Depending on who you ask, you might find many types of welding processes out there. One of the fundamental processes is TIG welding, and if you’re wondering What TIG welding is or which TIG welder to buy, you first need some basic understanding of this process.
Joining two objects or elements together, especially metal or thermoplastic, is what you need welding for. Now, if you do something, you should do it well. Therefore, it makes sense for you to inquire about TIG welding, as you can obtain very high-quality and clean welding this way.
However, everything has a catch, and so does this welding. It would be best if you were pretty good at it even to start seeing satisfactory welding results. Learning some tips and tricks doesn’t hurt either. In this blog post, we will let you in on a few of these tricks and let you have a basic understanding of TIG welding.
What is TIG welding?
If you’re wondering what TIG stands for, here it is. Tungsten inert gas welding is also known as gas tungsten ARC welding (GTAW). Invented in the 1940s, this process was meant to weld magnesium and aluminum for the aircraft industry, where there’s no space for a sloppy welding job.
The main components of TIG welding are a non-consumable tungsten electrode and an inert shielding gas. Non-consumable means this electrode doesn’t melt despite the temperature being around 6192 °F during the welding process. Out of the different types of flames in gas welding, TIG welding uses argon most often, but occasionally helium might be used.
An ARC forms between the base metal (Negative cathode) and the tungsten electrode (Positive anode) during the welding process. A molten weld pool forms and the welder feeds a thin filler metal rod. The inert gas prevents any oxygen contamination from taking place during the process.
For a sound, slag-free result, using a TIG welder is excellent. Many experienced welders also prefer it because this process is terrifically versatile.
What is the purpose of TIG welding?
Why would you pick TIG welding over any other process? Well, other than the apparent benefit of getting an excellent finishing, it’s also helpful in welding a more significant number of metals and alloys than other welding processes.
From stainless steel to mild steel, and from aluminum to gold, you can use TIG welding on many metals. Usually, you would be welding similar metals together, but with TIG welding, you can even weld together dissimilar metals without much fuss.
Here I should tell you that inert metal gas (MIG) welding also accommodates quite a range of metals. So, TIG welder or MIG welder? If you’re welding thick materials, you go for MIG welding, while for thin materials, you should pick TIG welding.
Due to the nature of this type of welding, there’s no flux, no risk of sparks or splatters, and no toxic fumes emanating from the welding. To seal the deal, you can weld in various positions in this process, namely- flat, horizontal, vertical, and even overhead.
Now that we know a bit about TIG welding, let’s look at a couple of common questions about the process that you might already be thinking about.
TIG welding without gas- Is it possible?
You need to ensure a closed-off, wind-free environment for TIG welding as this means the inert gas can adequately cover the ARC, and the welding process can go smoothly. However, some might find this tedious and wonder if they can do away with the gas for convenience.
The short answer is, no, it isn’t.
The long answer is a smidge more complicated. While you can attempt to use a flux like in some other welding processes, this would mean your TIG welder’s tungsten electrode is left unprotected from the atmospheric oxygen.
Without gas, TIG welding wouldn’t be the same. The tungsten would get burned away, and as the gas cannot cool the welder, it would get overheated real fast and risk a malfunction.
If you’d still like to try out TIG welding without gas, you can try getting a multi-process TIG welder. It would let you do ARC welding or stick weld aside from the standard TIG welding.
Is TIG welding without a filler rod Possible?
This question is much easier to answer, and you will be pleased to know that yes, you can do TIG welding without a filler rod. You might call this type of welding without a filler rod fusion or autogenous welding.
However, if you’re inexperienced with TIG welding or relatively new to the process, it’s better not to attempt it.
Not using a filler rod would automatically reduce the cost of the process. As you wouldn’t have to hand feed the filler rod carefully, it would take less time and make the process more accessible.
However, there’s a downside. In crude terms, the filler rod works as a layer of glue between the two materials. Without it, there is a high chance that the weld would crack later. There’s no point in welding something that would break afterward.
How to pick the right TIG welder?
Depending on some points, such as price and features that the TIG welder offers, you might be faced with a sizable array of choices. It also depends on you. Ask yourself a few questions like why exactly you want a TIG welder and what use you’ll put it to.
Someone buying a welder for professional purposes will need a different machine than someone who only wants a fancy toy for weekend projects. Similarly, what material you anticipate working on would also affect your choice while making a TIG welder comparison.
If you want maximum power from your TIG welder, you should install a 220-volt circuit with an appropriate circuit breaker and a TIG welder that’s compatible with it. Pay attention to what volt current your TIG welder uses. Getting a dual voltage machine like this Lotos TIG welder would be good.
If you’ve got a TIG welder that can pulse weld, like this PRIMEWELD TIG welder, then you should also make sure you can make adjustments to the pulse. Pulse welding is an excellent choice if you’re worried about burning the weld. You can also make sure your stainless steel weld would not rust using it. You can also weld thick and thin materials better this way. TIG welders with higher pulse rates can give you a much cleaner and well-controlled weld.
This might seem like a relatively insignificant detail, but you’d be surprised by how much a foot pedal would make your job easier. Since you’ll need to use both hands for welding, the pedal will be crucial, like the one on this YESWELDER TIG welder.
You can control how much heat you’re using with a good pedal. It should be sensitive enough and have a comfortable design so your foot doesn’t get tired too quickly.
If you like everything about a TIG welder but feel unsatisfied about the foot pedal, I’d suggest just replacing the existing one with a foot pedal that’s more suited to you.
If you’re somewhat knowledgeable about TIG welding, you might be more inclined to pick one with some exciting features. Features like high-frequency settings, high duty cycle, no-touch arc start, stick welding, plasma cutting, and so on might be features that a TIG welder offers. However, if you’re only starting, maybe it’s better to pick one with more basic functions.
A beginner would undoubtedly think of just picking up the cheapest TIG welder they could find. On the other hand, an expensive machine might also seem attractive to some people since it would boast a variety of desirable features. However, neither is suitable for everyone. The cheapest TIG welders might be ideal as portable machines and for those who want to start TIG welding. But if you’ve already got the hang of the process, you would like a device from the middle price range. On the other hand, if you anticipate welding regularly, getting one of the pricier machines would ultimately save you money as they are more efficient and durable.
TIG welding tips
Here are seven tips that would keep you from making some common mistakes while you’re attempting to weld using a TIG welder. These are primarily tips for people starting TIG welding, but a pro welder can also refresh their memory with it.
Keep a keen eye on the level of power you are using
If you’re a newbie, start with the minimum power. From there, you can figure out how much you should go up. If you start with too much power, there’s a possibility that you’re going to end up with a burnt weld.
Cleanliness is important
Always make sure that whatever you’re using is spotlessly clean. You’ve already seen that preventing contamination is very important for TIG welding, and that’s why we use inert gas. That goes for cleanliness too.
Use a degreaser on the metal surface you’re working with. After that, use a wire brush. Don’t forget to wipe down the filler rod. And when your electrode inevitably gets contaminated, don’t forget to change it out with a fresh one.
Pick a comfortable position.
If you’re bent over or leaning over the welding materials, there’s a high possibility of an accident happening. Moreover, unless you’re comfortable, there’s also the chance of a mistake being made with the weld.
This is akin to being comfortable, but make sure your hands are supported while welding. TIG welding requires more precision and control; that’s why your hands’ position is so important. Rest your wrists on some support. You’ll be surprised by how much effort it cuts down. You should also rest your elbow and shoulders on something if you can. Unless it impedes your movement, support will only help.
Before starting the torch, you should go over the process once as a demonstration. You will see which position is best and whether your hands are appropriately supported or not.
Angle it right
Make sure you’re using the right angle, and that goes for both the torch and the filler metal rod. From the direction of travel, keep the torch about 15-20 degrees away. This makes it easy for you to see what’s going on. When it comes to the filler rod, feed it at as low an angle as possible, so it doesn’t touch the tungsten electrode.
Don’t melt the filler rod directly.
If you’re new and enthusiastic about TIG welding, you might try to melt the filler rod directly using the torch. Never do that. Focus on making a weld puddle with the torch, and when the filler rod touches the reservoir, it will melt safely.
Practice caution with stainless steel
It’s common to mess up welding stainless steel using too much heat. Keep an eye on the weld’s color while you’re welding. If the color is golden or salmon, you’re safe. However, if you notice that that color is starting to look dark and dingy as if it’s oxidized, you’re using too much heat.
“What is TIG welding?” is a question that requires a big answer, and there you have it. Now you know the bare bones of what the process is like and its purpose. We’ve also answered a couple of frequently asked questions that people willing to learn TIG welding tend to ask.
Moving on, we’ve talked about how to pick a good TIG welder, as well as some tips you might need up your sleeve to become a TIG welder worth his salt.
However, there is no better teacher than practice. It takes a lot of time and patience to become a master at this, so don’t lose your focus! When you’ve gone through the motions time after time, you’ll start to get the hang of TIG welding.