One of the most pleasant aspects of biological science is that once a living creature has been officially named,it retains the same identical name forever.This allows us to identify exactly what creature the creator of the scientific naming process,Linnaeus, was writing about two centuries ago, for example,despite the numerous cultural changes since then. Welding, unfortunately,has not caught up with this excellent system,and names are subject to change at the whim of a handful of ivory tower experts at more or less any time.
TIG welding, or tungsten inert gas welding, is now also know as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) a name which is unfortunately difficult to distinguish from SMAW, FCAW, and various other -AW suffixed names that have been dreamed up to replace the old, well-used names that are still popular with most welders.
TIG welding is still called TIG welding by many of its practitioners, but if you study this art, you are likely to come across numerous references to GTAW welding, and should be aware that it is actually the same thing as TIG.
The process of TIG welding
Patience and dexterity are the two hallmarks of a good TIG welder, since TIG welding is both more exact and slower than MIG welding. You can make welds of extreme precision with a TIG welding machine – for example, TIG welding can be used to fasten the needle of a hypodermic in place without sealing the tiny, slender stainless steel tube. A MIG weld would either wilt the needle into a crooked, useless lump, or else fill the interior with filler metal, blocking it permanently.
Due to the fact that wire feed does not occur through the TIG welding gun, the gun’s design is typically both smaller and lighter than a MIG welder’s gun. This makes it possible to use the TIG gun for precision work, in very tight spaces, at odd angles with lessened chance of fatigue, and so on. Some have compared a MIG welding gun to a pencil in terms of size and weight. Although this is something of an exaggeration, it does show how light the gun is, and how easily it can be used for detailed work that requires fine control.
More TIG welding details
Flux is not used in TIG welding since the welding gun itself provides a flow of shielding gas, most typically argon or a mix of argon and other gases. This means that slag does not form on the surface of the weld, producing a clean weld that does not need to be scoured with a wire bristled brush after the weld bead has been laid down.
Another reason for the extreme neatness and exactitude of TIG welds is that the tungsten electrode provides a very focused arc, which heats only the metal you are aiming at. The surrounding metal remains cooler, so it does not warp, crack, or distort as readily as the metal near a MIG welding arc.