TIG Welding

What is TIG Welding used for?

TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding, also called GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding), utilises a non-consumable tungsten electrode and inert shielding gas to produce high quality, precise welds on thin sections of stainless steel, aluminium, magnesium, copper alloys and other non-ferrous metals. Its ability to weld reactive metals and avoid distortion makes TIG suitable for industries such as aerospace and automotive that require meticulous welding work. It is commonly used for welding pipe fittings and the root pass in pipe welds.

What is the TIG Welding Process?

This process relies on an electric arc forming between a pointed tungsten electrode and the workpiece metal while an inert shielding gas flows over the weld area. The electrode, workpiece and TIG torch are connected to a welding machine that provides power.  To start, the electrode is gently touched on the workpiece and withdrawn slightly to ignite the sustained welding arc that melts the metal to create a weld pool. The torch gets moved steadily along the weld joint line as a filler metal rod is introduced to the pool when required to build up welds. The inert gas shields the molten pool from contaminants as it solidifies. The heat concentration allows precise puddle control for quality welds.

Top 5 Benefits

TIG welding provides metal fabricators several advantages that explain its widespread industrial use:-

Precise Control

The TIG arc provides concentrated heat input, enabling the skilful technician to control the puddle precisely. This gives neat, strong and clean welds.

Material Versatility

TIG can weld thin stainless steel, nickel alloys, titanium, aluminium and magnesium amongst other conductive metals. It handles these reactive metals well.

No Spatter

As there is no spatter (molten oxide residue), TIG welded surfaces do not need extensive cleaning after welding.

Versatile Reach

The TIG torch and arc can access and weld in all positions – flat, horizontal, vertical and even overhead. This helps weld difficult joints.

Lower Costs

No consumables like filler wires or shielding gases are required for light gauge metals. This reduces operating costs.

Are there limitations to using TIG Welding?

Although it has its advantages, there are some limitations:-

  • Relatively slow process – As the heat input is concentrated and limited, it can be slower than other welding methods for long joints on thick materials. The welder has to stop to change filler rods.
  • More skill required – Good manual dexterity is needed to control the torch, filler rod and parameters simultaneously. Automated TIG reduces the skill level needed.
  • Higher equipment costs – TIG welding equipment and shielding gases are more expensive than simpler forms of welding. Argon gas is used instead of cheaper CO2.
  • Not ideal for outdoor sites – As it depends on shielding gas coverage, breezes can disrupt the gas flow leading to contamination and defects.

Equipment required for TIG Welding

The main equipment components required for TIG welding are:

  • TIG Welder – Provides adjustable and stable DC power output for maintaining the arc. Modern inverter-type TIG welders that are compact and portable are popular.
  • TIG Torch – Holds the tungsten electrode while providing buttons to control the welding current. It provides passage for the shielding gas and water cooling if needed.
  • Tungsten Electrode – The non-consumable tungsten (or other alloy) electrode conducts the current to establish the TIG arc. Various tungsten grades and tip/electrode shapes are available.
  • Shielding Gas Supply and Regulator – Provides flow of inert gas like argon or helium to shield the weld area. The gas flow meter controls flow rates.
  • Filler Metal Rods – Optional feedable filler rods of similar composition to the base metal are used to add metal into the welding joint as needed.

In addition to this equipment, grinding tools, clamps, a welding table, an auto-darkening helmet, foot pedal torch control, fume extraction if working indoors, and safety gear are also required. With practice and the right techniques, it can produce the highest quality precision welds for many metal joining applications across industries.

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