Lift TIG welding aka Lift start TIG is a variant of Tungsten Inert Gas welding. It is an efficient method that allows users to start the arc with less risk of contamination and lower equipment cost as compared to other variants of TIG welding.
This welding process is characterized by its non-contact arc initiation method that ensures better precision and control for the welder.
In Lift TIG, the welder touches the tungsten electrode to the workpiece and then lifts it to create a gap. This simple action increases the welding current and creates an arc to initiate the welding process.
In this post, I will be discussing all the details of this process that will help you improve your welding skills, enhance your results and unlock new possibilities in the world of TIG welding.
Let’s dive into it.
Is Lift TIG Better than Other Types of TIG Welding Methods?
It would not be right to call one welding method better than the rest. Each method comes with its own pros and cons.
Lift TIG is praised for its simplicity and affordability and lies somewhere in the middle between HF TIG welding and Scratch TIG welding.
High-Frequency TIG welding has a non-contact arc initiation method and is the safest and most high-end type of TIG welding. But it requires more expensive equipment.
On the other hand, Scratch Start TIG is the simplest and cheapest method as you scratch the electrode on the surface, but it has the highest risk of electrode contamination.
Lift TIG is the perfect balance in terms of affordability and simplicity. Yes, it has a contact arc initiation, but you simply touch the electrode for an instant. Just as the arc forms, the shielding gas will protect the weld pool contaminants and oxidation.
Advantages of Lift TIG Welding
As I have mentioned above, the Lift TIG comes with its own advantages and drawbacks. Compared to many other variants of this type of welding, this one has more advantages.
First of all, it allows you to control the arc initiation process more accurately than Scratch Start TIG. Hence, you have enhanced precision and control.
The increased control will help you get cleaner welds and also reduce the likelihood of weld defects. So, the risk of messing up the weld is much lower.
Secondly, this welding technique comparatively has less risk of electrode contamination as compared to Scratch Start TIG welding.
Since you only have to touch the base material with the electrode instantly, the risk of contamination is significantly reduced which leads to a better, cleaner, and higher-quality weld.
Adding to this, the Lift TIG is more economical as compared to the HF TIG welding. The equipment costs are significantly lower, which makes it an attractive choice for low-budget users.
Lift TIG is easier and simpler, which means you don’t have to worry about the tungsten sticking or eroding.
Last but not least, lift TIG is ideal for welding sensitive or delicate materials. So, you will be able to easily weld materials that could otherwise be damaged by HF TIG welding.
High-Frequency methods can interfere with CNC machines, smartphones, and other electronic devices. Hence, TIG welding is used in this case.
Drawbacks of Lift TIG Welding
There are not many drawbacks of Lift TIG welding except for the compatibility factor. You have to have a TIG welder or another welding machine that supports this process.
Many of the economic welding machines do support lift start TIG welding. However, if you have a really old stick welder, it might not support this function.
Other than that, there is also a minor risk of electrode contamination if you don’t get the technique right.
That’s all you have to worry about.
What Equipment Do You Need for Lift TIG Welding?
Let’s take a brief look at the key components of the Lift TIG welding setup.
First of all, you will need a welding torch that contains a collet and collet body as well as a gas nozzle.
The collet and collet body are responsible for holding the tungsten electrode while the gas nozzle directs the shielding gas flow.
Depending on the material being welded, you will either need a power source with DC current capabilities or with both DC and AC capabilities.
The shielding gas and filler metal will also depend on the base metal and the desired weld properties.
Other than that, you must use safety equipment like helmets, gloves, and protective clothing that is essential for protection from harmful UV radiation, spark, and heat.
Step-by-Step Guide to Lift TIG Welding
If you are new to Lift TIG welding, then here is a step-by-step guide to help you out:
Start by cleaning the work area properly and ensure that the area is well-ventilated and free from any contaminants.
Then, clean and prep the base material by removing any dirt, rust, or paint. This will ensure that your weld is not contaminated.
Once you have cleaned the workpiece, you will have to set up the welding equipment. Assemble the equipment properly before starting the welding process.
It will involve selecting the proper electrode, assembling the torch, connecting the power source, and setting up the shielding gas cylinder along with a regulator and flow meter.
You must ensure that you select the right filler material and shielding gas for the specific metal type you are going to be welding.
Once the welder has been set up, you can start the welding process. Touch the sharpened tungsten electrode to the workpiece and lift the electrode slightly to create a gap. This will form the arc.
Now you have to maintain a consistent arc length and angle. Move the arc along the joint and add filler metal with your other hand if needed.
You must maintain a steady travel speed and keep the tungsten electrode from touching the weld pool.
Avoid excessive weaving. Stay sharp and you will be able to create an impressive and clean weld.
Common Challenges in Lift TIG Welding
You might face several challenges when using this method. Although simple, the Lift TIG is not a perfect method and can present certain difficulties to a beginner as well as a seasoned welder.
If you have not prepared the electrode properly, or the amperage or gas parameters aren’t accurate, then you might face arc instability issues.
An unstable arc would not allow you to create good-quality welds and might even ruin the workpiece.
So, to avoid this problem, you must ensure that the electrode preparation is proper and that the amperage settings and gas glow are precisely according to the base metal.
Adding to this, you must maintain a steady distance between the electrode and the weld pool to maintain the arc. Although the electrode is touched to start the arc, you must not touch it again to the weld pool.
In case the electrode touches the weld pool, it becomes contaminated and will reduce or contaminate the weld itself. So, you should re-grind it if any such thing happens.
Another issue you have to deal with is not achieving proper fusion or penetration. To avoid that, you must ensure that the amperage settings are adjusted properly and the travel speed of the torch is consistent.
If you are getting too much heat-induced distortion or if the workpiece is not stable, then you should use clamps or fixturing to secure the workpiece in one place.
You can also apply other welding techniques like backstepping or stitch welding to reduce heat distortion.
Applications of Lift TIG Welding
Lift Start TIG welding has a wide range of applications. It is used in various industries and is preferred because of its lower equipment cost.
In the automotive industry, this method is used for processes such as exhaust system fabrication, custom car builds, and repair work on aluminum and steel components.
In the aerospace industry, this method is used for repairing materials made from aluminum, titanium, and other high-strength materials.
In electronic works, Lift TIG welding is mostly preferred because using HF TIG welding in those applications has a high risk of interfering with the electronic equipment.
Maintaining and Troubleshooting Lift TIG Welding
You must maintain your welding machine regularly to get peak performance and optimum results while Lift TIG welding.
Clean and inspect the welding equipment regularly including torches, power sources, and gas delivery system. If you notice any damaged or worn-out parts, you must replace them immediately to maintain peak performance.
TIG welding has a learning curve. So, study common problems like poor arc initiation, inconsistent gas flow, and erratic filler material feeding.
Learn about these problems and how to troubleshoot them properly by studying TIG welding.
You can always consult a professional for help. For example, if your equipment malfunctions or you are facing a problem you are unable to understand, you should not hesitate to reach out to an expert.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is lift TIG welding used for?
This method is used for precise and high-quality welding of thin materials. The primary application is in the automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing industries. It is widely used in welding electronic equipment.
What is the difference between lift TIG and TIG?
The only difference is the method of arc initiation. In Lift TIG, the arc is initiated by gently touching the electrode to the workpiece while in TIG welding, the high-frequency settings are used to generate the arc.
Does lift TIG need gas?
Yes, this method requires shielding gas just like HF tig welding. The gas is responsible for protecting the weld pool from contamination and ensures a clean and high-quality weld. Helium and Argon are the most commonly used gasses.
How does lift arc TIG work?
This method works by gently touching the tungsten electrode to the workpiece and creating a short circuit. When the electrode is lifted, the short circuit breaks, and an arc is established between the electrode and the workpiece. Thus, welding begins.
Can you weld aluminum with a lift TIG?
Yes, aluminum and its alloys can be welded using this method. However, you must ensure that the welding machine you are using comes with AC capability because this functionality is required for welding aluminum.
To sum it all up, Lift TIG welding is a variant of TIG welding that is simpler and has lower equipment costs. This method also has a wide range of applications.
Lift TIG has a bit of risk of electrode contamination, but the lower cost of the process justifies the risk.
One of the advantages of Lift TIG welding that can never be overlooked is its application in electronics repair, where HF TIG welding cannot be used.
The above guide discusses in detail all aspects of this method and provides you with an in-depth guide on how you can use it.
If you have any questions, you can drop them in the comments section below and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Happy Welding!
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