What is best: modern or classic welding machines? Our Master Welder Piet van der Horst shares his insights in why modern welding machines arent nesecarily the best choice, and vice versa.
Smaller and more powerful
Digitization has also been implemented in welding technology. By building more and more electronics into the equipment, these became more and more effective, but with the arrival of the inverter thing really changed dramatically. The frequency of these inverters was significantly increased over time, from 2 KHz to 400 KHz with some of the current devices. The transformer in the equipment therefore became a factor of 10 or more smaller. This also made the Cosinus Phi significantly better. Was the Cosinus Phi with the old transformer controlled equipment 0.7 or smaller, with the current equipment it is 0.99 or even closer to 1. A clear improvement. The devices became increasingly lighter and smaller, which is a great advantage for assembly work.
Previously, equipment connected to the mains (240V) delivered at most 130 Amps. With the current 230V equipment that can be up to 220 Amps.
The number of parameters that can be set has also been considerably expanded. The correct parameters can be found for every welding job. That is real progress!
Modern vs classic welding machines: easier to use?
In the course of time, many machine builders have switched from the potentiometer to the (touch) button. An important motivation for this is that these buttons are much less vulnerable than a potentiometer and can also be adjusted more accurately. Another reason is that increasing the number of parameters also increased the number of potentiometers and that would not always contribute to ease of use.
With button equipped machines, the parameters are in a menu and if they are not there, they are in a submenu or in a submenu of a submenu. Consequence: a machine with button controls looks much simpler than a machine with potentiometers, simply because there are fewer buttons. However, the user must know very well what the multiple functions of each button are. And you will never see at a glance what the set parameters are.
And now that is where my objection comes in. I am not against the modernization of the welding equipment, I even applaud it. But I also believe that a welder has lost the overview a bit. When he looks at his control panel with potentiometers, he immediately sees, at a glance, how his settings are. With most touch controls, he has to go through the menus to see if everything is alright. For this he must know exactly how the menu structure works.
Modern welding machines: just as simple as your phone?
It is often said that anyone who can operate a mobile phone can also set a digital keypad of a welding machine. Unfortunately, that does not apply. Send messages or emails and browsing in apps is of a completely different order than looking for welding parameters. In addition, if you do not succeed with the telephone, there are dozens of people around you who also have such a thing and can help you. A welder is often alone. In fact, sometimes there is only one machine at a company and there is no one to help. And if there are multiple devices and welders this does not mean that your colleagues can help you, I have experienced. Then you get what happened to me dozens of times, namely that a welder does not want you to make an adjustment to his device. “It’s okay now, but when you’re gone I don’t know what to do anymore”. A welder should be able to get the best out of the machine! After all, that’s what it was bought for!
There are still several manufacturers who supply both variants of a type of machine. Choose what best suits your welder(s). The price for a device with potentiometers is often even lower. So if you are in the market for new equipment, it is a good idea not to rely solely on what the brochure or salesman tells you. Talk to your welder(s)! They work with the machines daily and have to be able to deal with these techniques in order to provide the best possible work. Practice regularly shows that the latest of the latest is not necessarily the best choice for all applications.