TIG welding is an arc welding process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode. It’s also known as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding – “TIG” is an abbreviation for Tungsten Inert Gas.
Developed in the 1930s and becoming popular during World War 2 for welding aircraft parts – replacing earlier more time-consuming methods – TIG welding is suitable for ferrous and non-ferrous metals thanks to tungsten’s unique properties that allow welding with a hotter arc.
It has long been recognised as the premiere welding process for almost any metal and as long as the machine is properly set up, the joint is correctly prepared and the torch technique is effective, the process will produce the highest-quality results.
How does TIG welding work?
The TIG tungsten electrode works by simply melting metals together, with the electrode shielded by a gas nozzle. Argon is commonly used, although helium can be used too.
TIG creates precise welds when joining metals such as aluminium and stainless steel. It’s a two-handed process, with one hand holding the torch and the other feeding the filler metal – usually using a fingertip control or foot pedal to control the arc voltage.
It is very much a precision task and going too slow or fast or holding the arc too far away or too close, can create a poor-quality weld. Allowing the tungsten to touch the weld pool can cause contamination. If this happens, you should move your torch further away from the workpiece, lengthening the arc.
What do you use a TIG welder for?
TIG welding is typically used for fine limit work and where a neat cosmetic finish is required. As well as assuring structural integrity, TIG welding does not necessitate any cleaning or grinding/polishing after the welds are laid – unlike MIG or Arc welding processes.
Pipecraft employs the TIG welding technique for most of our hotel, hospital and disabled projects.
What metals can you TIG weld?
TIG welding is suitable for almost any metal including magnesium, aluminium, copper alloys, titanium and stainless steel. It’s the most versatile process for welding different metals to produce the highest-quality weld; with combinations including copper to stainless steel, nickel to steel and stainless steel to cast iron, to name but a few.