What is the Best Multi-Process Welder? | Reviewing ESAB’s Warrior 500i
By Joel Armstrong
We review an ESAB multi-process welder, the Warrior 500i, to see if we can find one of the best multi-process welders on the market.
Like the promise of one-size-fits-all, the dream of having one tool that can do all you need it to seems like just that, a dream. For welders, that fantasy often comes packaged as a multi-process welder.
The truth is, there are pros and cons when it comes to these welders and each one has its own advantages. But is there a multi-process welder you can dub “the best”? There’s only one way to find out: to test them all.
In this post, we’ll review an ESAB multi-process welder, the Warrior 500i, to see if we can find one of the best multi-process welder on the market.
Bonus: Book a personal meeting with a welding engineer to reveal how your shop can make process improvements that save you money and time.
An Overview of the ESAB Warrior 500i
The Warrior 500i is a multi-process CC/CV machine with output current that ranges from 16-500 A for GMAW and SMAW and 5-500 A for GTAW. It accepts 380-575 V and requires three-phase power. The price hovers around $6,500 or more depending on the options.
Built for heavy duty jobs from construction to pipelines, the Warrior 500i offers various features operators will find useful.
Inverter Technology: The typical advantages—arc performance and energy savings—associated with inverters
High-Duty Cycle: The machine can have long runs because of its 60% Duty Cycle at 500A or 100% Duty Cycle at 400A
Durable and rugged: An IP23 rating ensures protection from elements in outdoor and indoor environments
Easy-to-use: A simple user interface makes it easy to navigate the display
All the equipment, hose packs, welding gun, and wire were shipped in a metal container. This is an awesome approach. Everything you need to get started is shipped together. There’s no need to make a ground cable, find drive rolls, or find welding wire.
Permissible Load at 100% Duty Cycle GMAW (MIG/MAG)
300 A / 29 V
400 A / 34 V
Permissible Load at 60% Duty Cycle SMAW (Stick)
400 V / 36 V
500 A / 40 V
Permissible Load at 100% Duty Cycle SMAW (Stick)
300 A /32 V
400 A / 36 V
Permissible Load at 60% Duty Cycle GTAW (TIG)
400 A / 26 V
500 A / 30 V
Permissible Load at 100% Duty Cycle GTAW (TIG)
300 A / 22 V
400 A / 26 V
Setting Range GMAW (MIG/MAG)
16 – 400 A
16 – 500 A
Setting Range SMAW (Stick)
16 – 400 A
16 – 500 A
Setting Range GTAW (TIG)
4 – 400 A
5 – 500 A
Efficiency at Max Current
Power Factor Max Current
Energy Save Mode
Open Circuit Voltage
Open Circuit Voltage VRD Activated
Mains Cable Ø mm2
4 x 6
4 x 6
+14 to +104 °F (-10 to +40 °C)
28.1 x 12.8 x 18.5 in. (712 x 325 x 470 mm)
130 lbs. (59 kg)
The ESAB Warrior 500i Power Source
The power source itself is compact (12.8” x 28.1” x 18.5”), weighing 130 pounds. The small footprint and light weight are due to the inverter technology within the machine. The machine itself is also rated for indoor and outdoor use in accordance with the IP23 rating, making it ideal for a rough environment.
The front panel has a process selector switch with some color coding for various machine settings (arc force for SMAW and inductance for GMAW).
Welding with ESAB’s multi-process welding machine
Set up was simple and intuitive. We started by selecting the process on the power source, then used the suggested parameters given on the inside cover of the wire feeder. Something we did find odd: the feeder’s internal flow meter has ft3/min as the specified unit instead of the more traditional ft3/hr.
There are some selector switches inside the feeder for two step vs. four step triggers, solid wire vs. cored wire, and even an option for crater fill.
We tested GMAW and FCAW with the welding machine on plate and pipe. We found the arc to be stable and easy to manipulate as needed. For having no pulse or advanced root program, welding open roots in standard short arc produced great looking beads inside and outside the pipe.
We also tested welding in the 2F position and found welding to be stable and smooth as well.
An Overview of the Robust Feed Pro Wire Feeder
A welding operator’s wire feeder can greatly impact efficiency. Hence, why it’s important to choose a durable and reliable feeder that fits your conditions.
The Robust Feed Pro wire feeder maximizes durability with various features.
Weatherproof: It’s claimed to work in extreme cold temperatures and has an IP44 rating—this rating represents the feeder’s protection against intruding objects like dirt and rain
Sun-proof: The feeder can withstand temperatures as high as 131°F (55°C) and can clearly display in the sun
Impact-proof: Due to its double-walled design, you can throw and drag around the Robust Feed without destroying it
Shielded spools: The wire is protected inside the feeder and offers a heat kit in the offshore version to keep the spool dry
Shielded electronics: Internal components are protected from debris and special cable connections prevent short circuits in the torch and interconnections cables
The Robust Feed Pro wire feeder offers internal storage for spare parts such as tips and drive rolls. It has color-coded information for parameter settings, recommended shielding gas, welding wire, and spare part numbers. We found all these features beneficial, but the ability to store and feed the wire from inside the feeder was a huge win.
Internally storing the wire protects its integrity. This helps reduce exposure to the atmosphere and limit discontinuities caused by moisture and rust. As another layer of protection, the built-in heater option can be turned on or off as needed.
The front display is simple; the large, bright, LCD numbers make it easy to read the voltage and wire feed speed or amperage. One interesting feature, though, is the display’s mobility. It can be removed and rotated 90 degrees, which is handy if you want to lay the feeder on its side. You simply remove two screws, turn the faceplate, and reinstall the screws. Easy.
Wire Feeder Specifications
Max Spool Diameter
300 mm (12 in.)
0.6 - 1.6 mm (.023 - 1/16 in.)
0.9 - 2.4 mm (.035 - 3/32 in.)
09. - 1.6 mm (.035 - 1/16 in.)
0.6 - 2.0 mm (.023 - 5/64 in.)
Wire Feed Speed
0.8 - 25.0 m/min (31 - 984 in./min)
Wire Spool Capacity
20 kg (45 lb.)
Our Final Verdict
For the price point of the product, the ESAB Warrior 500i and Robust Feed Pro is a great option for a standard CC/CV machine. Operators will love the simplified interface and the wealth of information inside the feeder.
Learn how to beat inefficiencies, save time and money and demo equipment for your fabrication shop. With a personalized assessment, you can get actionable insights on how to improve your process and operation with little downtime.
Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with ESAB. All equipment mentioned is listed for sale with Red Ball Oxygen. All opinions and reviews are our own.
Posted on Apr 29, 2021 9:45:00 AM
Sales Engineer at Red Ball Oxygen Co. Inc.
Joel Armstrong is a Senior Certified Welding Inspector and has been in the welding industry since 1998.