The Miller® Mutimatic™ 215 and Spectrum® 625 X-TREME™ Review
“So easy, a caveman could do it.” We’ve all heard the TV commercials and while welding might be a hair too complicated for a caveman, the new Miller Multimatic 215 makes welding just about as easy as you can imagine.
There are a few different welding techniques out there: Stick, MIG and TIG. You’ll find that most welding out there falls under these three categories. Stick is about as old as welding itself and somewhat outdated in most applications. However, it’s still a useful form of welding in construction where a basic weld is required that generally won’t be seen. Somebody that stick welds all day long can make a nice looking bead, but it can be difficult.
MIG welding is the easiest form of welding out there. You have a gun or torch and just click a trigger and let it go. MIG welding is easy and with a little bit of practice can produce great looking welds. They are fast, strong and efficient in a workplace.
Welding by TIG on the other hand produces a much better result, but with that comes a higher level of skill. When you’re building a high-end build and will have welds being shown off, a TIG welder will give you the absolute best looking welds.
Traditionally Stick, MIG and TIG have all been three different machines. That means if you’re working on a project you’d have to drag three different machines around. You couldn’t seamlessly transition from MIG to TIG. The Miller Multimatic 215 solves that issue by combining all three of those machines into one lightweight rig.
Remember the old saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is?” This is a textbook example of that. How can Miller possibly combine all three machines into one? We had to find out so we ordered one up to test out and replace some of our outdated equipment.
If welding is basically combining two pieces of metal, a plasma cutter is cutting a piece of metal in two. We have an ancient torch in the shop, but knew that it was time to upgrade to something light-years ahead of a basic oxygen and acetyline torch. With that being said, we also ordered up the new Miller Spectrum 625 X-TREME plasma cutter. The last few pieces we ordered were much needed safety equipment: gloves, jacket and helmet.
Whenever you’re out in the garage, safety should be your first concern. When we ordered up this new Miller equipment, we knew that we needed to update our safety equipment as well. We picked out the Digital Infinity™ Black Ops™ helmet, XS TIG Gloves and Classic Cloth Jacket.
The Digital Infinity Black Ops helmet was a massive upgrade from our previous welding helmet. The viewing area is a massive 13.4 square inches, and with the push of a button we can change its settings from Weld, Cut, Grind and X-mode. You can fine-tune each setting as well if you prefer. We found that the factory pre-settings were spot on and didn’t require any tweaking.
The one mode you might not recognize is the X-Mode, which was new to us as well. Normally helmets use sensors to sense the change in light to darken. However, if you’re out in the sun it can interfere with these sensors and cause the lens to go dark before you’re ready. With X-Mode, the helmet electromagnetically senses the weld and darkens. We were welding up a frame in the bright sun and this mode worked absolutely flawlessly. On Weld mode the sensors kept picking up the sun and darkening the helmet too soon. After switching to X-Mode it only darkened once we pulled the trigger – we were impressed.
For gloves and jacket we chose the XS TIG gloves, which are unlined so it’s easy to feel and pick up objects. They have padding built in as well to provide extra comfort. After welding all day in these gloves we can say they work great. Combined with the Classic Cloth jacket, we were comfortable all day long and forgot we had them on. This jacket is pretty basic but offers some nice touches such as the collar with strap to ensure no sparks go down your shirt. There are also several pockets and the sleeves can be tucked into the gloves or slid over. If we were welding all day every day, we would want to get a heavier duty jacket. But for us doing light welding sporadically it works perfectly.
As we mentioned before, the Multimatic 215 is able to Stick, MIG and TIG weld. Naturally, we want to try out all the different styles to really test this machine out. After un-boxing the unit we loved how everything needed was included – both gas regulators for CO2 mix and pure argon, 120v and 240v electrical ends, tips for both MIG and TIG, and even a spool of wire for MIG.
Our first order of business was to test out the Stick welding capabilities. We happened to be building a new gate for our shop, and were using 6x6x.25-inch square tubing. Setting up the welder for different welding styles is simple with the push and twist connectors on the front. The LCD screen also tells you how to connect the different torches depending on what and how you’re welding.
One really neat feature that we were excited to try out is the Auto-Set™ feature. You tell the welder what size wire you’re using and how thick the material is, and the welder will automatically set the amperage and feed speed. When setting up the welder for stick, we just told it how thick the material was and it set the heat for us. We found that it was pretty much spot on – but you can adjust the settings if you want.
Stick welding was a breeze with the Multimatic 215. We even had my Dad try it out as he came from the stick welding world and he was really impressed with how well it worked. This would be a great set up if you’re out on a job site or farm land and need to weld up something but don’t want to drag out welding tanks with you.
Welding With MIG
Moving on to the MIG we had to get the wire feed set up. We found out that when feeding the wire down the cable, the machine knows this and will speed up the wire speed to make this a quick and easy job. Using the Auto-Set feature we were able to “set it and forget it” and proceeded to lay down some of the nicest welds we ever have before. This machine can weld from 24 gauge all the way up to 3/8-inch thick, more than enough for our needs. You can also set it up for traditional MIG welding or for flux-core wire.
One small feature that we found to love was that the cooling fan on the unit only turns on when needed. When you first fire up the machine it doesn’t run. This saves electricity, but the nicest part is that it’s quiet. If we have a phone call or are trying to talk to somebody, we didn’t have to yell over a noisy fan. Once you start welding, the fan will kick on as needed then kick back off once you’ve finished up your weld and the unit has cooled down.
The TIG capabilities of this machine are vast but, it can’t do everything a traditional TIG welding machine can. A traditional TIG runs off AC power while this one runs off DC power. What this really boils down to is that this unit can’t TIG weld aluminum. Since we are mainly welding on sheet metal, this isn’t a deal breaker for us. We like being able to TIG weld when we really want some pretty welds or when the need arises.
We haven’t had a chance to actually TIG weld with this unit yet, but we plan on it soon. We had to pick up a second bottle to fill with pure argon. It’s worth mentioning that switching between MIG and TIG welding with this machine doesn’t require you to swap tanks every time. There are two ports on the back, one for your MIG mix and one for your TIG mix. That means you can swap from MIG welding to TIG in a matter of seconds without any tools.
This unit is extremely well thought out. Dual ports of gas, lightweight and compact, Auto-Set, and all three styles of welding in one. This really is an extremely universal unit that’s great for a weekend mechanic or even a seasoned veteran.
Spectrum 625 X-TREME
If the Multimatic 215 is all about portability, the Spectrum 625 X-TREME plasma cutter is ultra portable at only 21 pounds. Un-boxing the unit we couldn’t believe how small it is. The actual unit itself is roughly the size of a shoe box and can cut mild steel up to 5/8-inch thick! That’s some cutting power.
The Spectrum 625 X-Treme comes complete in its own case that holds everything inside. There’s a 12-foot long cable, multiple power ends and a consumable kit. Once we hooked up air, 240v, we flipped on the unit and set our amperage and started cutting. The unit sliced through 1/4-inch mild steel like it was a hot knife through butter. We then tried it out using some sheet metal and it’s extremely fast and as precise as our hand was.
Having a plasma cutter in the shop isn’t a necessary tool, but one we would highly recommend. Cutting metal is easy as pie and saves you valuable time instead of going to town with a cut off wheel or sawzall. Our favorite time using it so far was when we had to cut metal ducting that was tucked up inside the dash of a ’65 Chevelle. There’s no way any sort of cut off wheel was going to be able to fit under there. However with this plasma cutter, in about five minutes the entire unit was cleanly cut and out of our way – a total win!
Beginner or Pro both of these units are amazing and will be at home in your shop. Hop on MillerWelds.com for more information!