You can do tasks better with the right equipment. When it comes to welding, having the proper tools ensure a high-quality, sturdy, and clean-looking weld. Aside from these advantages, using the proper welding apparatus ensures a safe workplace.
In this article, we will talk about TIG welding and setting up a TIG welding machine. Read on to learn how you can start using your welder like a pro.
What Is TIG Welding?
Tungsten inert gas (TIG) or gas tungsten arc welding is one of the most popular welding methods because you can weld many types of metal through it. Unlike other welding types with spatters and pores, TIG welding produces a cleaner and better weld.
This method uses tungsten electrodes to create a temperature of 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit without melting tungsten because it can handle the heat. With this heat, the material melts and welds faster.
For a clean weld, helium or argon are the shielding gases to use. They make sure that other gases around the work area do not contaminate the weld, causing porosity and poor weld.
You can use TIG welding for aluminum, stainless steel, steel, and other non-ferrous metals.
Note that you must use both hands in the process of welding because you need to hold the torch and the filler. You’ll see that your TIG welder has a foot pedal that will control gas release.
Know the Basics
Before you build the machine you have, let’s first look into the essential details you should know about a TIG welder.
The power source is capable of handling 208–575 volts of power. Whenever you use the machine, switch off the high voltage at all times. Turn on the high voltage switch only when all parts are plugged in.
You need to remember two basic voltage types: DC and AC. DC is when the current flows from negative to positive direction only, while AC flows in different directions. Different TIG welding machines have different voltages that set them apart from one another. The higher the voltage capacity, the more convenient and quicker the welding.
You need to use different polarity types depending on your base material. The polarity used will define the heat of the electrode. The higher the heat, the quicker the material melts. With that, deeper penetration is possible.
Aside from the welding machine setup, you also need to know how to set up the torch. The torch has four main parts: electrode, collet, cup, and collet body.
Some air-cooled torches heat faster, so for longer welding hours, expect the handle to heat up. Be prepared with sturdy gloves when working with a cheap torch type.
The water-cooled type is the same as the Miller machine we’ll discuss later. You’ll need coolant to operate it, which means higher maintenance than the air-cooled machines.
Shielding Gas Types
For the shielding gas, argon and helium are commonly used to protect the weld from impurities from the environment. However, you can also use semi-inert gases such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen.
You can use these gases purely or mix them with other gases. For example, you can mix argon with oxygen, helium, and nitrogen to produce different levels of penetration, stability, and welding speed.
On the other hand, you can also use helium by itself or in combination with other gases. Pure helium is best for magnesium, copper, or aluminum welding. But when welding steel, it is better if you mix it with other gases to avoid spatter and achieve a cleaner weld.
How to Set Up a TIG Welder
Setting up a TIG welder depends on the manufacturer, so the first thing you need to do is check the user’s manual. Although setting up is generally the same from one brand to another, there may be some slight differences on how to set up a TIG welder for aluminum or how to set up a Lincoln TIG welder.
A Miller TIG welder, for instance, has the following main parts:
- Power source
- Coolant system
- Coolant system power cord
- Coolant in and out cords
- Gas valve
- Gas in and out cords
- Regulator flowmeter
- Shielding gas
- Remote control
- Work clamp
- Work cable
- Adapter block
- Work plate
You need to connect these parts to begin the welding. Make sure to do as the manual says for ensured safety.
Here’s how to set it up.
- Have a professional electrician connect the four wires of the power source.
- Plug in the coolant system power cord to the main power source found at the top right corner.
- Next, fill in the coolant reservoir with low-conductivity Miller TIG coolant. Do not exceed 3.5 gallons. You can also add some distilled to deionized water if needed and replace the coolant yearly.
- Now, take the argon gas tank and attach it to the machine cart using the safety chain.
- Once secured, open the valve for checking. For safety, ensure that you or anyone is not standing in front of the valve. Once you see no obstruction and the valve is working well, you can turn it off.
- Now, prepare the gas regulator and the gas hose and attach them accordingly. Tighten the connection using a wrench.
- The Miller welder has the CS310 water-cooled torch to connect to the gas hose and the machine. Use a wrench to secure the connection.
- Attach the red and blue coolant hoses next.
- Attach the work clamp cable and the remote foot control to the machine.
- Ensure that you attach all parts and the coolant properly to avoid any leaks and work accidents.
After setting up, you can begin your work. If there are any issues, contact manufacturer customer service right away.
Welding Equipment and Clothing
Remember to wear proper welding attire for safety from any work-related injury. Work-related accidents are more serious with improper work suits.
Find out how you can protect yourself.
Make sure that the helmet detects the arc right away and enables auto-darkening of the eye shield or goggles to protect your eyes from the flash. Arc detection capabilities have different ranges, and they work best in specific welding positions. If you are welding overhead, choose a higher range. Otherwise, you can stick to the lower ranges if you are welding in a basic position.
Flame- and Abrasion-Resistant Suits
Flame-resistant suits will ensure that your attire will not catch fire. Although TIG welding does not produce spatters as much as other welding types, you are still using tungsten electrodes that have high heat. It would also be best if your suit is also abrasion-resistant to keep you safe from injuries or cuts.
Invest in high-quality welding gloves that will give you both comfort and protection. Like the welding suit, the glove material should be flame- and abrasion-resistant while at the same time giving you the flexibility you need in manipulating the material you are welding. Expert welders say that the way to know if a glove fits is to pick a dime. If you can successfully do this, you have reliable gloves.
These are the basic knowledge you have to know about TIG welding and setting up the welding machine to begin your tasks. Whether you weld as a hobby or for work, if you follow these steps on setting your machine up, not only will your activities result in an excellent weld, but you and your colleagues will also be safe and free from injuries.