Getting Started with TIG Welding
Dec 13, 2023
If you're looking for a welding technique that offers precision, accuracy, and quality, TIG welding (Tungsten Inert Gas welding) might be the perfect fit for you. This type of welding is particularly suited to tricky shapes like curves and corners, and it can be used in a wide variety of applications and industries, including aircraft, ships, and other vehicles, as well as architectural work and art.
While TIG welding is not the easiest type of welding to master, it's definitely worth getting into if you have some experience under your belt. With its visually pleasing appearance and versatility, TIG welding is highly skilled and immensely rewarding. In this section, we'll explore the basics of TIG welding, including its process, equipment, and techniques, so you can get started.
How is TIG Welding Different?
Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding is a welding process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to deliver the electric current. The process is known for its precision, accuracy, and quality. TIG welding is different from other types of welding due to the following reasons:
What You Need To TIG Weld
To TIG weld, you need to get familiar and comfortable with the different settings on the TIG welding machine, and what they do. The main thing to think about is the current. A TIG welding machine can operate on an AC or DC current. For welding steels, a DC current should be used. For alloys, use AC.
The base current is set on the machine and remains constant. TIG welding machines allow you to build up to the base current, which is useful for preventing the thermal shock of the workpiece. A foot pedal can be used to control the current during the weld. A pulse amperage can also be set if the application requires it.
The squarewave balance can be adjusted if you need to achieve greater penetration or cleaning.
In addition to the current, you will need the following equipment:
- TIG rods
- Ceramic cups
- Argon and helium
TIG grinding wheel
- For reshaping tungsten after it has been contaminated, such as by touching the workpiece.
It is important to note that the tungsten electrode creates a small, intense arc that allows for greater precision. It’s also more difficult to control, so it takes some practice to get used to - especially as the arc must be kept a specific length for the correct results. On top of that, the tungsten cannot touch the work surface, or else it will get contaminated and need grinding.
Many TIG welding machines allow the current to be controlled via a remote foot pedal. During the weld, the current can be increased or decreased with the pedal to create more or less heat, similar to the gas pedal in a car. This allows for a huge amount of control throughout the weld. In addition, there are many settings that can be adjusted on the TIG welding machine.
To put it simply, there’s a lot of coordination and dexterity involved in TIG welding. Don’t be put off though! A filler material is optional, so you don’t need to worry about that, to begin with. And if you’re comfortable with other types of welding, TIG will be easier to pick up. It’s all about practice, practice, practice.
Getting Started with TIG
TIG welding is a precise welding technique that requires patience, coordination, and practice. If you're just starting out, it's important to focus on the basics to develop the necessary skills. In this section, we'll cover some tips and tricks to help you get started with TIG welding.
ArcCaptain Tips for a Successful Start to TIG
ArcCaptain has provided some helpful tips for beginners to get started with TIG welding:
Control your arc length: One of the most important things to focus on when starting out is controlling your arc length. Beginners tend to hold the tungsten too far away from the workpiece, which creates a long arc that's difficult to control. This can affect the quality of your weld or damage the workpiece. Work on controlling your arc length and getting comfortable with it. The rest will then follow easier.
Start with thicker steel: When you're just starting out TIG welding, it's best to start off with thicker steel. The weld puddle is larger and easier to control, giving you more opportunity to improve your technique. Avoid using filler for now - just focus on keeping the arc length tight.
Get comfortable: To make controlling the arc easier, your seating position is also important. Before you start welding, get comfortable. When you're sat down, only use the table for positioning; you shouldn't be leaning or bearing any bodyweight on your arms. Keeping your muscles relaxed will help you control the torch.
Hold the torch at an angle: The torch should be held at an angle to encourage the weld pool to form in front, 3 to 6 millimeters away from the workpiece (depending on the thickness) to achieve the correct arc.
Dry run with the torch: Have a dry run with the torch across the workpiece first, to ensure the angle and speed feels natural. Make sure there's nothing that will get in the way of the weld - or you - as you move. Try wrapping the torch lead around your arm to prevent it from snagging.
Attach an earthing cable: Attach an earthing cable from the workpiece to the welding machine. If you can't clamp the workpiece, place it on a piece of sheet metal or clamp the workbench.
Reduce the amperage slowly: At the end of the weld, reduce the amperage slowly for a soft finish. The gas should also flow for a few seconds after the current has stopped to allow the weld to cool.
ArcCaptain has also provided some troubleshooting tips to help you overcome common issues:
Well-lit area: Make sure your welding area is well lit. It will give you a better view of the torch and filler angle before starting the weld.
Minimum amps: If you have trouble getting the arc started, it could be because the minimum amps are set too low.
Warping: If the workpiece is warping, you may have held the torch stationary for too long. It could also be that the amps are set too high, or that the workpiece isn't held in place securely enough. If the clamp is already tight, consider tack welding the workpiece to another piece of metal.
Too much current: If the metal starts to burn or melt away, there is too much current being fed to the weld pool.
Current is too low: If the metal has a flaky look to it, the current is too low.
View of the weld pool: Don't hide the weld behind the gas shroud. Keep a good view of the weld pool.
Switching hands: Having trouble with the motion or movement? Try switching hands - you won't necessarily perform the best with the torch in your dominant hand. The ability to use both hands for either task is really beneficial, especially if you want to get welding outside a workshop environment.
TIG welding requires precision, technique, and practice. By following these tips and troubleshooting tips, you'll be on your way to producing high-quality welds in no time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Equipment is Essential for a Beginner to Start TIG Welding?
To get started with TIG welding, you will need a TIG welder, a TIG torch, a tungsten electrode, filler metal, and shielding gas. You will also need safety equipment such as welding gloves, a welding helmet, and protective clothing. It's important to invest in quality equipment to ensure your safety and the quality of your welds.
Can You Learn TIG Welding Through Online Classes, and Are They Effective?
Yes, you can learn TIG welding through online classes, and they can be effective. However, it's important to supplement online learning with hands-on practice to gain proficiency. Online classes can provide valuable information on TIG welding techniques, equipment, and safety.
What Are the Key Differences Between TIG and MIG Welding?
TIG welding uses a tungsten electrode to create an arc that melts the metal being welded while MIG welding uses a wire electrode that is fed through a spool. TIG welding produces a more precise and clean weld, making it ideal for welding thin materials and non-ferrous metals. MIG welding is faster and easier to learn, making it ideal for beginners and for welding thicker materials.
What Steps Should Be Followed to Properly TIG Weld Aluminum?
To properly TIG weld aluminum, you should clean the surface of the metal with a stainless steel brush or acetone to remove any dirt, oil, or oxidation. You should also use a high-frequency start to create a stable arc and use a filler metal that matches the composition of the aluminum being welded. It's important to use a proper welding technique and maintain a consistent arc length to produce a clean and strong weld.
Is It Possible to Self-Teach TIG Welding, and What Resources Are Recommended?
Yes, it is possible to self-teach TIG welding, but it's important to supplement self-teaching with hands-on practice and guidance from experienced welders. Recommended resources for self-teaching include online tutorials, welding books, and instructional videos. It's important to start with the basics and gradually progress to more advanced techniques.
How Much Time is Typically Required to Become Proficient in TIG Welding?
The amount of time required to become proficient in TIG welding varies depending on the individual's dedication, practice, and natural ability. With consistent practice and guidance, it's possible to become proficient in TIG welding within a few months. However, it can take years to master the more advanced techniques and become a highly skilled TIG welder.