Welding is sometimes an essential part of our hobby and critical for those who make a living in and around shops. Welders come in many grades and price points that range from cheap to big-bucks. Of course, we can weld with two car batteries, a couple wires, and some rod, a setup that makes awesome trail repairs. However, the old adage rings true when it comes to quality welding: You get what you pay for.
Looking around for a good home and shop welder, we picked up Hobart’s new Ironman 230. The MIG welder is a complete redesign of Hobart’s fullsize line welding units. The Ironman will deliver 30-250 amps for welding thick-to-thin steel, stainless steel, and aluminum.
Once we received the welder we found the Ironman a breeze to set up and very easy to weld with. The unit laid down exceptional welds while evenly penetrating metal that cheapo units could not. If you’d like to ramp up your welding and invest in a quality machine, the Ironman 230 is a great place to start.
The Ironman 230 is a great fullsize MIG welder for a number of applications. It comes complete and ready to weld, minus a gas bottle and wire. Additional components are available from Hobart such as protective gear and consumables like welding wire (solid- or flux-core), nozzles, and tips. Gas bottles can be very expensive—$100 to $200 or more if purchased new—but they can also be rented from your local welding supply store. We recommend searching the Internet for a used cylinder to save a few bucks. Note that bottles must be inspected before being filled, so if you do grab one secondhand make certain that it is up to par.
Aluminum can be a tricky to weld, but Hobart’s DP 3545-20 spool gun allows the proper welding of aluminum from 18-gauge to 1⁄2-inch. When combined with the Ironman, the spool gun’s advanced design welds aluminum with less splatter and better penetration due to its voltage control and arc quality.
Installing a spool of 10-pound, 0.035-inch solid-core wire was easy due to the design of the machine’s spool hub. The hub holds spools of wire from 2 to 45 pounds, and no tools are required for installation. The tension on the hub is also fully adjustable. Switch from MIG to spool gun with the flip of a switch. The link to switch the voltage from 200 to 230 is accessible just below the wire wheelhub. Threading wire into the drive unit was effortless, with no wire kinks, bending, or jamming.
We liked a number of cool features on the Ironman 230, such as its easy setup, operation, and use. We also found the heavy-duty housing stout enough for everyday shop life. The MIG line and cable holders on the side of the housing are very convenient. The holders will keep the lines off the ground and safe from damage when not in use.
The Ironman 230 will weld steel from 24-gauge to 1⁄2-inch, and fine-tuning the unit is straightforward. We found that the wire speed had a 0-wire speed control, an uncommon feature that’s great for checking and adjusting the gas. Wire speed settings on the machine range from zero to 700 ipm (inches per minute).
In no time at all we had the setting and gas on the Ironman 230 dialed in and were producing some really nice welds with very uniform beads. The welds penetrated the metal evenly and were easier to lay down due to the upgraded voltage control system in the welder.
After playing around with the Ironman for a while, we let professional fabricators at a shop use it for a few days so we could get their impressions. The guys were really impressed with the new welder and liked it better than a machine they had been using in the shop for a number of years. Once they had the welder tuned to their preferences, they were cranking out some topnotch welds.
Hobart Ironman 230 Mig Welder
Rated Output at 60% Duty Cycle: 175 A at 25.5 VDC
Current Range (amp): 30-250
Max. Open-Circuit Voltage: 35
Wire Feed Speed Range (ipm): 0-700
Amps Input at Rated Load: 60 Hz
Height (in): 311⁄2
Width (in): 187⁄8
Depth (in): 361⁄2
Net Weight (lb): 185