BoD Agenda - Electrical Request for Metal

Hello @Team_Metal_Shop

re: BoD Agenda Wed May 11, 7pm

The request for electrical buildout has been added to the agenda for the Board of Directors tomorrow.

There are a few open questions and if a rep from Metal was on hand, or could provide some answers ahead of time, that would be appreciated.

  • Benefit of the Effort

    • What does this provide that is not currently available in Metal?
    • Does this help current users?
    • Does this change attract new users?
  • Timing of the work?

    • Is that needed ASAP?
    • Is this part part of the expansion / build-out? (can it be combined for savings?)
  • Amount of power?

    • Did the contractor verify that our building service can support the request?
    • Electrical Bid states only 1 outlet can be used at a time. Please clarify / expand if possible.
  • Change of Cost (answered)

    • Charles already provided sufficient detail to explain why the cost increased significantly.

Those are the initial questions that came up in review. Additional information would definitely be helpful.

Thank you,


I can answer a few of them.
Benefit of the effort
What does this provide that is currently not available?
This gives us 480 volts into the metal shop. We can not currently use our larger TIG welder due to the current needed to support it. The current limitations is the amperage IIRC the existing service 208 single phase is I believe 30 amps. The machine to run in AC tig mode requires 100 amps at 208. This service will also supply power to the hand plasma cutter. We currently do not have a functional hand plasma cutter without the power needed to run it at capacity.

How does this help attract new users & current users?
It adds to capabilities that we do not currently have. We can not weld larger aluminum projects without difficulty. The hand plasma cutter that we do have, we have currently locked out just because if we made it for general use, we would be tripping the breaker pretty often for it.

Timing of the work?
Well we have been told it has been getting done no problem for the past 2 years.

During the last meeting the contractor indicated it would take 6-8 weeks to get the materials in.

Amount of power?

We are supposed to be using the 60 amps of the 100 amp service fed from that transformer in suite 102.

As to the outlet, we may only be able to use one device at max power at a time.

Changes of cost I can’t really answer so I’m glad Charles did. We were expecting a relative simple job, that looks like its out the window.


Did I read correctly that they are installing single phase 480v outlets? What equipment do we have that requires that?

Edit: Seems like single phase 480v is sometimes used for welders, and the Syncrowave we have only supports single phase input.

If I may clarify. We have a hand plasma cutter that runs on various 3 phase voltages. It can not be run at it’s maximum capacity without tripping a breaker. With 480V 3 phase it will be able to.
At least three of our Miller welders will operate on 480Volts. The dispersion of the outlets along the north wall allows for a wider dispersion of machines.
The transformer supplying the is rated at 95 amps. It supplies 37 amps to an air conditioner and 60 amps to the metal shop. In the very unlikely event that several welders were operating and the air conditioner turned on there is a possibility that the feed to the transformer would trip. Hence the restriction.
I was told that this project was separated from the expansion because it was of a scope that did not require the approval of the city, and would be quicker.
Philosophically I believe that if the board has paid for a capability it should be available to the membership. That is not currently the case.
I felt as chair an obligation to pursue this matter as it was handed to me by my predecessor, and to submit it to the board by the end of my term.
Contractors are apparently experiencing supply issues which permit to consider minor projects such as this. If it is rolled into the expansion the delay is incalculable. However if rolled into the expansion other options may be available which may or may not be cost effective.
As to the question of attractiveness to the membership I cannot speak.

The three Miller’s I checked all take 1 phase 480. The other one may I haven’t checked.

If the transformer is supplying other loads, I would be worried about voltage imbalance from such high single phase loads (46A single phase on a 95A transformer is some of the highest I’ve ever seen). On its own it wouldn’t be an issue but it will affect other loads connected to the 480v distribution.

Just from the manuals online, the Multimatic will only support single phase low voltage. Single phase high voltage would be supported by the Syncrowave, Millermatic, and Dynasty. Additionally, the Dynasty will support three phase high voltage. Sadly the only standard configuration all welders support is single phase 208v at slightly over 100A, which is probably not feasible, and would not support the plasma.

Given the goal to run 4 welders and a hand plasma (though not simultaneously), I wonder if a more ideal solution would be to install a single 3 phase 480v circuit, discard the existing syncrowave and purchase a new unit that supports high voltage three phase (as the current syncrowave 300/400 do). The Multimatic/Millermatic would run on single phase 208v, the Dynasty could run on either, and the new Syncrowave/Hand Plasma would run on the 3 phase 480v circuit. This would also keep the single phase 208v plug on the millermatic which is important to me personally since that’s the plug that’s in automotive.

I appreciate the intent to standardize the welders plugs and voltages, but I feel 480v single phase is not a good choice given the small supply transformer. I recognize that the job isn’t 100% focused on powering the syncrowave, but it also seems strange to spend more than the cost of a new welder in electrical installation to get an old freebie up and running.


Where nave you been for the last two years? One of the problems with the space is that persons like you have not contributed in the process raise issues that should have been addressed at the start of the process.
There are many options available that have not been posited. This is a solution that was decided in a committee meeting at which you did not grace with your presence. It is also noted in the meeting minutes.
I don’t think that I have suggested that this is either the only or best solution. It is the committee solution.
I would not run continuous 47 amp single phase continuously. The 47 amps is the max load from from the Synchrowave and is unlikely to be used, and the nature of welding is that the current load is intermittent.
Had the decision to dispose of the Synchrowave been made two years ago the whole matter would be moot.
The proposal does not preclude the 208V option for any of other welders. A decision was made years ago to install the 480V supply for the synchrowave and has been approved at committee meetings. The acceptance of the hand plasma unit was predicated on the availability of 480.

That is a sunk cost fallacy.

We can still change to a wiser course now.


I think you’re referring to the minutes from April that are quite clear that the electrical installation is still quite a ways out. I don’t think minutes have been posted for last weekends meeting.

I’m not bringing up these concerns because I want to block the use of a new welder or plasma, but since one of our new board members seemed concerned with the cost (and the cost was much higher than I expected, though it seems reasonable given current prices), I figured it would be best to point out some other solutions that might be a better use of funds.

I will give you this, the solution proposed is ready to go, it does get the result you want, and whatever problems it may have seem unlikely to cause damage in the long term. I also agree that it is not the best solution.

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For the record this is not my preferred personal solution, however it is the result of a series of committee decisions. As the chair it was my duty to implement these decisions, regardless of my personal opinion.


Hi Michael,

I’m primarily in the role of DMS Secretary right now, trying to make sure the BoD agenda is as smooth and complete as possible. (Hopefully a little extra prep ahead of time helps accelerate the pace of achievement)

As BoD member, my questions are less about cost / price and more focused on value / benefit.
I also hope to see some anticipation on “what’s next” . It’s hard to predict the future, but it is reasonable to think through the next couple steps of deployment. (space, training, safety, etc)


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Hi Charles,

My personal perspective: (not speaking for the board or officers)

Yes, New participants and Rehashed topics can be frustrating and might even seem pointless. I’m one of those persons who have not been in the metal committee these last two years, so I appreciate your patience. (Side note, I have to commend you on your excellent committee minutes and recent usage of Source and Tasks… it really helped me catch up on the current topics… Thank you!)

Please trust that I know that there’s been a lot of effort and conversation back and forth at the committee level. I’m not trying to rehash or second guess any of the issues, just trying to fill in the gaps/decisions/conclusions that I missed to facilitate the agenda. The answers from Team Metal have been really useful.


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Should You have any more questions I will be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.
On a personal note I greatly appreciate your questions.
I’m no longer the chair you may want to ask my replacement what his plan for the future of the committee are.
I was attempting to provide greater value to DMS for the considerable capital expense of the committee.

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I think the distinction you’ve made here is important. Value and low cost are two different strategies to grow the makerspace. I think that our specific membership price level forces us to think in terms of value; however, we also are not at the price level where we really can tilt things in favor of high-quality. We are going to need to think in terms of quality/value per dollar, but I dont think we have the information architecture in place to truly pursue this strategy consistently. Given the information that is available, cost is probably going to drive decisions across board/chair terms. Right now, we have to rely on the expertise and intuition of chairs and that is probably fine when we are talking about chairs like charles and tim; however, not every chair is going to be that way. That’s why we need to focus on developing more value measures, which was something @SWA also brought up in a conversation at the space.

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