The Lincoln Pro MIG 180 is a well-built, user-friendly welder with capabilities that support the veteran as well as novice welders!
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Lincoln Pro Mig 180 Welder

Versatile and user-friendly welding for home and shop!

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted – 9-7-2010

When I decided to open www.newmetalworker.com I knew that welding was going to be a key area to cover. Since I am not a practiced welder I knew I that I needed an easy to use welder in addition to one with the quality and power that I like in any kind of machine. After doing a bunch of on-line research I decided on the Lincoln Pro MIG 180 because it was regarded as both good and easy to use. The price was welcome surprise as well.

Versatility in Power & Features

The Lincoln Pro MIG 180 operates on 220V which gives it considerable welding power for such a small unit. Despite its trim 14”-tall by 10.15”-wide and 18.6”-long it has a hefty 66-pound weight. The Lincoln Pro MIG 180 is a dual process welder in that it can use flux-core wire without shielding gas or it can be quickly converted to the MIG (metal inert shielding gas) mode. The Lincoln Pro MIG 180 kit includes all of the gun nozzle parts, a gas regulator set and hose for hooking up a shielding gas cylinder. Lincoln also supplies a 2-lb spool of .025” Super-Arc L-56 MIG wire and a 1-lb spool of .035” Innershield NR-211-MP flux-cored wire with the machine to get you started.

The wire drive (left) is easy to access and work with. The included gas regulator (right) and spools of welding wire let you get started with either gas shielded or flux-cored welding modes.
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Lincoln says the useable range for this welder is from 24 gauge to 3/16”-thick steel in the MIG mode with a single pass. You can also use the included Lincoln brand Innershield flux core wire to weld up to ½”-thickness steel. For most of us, that is plenty of material range for the types of welding jobs we are likely to encounter.

Assembly and Setup

Out of the box the Lincoln Pro MIG 180 needs a little final assembly before it is ready to weld. Installing the Magnum 100L gun and its 10-foot-long cable, the work cable and clamp are all easy tasks and take just a couple minutes to complete. You also have to install one of the wire spools and feed that through the roller drive. Since the Lincoln Pro MIG 180 came with its internal polarity set for using the Innershield flux-cored wire I decided to leave it that way for the time being. Getting the welding wire started into the beginning of the gun side feed tube was actually the toughest part of the job until I realized that the wire cutter had flattened the end of the wire, making it slightly bigger than the tube opening. Rounding the end of the wire a little made that operation much easier. After running the wire down to the gun I installed the contact tip and screwed on the gasless nozzle. Trim the wire to 3/8” and the Lincoln Pro MIG 180 is ready for use.

Beginner Friendly

The instruction manuals provided are well done and help the novice get started safely. The hand-held face shield certainly works but a full-on welding helmet is a worthy investment.
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The Lincoln Pro MIG 180 comes with a manual that describes the basic welding techniques. After reading that I butted some steel strips up and began learning to weld. Lincoln says that the Lincoln Pro MIG 180 has a “forgiving arc” and I can’t argue that point. After about 18” of welding my bead was already flattening out and becoming far more consistent. It was looking like Lincoln wasn’t stretching the “forgiving” part of the advertising.

Gassing It

After using the flux-cored wire for a while I decided to get a bottle of Argon-75%/CO2-25% and try the MIG welding, a big reason why I bought the Lincoln Pro MIG 180. Aside from hooking up the bottle with the included regulator set and hose I had to change out the wire to the 2LB spool of solid 0.025” supplied with the welder. I also had to change out the wire feed drive roller. The welder comes with three feed rollers that cover all of the wire sizes the Lincoln Pro MIG 180 uses. I also had to install a smaller contact tip and the MIG (gas) nozzle on the gun.

Another part of the change over from flux-cored wire to MIG is reversing the polarity. This is done in the wire feed door on the side of the Lincoln Pro MIG 180. The wires are held in place with knurled finger nuts so no tools are needed and the polarity change takes just a minute or two to accomplish.

The controls (left) are simple but effective. A chart inside the wire drive door help the novice learn how to adjust this machine for the best performance. Lincoln supplies extra wire drive wheels (right), contact tips and nozzles for changing from flux-cored wire to gas shielded welding.
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Another series of test/practice welds showed that the Lincoln Pro MIG 180 was just as forgiving in MIG mode. This forgiving nature and consistency benefits veteran welders as well as those trying to learn the skill. The Lincoln Pro MIG 180 let me focus on my own consistency and technique rather than what the machine was doing. This consistency allows the operator to make small adjustments to the heat and/or wire feed rate to best fit the situation at hand.

In the Shop

Throughout the evaluation the Lincoln Pro MIG 180 performed flawlessly and always seemed to have more power than I needed. I like a machine that has some power in reserve because in normal use it is not straining. That always translates into better overall performance and a longer life for important components.

Even though I had never welded project of any kind, I felt good enough to build a cart for my new welder on my third day of owning it!
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The wire feed system is very easy to work with and never showed any signs of slipping or faltering. I adjusted the feed roller pressure according to the instructions and that seems to be right on the money. Even changing the gun tips to match the wire being used is very easy.

The one thing I am less enthused about is the included hand-held shield. It works fine and does protect your eyes and face but for me, it seems a bit dark. The big thing I found troublesome was having to dedicate one hand to holding the shield. This puts a high value on clamps because you can’t hold the piece being welded for tacking or starting the bead. I think this is a bigger problem for a novice welder than a veteran. I bought a good helmet with the auto-darkening lens and my welding suddenly got a little better. Of course, if Lincoln included a good helmet with the machine the price would go up another $100 to $200 and many would not have the machine to start with.

Somewhere between adding the helmet and gaining experience, the Lincoln Pro MIG 180 was letting me weld things together securely. The fact that I can occasionally make very nice looking beads tells me that the only thing slowing the Lincoln Pro MIG 180 down is me.

Conclusions

The Lincoln Pro MIG 180 is a very well built, well-designed welder that has plenty of power for virtually any job you will encounter in the home or small shop setting. Its versatility only enhances the range of jobs it can handle. The consistency of operation along with the instructive information provided helps even rank beginners get welding very quickly.

Video Tour

The claims of a forgiving arc proved to be true and made my welding learning curve smoother and my progress a little faster. For the welding veteran the Lincoln Pro MIG 180 lets them focus on the job and less about what the machine is doing.

With a street price of around $669.95 (9-1-2010) the Lincoln Pro MIG 180 is also one of the better values in the welding world. Match the power and capabilities of this machine against others in this class and the Lincoln Pro MIG 180 looks even better.

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