Millermatic 135 Review: Best Portable MIG Welder

Every DIYer, especially in spaces that involve metalwork, is familiar with MIG welding and the way it has made it possible for a lot of welding jobs to be easily done at home. And simple but effective welding machines like the Millermatic 135 have truly brought welding to the masses – as was the vision behind the Miller Electric Company.

But what exactly is MIG welding? MIG welding is an arc welding process which involves feeding a continuous solid wire electrode through a welding gun into a weld pool, joining the two base materials together. A shielding gas is also passed through the welding gun so as to protect the weld pool from being contaminated. And thus MIG welding actually stands for Metal Inert Gas. The official technical name, however, is “Gas Metal Arc Welding” (or GMAW), and its street name is “wire welding“. Whatever name it goes by, it is one of the best things to have happened in the world of DIY.

Because MIG welding is an easy process to learn and is also very flexible, it has become the go-to welding type for many people who want to do their own welding, especially since it can be used in various fields such as motorsport, farming, and in anything else that may require the repair and modification of metal. And this is where the Millermatic 135 came to the rescue, filling a desperate need for a portable and easy to use welding machine that doesn’t need much training to master.

But why is the Millermatic 135 such a popular welding machine? Why all the hype and talk about it being one of the best MIG welding machines ever made? Let’s take an in-depth look at it and see why in this Millermatic 135 review. Perhaps you will understand the hype and become one of its most devoted acolytes.

The Millermatic 135 Wire Welding Machine – Revolutionary Welding Machine

When it comes to DIY welding, one machine that has become a household name is the Millermatic 135 by the Miller Electric Company (now a part of the Illinois Tool Works since 1993).  Although the 135 is no longer in production, it is still one of the most sought-after MIG welding machines. It is a legend in its own right, and what better welder to get than a legendary one?

The first Millermatic welding machine was invented by Neils Miller in 1929. The idea was to create a small arc welder for “stick welding” that could operate on domestic electrical supplies, lighter than the conventional welding machines of the day, and ultimately, less expensive than the DC rotary units previously available. Ironically, the first welding machine (that was to lead to the Millermatic) was built from scrap steel and coil windings – in Miller’s basement.

In 1935, after incorporating Miller Electric Mfg. Co. Miller’s only engineer, Al Mulder invented the world’s first high frequency-stabilized AC industrial welder, making AC welding practical for use in factories and construction, another step closer to the Millermatic. In 1971, Miller Electric developed the ground-breaking Millermatic by combining the then separate units of power source and wire feed into one ingenious self-contained unit. Wire welding had just been brought to the masses, revolutionizing the world of welding.

And today, many DIYers have access to these simple but highly effective welders, giving them flexibility to work with almost any material. So, as you jump into the foray of DIY welding, you will encounter the name Miller quite a lot, and you now know why – it is a reliable name in welding circles. One of the names that made it possible for ordinary people like you and me afford a welder – and a good one at that.

The Millermatic 135 Review – Spot on Compact MIG Welding Machine

Now that you know the history of the ingenious Millermatic line of MIG welding machines, let’s take a look at one of the most popular ones, the legendary Millermatic 135.

General Dimensions and Wire Feed Speed of the Millermatic 135

When it comes to portable welding machines, the Millermatic 135 beats them all. It is a compact, self-contained welding machine that measures 17 ½ inches long, 10 5/8 inches wide and 15 ¾ inches tall. With a combined weight (including the welding torch) of 60lbs, the Millermatic 135 MIG welding machine is definitely portable enough to carry around wherever you may need to do some welding work. And if you need to load (or off-load) it into your car, you won’t have any trouble doings so. If you are looking for a portable, easy to use welder, then the Millermatic 135 is the welder you should give some strong consideration.

The wire feed speed on the Millermatic 135 welding machine is rated at 20-inches per minute at the slowest amperage setting to 600-inches per minute at the highest setting, making it fast enough for all your welding needs. As for the wire, the Millermatic 135 is able to handle 0.06 mm and 0.08 mm solid-metal MIG wire and flux-core MIG wire in diameters of 0.08 mm or 0.09 mm.

The Millermatic 135 is probably one of the most compact welding machines that will give you the best performance when it comes to all your domestic welding needs. You definitely have to put it on top of your list of welding machines you are considering.

Amperage and Voltage Specifications on the Millermatic 135

When it comes to MIG welding, there are two electrical outputs that you have to be cognizant of – voltage and amperage. These two determine how your welding machine will perform. Let me explain it a bit more so that we can be on the same page.

  • Voltage. The voltage of the Millermatic MIG welder (and any other MIG welder) is correlated to its capacity to generate heat in the arc-welding process.
  • Amperage. The amperage of the Millermatic MIG welder is correlated to the speed at which it can weld.

The Millermatic 135 is rated at a 115-volt output and current output of up to 135 amps. This allows you to dial in the specific settings you need for a particular joint you are working on. For example, a high voltage with a low amperage setting will enable to make a deep penetration weld of a thick sheet of metal, while a low voltage with a high amperage setting will allow for a quick and shallow weld on a thin sheet of metal.

Because of these easy to dial and use settings, the Millermatic 135 makes for a very good welding machine for beginners. It’s simple to use, yet highly effective. Besides, with these ratings, you can do all your welding without overloading your home’s power supply, leading to the breaker tripping. There’s nothing as frustrating as a breaker that trips regularly while you are trying to finish a project quickly. With the Millermatic135, you will have enough welding power without having to worry about the breaker. And because of its adequate range of material it can work with, you will find it handy for repairing most anything in your home, workshop, or anywhere else you may require the services of a high caliber welder like this one.

Duty Cycle Rating

One of the big disadvantages of MIG welders is the fact that they easily heat up. This is because they operate at high voltages. The downside is that they have to be given time to rest and cool down regularly. This operation and cooling cycle is what is known as the duty cycle.

For the Millermatic 135, the duty cycle is 2 minutes of continuous welding and 8 minutes of rest at 100%. However, the duty cycle varies according to the settings you have dialed it to. For example, if you set your Millermatic 135 at a 47-amp output setting, it will operate at a 50-percent duty cycle and will thus weld for 1 minute continuously before requiring 9 minutes of rest. Say you change the settings to 125 amps, it will then operate at a 10-percent duty cycle and will only weld for only 12 seconds.

One thing you need to understand about duty cycle though is that you will rarely run your machine for 2 minutes continuously at 100%. Running your machine at the top end of the duty cycle means you are running a long bead and that is not advisable. Best tack your sides first and then do your welding if you are working a big project. The pauses in between tacks will give the welder enough time to cool down and will also help you produce a better join.

Having said all the above, for a compact welding machine with the output ratings that the Millermatic 135 has, the duty cycle is pretty good. After all, it was not made for heavy-duty industrial use that will require it to run for long periods of time continuously. If you are looking to get a DIY welding machine, the Millermatic 135 is more than capable of handling most, if not all, your welding needs.

What is the Best Gas to Use with Your Millermatic 135?

This is a question that is frequently asked by newbie welders and it is a very legitimate question that deserves a mention in this review of the Millermatic 135. There are basically 2 types of gas that are used in MIG welding and both can work with your Millermatic 135, you just have to understand how they affect your welding.

  • C25 also known as 75/25 gas. This is a 75% argon/25% CO2 blend and works best as an all-purpose shielding gas for carbon steel. It’s biggest advantages apart from shielding from preventing contamination is that it produces the least amount spatter, has the best bead appearance and won’t promote burn-through on thinner metals.
  • 100% CO2. This provides deeper penetration but also increases spatter. The bead will also be rougher than with 75/25. It is best used with thicker metals.

When it comes to getting your gas, it is better to know ahead of time the kind of jobs you will be using the Millermatic 135 for so as to plan accordingly. Other than that, you can use any of these 2 types of gases to do all your welding.

The Millermatic 135 – A Name You Can Trust

For most people, purchasing a welding machine for domestic use can be a complicated matter, seeing as there are many confusing specifications used to market each machine. With the Millermatic 135, you are in safe hands, whether you understand the industry jargon or not. All you need to consider is its rich heritage, especially that of being a pioneer in compact and portable MIG welding machines. So go ahead, buy yours with confidence – it is a Millermatic after all.

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