Last Updated on Jan 18, 2022
TIG welding is a process that is most often used when precise, clean welds are required. It is also called Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (or heliarc welding) and is a higher-quality form of welding when compared to other methods. While it may not seem important what type of welding is used as long as the end result is the same, certain materials and structures need a TIG weld in order to maintain their integrity.
We will cover the basics of TIG welding, what it is, how it is performed and the benefits of this method in our article below.
What Are The Best TIG Welders For Me?
PrimeWeld TIG 225X – The Newcomer
The PrimeWeld TIG 225X is a popular model that is high powered, under $1,000, and produces high quality welds. The TIG 225X produces 225 amps at max output, and supports dual voltage. When in the 220 volt setting, it can produce welds up to 1/4” with aluminum and 3/8” inch steel. The duty cycle at 40% at 225 amps — did we mention it also has stick welding mode? When in stick weld mode, it’s capable of handling 1/2 inch steel with 7108 and 6013 electrodes.
This model offers a quite a bit of adjustments, with the power outputs shown via a digital display unit. User feedback noted that knobs were actually easier to use than a digital display while on the job and wearing welding gloves.
You won’t find the history of a brand like Miller or Lincoln while researching PrimeWeld; they’re a newer entrant to the game, but the feedback has been high praises from those who are verified purchasers. This welder comes with a 3 year warranty (similar to many Lincoln models). Read our Primeweld tig 225 x review.
What Is TIG welding?
When an arc is formed with a workpiece metal and a non-consumable tungsten electrode, it is called TIG welding. The shielding gas that is pushed through the welding torch protects the electrode from contamination by surrounding it and keeping it pure. Unlike other types of welding, there is no spatter because there is no flux and the exact amount of filler metal needed us fed into the weld pool.
Can you TIG weld aluminum?
The two most common methods of aluminum welding are TIG and MIG. The majority of welders prefer to use the TIG method when working with aluminum because the results are often better than other methods. TIG welding is an efficient way to weld light gauge materials when correctly performed.
It is worth noting that TIG welding on aluminum is much more complex than welding with the TIG method on steel. It is critical that all of your parts are kept clean before moving to the next section to ensure your TIG weld is as strong as possible when working with aluminum. It’s wise to have a welding screen for protection while doing this work.
That being said, TIG welding aluminum is still the most popular option. Tungsten inert gas welding allows welders to bypass mechanical wire feeding which has been known to commonly cause feedability issues. The soft metal that has an oxidized layer is a bit tricky to work with, but for experienced welders, the TIG weld can be a thing of beauty on aluminum.
What gas is used for TIG welding?
A limited number of gasses are suitable for TIG welding due to the need for a clean shield during the welding process. As such, the moth common gas used is argon. Depending on the amount of fluidity or penetration you need in your weld pool, you can also add helium to the argon. He & Ar mixes are suitable for all grades of metal.
Argon, in general, is highly versatile and can be effectively used on aluminum, stainless steel, and mild steel. Many people assume that you can use the same gas for MIG and TIF welding, but TIG is only effective with inert gas. This allows for a clean finish that is devoid of oxidization. If inert gas is used for simply MIG welding, it will ruin the look of the completed weld.
Some welders will mix in hydrogen or nitrogen for their special properties which have a dramatic effect on the end weld. It will create a stronger weld on some materials, but they are not suitable for all TIG welds. For example, hydrogen should never be used to TIG weld ferritic, duplex, or martensitic grades of metal.
Mig vs Tig welding
There are a lot of differences and similarities between TIG and MIG welding. To start, the arc for MIG welding is generated through an electric current passed through a wire in the machine. A TIG arc is formed by a fixed tungsten rod that has a stationary position in the torch. TIG welding has a very narrow arc the is highly accurate.
This allows it to create ultrafine welds by directing heat into a small area. MIG welds n the other hand have an arc that creates heat over a wider area. The penetration is less than a TIG weld, but the heat zone is much wider. This heat zone is important because, with a narrow TIG arc, you can penetrate deeper making a more effective weld.
The filler wire feed also differs between the two. TIG welding operates through hand feeding which is often slower and much more complex. This makes sense considering the smaller work surface and finer weld that is created with the TIG weld. MIG filler wire feeding is operated through a wire spool housed inside of the machine.
There are rollers that keep the wire smooth and help to feed the wire into the nozzle of the welding gun. It is relatively easy and straightforward. MIG welding is also much quicker than the TIG method. MIG welding is considered a point and shoot because the whole process is completed inside of the machine. You simply need to point the weld gun, start the arc, and move it along your chosen weld path. With a TIG weld, you have to move much slower and you need a steady hand to ensure your wire feed is properly maintained.
The main difference aside from how they are performed is the overall weld quality. MIG welds that are properly formed are very strong, but in most cases, they are not perfect. It is common for small holes to develop in the welds over time which can affect pressure and seals on the work surface. TIG welds are the highest quality welds and also make the most secure seal. When it comes to precision work or sealing an important surface, TIG welds are the best option.
TIG welds are also harder to damage or destroy. MIG welds are strong but not very difficult to break apart. Completed TIG welds also have a more aesthetically pleasing look when compared to MIG welds. TIG welds tend to generate uniform beads that are tight and look more professional. Most uncoated stainless steel products will always use a TIG weld thanks to their tidier appearance.
Tig Welding Torch Setup
Now that we have covered the basics of TIG welding, let’s get into the proper TIG Torch Setup. There are four main components for the body in addition to a tungsten electrode. The body of a TIG torch will have a cup, collet body, back cap, and collet. When assembled they will hold the tungsten electrode in its proper place while also evenly distributing the shield gas or gas mixture during the weld. It is very important that the tungsten electrode size and the size of the collet body and collet match.
The collet is what actually holds the tungsten electrode and also connects the electrode to the torch. The collet body attached via a screw feature directly into the TIG gun. This holds the tungsten electrode in its proper place and also is how the shielding gas is dispersed. The gas cup is attached to the front when the collet is slid back into a starting position. Ensuring the collet and the tungsten electrode are the same size will ensure that current transfers from the electrode to the torch are smooth and uninterrupted.
The cup on the TIG setup controls the shielding gas distribution. This control is important because it controls how much gas is let out into the weld pool. Cup sizes will vary and the determining factor is dictated by the target weld joint size. Cup sizes also have a dramatic effect on the angle by which the TIG torch is held. The tungsten electrode is used to create the welding arc by channeling amperage. The band colors will vary depending on the weld, though the most common color is red. This is usually used for steel TIG welding, and for aluminum, it is green. Another common color is purple, which is suitable for both aluminum and steel.
The point on a tungsten TIG should always be ground to ensure your arc is as tight as possible. Touching the tip to the metal will destroy it and cause you to stop for a regrind. Make sure to always allow the electrode to get close, but never touch the work surface. It is also important to properly measure the stick-out length before you get started.
The next part of the setup is your filler rods. These will be fed into your setup manually during your work session. The type of rod you use will need to match the metal surface that you are working on. The TIG torch, welding clamp, and TIG pedal will all be connected to your TIG welder which is the source of power for the unit. The foot pedal is what regulates the heat with more pressure equaling a higher heat. The shielding gas will flow through the torch, and in most cases, this will be 100% argon unless you are aiming for a special effect.
TIG welds and MIG welds are both effective ways to secure a work surface, but overall, TIG welds are preferred. With the right application and a steady hand, a TIG weld can last for well over a decade or more in the right environment.
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