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4.

TIG Welding and


Plasma Arc Welding

4. TIG Welding and Plasma Arc Welding

49

TIG welding and plasma welding belong to the group of the gas-shielded tungsten arc welding processes, Figure 4.1. In the gas-shielded tungsten arc welding processes mentioned in
Figure 4.1, the arc burns between a non- consumable

tungsten electrode and the work-

piece or, in plasma arc weldGas-shielded arc welding

ing, between the tungsten


electrode and a live copper
electrode inside the torch.

Gas-shielded
metal arc welding
GMAW

Gas-shielded tungsten
arc welding

Exclusively inert gases (Ar,


He) are used as shielding
gases.

Metal inert-gas
welding
MIG

narrow-gap
gas-shielded
arc welding

Metal active gas


welding
MAG

electrogas
welding

CO2 welding

The potential curve of the

plasma metal
arc welding

Mixed gas
welding

Tungsten inert- Tungsten plasma


gas welding
welding with
TIG
electrode

Tungsten
hydrogen
welding

Plasma arc
Plasma arc
Plasma
welding with
welding with
arc welding
non-transferred with transferred semi-transferred
arc
arc
arc

ideal arc, as shown in Figure


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4.2, can be divided into

Classification of Gas-Shielded
Arc Welding acc. to DIN ISO 857

three characteristic sectors:


1.cathode- drop region

Figure 4.1

2.arc

3. anode-drop region
In the cathode-drop region
almost 50%

of the total

A
L

voltage drop occurs over a

-4

length of 10 mm.
US

A similarly high voltage drop

A: anode spot (up to 4000C)


K: cathode spot (approx. 3600C)
L: arc column (4500-20000C)
l: arc length

20
V

occurs in the anode-drop

10
0

region, here, however, over

10

-4

4 mm 5

arc potential curve


(example)

0,5

a length of 0.5 mm. The


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voltage drop on the remain-

Arc Potential Curve

ing arc length is comparatively low. Main energy con-

Figure 4.2

version occurs accordingly


in the anode-drop and cathode-drop region.
Figure 4.3 shows the potential distribution by the example of a real TIG arc under the influence of different shielding gases. UA and UK have different values, the potential curve in the

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4. TIG Welding and Plasma Arc Welding

50

arc is not exactly linear. There is no discernible expansion of the cathode-drop and anodedrop region.
20
Argon
60 A
V

UK = 6,5 V

25

10

UARC

4
mm
2

anode

cathode
20

mm

X ARC
40

he

15

Helium
60 A

2
n
argo

UK = 6,5 V

UARC

lium

arc length

arc voltage

UA = 3,5 V

10

20
anode

10

cathode

50

100

150

200

250

350

weld current

UA = 6,1 V
0

mm

XARC
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Figure 4.3

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Figure 4.4

The electrical characteris9 000 K

10 000 K
x

x
x

shielding gas, Figure 4.4. As

pending on the selected

8 000 K

TIG cathode

tics of the arc differ, de-

mm

mm
x

the ionisation potential of


helium in comparison with

must necessarily be higher.

argon is higher, arc voltage

mm

anode
spot
weld pool

The temperature distribubr-er4-05e.cdr

tion of a TIG arc is shown in

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Temperature Distribution in a
TIG Arc (at I=100 A)

Figure 4.5.
Figure 4.5

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4. TIG Welding and Plasma Arc Welding

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In TIG welding just approximately 30% of the


input electrical energy may be used for

P = U.I

melting the base metal, Figure 4.6. Losses

welding direction

result from the arc radiation and heat dissipation in the workpiece and also from the heat

radiation

conversion in the tungsten electrode.


R.I2
melting of wire

Figure 4.7 describes the process principle


of TIG welding.
Figure 4.8 explains by an example the code
for a TIG welding wire, as stipulated in the

thermal conductivity
[W/m K]

drafts of the European Standardisations.


A table with the chemical compositions of the

fusion heat
[kJ/kg]
specific heat
[kJ/kg K]

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filler materials is shown in Figure 4.9.


According to Figure 4.10, a conventional

Figure 4.6
TIG welding installation

tungsten electrode

consists of a transformer, a

electric contact

set of rectifiers and a torch.

shielding gas
shielding gas nozzle

For most applications an

welding
power
source

filler
metal

electrode with a negative


polarity is used. However,

weld

for welding of aluminium,


alternating current must be
workpiece
arc

used. For arc ignition a


high-frequency high volt-

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Tungsten Inert Gas Welding (TIG)

age is superimposed and


causes ionisation between

Figure 4.7

electrode and workpiece.

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4. TIG Welding and Plasma Arc Welding

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The central part of the
torch for TIG welding is

W 46 3 W2

the

chemical composition table

tungsten

electrode

which is held in a collet

rods and wires for tig-welding


minimum impact energy value 47 J at -30C

inside the torch body, Figure 4.11. The hose pack-

minimum weld metal yield point: 460 N/mm2


identification letter for TIG-welding

age contains the supply


lines for shielding gas and

identification of filler rod as an individual product: W2

welding

current.

shielding

gas

The

nozzle

is

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mostly made of ceramic.

Designation of a Tungsten Innert


Gas Welding Wire to EN 1668

Manually operated torches

Figure 4.8

for TIG welding which are


used for high amperages

as well as machine torches for long duty cycles are water-cooled.


In order to keep the influence of torch distance variations on the current intensity and thus on
the penetration depth as low as possible, power sources used for TIG welding always have
a steeply dropping characteristic, Figure 4.12.
The non-contact reignition of the A.C. TIG arc
after a voltage zero crossover requires ionisation of
the

electrode-workpiece

gap

by

high-frequent

high voltage pulses, Figbr-er4-09e.cdr

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Chemical composition of
filler rods and wires for TIG-welding

ure 4.13.

Figure 4.9

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4. TIG Welding and Plasma Arc Welding

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When argon is used as a

mains

L1
L2
L3
N
PE

shielding gas, metals as,


for example, aluminium
and

magnesium,

which

filter
capacitor

high-frequency choke coil

_
O

have low melting points


and

high voltage
impulse generator

simultaneously

forming tight and high melt-

St

rectifier
transformer
SC: scattering core for adjusting
the characteristic curve

also

ing oxide skins, cannot be


+
O

=
~

welded with a negative po-

selector switch

larity

electrode.

With

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positive polarity, however,

Principle Structure of a
TIG Welding Installation

a cleaning effect takes

Figure 4.10

place which is caused by


the impact of the positive

charged ions from the shielding gas atmosphere on the negative charged work surface, thus
destroying the oxide skin due to their large cross-section. However, as a positive polarity
longer arc

torch cap
with seal

shorter arc

R and U rise

R and U
drop

I drops

I rises

handle of the torch


control switch
control cable

long

short

arc length

electrode collet
collet
case
tungsten electrode
gas nozzle

shielding
gas supply

voltage

torch body
with cooling device

cooling water
supply

increasing

cooling water
return with
welding current
cable

decreasing

current intensity
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decreasing

increasing

i
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Construction of a Water-Cooled
Torch for TIG Welding

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.12

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4. TIG Welding and Plasma Arc Welding

54

would cause thermal overload of the electrode, these materials are welded with alternating
current.
However, this has a disturbing side-effect. The electron emission and, consequently, the current flow are dependent on the temperature of the cathode.
During the negative phase on the work surface the emission is, due to the lower melting temperature substantially lower than during the negative phase on the tungsten electrode. As a
consequence, a positively connected electrode leads to lower welding current flows than this
would be the case with a negatively connected electrode, Figure 4.14. A filter capacitor in the
welding current circuit filters out the D.C. compovoltage

reignition of the arc


by voltage impulses

nent which results in equal


A.C.

half-wave

components.

With modern transistorised


power sources which use

time

alternating current (square


wave) for a faster zero
cross-over, is duration and
height of the phase com-

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Reignition of the Tungsten A.C. Arc


Through Voltage Impulses

Figure 4.13

ponents

adjustable.

The

electrode

thermal

and the

cleaning effect

stress

time

time

lower

smaller

current
a

time

- time
+

time

- time
+

cleaning effect

stronger

heat load
of the electrode

increasing

balanced half-wave components

with filter
capacitor

without filter
capacitor
electronic controled
power source

electrode polarity

may be freely influenced.


current
a

Figure 4.15 shows that the


thermal

electrode

load

can be recognized from the


shape of the electrode tip.
While

the

normal-load

negative connected electrode end has the shape of


a pointed cone (point angle

weld seam width


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Influence of the Half-Wave Components


during A.C. TIG Welding

approx. 10), a flattened


electrode tip is the result

Figure 4.14
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4. TIG Welding and Plasma Arc Welding

55

from a.c. welding (higher thermal load by positive half-waves).The tip of a thermally overloaded electrode is hemispherical and leads to a stronger spread of the arc and thus to wider
welds with lower penetration.

materials:
- steels, especially high-alloy steel
- aluminium and aluminium alloys
- copper and copper alloys
- nickel and nickel alloys
- titanium
- circonium
- tantalum

electrode for A.C. welding


(alternating current)

electrode for D.C. welding


(direct current)

workpiece thickness:
- 0,5 - 5,0 mm
weld types:
- plain butt weld, V-type welds,
flanged weld, fillet weld
- all positions
- surfacing

overloaded electrode

application examples:
- tube to tube sheet welding
- orbital welding
- root welding

influence of the electrode


shape on penetration profile

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Electrode Shapes
for TIG Welding

Applications of TIG Welding

Figure 4.15

Figure 4.16

preflow of the
shielding gas

postflow of the
shielding gas

movement in
switch-on position

All fusion weldable materials can be joined using the


TIG process; from the eco-

shielding
gas

nomical point of view this


orbital
movement

applies especially to plate


0

360

welding
current

thickness of less than


5 mm.

The

method

is,

moreover, predestined for


rise of
current

preheating

pulsing

current decay

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overlap
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Flow Chart of TIG Orbital Welding

welding

root

passes

without backing support,


Figure 4.16.

Figure 4.17
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4. TIG Welding and Plasma Arc Welding

56

For circumferential welding of fixed pipes, the TIG orbital welding method is applied. The
welding torch moves orbitrally around the pipe, i.e., the pipe is welded in the positions flat,
vertical down, overhead,
contact tube

vertical-up and also inter-

tungsten electrode

pass welding is applied.

shielding gas nozzle

shielding gas

Moreover,

Ignition
device

plasma gas nozzle

defect-free

weld bead overlap must be

plasma gas
welding
power
source

filler
material

surface weld

achieved. Orbital welding


installations are equipped
with process operational

workpiece

non-transferred
arc

controls which determine


the

appropriate

process

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parameters, Figure 4.17.

Plasma Arc Welding with


Non-Transferred Arc

In plasma arc welding

Figure 4.18

burns the arc between the


tungsten electrode (- pole) and the plasma gas nozzle (+ pole) and is called the nontransferred arc, Figure 4.18. The non-transferred arc is mainly used for metal-spraying and
for the welding of metal-foil strips.
In plasma arc welding with transferred arc burns the arc between the tungsten electrode (pole) and the workpiece (+
pole)

and

transferred

is

called

arc,

the

Figure

4.19. The plasma gas constricts the arc and leads to a


more concentrated heat input than in TIG welding and
allows thus the exploitation

contact tube

tungsten
electrode

shielding gas nozzle


shielding gas
Ignition
device

plasma gas nozzle


plasma gas

welding
power
source

filler
material
seam

of the keyhole effect.


Plasma arc welding with
transferred arc is mainly

work piece
transferred
arc
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Plasma Arc Welding


with Transferred Arc

used for welding of joints.


Figure 4.19

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4. TIG Welding and Plasma Arc Welding

57
Plasma arc welding with

contact tube

tungsten
electrode

semi-transferred arc is a

shielding gas nozzle

combination
ignition
device

shielding gas

the

two

methods mentioned above.

conveying gas and


welding filler (powder)
welding
power
source

plasma gas

of

plasma gas nozzle

This

process

used

for

variant

is

microplasma

welding, plasma-arc pow-

surface weld
non-transferred
arc
workpiece

transferred arc

der surfacing and weldjoining of aluminium, Figure 4.20

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Plasma Arc Welding with


Semi-Transferred Arc

The

Figure 4.20

plasma

welding

equipment includes, be-

sides the water-cooled welding torch, a gas supply for plasma gas (Ar) and shielding gas
(ArH2-mixture, Ar/He mixture or Ar); the gas supply is, in most cases, separated, Figure 4.21.
The copper anode and the additional focusing gas flow constrict the plasma arc which leads,

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Figure 4.21

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Figure 4.22
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4. TIG Welding and Plasma Arc Welding

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in comparison with TIG


welding, to a more concentrated heat input and thus to
deeper penetration. An arc

Arc shapes of shielding gases:

that has been generated in

argon with 6,5% hydrogen


helium
50% argon, 50% helium
argon

and is not easy to deflect,


as, for example, at work-

arc length

this way burns more stable

plasma gas: argon

piece edges, Figure 4.21.


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The TIG arc is cone shaped


or

bell

shaped,

Arc Shapes in Microplasma Welding


with Different Shielding Gases

respec-

tively, and has an aperture

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Figure 4.23

angle of 45. The plasma


arc, in comparison, burns highly concentrated with almost parallel flanks, Figure 4.22.
The shielding gas used in plasma arc welding
exerts, due to its thermal conductivity, a deci-

plasma torch

sive influence onto the arc configuration.


The use of a mixture of argon with hydrogen
welding direction

results in the often desired cylindrical arc


shape, Figure 4.23.

weld (seam)

In plasma arc welding of plates thicker than


2.5mm the so-called keyhole effect is utilweld
surface

ised, Figure 4.24. The plasma jet penetrates


the material, forming a weld keyhole. During

keyhole

welding the plasma jet with the keyhole


moves along the joint edges. Behind the
root

plasma jet as result of the surface tension and


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the vapour pressure in the keyhole, the liquid


metal flows back together and the weld bead
is created.

Figure 4.24

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4. TIG Welding and Plasma Arc Welding

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Very thin sheets and metal-foils can be welded using microplasma welding with amperages
between 0.05 and 50 A.
Figures 4.25 and 4.26 show
these

application

ples:

The

exam-

circumferential

weld in a diaphragm disk


with a wall thickness of
0.15mm and the joining of
fine metal grids made of CrNi steel.

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Microplasma Welding of a
Diaphragm Disk Made of CrNi

Figure 4.25

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Figure 4.26
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