Though you’ll hear lots of weekend warriors spouting the “you have to have a TIG rig to work aluminum or stainless,” that’s not entirely true. In fact, most commercial apps don’t go the TIG route for heavy assembly work: Just like with steel, MIG is faster and easier. Of course, you’ll need a separate feed for the aluminum or stainless wire. That’s where a spool gun comes into play.
This new model from Hobart serves as a good example. It’s designed to work with Hobart’s IronMan 230 MIG welder, attaching easily without tools. It features a 20′ cable, a direct-connect power pin, and a spool optimized for aluminum and other soft-alloy welding. And it’ll feed between 200 and 1,200 inches per minute.
It’s rated at a 60% duty cycle at 200 amps, which means this should work very effectively for MIG users who primarily weld steel but would like to expand their capabilities. It also ships with extra drive rolls, contact tips, and a blow-molded plastic case — all for around $500 street.
The lesson here? Don’t buy into the casual shop talk. If you’d like to try your MIG hand on other materials, contact your local dealer to find out about spool gun options for your specific make and model. Most manufacturers offer ’em for their pro and semi-pro rigs, so don’t be afraid to ask!