I needed some sheet metal welded, so I pulled out the TIG machine and asked my son to do the job. This, of course, prompted a couple of questions from my daughter; first, why are we using a TIG welder, and why ask my son to do the job.
TIG welding or “Tungsten Inert Gas” welding is a type of welding used in many applications and is best for making high-quality welds and is also suitable for thin sheet material or welding where you want to avoid penetration. It uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to join metals.
TIG Welding is not easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated either. My sons’ been TIG welding for a while and is very proficient, plus it takes time and practice before you get the hang of welding steel with a TIG welder.
But don’t get discouraged if you’re just starting out; this article will walk you through the basics of TIG welding – from its uses to what equipment you need to get started. If you’re a beginner or skilled welder, this article should benefit you.
History of Tig welding.
Everything has a beginning, so does Tig welding. Humankind used the welding process to join metals using heat for centuries. But in the 19th-century electric arc welding was invented. And a few years later, inert gas welding came into existence, but still, it was hard to weld light alloys (like aluminum and magnesium) due to their high thermal conductivity.
In the 1940s, a welder named Russell Meredith of Northrop Aircraft Corporation created a new technique to overcome this problem. He used a tungsten electrode (The patent for this process was purchased by the Linde Division of Union Carbide Corporation).
Then the company developed different torch designs, mainly air-cooled and water-based torches, to prevent overheating and used helium as shielding gas. They sold these torch designs under the brand name “Heliarc.”
Early TIG welders were large, bulky machines. With time and through design modifications, smaller, more efficient versions of Tig welders came into existence. And new gases have been introduced for shielding purposes.
How TIG welding works.
Before moving further, you should understand how Tig welding works. It is pretty similar to many other electric welders, but what distinguishes it is its ability to make precise and clean welds, even on thin metal sheets.
A tig Torch consists of a tungsten electrode that melts the base metals when current passes through it, making a solid weld. While the person welding controls the heat manually either by using a foot pedal or a control wheel
attached to the torch.
A welder must master these controls to make a clean and precise weld. Feeding filler wire is not necessary, which is another benefit of Tig welding. Tig welding can work with both AC and DC sources depending on materials.
DC source is further divided into two categories DCEN and DCEP. Shielding gas is used to avoid exposure of the weld to oxygen or other gases and protect the tungsten. It is ejected from the nozzle of the welding torch.
Is Argon required for Tig welding?
Shielding gas is necessary for TIG welding, and Argon is widely used because it works well and can be used to weld all metals and thicknesses. However, there are other gases you can use instead of Argon.
As its name suggests, “Tungsten Inert Gas Welding,” an Inert gas is used for this process because it is non-reactive. Different shielding gases are used for this process, but the best option is “argon” because it’s denser than air and can avoid the atmosphere’s interaction to a greater extent.
Argon is easy to mix with other gases, which is a good property in better shielding gases for different situations. A mixture of helium and Argon is also widely used.
What is TIG welding used for?
All welding processes join metal parts by heat or pressure, but each welding process has some specific benefits, so does Tig welding. It is primarily used for thin metals or smaller projects because it gives accurate results.
Once mastered its controls, it can be used in a variety of projects and gives more precision. It can be used to weld metals at different angles, even on vertical joints. It also offers a stylish appearance making it ideal for making furniture and doing jewelry repairs.
Is a Tig welder good for welding Aluminum?
There was a time when welding lighter alloys like (aluminum and magnesium) was extremely difficult; however, Tig welding solved this problem. TIG is the ideal process to weld aluminum, and because it has a high oxidation rate, Argon is a necessary shielding gas when welding.
While Alternating Current(AC) at high frequency is used, it helps avoid contamination and provides better penetration.
Is TIG welding easy
An experienced TIG welder can make the process look easy. But for a beginner, it is pretty hard to master the technique because you have one hand holding the torch and another applying filler metal while at the same time controlling ampere levels with your foot.
Coordinating the use of your limbs simultaneously makes TIG challenging, especially when compared to some other welders like MIG. However, there are TIG welders that have hand controls for gas which I find easier to use than the foot controls. In the picture above is My TIG machine with an adjustment dial on the gun. TIG welding is used for precision work, so naturally, it requires skill.
But you can master anything with practice and patience. Learning Tig welding takes time, but it’s worth it. If you are interested in a new TIG welder, check out the models available on Amazon, it’s an excellent way to get baseline prices to compare to elsewhere.
TIG vs MIG, which is better?
To differentiate between TIG and MIG, it’s best to understand each. Mig welding is also a type of arc welding like Tig welding; it uses current to melt base plates, while electrode wire is continuously fed through the torch, shielding gas is also fed through a nozzle to protect the weld.
Here are some following differences in method:
- Tig welding uses a non-consumable electrode while Mig welding uses a consumable electrode which is fed through a torch throughout the weld.
- In Tig welding, only Tungsten is used as an electrode while in Mig welding different electrodes are used depending on base metals.
- In Tig welding filler metal is fed by welder, it is short in length and needs to be refilled from time to time while in Mig, electrode acts as filler metal and is fed through the torch, it is quite long in length and is used for a long time.
- Tig welding is more expensive than Mig welding.
- Tig welding is difficult to master while Mig can be used by beginners also.
Here are some differences in uses between TIG and MIG welding:
- Tig welding is used for thinner metals because it cannot be done with Mig. Basically, Mig is used for thick metal plates.
- Tig welding is a better choice for light alloys like aluminum than Mig.
- Tig welding gives high accuracy but it is time-consuming, while Mig welding is much faster so it is used in projects with higher production rates.
- Tig welding gives a smooth finish so it is used for artworks while Mig is used for biggerprojects and yields faster welds with low defects.
- Both have their unique characteristics and separate uses, it totally depends on the welder to choose the correct process depending on the situation.
What you need to get started TIG welding
The most critical items you need to TIG weld are personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, a welding helmet, gloves, and a welding jacket. Of course, you need a TIG welder, gas tank, tungsten, rods, grinder, and a sander.
TIG Jobs : How is job market for Tig welders:
Apart from skills, everyone wants a good income. So if you are looking for a career in welding, learning as many types of welding processes will help you land a job, and TIG is one type you definitively need to know.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market should grow at an eight percent rate until 2030. That equates to approximately 50,000 job openings annually for welders and support personnel.
Tig welders can make a career in many fields. Out of which top ones are: Aircraft welding, Pipeline welding, Structural welding, etc. The income of a Tig welder can vary due to different reasons like:
- Experience: Experience play a vital role in income boost. An experienced welder can earn twice or thrice as much as beginners do. They have a high hourly rate.
- Certification: Having a certificate from a welding school can give a boost to your earning. Most industries prefer certified welders over others.
- Location: location can make a difference in earning, Welders living in countries having high hourly rates or pay can earn more. Places having more industries and higher demand for welders can be an upper hand for you.