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Arc welding allows for durable assemblies made of steel, stainless steel or cast iron; available to all do-it-yourselfers thanks to welding machines with Inverter MMA technology.

Welders with Inverter MMA technology.

The MMA welding (Manual Metal Arc) is carried out using a coated electrode (the soldering rod) whose metal core melts simultaneously with the base metal to form the weld bead. An electric arc comes on when the electrode touches the workpiece to reach a temperature close to 4000° C. The welding is protected from the oxidizing action of the air by the fusion of the coating of the electrode (the outer part of the rod) which generates the formation of the "slag" on the weld bead, a protective crust which must be removed. The coated electrode is held by hand via an electrode holder.
Due to the light intensity of the arc and splashes of molten metal, the welder must protect his eyes with a mask specific to this activity. It must also be dressed appropriately: welder's gloves, high shoes, leather or cotton clothing.

The editorial team tested 6 MMA Inverter welding machines, responding to the most common needs of novice or experienced DIYers.

FlintFartoolsGysRibitechSilverlineStanley
Flint 160AGenius 140Gysmi 130PTECH140MMA200APower140

Notice and test on six MMA Inverter welding machines: machines

Notice and test on six MMA Inverter welding machines: inverter

Notice and test on six MMA Inverter welding machines: welding

Notice and test on six MMA Inverter welding machines: welding

Notice and test on six MMA Inverter welding machines: ManoMano

Notice and test on six MMA Inverter welding machines: welding

Rating: 7.6 / 10Rating: 4.8 / 10Rating: 7.5 / 10Rating: 5.6 / 10Rating: 6.4 / 10Rating: 7.8 / 10
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How does an inverter work?

The technology of UPS stations (Inverter) is based on the use of a electronic transformer and a transistor rectifier. This system provides stable electrical current and more precision for welding. Farewell arc breaks due to AC current encountered on conventional devices! The electronic intelligence of the MMA workstations occasionally increases the power to facilitate the priming of the electrode (Hot Start), prevents the extinction of the arc when a contact with the melt takes place (Arc Force) or avoids the bonding of the electrode in the cord by automatically switching off the generator (Anti-Stick). Thus, the welding is simplified and opens to the greatest number. In addition, the generators, small and light, are easily transported and can be connected to a household power outlet. Their power consumption is reduced by about 20% compared to models without inverter.

Two essential parameters

  • Thecurrent intensity Welding (in amperes) determines the melting speed and thus the thickness of metal that can be welded.
  • The walking factor indicates the capacity of the generator to deliver a welding current at a given capacity over time. It is fixed after standardized tests carried out at an ambient temperature of 40° C on ten-minute sequences repeated several times. For example, a generator with an average duty cycle of 60% to 150 A delivers a 150 amperes welding current for six minutes over a ten minute period. It must therefore be allowed to cool for the remaining time: four minutes. In the event of overheating, the unit will automatically turn off and a light will come on.

Getting started

Soldering station with digital display of amperage.

Each device has a single adjustment wheel with a graduation in amperes and, sometimes, the indication of the Ø of the electrodes to be used (Gys, Stanley, Ribitech, Fartools). Only Flint gives a digital display of the amperage.

Set the amperage of the welding machine with the knob.

Inverter workstations are lightweight and portable tools, sometimes with a thick facade to protect the wheel (Fartools, Gys, Ribitech, Stanley), which makes handling difficult with gloves on Fartools and Gys. On Silex and Silverline, the prominent dial facilitates adjustment.

Recommended ratios between electrode Ø and amperage indicated on the housing side.

Case side, a board indicates the recommended ratios between electrode Ø and amperage. It is very legible on Gys and Flint.

Lever of the electrode holder.

Uncomfortable, the lever of the electrode holder seems fragile on Ribitech, Silex and Silverline.

Position the electrode at different angles with the clamp.

On Stanley, Gys and Fartools, the clamp helps position the electrode from different angles.

Mass clamps with high amplitude brass jaws.

The brass jaws Stanley, Gys and Ribitech are of high quality.

Accessories

Easily detach the slag with the prick hammer.

All tested positions come with a hammer to prick quite light. It acts as a brush to easily detach the slag.

Work with a welding mask.

Each machine comes with a protection's mask. Not practical, because it monopolizes a hand. Only the manufacturer Ribimex offers a welder helmet who releases both hands.

Wear the generator over the shoulder.

With the exception of Ribitech and Stanley, the webbing are well adapted to carrying the generators over the shoulder.

Electrode and polarity

Connect the cables to the + and - poles.

The cable connection is done on the + and - poles.

+ And - poles for cable connections.

They are clearly indicated on Silex and Ribitech.

Preferred connection mode indicated on the boxes.

According to electrode type used, a preferential connection mode is indicated on the boxes. Here, the symbol (= -) means: with direct current (=), the electrode is connected to the negative pole (-).

Connection of the indicated electrode holder with a color code.

With a color code, Silverline recommends a connection of the electrode holder to the + pole contrary to conventional use (with rutile electrodes). Do not hesitate to connect the red plug to the black plug.

Choosing the electrode
Thethickness and the nature of the metal determine the choice of an electrode. The Ø of the latter increases with the intensity and thickness to be welded. In practice, most of the electrodes used are Ø 2.5 and 3.2 with an intensity of 30 to 125 A for thicknesses included between 2 and 7 mm.

Aeration and overheating

Ventilation grills on a welding machine.

Posts must be broken down into two, three or four sides.

Indicator indicating the overheating of a welding machine.

In the event of overheating, a light will come on and the telephone will automatically pause. Fartools, Gys, Silex and Silverline have a second power LED. The others considered that the noise of the integrated fan 13 is a sufficient indication.

Evaluation criteria

  • The capacity designates the intensity of the current, the diameter of the electrodes that can be used and the thickness of the metal to be welded. A powerful machine also allows you to work longer without risk of overheating.
  • Theergonomics note the general comfort of use, the indications worn and the maneuverability of this tool designed to be transported over the shoulder.
  • The intensity adjustment deserves special attention because it concerns the only wheel to be handled during the welding operation, provided with protective leather gloves, which is not always easy.
  • The accessories require a particular requirement, particularly with regard to the quality of the electrode holder and the earth clamp. Although essential for welding, these instruments can nevertheless be replaced. We have therefore mentioned them in this section with the stitching hammer and the wire brush, the welding mask, the gloves and the transport case.

Test procedure *

Tubes 4 mm thick were welded to a 6 mm sheet after adjusting the positions on a flat iron chute. The highest voltages were used with 3.2 or 4 mm electrodes to evaluate the reaction of the devices. The tests are 100% conclusive with Inverter (Hot Start, Arc Force and Anti-Stick). The weight of the workstations and the dimensions of the housings and cables made it possible to estimate the quality and the ergonomics. The tests were carried out equipped with a liquid crystal protection mask, the masks delivered being impractical.
* The "System D" test benches are made in real conditions of use by our journalists. The results may therefore differ from those displayed by the manufacturers, whose tests are performed by laboratories according to standardized protocols.

What to remember from the test?

The welding machine Stanley comes first because of the strength of its design, power and accessories, including a quality carrying case. It is closely followed by Flint, which we appreciate the digital display, power and maneuverability. Despite a lower power, but which is largely sufficient for most situations encountered, Gys draws attention by its small dimensions and the quality of its accessories. Thanks to its power, Silverline is useful for welding thicker pieces larger than 10 mm, but sins due to a fan too noisy and lack of indications worn. The post Ribitech suitable for small welds. As to Fartools, it shows disappointing results despite the announced power.

The welding machine "Silex 160A", the favorite of duitdesign.com

Silex welding machine 160A.

With his competitive price, this welding machine offers a power largely sufficient for everyday use. It is distinguished by a real comfort of use and is ideal to learn about welding. Thedigital display Intensity allows you to better control your work and avoid adjustment errors.
This model is not without its defects: electrode holders, earth clamps and welding masks will benefit from being replaced quickly.

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Comparative table of 6 welding machines

Notice and test on six MMA Inverter welding machines: welding


Click on picture to enlarge

Fartools

Fartools soldering station.

Model: Genius 140
Price: 173 €

  • Intensity: from 20 to 140 A
  • Factor of operation: not indicated
  • Ø electrodes: from 2 to 3.2 mm
  • Weight: 4.3 kg
  • Dimensions: (W x W x H) 33 x 13.5 x 21 cm
  • Power cord: 2 m
  • Ground clamp cable: 1.10 m / 10 mm²
  • Electrode cable 1.63 / 10 mm²
  • 2 years warranty
Test result: 4.8 points
  • Capacity: 3.6
    The intensity of the delivered current lacks regularity when increasing the voltage; the welds are imprecise.
  • Ergonomics: 6.2
    The carrying handle and the strap are comfortable. The indicative board is present on the case, but difficult to read.
  • Intensity setting: 4.3
    The adjustment wheel is protected by the housing but remains fragile, not very legible and difficult to handle with gloves.
  • Accessories: 5.2
    The item is delivered without case with welding mask, hammer / wire brush. The cables are too short, the electrode holder is correct, the clamp of mass is perfectible.

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Ribitech (Ribimex)

Ribitech welding machine.

Model: Ribitech TECH140
Price: 251 €

  • Intensity: from 30 to 130 A
  • Operating factor: 55% to 115%
  • Ø electrodes: from 1.6 to 3.2 mm
  • Weight: 3.6 kg
  • Dimensions (W x W x H): 28 x 17 x 12 cm
  • Power cord: 2 m
  • Ground clamp cable: 1.40 m / 16 mm²
  • Electrode cable: 1.40 m / 16 mm²
  • 2 years warranty
Test result: 5.6 points
  • Capacity: 4,5
    The machine runs out of power, the station arrives quickly overheating with a 3.2 mm electrode.
  • Ergonomics: 5.2
    The post is light and compact, but without an indicative board, the + / - cards are hard to differentiate, the strap too short.
  • Intensity setting: 6.2
    The wheel is well protected, but the indications are poorly readable, resulting in a lack of precision.
  • Accessories: 6.5
    The device is supplied with carrying case, welding mask, quilting hammer / wire brush. But the cables are too short and the electrode holder perfectible. The mass clamp is effective.

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Silverline

Silverline soldering station.

Model: MMA 200 A
Pri: 269 €

  • Intensity: from 25 to 200 A
  • Factor of operation: 60 \% to 100 A
  • Ø electrodes: from 1.6 to 4 mm
  • Weight: 5.2 kg
  • Dimensions (W x W x H): 37 x 13.5 x 23 cm
  • Power cord: 2 m
  • Ground clamp cable: 1.55 m / 25 mm²
  • Electrode holder cable: 2 m / 25 mm²
  • Warranty: 3 years
Test result: 6.4 points
  • Capacity: 9.5
    Very powerful device, comfortable to use with electrodes up to 4 mm.
  • Ergonomics: 5.1
    The post is quite heavy despite the carrying strap, the fan is noisy. The housing has an indicative table.
  • Intensity setting: 5.6
    No numerical indication of the amperage is proposed, the prominent dial is easy to handle but weakened.
  • Accessories: 5.4
    The machine is supplied with electrode holders, masks, gloves, chipping hammer / wire brush and ground clamp which can be upgraded, but without mains plug or carrying case.

Gys

Gys soldering station.

Model: Gysmi 130P
Price: 250 €

  • Intensity: from 10 to 130 A
  • Operating factor: 5 \% to 130 A
  • Ø electrodes: from 1.6 to 3.2 mm
  • Weight: 2.6 kg
  • Dimensions (W x W x H): 25 x 10 x 17.5 cm
  • Power cord: 2 m
  • Ground clamp cable: 1.40 m / 16 mm²
  • Electrode cable: 1,86 m / 16 mm²
  • Warranty: 1 year
Test result: 7.5 points
  • Capacity: 8.7
    The welds made are of good quality up to the electrodes of Ø 3.2 mm.
  • Ergonomics: 8.2
    The portable machine is light, offers a clear indicative board, but no on-off button (set the intensity to zero).
  • Intensity setting: 4.8
    The small knob is well protected by the housing, but imprecise and difficult to operate with gloves.
  • Accessories: 8.4
    The electrode holder and the ground clamp are of good quality. The device comes with a carrying case, a welding mask, a stitching hammer / wire brush.

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Flint

Silex welding machine.

Model: Flint 160A
Price: 209 €

  • Intensity: from 20 to 160 A
  • Operating factor: 60% to 110%
  • Ø electrodes: from 1.6 to 4 mm
  • Weight: 3.7 kg
  • Dimensions (W x W x H): 35 x 13 x 22 cm
  • Power cable: 1.8 m
  • Ground clamp cable: 1.70 m / 20 mm²
  • Electrode cable: 1.75 m / 20 mm²
  • Warranty: 1 year
Test result: 7.6 points
  • Capacity: 9.4
    The machine is powerful enough to make beautiful welds up to Ø 4 mm electrodes.
  • Ergonomics: 9.1
    Given its size, the device is quite light, its carrying handle is practical and its clear indicative board.
  • Intensity setting: 7.8
    The digital display of the amperage is a guarantee of precision, the prominent wheel is very manageable but weakened.
  • Accessories: 4.0
    The device is delivered with welding mask, sledge hammer / wire brush, but without case. The electrode holder and the ground clamp are perfectible.

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Stanley

Stanley soldering station.

Model: Power140
Price: 249 €

  • Intensity: from 25 to 125 A
  • Operating factor: 13 \% to 125 A
  • Ø electrodes: from 1.6 to 4 mm
  • Weight: 4.3 kg
  • Dimensions (W x W x H): 36.5 x 13.5 x 20.5 cm
  • Power cord: 2 m
  • Ground clamp cable: 1,32 m / 16 mm²
  • Electrode cable: 1.36 m / 16 mm²
  • Warranty: 1 year
Test result: 7.8 points
  • Capacity: 9.7
    The device seems more powerful than announced, to make beautiful welds up to Ø 4 mm electrodes.
  • Ergonomics: 5.8
    The transport belt is too short and there is no guide board. The housing is particularly well ventilated.
  • Intensity setting: 8.5
    The wheel is well protected by the housing and easy to handle, but the indications are poorly readable.
  • Accessories: 7.2
    The cables are too short, the electrode holder is of quality and the clamp of mass perfectible. The machine is supplied with a practical mask, hammer / wire brush and carrying case.

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FlintFartoolsGysRibitechSilverlineStanley
Flint 160AGenius 140Gysmi 130PTECH140MMA200APower140

Notice and test on six MMA Inverter welding machines: machines

Notice and test on six MMA Inverter welding machines: machines

Notice and test on six MMA Inverter welding machines: ManoMano

Notice and test on six MMA Inverter welding machines: test

Notice and test on six MMA Inverter welding machines: test

Notice and test on six MMA Inverter welding machines: test

Rating: 7.6 / 10Rating: 4.8 / 10Rating: 7.5 / 10Rating: 5.6 / 10Rating: 6.4 / 10Rating: 7.8 / 10
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