Posted on Jun 29, 2022
You’ve selected your Tig torch and your consumables, but that’s just the beginning. Here’s a few of our top tips for making sure that your Tig welds are the best possible.
Preparation is key to a good Tig weld. Unfortunately it’s not just a pick up and go situation – you’ll need to spend some time getting the metal to be joined ready, in order to get the perfect weld.
Keep it clean
We can’t overstate how important it is to clean your surface well before starting to weld. Tig welding does not work well on dirty metal. Think of it like this – if you weld an area that is rusty or dirty, the filler metal doesn’t stick fully to the joint, it also sticks to the contaminant. When that joint then becomes stressed, the dirt or rust comes away taking the weld with it.
There are two ways of cleaning your metals ready to weld, mechanical and chemical. Mechanical would use a grinder, sander or wire brush to remove rust and dirt and leave it nice and smooth and shiny. Chemical cleaning removes grease, oil and paint which will impact on weld quality if left behind.
Care for your Aluminium
Aluminium needs extra care because as soon as you start to prepare the surface it is covered in Aluminium Oxide. This happens because the oxygen in the air reacts with the metal, and will therefore need to be removed before you can weld. This can be brushed/scrubbed off using a (clean) stainless steel brush. If aluminium is left out in the air, this layer will reform after a few days, so it is important to make sure that your aluminium is cleaned before you weld even if it was done previously.
It’s going to happen – your electrode will touch the base metal or filler at some point. If this occurs, don’t continue as it will affect the weld. If you find that the filler metal is not joining or melting smoothly into the puddle or the arc is misshaped, then these are also signs of contamination. You will need to regrind or replace the tungsten to remove the contamination. To be extra careful, it may be best to break off part of the electrode then regrind to a point rather than just grind the deposit off, as this will potentially transfer the contaminant to future electrodes. And whilst we are talking about transfer, it is a good idea to use the grinder only for tungsten’s to stop contamination from other jobs and always keep extra tungsten’s ready to go to reduce downtime.
Go with the flow
In our previous blog [How to select your Tig consumables] we discussed large diameter gas lenses and cups. One important thing to bear in mind when using these is that you need to adjust your gas flow accordingly – the larger internal volume of the cup means that you need to increase your gas flow to supply enough to ensure coverage. That being said, if the gas flow is too high you’ll end up with turbulence, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking a higher flow will automatically give better shielding.
Know your angles
To a beginner, it might seem logical to have your torch upright – after all that will give the most consistent coverage. However, in reality you’ll need a slight angle to allow for better visibility. It will also make it easier to feed your filler metal to the front of the weld pool without hitting the electrode. Maintaining that angle and keeping the torch a consistent distance from the metal is vital in producing a quality weld.
Comfort is key
It can often be overlooked, but welder comfort plays a key role in producing a good quality Tig weld. If your arm is in an awkward or unnatural position or you need to readjust constantly, this will impact on your ability to produce the smooth and consistent movement required. Get yourself into a comfortable position and check that you have suitable access to the joint before you start Make sure that your PPE is comfortable and isn’t restricting your movement – you’ll be wearing it for most of the day so look for gloves that allow a decent range of motion and dexterity, and a helmet that gives good visibility. It should go without saying, but remember to check all of your PPE before you start. When selecting your Tig torch, look for a range designed with ergonomics in mind such as our Suregrip One Tig. With an ergonomic handle and extra flexible cable, it makes gripping and manoeuvring the torch much easier.
For more information on our Suregrip One Tig Series view the Suregrip One Tig catalogue.