Written by Marloes

Everything on TIG welding

TIG welding is a common welding method in addition to shielded metal arc welding and MIG/MAG welding. There are quite a few differences between these 3 ways of making welds. Not just in the method, but also in the results and the materials you'll be needing. In order to go in prepared, it's good to know more about the welding method you'll choose. That's why I'll explain how TIG welding works in this article. I'll also discuss when it's best to use this method and what its advantages are.

How does it work?

How TIG welding works

Let's start at the beginning: TIG stands for Tungsten Inert Gas. Tungsten is the material the electrode you use during welding is made of. Inert gas (noble gas) is the type of gas you need to use. You ignite an arc by touching the workpiece with the electrode. This movement requires some practice: if you don't pull back the electrode quick enough, it'll get fused to the material and you'll have to start again. If you do manage to ignite the arc, you use it to connect the tungsten electrode to the workpiece and create a molten pool, a 'puddle' of liquid material that will start to cool down even during welding. You use your other hand to add a welding rod to the molten pool; the welding consumable. Together with the material to be welded, the drops melting from the welding rod will combine to become the weld. You then move the torch and consumable very evenly over the area where you want the weld to get the best possible result. As you can see, you need a pretty steady hand to create an even weld.

When do you use it?

TIG welding applications

If the weld doesn't just need to be sturdy, but pretty as well, TIG is the best option. It's often used in furniture making and for restoring cars or motorcycles. There's good reason for that. When TIG welding, very few drops are created that might land on the workpiece. After all, it would be quite a waste to damage that unique, antique car. You don't really have to do any post-processing with this welding process. In addition, TIG welding is indispensable (necessary even) in the food industry, since the quality of the weld is very high. There won't be any edges in welded pipes where bacteria might hide behind. Pipes that transport flammable materials even have to be welded using this technique, because a TIG weld is 100% airtight.

What do you need?

What you'll need for TIG welding

Well, obviously you need a welding machine capable of TIG welding. You also need a welding torch of course. A TIG welding torch can be a lot longer than torches for other welding methods, because it doesn't contain wire like with MIG/MAG welding. TIG welding is almost always done with argon, since that's the cheapest gas. You can also use other noble gases, such as helium. You also need a tungsten electrode in the welding torch, to ignite the arc. These come in different types, depending on the material you'll be welding. Finally, you have to choose the consumables in the form of welding rods.

Which materials can you weld with it?

Materials that you can TIG weld

The TIG welding method is suitable for all ferrous and non-ferrous metals. That includes steel, stainless steel, aluminum, bronze, and copper. Thin sheet material is particularly suited for TIG welding, because the welding speed is relatively low and you're not likely to burn the material. To find out which materials you can weld using your TIG welding machine, you could start with looking at the name. For instance, DC stands for Direct Current, which is what you need to weld steel or stainless steel. The abbreviation AC stands for Alternating Current and is essential if you want to weld aluminum. A welding machine with just AC doesn't exist. You either have a DC machine or an AC/DC machine.

What are the advantages?

Advantages TIG welding

As said, the results of TIG welding look very good. You can create fine and accurate welds, because you use 2 hands to completely control the welding direction. This is probably 1 of the most important reasons to choose this method. Another important advantage is the fact that there are very little sparks or drops. That way, your workpiece will remain clean and you won't have to spend time removing droplets. In addition, all TIG welding machines let you perform shielded metal arc welding. That means you have the option to use 2 welding methods with 1 machine, depending on the job.

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