In the welding world, gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW)—also frequently referred to as tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding—produces welds via a process using tungsten electrodes. A shielding gas protects the weld pool area from air pollution, and inert gases such as argon, helium, or a mixture of the two are used.
Due to the high level of precision in this form of the trade, GTAW is typically reserved for high-quality jobs requiring more attention to detail. It’s also the form most appreciated by experienced welding practitioners, due to its ability to turn out stronger welds with cleaner, more artful results and higher integrity.
To understand more about GTAW welding, let’s take a look at five interesting facts about this method.
1. It Takes Longer to Master Than Other Welding Types
The finicky welding method of GTAW requires a lot of practice to perfect. In fact, it’s usually only attempted once a welder has a solid grasp in some of the more basic forms of the trade, such as metal inert gas (MIG) welding.
The more complex GTAW procedure requires a non-consumable tungsten electrode to run a current through the metals the technician is looking to weld together. After the metals have been liquified by the heat of the electrode, the filler material is hand-fed into the weld pool. Those interested in a welding career should know that this method is slower to perform than more basic “point and shoot” one-handed weld methods, and is a lot more difficult for inexperienced users to accomplish.
2. It Requires a Lot of Focus
Any type of welding is reliant on lots of concentration to avoid mistakes and accidents. If you’re attending welding school, you’ll be interested to hear that GTAW welding requires an even sharper level of focus. Both hands are needed to work on a GTAW job, with the welding torch in one hand and the filler material in the other.
A lot of concentration and a steady hand are needed to feed the wire as the operator attempts to move smoothly through the weld. The clean results at the end of this painstaking process come from a lot of patience, along with razor-sharp focus to prevent mishaps and unsightly errors.
3. Its Ability to Apply Controlled Heat Allows for Cleaner Results
On GTAW welds, a foot pedal controls the electricity coming to the torch, allowing for a level of deep penetration and accuracy that prevents the arc weld splatter one might get with a more basic type of welding. This control of the heat allows for much cleaner results—perfect for more advanced, high-precision jobs.
The welder doesn’t even necessarily need filler material here to get a successful join. This is important to remember, as welding requiring any filler material is usually a messier procedure. The precise metal-to-metal welds that GTAW welding enables allows for the operator’s desired smooth, clean surface. Producing an aesthetically-pleasing pattern and uniform bead, these welds often need no more than a light polish to finish.
4. It’s Ideal for Working on Stainless Steels
GTAW is well-suited to working on thin sections of light metals, including magnesium and aluminum. The method is particularly favourable for use on stainless steel welds. This is partly due to the aesthetics of these jobs, where the uncoated fabrication of the material means the weld remains exposed for the world to see. Additionally, stainless steels are a more expensive metal type, requiring significantly tidier finishes.
5. It’s More Expensive for Welding Career Pros to Complete
Due to the level of precision and attention to detail required, a GTAW weld is one of the most time-consuming jobs to complete. The process also has a low deposition rate to consider, with this rate measured in pounds per hour, deposited at a particular welding current. Additionally, a lot of GTAW welding equipment is at least twice as expensive as more basic tools of the trade.
Factoring in the time required from the highly-skilled welder multiplied by the hourly rate, plus the cost of resources needed on higher-quality jobs, these welds are much more costly to complete than other forms of the trade.
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