TIG welding, or Tungsten Inert Gas welding, is a popular welding technique known for its precision and high-quality welds. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of TIG welding, its applications, compare it to MIG welding, and the safety precautions which we advise for people to take whenever they are TIG welding.
What is TIG Welding?
TIG welding is an arc welding process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to create a weld. The weld area is protected from atmospheric contamination by an inert gas, usually argon. This process is often preferred for its ability to produce clean, strong, and precise welds. TIG welding is suitable for all types of carbon steels, low-alloy steels, alloyed stainless, nickel alloys, aluminum and its alloys, copper and its alloys, titanium, magnesium, and other nonferrous alloys.
Advantages of TIG Welding
The method’s inherent characteristics enable welders to achieve better control over the welding process, thereby yielding remarkably robust and long-lasting joints. This then means that the weld is unlikely to fracture and crack.
TIG welding provides precise control over the heat input, welding speed, and filler metal deposition. This level of control is especially beneficial for welding thin materials and intricate joints. The more control the welder has the more easier the weld will be to complete.
No Flux Required
Unlike some other welding methods, TIG welding does not require any flux. By not using any flux the welder doesn’t need to have to take up extra time trying to clean the weld so that it looks presentable, because of this they are able to increase their overall output.
TIG welding can be used on a wide range of metals, including stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and even exotic metals like titanium and magnesium. Due to this wide range of metals that can be TIG welded, it means that most jobs are able to be tackled with the use of a TIG welder.
The use of an inert gas shield prevents the weld from reacting with atmospheric elements, resulting in clean and oxidation-free welds. The cleaner the weld is the stronger and more presentable the weld is, because of this the piece of work can go for a higher price than those which would have issues such as porosity.
Disadvantages of TIG Welding
TIG welding is generally slower compared to other welding methods. The precise control and meticulous nature of the process contribute to a slower welding speed. This then means that it could be more beneficial to the business for the welders to create faster welds and produce more at a lower quality, than less at a higher quality.
TIG welding, being a precision welding technique, demands a higher level of skill and expertise from welders to execute it correctly. Mastery of this method requires not only technical knowledge but also finesse in handling the welding equipment. Welders must possess steady hands and impeccable eye-hand coordination to create flawless and high-quality welds. The process involves delicately controlling the arc length and heat input to ensure the proper fusion of metals without causing any distortion or defects in the weld bead. Additionally, the welder’s ability to precisely control the filler metal deposition and the speed at which they move the torch along the joint is crucial for achieving consistent and aesthetically pleasing welds.
Not the most efficient for all Thick Materials
While TIG welding can handle thick materials, it may not be the most efficient method for heavy-duty applications. due to this it can become more time consuming for the welder especially if most of the jobs are thick materials.
TIG welding equipment, including the power source, torch, and gas supply, can be more expensive compared to other welding setups. Due to this we would advise that for small jobs you buy a Miller 160 SI this is a small 160 amp inverter based stick welding machine which runs on DC power and is very easy to use for beginners.
Susceptible to Contaminants
TIG welding is sensitive to contaminants on the base metal or filler metal. Proper cleaning and preparation are crucial to ensuring quality welds. This could entail the business using angle grinders, such as the FEIN WSG 8 with a flap disc attached, for the best results we would recommend the used of a Pferd 120 Grit Steelox Disc.
Applications of TIG Welding
TIG welding finds application in critical industries like aerospace, automotive, and even artistic metalwork, where precision, aesthetic appeal, and strength are paramount. It’s particularly valued for its ability to create high-quality welds with minimal distortion and spatter, for example most welders decide to use a anti weld spatter like AS-90 Anti Welding Spatter. TIG welding is also well-suited for welding exotic materials that demand strict purity and exacting tolerances. Some TIG welder brands like Miller allow for the user to be able to add a wireless foot pedal, this means that the welder will have more control of the welder and thus create better welds, it is described in the below video.
Comparison with Other Welding Methods
TIG vs. MIG Welding
- TIG Welding: Uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to create an arc and requires a separate filler material to join the metals. The weld area must then be shielded from the atmosphere with the use on an inert gas such as argon.
- MIG Welding: on the other hand, involves a consumable wire electrode that melts and fuses the base metals, the electrode then acts as a filler for the two metals. similarly to TIG welding, the weld are must be protected with the use of an inert gas such as argon.
- TIG Welding: TIG welding is normally preferred for precise and intricate welding applications, especially on thin materials like stainless steel, aluminum, and non-ferrous metals. It is Commonly used in industries where aesthetic appeal, precision, and high-quality welds are crucial, such as aerospace, and electronics.
- MIG Welding: Suited for faster and more efficient welding of thicker materials, making it popular in industries like automotive, construction, and manufacturing.
- Weld Quality:
- TIG Welding: Offers superior control over the welding process, this then results in a cleaner and more precise weld with minimal spatter and distortion, this then reduces the chances of messing up a weld. Ideal for critical applications where weld integrity is paramount, for example in the aviation sector it is quite likely to be using TIG welding.
- MIG Welding: Provides good weld quality with decent speed, this then means that the business would be able to achieve more output in a certain amount of time. However, due to the higher deposition rates, the welds might not be as precise as those achieved with TIG welding, this would then mean that the welds would not be able to be used for certain jobs.
- Skill Level:
- TIG Welding: Requires a higher level of skill and expertise due to the need for precise control over the arc, filler material, and heat input. Mastery can take time, but it allows for intricate work. this would then mean that the worker could charge a higher rate than a MIG welder as they are going to have more expertise in the area and would also have higher quality welds.
- MIG Welding: Relatively easier to learn and operate, making it suitable for beginners and those seeking to weld quickly on thicker materials. this would then mean that the employees are likely to be on a lower wage than those who are a TIG welder.
- Setup and Equipment:
- TIG Welding: Involves more complex equipment, including a power supply, tungsten electrode, filler material, and gas supply. This can make the setup more time-consuming and the process less portable.
- MIG Welding: Simpler setup with a welding gun, wire feeder, power source, and gas supply. This makes it more convenient for on-site and rapid welding tasks.
Safety Precautions in TIG Welding
TIG welding involves high temperatures and potentially hazardous fumes. Firstly, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a welding helmet, for example, the GYS LCD apollo+, flame-resistant clothing, such as the Portwest Safe-Welder C030 and welding Gloves such as the Spider Hand TIG Supreme +.
Adequate ventilation in the workspace helps dissipate hazardous fumes and gases generated during the welding process, this can be further assisted with the use of a welding respirator such as GVS Elipse Half Mask. Ensuring a clutter-free work area minimizes tripping hazards and potential accidents. Fire safety measures including having a fire extinguisher nearby and using a Welding Blanket. A clear understanding of emergency shutdown procedures are critical. Additionally, training in TIG welding techniques, knowledge of the specific metals being welded, and following recommended current settings contribute to a safer welding environment.
Overall there are a range of advantages and disadvantages of TIG welding. It offers numerous advantages of TIG welding, including precise control, clean welds, and versatility in working with various metals. However, it also has some disadvantages of TIG welding, such as being skill-intensive and slower compared to other welding methods. Understanding these advantages and disadvantages of TIG welding can help professionals choose the right welding method for their specific applications.
- Is TIG welding suitable for beginners?
- TIG welding requires a certain level of skill, making it more suitable for experienced welders. Beginners may find it challenging to master the process initially.
- What types of metals can be welded using TIG welding?
- TIG welding is versatile and can be used on various metals, including stainless steel, aluminum, copper, titanium, and more.
- Can TIG welding be used for thick materials?
- While TIG welding can handle thick materials, it may not be the most efficient method for heavy-duty applications. Other welding methods like MIG or stick welding might be more suitable.
- How does TIG welding compare to MIG welding?
- TIG welding produces cleaner and more precise welds than MIG welding but is a slower process and requires more skill.
- What safety precautions should I take while TIG welding?
- When TIG welding, ensure to wear appropriate protective gear, work in well-ventilated areas, and follow safety guidelines to prevent accidents and health risks.