- 1 What Is TIG Welding?
- 2 TIG vs MIG Welding
- 3 TIG Welding Jobs
- 4 History
- 5 Applications
- 6 Tips and The Basic Steps To Making A TIG Weld
- 7 How to TIG Weld Videos
- 8 What Equipment Is Needed?
- 9 Difficulty Level, Advantages, and Disadvantages
- 10 TIG Welding Video Basics
- 11 Pulse for TIG
- 12 Stainless Steel
- 13 Free Brochure
- 14 Conclusion
- 15 Author Bio
- 16 References
What Is TIG Welding?
TIG welding (tungsten inert gas) uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to heat the metal you would like to weld.(1) Shielding gas is used to protect the weld and the tungsten from airborne contaminants and debris. This form of welding uses argon, sometimes mixed with helium or hydrogen. The welder delivers the current to the welding arc via an electric torch with the electrode.
As needed, filler metal is added by hand into the weld puddle. Some welding machines have a pedal to control the heat, whereas other machines will have a fingertip remote on the torch. TIG welding is a two-handed process., making it a more difficult weld.
You can break down the process of TIG welding to three fundamental things:
The heat comes from the tungsten electrode, through the torch to create an arc to the metal in question. The shielding gas is released from a compressed container to the area where the weld is occurring and protects the weld from the air. The welder has to dip the filler metal into the arc by hand to weld with it.
TIG is also known as GTAW welding (gas tungsten arc welding). It is used to weld thin sections of non-ferrous metals such as copper alloys, magnesium, and aluminum. It is also used to weld thin stainless steel.
TIG vs MIG Welding
TIG is a process that gets the heat needed for welding from an electric arc that occurs between the part to be welded and a non-consumable tungsten electrode. If a filler metal is needed, it is fed into the weld puddle.
MIG (also called GMAW) is a process where metals are welded by heating them with an arc between the part to be welded and a continuously fed filler metal.(2)
TIG Welding Jobs
The average wage for a TIG welder is $18 per hour in the US, and the profession is only projected to grow in demand. With the job outlook expanding 4% by 2024, skilled welders with proper training are predicted to have excellent job opportunities over the next decade according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you’re familiar with MIG welding but haven’t dived into TIG, the differences are few, but enough to make TIG a bit harder and more expensive. This article talks about the history of TIG welding, what it is best used for, how it is done, job training, and more!
Humans have been welding since 1000 BC as ancient civilizations started shaping copper, bronze, gold, and other metals. Basic welding technology remained nearly the same for centuries until the Industrial Revolution in the 1700 and 1800s. Welders took notice of blacksmithing techniques and forge welding emerged as a popularized form. With this method, heated metal was used to join two pieces of steel or other metals. Forge welding was the beginning of welding as we know and understand it today.
In 1941 TIG welding was invented and patented by Russell Meredith who worked for Northrop Aircraft. He wanted a system that would help produce strong welds for lightweight aircraft materials. Meredith originally used Helium shielding gas and a tungsten electrode, but his patent only specified that an “inert gas” and “refractory” welding electrode be used for this kind of welding.
TIG welding was born out of the need to weld with thinner materials such as aluminum to support aircraft production during WWII.
TIG welding is mostly used for working on thinner gauge materials that require delicate welds. While TIG is a bit slower than MIG, it is by far the most versatile welding processes as it can be used to weld almost any material in a variety of positions. With the ability to join metals like aluminum, titanium, stainless steel and other exotic alloys, it is ideal for auto repair, construction, and metal art.
TIG welds are often used to build fences, bike frames, attach fenders, repair pipes and create ornamental pieces. TIG welds often have a very aesthetic finish that lends itself to creative exploration. The process’ ability to produce strong, precise welds on lightweight materials has helped lower fuel consumption and costs by cutting the weight of cars and trucks significantly.
Tips and The Basic Steps To Making A TIG Weld
- Turn on the gas flow using the valve that may be located on the torch or the machine interface
- Gas is applied to protect weld area from contaminants
- Place torch to hover over weld joint without contacting the metal
- If right handed work from right to left (left to right if left handed)
- Position torch 1/8″ from surface
- Tip torch 15 to 20 degrees away from direction of travel (improves visibility)
- Keep torch centered as it moves
- Start an arc via the electrode manually or using the foot pedal
- There are many different electrodes you can choose based on what metal you are welding.
- Electrodes have colored bands indicating the elements that they are made up of (check with manufacturer for best electrode for your application)
- The red band is most common and is used for steel.
- Green band is aluminum only used for tungsten
- Purple band is good for aluminum, steel, and most metals
- Gray band is similar to purple
- The arc will melt the two pieces of metal creating a “puddle.
- Once the puddle has fully formed the opposite hand places filler metal into the arc to fill the joint
- There now should be just one piece of metal
How to TIG Weld Videos
What Equipment Is Needed?
TIG welding does require you to invest in reliable equipment to ensure your safety in addition to quality welds. The first thing you will need is a TIG welding machine. This will cost a few hundred dollars more than a traditional MIG welder. Be sure to do comprehensive research before making this investment to find a machine that will match your skill set and welding needs.
After buying a machine, you may be tempted to skimp on the other equipment you need to TIG weld. However, it’s wise to get high-quality protective equipment, gas, and filler for all your TIG endeavors.
Before you can even think about striking an arc, it is important that you have the proper protective gear. You should purchase a secure helmet, mask, and goggles to protect the eyes and face. Make sure your eye protection has a dark enough tint. You will need gloves, an apron, jacket, long sleeves, pants, and shoe covers to protect your entire body from burns.
Tip: A lot of welding machines come with a hand-held face mask, or other flimsy bonus face protection, be sure to purchase your own if you do not find the freebies to be reliable.
Best Shielding Gasses
There are three types of shielding gases that can be used with a TIG welder:
- Argon – this can be used with any metal and makes for a precise and narrow weld without overheating the surrounding areas
- Argon Gas + Helium – mixing these two gases creates a higher amperage. This will not work with steel, but it does make the weld hotter to permeate out to the very edges of the weld puddle.
- Argon Gas + Hydrogen – if you want to weld with stainless steel, argon mixed with less than 5% hydrogen increases the heat to accommodate this metal better.
When purchasing filler rod to feed into the TIG welder, it is crucial that the rod matches the material you will be joining. The diameter of the filler rod should correlate with the thickness of the metal you are welding as well.
Difficulty Level, Advantages, and Disadvantages
There is a steep learning curve for TIG welders, and it is not recommended as an entry-level welding process. What makes TIG so tricky? Using both hands at once to simultaneously control the torch while feeding the filler metal into the joint can be tough to get the hang of for novice welders. It takes a lot of hands, eye, and foot coordination, which requires a lot of practice to master.
While MIG is undoubtedly the best place for beginners to start, don’t let the difficulty of TIG discourage you from trying. Also, Stick and TIG are both CC and most of the TIG machines have settings for both. With proper hands-on training in the classroom and quality apprenticeship programs, any experienced welder should be able to eventually tackle TIG. Before running out to purchase a pricey TIG welder, it might be best to attend a community college or vocational school class to see how you take to it.
The three keys to TIG Welding application issues are:
- Torch angle
- Filler material angle
- The torch melts the base material and the molten base material melts your filler rod
TIG Welding Video Basics
Pulse for TIG
Pulse for TIG is controlled by either a petal or by setting up the pulse. The purpose of the pulse for TIG is to:
- Moderate the heat when welding thin metals
- Makes it easier to create a clean weld, particularly when moving the puddle forward
- Helps you minimize movement in tight spaces without introducing too much filler or heat
Pulses range from 20 per second to 150 per second. Higher pulses enable you to neatly weld in less time while slow pulsing might help a welder with a slower rhythm while welding. Bottom line is that TIG pulsing can help with accuracy and control.
If you are having problems with TIG Welding Stainless Steel the problem is probably too much heat. Stainless steel doesn’t transfer heat as quickly as other metals, sometimes causing warping.
The solution to heat-related TIG stainless steel welding problems to increase the travel speed and reduce the amperage. Another approach is to reduce the diameter of the filler rod.
The demand for TIG welders will only grow in the coming years, so now is the time to expand upon your welding experience and learn how to TIG weld. Now that you understand the processes’ rich history, general uses, and the difficulties you may face while learning, you can find an accredited educational program near you and start learning.
The versatility and precision of TIG welding are truly unbeatable. Becoming a skilled TIG welder can help you conquer any project around the house and shop, no matter the material. Or it can serve to make you an invaluable member of a company.
Greg Sanders is the owner of Cromweld.com, a website devoted to all things welding. Greg is semi-retired from welding but likes to keep learning, as well as sharing his knowledge through his website. You can also find him on Facebook.
(1) Temperature Controlled TIG Welding | Micro Precision Welding, accessed August 21, 2017