throughout the cut. It also regulates the current output that is required, depending on the type and thickness of the metal.

a man using a ESAB plasma cutter

Proper Display

When welding or plasma cutting, an accurate digital display of process controls can help to achieve a solid-looking weld or cut. High-pixel options or displays that are visible even when your welding helmet is down may increase the unit price, but these can vastly improve work quality.

We reached the end of our buyers’ guide. Hopefully, you now have enough information to choose a combo welder and plasma cutter for your next project.

When it comes to multiprocess welders and plasma cutters, you have several buying considerations to take into account. As an entry-level, commercial, or hobbyist steelworker, it is worth considering ESAB multi-process welders or a manual plasma cutter from Thermal Dynamics. These products are known for their durability, quality cuts or welds, and value for money.

While there are several variables to consider, don’t compromise on quality, even if you have to pay a little more. Longer-lasting consumables and low maintenance will soon offset the premium you pay. You will also see it in the quality work of your work.

To ensure that you receive the best in terms of quality, we recommend that you stick to multi-purpose machines and plasma cutters that were made in the USA.


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