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What is a TIG Welder Used For?

Tungsten inert gas welding, better known as TIG, is a process that joins metals by heating them with an arc between a non-consumable tungsten electrode and a workpiece. The method uses a shielding gas, and it can also be used with or without the addition of filler metal

If you aren’t familiar with the TIG welding process, here are some of the basics:

  • TIG was first developed in Southern California over 75 years ago by the Northrop Aircraft Corporation. At that time, Northrop needed a way to weld aluminum and magnesium, and the welding processes back then were not adequate to weld them.
  • The process employs an inert gas shield (argon or helium) instead of a slag to protect the weld pool. Helium shielding will provide more penetration than argon.
  • In TIG welding, an intense arc is formed between a pointed tungsten electrode and the workpiece, creating a high-quality weld.
  • TIG welding doesn’t splatter, which results in a cleaner finish.
  • TIG is easily applied to thin materials.
  • TIG welding is technically referred to as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW).
  • There are four primary variables in TIG Welding:
  • Welding voltage: controls the arc length, which is the distance between the molten weld pool and the wire filler metal
  • Welding current: as the current increases, the weld penetrates further into the base material
  • Travel speed: generally expressed in inches per minute, travel speed is calculated by dividing the length of the weld by the time it took to complete the weld, multiplied by 60
  • Shielding gas: selected according to the material being welded
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    What Are Some of the TIG Welder Uses?

    PrimeWeld TIG welder - What is a TIG welder used for

    TIG welding can be used on more metals than any other method. Steel, aluminum, bronze, brass, and copper are just some of the materials that lend themselves to the process. That’s primarily because a welding technician can increase and decrease the amount of heat that is used, providing better control of the weld.

    And because TIG can be used with such a variety of metals, the method is applied in several industries, including aerospace and automotive. Here are just some of the industries and how they use TIG welders:

    • Aerospace: both aircraft and spacecraft are partially manufactured through TIG welding. Commercial planes, the International Space Station, and space vehicles have all benefitted from TIG welding, which is well-regarded for its strength and precision.
    • Nuclear and power industries: since TIG welds are durable and resist corrosion and cracking, they are ideally suited for critical seals.
    • Transportation: TIG is used more and more in the automotive industry because it can be used effectively on lightweight aluminum and other alloys that are being incorporated into vehicles. TIG strategies are also known to decrease corrosion over time.
    • Repair work: because the TIG welding process can be used with so many unique alloy and filler metal options, it is often used for repairing tools and dies.
    • Bicycle industry: TIG is the best choice for welding small-diameter, thin-wall tubing, which makes it ideal for producing bicycles.
    • Food and beverage industry: precision is critical for food-grade stainless steel applications. Filters, storage vessels, cooking vessels, and other items that will be used in the food industry require the high-quality welds that only a TIG welder can provide.
    • Artwork: the superior aesthetics of TIG welding make it the favorite method of artists. For example, works like metal sculptures and industrial fixtures were likely created with the help of a TIG welder.

    The Alternatives to the TIG welder

    TIG welders are powerful and versatile. They’ve been around a long time and have been refined to their advanced present-day capabilities. But the same can be said about another welding process that also uses electricity to melt and join pieces of metal: MIG (metal inert gas) welding.

    The primary difference in MIG welding is that it uses a continuously-fed electrode wire that comes out of the MIG handset, instead of the non-consumable tungsten electrode of TIG. Here is a comparison of the two processes.

    TIG vs. MIG Welding

    PrimeWeld TIG welding - What is a TIG welder used for

    The two forms of welding have advantages and disadvantages, depending on the situation. It’s always helpful to look at a project to determine your goals for it and think about some specific factors: 

    • Your welding experience
    • The materials involved
    • How much time you can devote to the project
    • Your budget

    Some of the differences between MIG and TIG welding include:

    • Material thickness: TIG welding tends to be a more effective method for thinner metal. With MIG welding using consumable filler material, it can typically complete the welding of thicker pieces in less time than a TIG welder. 
    • The appearance of the weld: TIG welding is usually preferred when a clean, attractive finish is required. That’s why TIG is almost always used for artistic and ornamental purposes.
    • Different techniques: One of the most notable differences between TIG and MIG is in their methods. In TIG, the welder must feed a separate filler material onto the weld with one hand while operating the torch with the other. A wire electrode is continuously fed through the spool gun to create the weld with MIG welding. 
    • Ease of use: Most welders agree that TIG has a steeper learning curve, so inexperienced users often find MIG’s continuously feeding wire a more natural technique to handle. 
    • Speed of welding: TIG is the slower method of the two, but it provides a much higher level of detail. MIG would lend itself to projects that demand higher production rates. 
    • Autogenous welding: TIG is suitable for autogenous welding, while MIG welding always requires a filler material.
    • The size of the project: As noted earlier, TIG welding works better for thinner metals and smaller projects that need precise and clean welds. MIG would be more appropriate for larger projects with thicker materials that call for longer, continuous runs. 
    • Costs: MIG is not as expensive because TIG welding is a slower process. The consumables for TIG cost a bit more, but not all that much. 
    • Environmental: TIG welding is generally cleaner and better for the environment.

    We Have TIG Welders To Meet Your Needs

    At PrimeWeld, we offer some of the best TIG welders in the industry at prices that will please both hobbyists and pros alike.

    Take our popular TIG225X AC/DC Tig/Stick welder, one of the most versatile machines on the market. It comes complete with an easy-to-use foot pedal control, along with a CK17 flex torch, connecting cables and hoses, power supply source, and all the accessories you need to get working. A three-year warranty seals the deal!

    The TIG200 DC welder is an economical machine that provides excellent welds in mild steel for thicknesses up to 3 mm (1/8”). It offers both foot-pedal heat control and high-frequency starts from its hand torch. Portability is another one of its many appealing features.

    Our versatile Ct520d 50 Amps Plasma Cutter includes a 200 amps tig welder, as well as a 200-amp stick welder combination. This three-in-one system offers multiple cutting and welding functions.

    The affordable 160ST is another TIG welding machine that is a compact and reliable machine that includes a 160 amps double-voltage stick welder. You can handle many of your primary welding needs and requirements, up to 160 amps, with this machine.

    Have questions? We have answers. Contact us, and one of our welding professionals will provide you with the guidance you need to make the right choice for your application.

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