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TIG Welding
The process was a highly attractive replacement for gas
and manual metal arc welding.

TIG has played a major role in the acceptance of

aluminum for high quality welding and structural

Using an inert gas shield instead of a slag to protect the

Process characteristics

In the TIG process the arc is formed between a pointed

tungsten electrode and the workpiece in an inert shielded of
argon or helium.

The small intense arc provided by the pointed electrode is

ideal for high quality and precision welding.

Because the electrode is not consumed during welding, the

welder does not have to balance the heat input from the arc
as the metal is deposited from the melting electrode. When
filler metal is required, it must be added separately to the
Power source

It operated with a drooping voltage, constant current power

source - either DC or AC.

A constant current power source is essential to avoid

excessively high currents being drawn when the electrode
is short-circuited on to the workpiece surface. This could
happen either deliberately during arc starting or
inadvertently during welding.

Difference with MIG welding, a flat characteristic power

source is used, any contact with the workpiece surface
would damage the electrode tip or fuse the electrode to the
workpiece surface.
The electrode is always negative polarity to prevent
overheating and melting of tungsten.

However, DC electrode positive polarity has the

advantage when the cathode is on the workpiece, the
surface is cleaned of oxide contamination.

AC is used when welding materials with a tenacious

surface oxide film, such as aluminium.
Arc starting

The arc can be started by scratching the surface, forming a short-circuit.

It is only when the short-circuit is broken that the main welding current
will flow.

The 'lift arc' technique can be minimized the sticking

electrode to the surface where the short-circuit is formed at
a very low current level.

HF (High Frequency) consists of high voltage sparks of

several thousand volts which last for a few microseconds.
The HF sparks will cause the electrode - workpieces gap to
break down or ionize. Once an electron/ion cloud is formed,
current can flow from the power source.
HF is also important in stabilizing the AC arc; in AC,
electrode polarity is reversed at a frequency of about 50
times per second, causing the arc to be extinguished at
each polarity change. To ensure that the arc is reignited at
each reversal of polarity, HF sparks are generated across
the electrode/workpiece gap to coincide with the
beginning of each half-cycle

Electrodes for DC welding are normally pure tungsten with

1 to 4% thoria to improve arc ignition. Alternative additives
are lanthanum oxide and cerium oxide which are to give
superior performance (arc starting and lower electrode

It is important to select the correct electrode diameter and

tip angle for the level of welding current. As a rule, the
lower the current the smaller the electrode diameter and
tip angle.
In AC welding, as the electrode will be operating at a much
higher temperature, tungsten with a zirconia addition is
used to reduce electrode erosion. It should be noted that
because of the large amount of heat generated at the
electrode, it is difficult to maintain a pointed tip and the end
of the electrode assumes a spherical or 'ball' profile.
Shielding Gases

The shielding gas has several functions. One of

them is to replace the atmospheric air so it will
not combine with the weld pool and the
incandescent tungsten electrode.

Furthermore, the shielding gas also plays an

important role in connection with the transfer of
current and heat in the arc.
Argon - the most commonly-used shielding gas which
can be used for welding a wide range of materials
including steels, stainless steel, aluminum and titanium.

Argon + 2 to 5% H2 - the addition of hydrogen to argon

will make the gas slightly reducing, assisting the
production of cleaner-looking welds without surface
oxidation. As the arc is hotter and more constricted, it
permits higher welding speeds. Disadvantages include
risk of hydrogen cracking in carbon steels and weld
metal porosity in aluminum alloys.
Helium and helium/argon mixtures - adding helium to
argon will raise the temperature of the arc. This promotes
higher welding speeds and deeper weld penetration.
Disadvantages of using helium or a helium/argon mixture
is the high cost of gas and difficulty in starting the arc.

TIG is applied in all industrial sectors but is especially

suitable for high quality welding. It is ideal for thin sheet
material or controlled penetration (in the root run of pipe
welds). Because deposition rate can be quite low (using a
separate filler rod)

TIG is also widely applied in mechanized systems either

autogenously or with filler wire.
Essential equipment

In TIG, the arc is formed between the end of a small

diameter tungsten electrode and the workpiece. The main
equipment components are:

• power source
• torch
• backing system
• protective equipment
Power source

The power source for TIG welding can be either DC or AC

but in both the output is termed a drooping, or constant
current, characteristic; the arc voltage / welding current
relationship delivers a constant current for a given power
source setting.

If the arc voltage is slightly increased or decreased, there

will be very little change in welding current. In manual
welding, it can accommodate the welder's natural
variations in arc length and, in the event of the electrode
touching the work, an excessively high current will not be
drawn which could fuse the electrode to the workpiece.
The arc is usually started by HF (High Frequency) sparks
which ionize the gap between the electrode and the

HF generates airborne and line transmitted interference,

so care must be taken to avoid interference with control
systems and instruments near welding equipment.

Touch starting or 'lift arc', can be used by touch the tip of

electrode to the workpiece, the current will only flow when
the electrode is lifted off the surface. There is, therefore,
little risk of the electrode fusing to the workpiece surface
and forming tungsten inclusions in the weld metal. For
high quality applications, using HF is preferred.
DC power source

DC power produces a concentrated arc with most of the

heat in the workpiece, so this power source is generally
used for welding.

DC electrode negative polarity results in little cleaning of

the workpiece surface. Care must be taken to clean the
surface prior to welding and to ensure that there is an
efficient gas shield.
Transistor and inverter power sources are being used
increasingly for TIG welding. The advantages are:

• the smaller size makes them easily transported

• arc ignition is easier
• special operating features, e.g. current pulsing,
are readily included
• the output can be pre-programmed for
mechanized operations

The greater stability of these power sources allows very

low currents to be used particularly for micro-TIG welding
and largely replaced the plasma process for micro-
welding operations.
AC power source

AC power must be employed for materials which has a

tenacious oxide film on the surface such as aluminum

By switching between positive and negative polarity, the

periods of electrode positive will remove the oxide and
clean the surface.

The figure shows current and voltage waveforms for (sine wave) AC TIG
Disadvantages of conventional, sine wave AC compared
with DC are:

• the arc is more diffuse

• HF is required to reignite the arc at each current
• excessive heating of the electrode makes it
impossible to maintain a tapered point and the end
becomes balled

Square wave AC, or switched DC, power sources are

particularly attractive for welding aluminum.

By switching between polarities, arc reignition is made

easier so that the HF can be reduced or eliminated.
To weld the root run, the power source is operated with
the greater amount of positive polarity to put the
maximum heat into the workpieces.

For filler runs a greater proportion of negative polarity

should be used to minimize heating of the electrode. By
using 90% negative polarity, it is possible to maintain a
pointed electrode.

A balanced position (50% electrode positive and

negative polarities) is preferable for welding heavily
oxidized aluminum.

There is a wide range of torch designs for welding,

according to the application. Designs which have the
on/off switch and current control in the handle are often
preferred to foot controls. Specialized torches are
available for mechanized applications, e.g. orbital and
bore welding of pipes.
1. Torch head
2. Handle
3. Control switch
4. Electrode cap
5. Sealing ring
6. Electrode collet
7. Heat shield
8. Collet body
9. Gas nozzle
Gas Lens

A gas lens should be fitted within the torch nozzle, to

ensure laminar gas flow.

This will improve gas protection for sensitive welding

operations like welding vertical, corner and edge joints
and on curved surfaces.
Gas nozzle with gas lens
Backing system

When welding high integrity components, a shielding gas

is used to protect the underside of the weld pool and weld
bead from oxidation. To reduce the amount of gas
consumed, a localised gas shroud for sheet, dams or
plugs for tubular components is used. As little as 5% air
can result in a poor weld bead profile and may reduce
corrosion resistance in materials like stainless steel. With
gas backing systems in pipe welding, pre-weld purge time
depends on the diameter and length of the pipe. The flow
rate/purge time is set to ensure at least five volume
changes before welding.
Stick on tapes and ceramic backing bars are also used
to protect and support the weld bead. In manual
stainless steel welding, a flux-cored wire instead of a
solid wire can be used in the root run. This protects the
underbead from oxidation without the need for gas

A pre-placed insert can be used to improve the uniformity

of the root penetration. Its main use is to prevent suck-
back in an autogenous weld, especially in the overhead
position. The use of an insert does not make welding any
easier and skill is still required to avoid problems of
incomplete root fusion and uneven root penetration
Protective equipment

A slightly darker glass should be used in the head or

hand shield than that used for MMA welding.
Recommended shade number of filter for TIG welding:

Shade number Welding current A

9 less than 20
10 20 to 40
11 40 to 100
12 100 to 175
13 175 to 250
14 250 to 400
Techniques for welding
Butt weld and Corner joint
Lap and Tee joint
Welding of stainless steel
Welding techniques
1. Ensure that the surface of the material in the weld
area is clean and free from foreign matter.

2. Use the edge preparation

3. Tack at regular intervals, at about half the pitch used for

mild steel.

4. Maintain a short arc during welding, to avoid loss of

alloying materials during transfer across the arc.
5. Use stringer passes rather than wide weaves.

6. To minimize distortion, employ back step or block sequences

when welding.

7. Thoroughly remove slag from welds between passes.

8. When welding double V or U joints, balance the welding on

each side, to minimize distortion.

9. Never use emery wheels or buffs for grinding or polishing

stainless if they have previously been used for mild steel.

10. Do not use excessive welding current. Because of the high

electrical resistance and low thermal conductivity, the
currents used with stainless steel electrodes are some what
lower than those used for mild steel.
Choose the filler metal

 308L (including ER308LSi) is predominately used

for austenitic stainless steel 301, 302, 304, 305. For
high temp. used 308H
 316L (including ER316LSi) should be used with
316L and 316 base metals.
 309L (including ER309LSi) when joining mild steel
or low alloy steel to stainless steel and dissimilar
stainless steel such as 409 to itself or to 304L
stainless steel
Position of weld