Tag Archives: tungsten
TIG welding is the Tungsten. In fact that is what the first letter in TIG stands for: Tungsten Inert Gas. TIG uses an inert gas to shield the weld (typically Argon), a filler rod of a metal that matches what you are welding, and an electrode made of Tungsten that focuses and directs the arc. All TIG electrodes are more than 95% Tungsten, which is a rare metal used because it is hard and has one of the highest melting points of any metal. There are at least 5 distinct types of “Tungstens”, as most people call them, typically color coated based on how much of what other elements have been added.
When you're a beginner at TIG Welding there's a lot of steps to go through to lay a nice weld down. Getting a setting incorrect, or setting something up just a little off can be the difference between a gray mess of bird-turd welds and rainbow colored stacks of dimes. It's no secret TIG welding takes A LOT of practice and even with a perfectly setup machine it won't replace repetition and practice.
Setting up Tungsten stick-out is something that a lot of beginners get confused with. There are some formulas out there to help you determine stick-out, but those don't always work in real world applications. It boils down to setting your torch up to match what you're welding. I have two quick tips that will help get your torch set up (or at least very close) in seconds. Use these methods until you're more confident in your torch setup and it will eliminate one of the stumbling points that beginners struggle with.
1. Quick Stick-out Setup- After grinding you're Tungsten/Electrode you should have a nice taper on the tip. What I like to do is use the taper as my guide for how far the electrode sticks out past the cup. Get yourself close quickly by allowing the entire tapered portion to stick out past the cup. Tighten the torch down so just 1/16" or less past the tapered portion is visible outside of the cup. This setup is a good way to get you in the ballpark and it will work for welding on flat butt joints and many other common weld joints.
2. Use a Spare Tungsten Electrode- When welding a joint together other than a butt weld you may find that the method above may not work and the tip of the Tungsten could be too close or too far from the weld joint. A quick way for a beginner to get the stick-out correct is to lay a piece of the filler rod being used on the weld seam. You can then set your hand and torch where you'll be traveling across the work piece. Then pull your electrode out until it just about touches the filler rod laid in the seam. This will quickly get your electrode set to roughly the right height off of the work surface and with just the right amount of tungsten sticking out from the end of the torch.
These methods aren't super scientific, but they will get you close quickly and easily. Once you get more comfortable you will be able to eyeball the torch setup, but until then you can use these methods for setup and focus on perfecting other portions of the TIG welding process. I hope this helps a few beginners as it definitely helped me out in the beginning! Drop us a comment if you have any suggestions for future tech articles.
I am a wiz when it comes to MIG welding after many years of practice, and I usually can spot the cause of a poor weld, or why a machine isn't welding correctly pretty easily. But with TIG welding, I am pretty much a total beginner in the grand scheme of things. I've been taking tips from the more experienced guys here and even a few local pros.The big thing I've recently been trying to focus on is making sure my tungsten tip is ground correctly; and while I'm welding that it is kept in the correct shape. After some practice yesterday, I took 2 shots of tungsten tips that were incorrect, and I had to regrind. I figured I'd share so that it helps other beginners learn from my mistakes and makes their learning experience that much better.
The first here is a green tungsten in which I had the TIG 200 set to put too much heat to the torch. It was making the ball far too large and hard to center when setting up a freshly ground tip. I cranked the clearance effect down from -1 to -3.5 and I was able to make a smaller ball much easier. Lesson learned there!
The second picture below is of a red tungsten I had been using. I found that my arc was wandering quite badly. It was making it very hard to focus the puddle, and then it hit me, I had every-so-briefly touched the tungsten to the work surface when I first started welding and it deformed the tip. I've been told time and time again, you must stop and regrind your tungsten if you touch it to the work surface while welding. It doesn't matter even if it is for a split second, it will still deform the tungsten and cause an inconsistant arc.
I'll add more of these tips and hints as I make mistakes and (hopefully!) get better. I hope it can give anyone that is a beginner some insight on what to look for when first starting out!