How Does a TIG Welder Work? What is TIG welding used for?

How Does a TIG Welder Work

Have you ever wondered how a Tig welder work? Well, if you have an interest in welding, one of the choices you will have to make is what kind of welding you will use. There are many ways to weld metal, and one of these being TIG welding.

How does a TIG welder work? A TIG welder uses a tungsten electrode to deliver current towards the metals to be welded. The electric, as well as the filler rod, are protected by an inert gas during the process.

There are advantages and disadvantages to TIG welding. It is generally not for beginners, but it can give you fantastic results for specific projects. Whether or not you are interested in using this particular kind of welder, learning about the process is worth your time.

How Does a TIG Welder Work?

First, you should know that TIG stands for “tungsten inert gas.” The process of welding involves applying a great deal of heat, in the form of an electric arc, to metal surfaces to melt and then fuse them, and TIG welding does this in a specific way.

TIG welding utilizes an electric torch with a tungsten electrode to aim the current towards the welding arc. The welder will hold the torch in one hand and an apparatus containing the filler rod in the other.

The filler rod goes into the weld puddle (the puddle of molten metal) and is consumed during the process, becoming part of the final product.

tig welding

There are several types of tungsten electrodes that you can use, depending on your purposes. The type of electrode you will choose depends on whether you are using direct or alternating current, how much money you have to spend, and how long you need the electrodes to last.

This electrode is not consumed like the filler rod is, although it will wear down over time and need to be replaced eventually. There is a ceramic cup from which the tungsten wire protrudes. The tungsten wire is in a copper collet, which you can adjust to make the tungsten go out further from the cup or closer to it.

Learn More About TIG Welding – Here, you can find an article from our website about: What is TIG Welding Used For? Why Choose TIG Welding?

Both the filler rod and the tungsten electrode are cooled and protected by an inert gas, usually argon. Many welders will use pure argon gas since it is compatible with any type of metal that you would be welding and will function as an effective shield. However, it is also common to use argon mixed with either hydrogen or helium, as this will increase the heat and amperage of the weld.

Within the copper collet, the many holes allow the transfer of the inert gas that will surround the tungsten during the welding process. This gas will not react with its surroundings and will protect the electrode from any contaminating particles that could ruin the weld.

You can preset the maximum amperage on the machine before your welding project. Then, while you are willing, you can vary the amperage using a pedal that you control with your foot.

This makes TIG welding unique, in that you can slowly build up and slow down the heat as needed. Being able to control the heat this way allows you to work with metals that are sensitive to thermal shock, since the gradual changes will enable you to avoid the temperature shocking of metals 

Did You Know:  “Gas Tungsten arc welding (GTAW) or TIG welding was invented in 1941 by Russell Meredith of the Northrop Aircraft Corporation as a way to weld aluminum and magnesium to join light alloys used in aircraft manufacturing.”

What Are Things You Should Keep in Mind during TIG Welding?

There are a few things that you need to remember when you are engaging in this welding process.

  • Contamination.  You should make sure that the tungsten electrode does not come into contact with the metal you are welding. If it does, the tungsten will be contaminated. In this case, you will need to replace it before continuing with the welding process.
  • Safety.  You will also need to keep safety in mind. TIG welding can be quite dangerous, especially for beginners. This is primarily because of the exposure to large amounts of heat and inert gases. Because of this, you need to keep all the proper safety protocols in mind when you are engaging in TIG welding.

Related Article: Personal Protective Equipment for Welders – PPE | List, and Requirements

  • Ventilation.  You must do all your TIG welding in a well-ventilated area. If you are exposed to plenty of fresh air, you won’t be exposed to high concentrations of toxic fumes. Make sure that you are wearing all the required safety gear so that your face and body are protected from burns. Your welding equipment must be properly grounded as well, and your work area needs to be kept dry to avoid the risk of electric shock.

Related Article: Does Welding Cause Cancer? | How to protect yourself while welding

  • Cleanliness.  You will also want to make sure that the metal surfaces that you are welding are clean. Any contaminants or impurities in or on the metal will affect the quality of your finished products.
  • Current.  Make sure that you are not welding with the wrong current. The type and amount of current you use (alternating or direct) will depend on the type of metal you are using as well. It would be a good idea for you to practice on scraps of the metal you’re planning to use first, to make sure that you can do what you want to do with the type of current you are choosing.

What Makes TIG Welding Different?

When learning about TIG welding, it helps to contrast it with the other mainstream type of welding, which is MIG welding. MIG stands for “metal inert gas.” Both types of welding use an electric arc. However, MIG welding employs a feed wire that is constantly moving, while TIG welding employs long metal rods that are used to fuse two metals.

Related Article: What’s the Difference Between TIG and MIG Welding? Which one is better?

TIG welding is an excellent choice for more types of metals, although it is not as effective when you are working with very thick pieces of metal. It’s also more focused on detail and thus takes a longer time than MIG welding does. It will give you the most precise welds of any technique, as well as the smoothest finish. You can also use it to weld several different metals, including non-ferrous ones like magnesium, aluminum, and copper.

MIG welding is probably the better choice for welders who are just starting out since it is a more straightforward process. It only takes one hand to operate the gun, while TIG welding requires you to use both hands and one foot. However, if TIG welding is the better choice for your job, you can work up to being able to use one of these machines properly.

Final Thoughts

Whether or not you want to use TIG welding depends on a few different factors. You should take your level of expertise into account. Even though TIG welding can, in some ways, give you the best possible results, this will only work correctly if the welder is capable of properly utilizing the machine. Therefore it would be a good idea to start with MIG welding and work your way up or do some practice with TIG welding first.

In addition, remember that welding involves some dangerous machinery in any case. Of course, you will want to prioritize welding the highest-quality projects you can, but you also need to prioritize the safety of everyone who is involved.

This is why it would be a good idea to get the help of someone who is more experienced before you attempt TIG welding. However, once you put in the effort to learn the craft and techniques, you will be able to accomplish some great things with these machines.

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David Harper

David is the Co-Founder and Senior Editor at David's an experienced fitter and tuner/welder who's passionate about helping others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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