TIG welding is one of the most precise and accurate welding techniques that is used by both professionals and DIY users alike.
A versatile method that is perfect for welding delicate and thin materials, which would be difficult to weld through conventional methods.
TIG welder aka Tungsten Inert Gas Welder is a type of arc welding machine that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to create a thin and precise arc that melts the base material and forms the weld.
Since the tungsten electrode is non-consumable, it means the filler rod has to be used separately to form the weld.
It is also known as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding which became popular in the 1940s and has been used as a perfect replacement for gas and manual metal arc welding.
It has played a major role in the acceptance of aluminum in high-quality welding applications.
In this article, I will explain what a TIG welder is, what are its components, how it works, and the pros and cons of TIG welding.
We will also cover some basics about TIG welding that will help you get started if you are a beginner or thinking about TIG welding as a DIY enthusiast.
What is a TIG Welder?
A Tungsten Inert Gas welder got its name from the material it uses in the welding process. The electrode made of Tungsten and Inert Gas is used to protect the area under the weld from any atmospheric contamination.
It is a welding machine that uses the tungsten electrode to create an arc between the non-consumable electrode and the workpiece.
The arc will produce the heat that will melt the base material and form the weld, and yes you will have to provide the filler material externally but it is not a must.
Only TIG welder offers you the luxury of keeping the filler material optional. You don’t have to use it if it is not required.
TIG welder is a precise and clean tool that is used for high-quality welding. It produces minimum splatter and distortion and is used for delicate welding.
These machines come in various sizes and types. You can get them in small portable forms as well as large industrial variants.
Some of these machines are specifically designed for a specific type of welding e.g. welding aluminum while the others are more versatile and can be used for various types of welding tasks.
How Does a TIG Welder Work?—TIG Welder Basics
It is a complex machine that consists of various components, each of which plays an important role.
The primary components include a TIG torch, a tungsten rod, filler material, a gas supply system, a control panel, and a power source.
The tungsten electrode fits inside the TIG torch and then you can connect it to a power source. The machine requires a constant supply of current, either AC or DC, to avoid excessively high currents in case of a short circuit.
Once you start the machine or plug it into the power source, the tungsten electrode will produce an arc, a small and precise one, which will generate heat to create the weld. The filler material has to be fed with your other hand.
You can start the arc by pressing the foot-pedal or the control on the torch. Remember not to touch the metal surface with the rod or you might contaminate the weld.
So, a “lift-arc” technique is used to start the welder at a very low current.
To protect the weld from any sort of contamination, the TIG welder uses a constant supply of gas, helium, or argon. This is called shielding gas. It passes from a nozzle that is inside the TIG torch.
There are mainly three types of shielding gasses that can be used. Argon is most commonly used, Argon with a mixture of Hydrogen is used for cleaner welds, and Helium or Helium-Argon mixture is used for faster and deeper welds.
The foot pedal and control panel allows you to adjust the welding current, temperature and gas flow rate. You can also start or stop the welding arc with this control panel. It is customizable.
You can also add other components to your TIG welder like a water cooling system, remote amperage control device, and task-specific components.
Advantages of TIG Welding
Here are some of the most prominent advantages of TIG welding:
- First of all, TIG welding produces high-quality welds with minimum splatter or distortion which makes it ideal for working with a wide range of delicate materials.
- TIG welders can be used on a wide range of materials, which include aluminum and titanium alike.
- It gives you more precise control over the whole welding process. You can control the welding even in tight spaces.
- The TIG welder is available in various sizes and types. You can get a portable machine for personal use or a large machine for professional needs.
- Also available in versatile models that can be used for a variety of tasks.
Disadvantages of TIG Welding
The welding process also comes with some drawbacks. Here are some of the disadvantages a TIG welder has to face:
- Compared to MIG welding, TIG welding is slower.
- You will need a high level of skill and experience to use the TIG welder properly. It is a precise tool that is not easy for beginners to control.
- TIG welder is an expensive tool and the components are more expensive as compared to components of other welding processes. The higher price point is mainly because of the tungsten electrode and gas supply.
What can you use a TIG welder for?
TIG welding is a versatile welding process that can be used in various industries and applications. Wherever utmost precision is required, the TIG welder is your tool to go.
Here are some of the main areas where this tool is used:
- It is used in industries like aerospace, automotive, and electronics where the highest accuracy is a must.
- It is used for welding non-ferrous materials like aluminum, magnesium, and titanium. These materials cannot be welded using conventional welding methods.
- TIG welding can be used to weld dissimilar or different metals together. So, you can use it to form complex structures which is a requirement in aircraft components and automotive customizations.
- It can also be used for sculptures, metal art, and other decorative metal work, as the tool is highly accurate and creates a minimum mess.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a TIG welder used for?
It is used for welding delicate or intricate materials with high accuracy and precision. The machine is mainly used to weld non-ferrous metals that cannot be welded using conventional welding methods.
What is the difference between TIG and MIG welding?
MIG welding uses a constantly fed wire electrode to join the base metals together, while TIG welding uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode while a filler rod is fed to the weld externally.
Read More: TIG vs MIG Welding
Is TIG welding better than MIG welding?
TIG welder is more suitable for thinner materials and produces cleaner welds, but it is difficult to learn. MIG welding is more suitable for thicker materials and has high production rates, and is also easy for beginners.
How does a TIG welder work?
The machine uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to create a precise arc that will generate heat for creating the weld. A consistent supply of shielding gas will protect the weld area from contamination. You will have to feed the filler material with the other hand.
What can I weld with a TIG welder?
You can weld non-ferrous metals like aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, and other such metals that cannot be welded through other welding methods. You can also weld dissimilar metals together.
To sum it all up, a TIG welder is a precise tool that is much better than conventional welding tools. It is more precise and creates less mess.
However, it is also difficult to learn, requires tons of practice, and comes at a higher price point.
A versatile tool that is used for a wide range of purposes. I hope now you are familiar with the basics of TIG welder and its working.
If you have any questions, you can drop them in the comments section below and I will get back to you. Happy Welding!
- How to Use a TIG Welder? Ultimate Guide and Expert Tips - March 14, 2023
- What is a TIG Welder? – Everything You Need to Know - March 11, 2023
- Ahp AlphaTIG 200X(updated 203XI) Review for 2023 - February 7, 2023