I bought a Chinese TIG/stick/plasma for $400
by Kent Hartland
I am not a certified welder but I have been MIG, stick and gas welding for thirty plus years off and on. I now make custom motorcycles and exhaust for same. I got an Accurate Tools 200A unit off ebay for $400 shipped. It looks to be a fairly quality unit although there was damn little documentation on how to set it up or use it.
I had to buy an electrical plug, a few small fittings and an air drier as well as electrodes. I also had to come here (I love this site Jody - damn fine job you're doing!) and the Miller site to get schooled up on the subject.
Now I am trying to make decent cuts and welds, my fault not the machine. So far, after several days, I am completely happy with the unit. I've had to make two phone calls to the seller with questions (yes, the argon and air really do go in the same port and the S knob is post flow) which worked out okay. Make sure your seller is stateside.
The machine has NO model number, serial number, no UL stickers, no safety warning labels, nothing. Weird.
AS far as the low price, I would ask: compared to what? The old transformer machines are heavier and larger and more expensive to make, import and ship. The new solid state designs are less expensive in every way. They use less power and take up less room in my small shop. If I fry it, I pop in a new circuit board and get going again. They are simply better technology and thus less costly.
As far as the American/Chinese debate, I suspect even the 'American' units are wholly or partly made overseas in China, Korea or Japan. Hell, even Harley-Davidson bikes use Asian parts. So what? Its a global world guys. Its time to get over it.
So, I guess, based on my limited time with the unit I would say as long as you understand that you will need to do a little extra set up and spend a few extra bucks on same, its probably a good buy.
I made a pdf doc with specifics. Email me at Kent at KentDidIt dot com and I'll send it to you.