Tig Welding Basics A Primer

TIG welding is a short term for Tungsten Inert Gas, also known as Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) is an arc welding procedure that uses tungsten electrodes that are non-consumable to produce a weld.

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Other names given to the process by welding industry experts and machine manufacturers include HeliArc or Heliweld. TIG welding basics are similar to MIG (wire) welding except that the arc is provided by non-consumable tungsten electrodes as opposed to consumable wire in MIG.

The tungsten electrode is used to conduct electric current to the arc. This creates an accurate and precise heat zone, a quality that makes TIG welding process ideal for incidences where only a small area of heat is required. The inert gases used such as Helium and Argon do not combine with the atmospheric atmosphere which creates an enabling environment that is contamination free. This perfectly shields the electrode and weld zone. The TIG components in TIG welding basics include:

Power Source

As stated before the welding process needs electric current. This is derived from an AC/DC welder with a minimum duty circle of 60%. A high frequency (HF) generator is also normally added to provide stability and continuity when the alternating current voltage is compromised. These are vital TIG welding basics.

TIG Torch

The Torch, which is the most important of the TIG welding basics, is designed with an intention to deliver not only electric current to the weld joint but to also shield gas to the same joint. Be sure to buy a torch brand that is widely recognized as this ensures quality and after-sale service because you can easily acquire parts without strain or time limitation in the future. The torch is the most important component of welding because it is at the root of the process and choosing the wrong one can potentially cost the welder dearly. A high quality Torch that is comfortable to handle can make a big difference in the quality of work done. There are two types of torches, the air cooled and water cooled. The air cooled torch is for small work like around the home, nothing intensive, while the water cooled torch is for huge industrial work as it does not get warm fast and can hence withstand long period use.

Inert Gas System

A bottle of 100% Argon gas can cover most welding  efficiently save for some cases like when welding thicker aluminum or copper. This is where Helium, which is rarely used because of its expensive nature, comes in. The two can be combined at different ratios depending on the type or material under weld. In this case, a flow meter, also known as regulator, with a glass tube can show the user the rate of flow for the gas mixture. Without these TIG welding basics, a weld is not viable.

TIG Electrodes

There are 3 grades of electrodes used in TIG welding namely pure tungsten, 1% thoriated and 2% thoriated .  Pure tungsten is the most widely used electrodes because they are good for all types of steels. Thoriated electrodes on the other hand are known to last longer and provide a more stable arc. They are suited more for non-ferrous work and aluminum welding. The tungsten electrodes are one of the most important TIG welding basics and also come in different diameters specified for different welds.

TIG Filler Metals

The filler metals also come in different numerical categories, with the most common being the 36’’ long. The fillers are needed for repairs to the weld or fabrication of steels. The one for repairs is usually copper coated while the weld for steel fabrication usually comes in a stainless steel coating. There are aluminum filler metals also that come in various grades. This is one of the TIG welding basics that can be most vital in the process.

TIG welding is more complex and tasking to master, even taking a longer time to perform than the MIG but it is safer and more accurate. The welding process is not possible without the TIG welding basics above.


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