Professional welders rely on a variety of different welding techniques. The TIG welding process is often considered one of the most reliable and accurate. TIG welding is widely used in the automotive, aerospace and petrochemical industries, among others.
In this article, our industrial mechanics professionals take an in-depth look at the TIG welding process, exploring its advantages and disadvantages and offering tips for successfully welding steel and aluminum using the TIG method.
The TIG welding process
TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding, also known as GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding), is a fusion welding technique that uses an electric arc to heat and melt the metal parts being joined, while an inert gas protects the molten metal from oxidation. This welding technique is particularly suited to fine, precise welds and reactive metals such as aluminum, magnesium and titanium.
TIG welding is performed using a TIG welding machine, which includes a welding torch, non-consumable tungsten, an inert shielding gas and filler material if required. The tungsten electrode creates the electric arc, while the shielding gas prevents the molten metal from oxidizing. The filler material is used to strengthen the weld and differs according to the type of metal being welded.
This type of industrial welding is performed in several steps. First, the welder cleans and polishes the parts to remove any impurities. Next, they place the welding torch at the location of the weld and turn on the electric arc, adjusting the electric current, voltage, welding speed and shielding gas flow to achieve the desired weld quality.
What thickness of material can you weld using TIG?
TIG welding is mainly used to weld thicknesses of 0.3 to 6 mm. For thicker material, it is common to combine this method with the coated electrode or MIG/MAG process.
Is it possible to perform TIG welding without gas?
A TIG weld cannot be performed without gas. The welding torch is equipped with a non-melting tungsten electrode, which distinguishes it from an MMA welding electrode. To avoid oxidation, a welder needs to create an inert atmosphere using gas.
Advantages of TIG welding
TIG welding has many advantages that set it apart from other welding techniques, especially when it comes to fine, precise welds on reactive metals. Here are the most notable advantages of this method.
High quality welding
The TIG welding process is widely recognized for producing high quality welds. TIG welds are clean, accurate, strong and professional-looking. This welding method is often used in the aerospace and nuclear industries, where quality is paramount.
Heat and arc control
One of the greatest advantages of TIG welding is being able to precisely control current, voltage and gas flow. This in turn allows the welder-assembler to regulate the heat very precisely, making it possible to weld thin materials without burning them or creating distortion. A TIG torch maintains a constant distance between the arc and the surface of the workpiece, which prevents spattering and ensures consistent weld quality.
Adaptable to reactive metals
TIG welding is widely used for reactive metals such as aluminum, magnesium and titanium, which are difficult to weld using other techniques. The inert shielding gas used in TIG welding protects the molten metal from oxidation, allowing these metals to be welded without altering their chemical properties.
TIG welding can be used for a wide range of applications, from assembling small parts to mechanical grinding. It can be used on many different metals, including stainless steel, aluminum, copper, titanium and brass.
Disadvantages of TIG welding
Although TIG welding has many advantages, this professional technique also presents some disadvantages.
Longer welding time
TIG welding is a relatively slow process compared with other types of welding, due to the need to precisely control the heat and the electric arc. It takes more time to achieve a high quality weld.
TIG welding is generally more expensive, due to the higher cost of equipment and supplies. This technique also demands longer and more complex training to master.
Difficulty welding thick materials
This welding technique is better suited to thin metals and precise welds, making one of its drawbacks that it is less suited to welding thick materials, which require more heat and more time to melt.
What are the differences between TIG welding steel and aluminum?
Although the process is similar, there are key differences between TIG welding steel and aluminum.
- Melting Temperature: Aluminum has a lower melting temperature than steel. This means that a lower and more precise heat source is required when TIG welding aluminum, to avoid melting the metal too much or causing oxidation. Welders must manage temperature carefully to avoid creating weld defects.
- Surface preparation: TIG welding aluminum requires more rigorous surface preparation than TIG welding steel. Aluminum has a natural oxide layer on its surface that must be removed prior to welding to ensure optimum adhesion. Welders must clean the surface of the aluminum with methods like brushing or chemical pickling.
- Shielding Gas: TIG welding aluminum requires a different shielding gas than TIG welding on steel. Welders typically use pure argon for TIG welding aluminum, and argon or a mixture of argon and helium for TIG welding steel.
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We are proud of our TIG welding expertise, and we can guarantee high quality welds on various metals, including steel and aluminum. We have the skills and experience to understand the unique requirements of each welding project, and our customers can expect customized solutions.
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