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Manual TIG Welding: Essential Tips

Last updated:
May 3, 2024
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Table Of Contents

1. How to hold the welding gun

Hold the welding gun with your right hand, pinch the front part of the gun with your index finger and thumb, the other three fingers should touch the support point on the workpiece, or use the index or middle finger as a support point. Breathe evenly, hold the welding gun firmly to maintain its stability, and keep the welding arc stable. The key is to prevent the tungsten electrode from short-circuiting with the workpiece or welding wire during the welding process.

2. Striking the arc

1) Use a high-voltage pulse generator or high-frequency oscillator for non-contact arc initiation. Tilt the welding gun so that the edge of the nozzle touches the workpiece, keeping the tungsten slightly away from the workpiece and pointing towards the starting point of the weld. Turn on the switch on the welding gun, start the argon gas flow, and after a certain period of time (2~7s), the arc will automatically initiate. After the arc is ignited, lift the welding gun and adjust the angle between the welding gun and the workpiece to start welding.

2) Direct contact arc initiation, but requires an arc initiation plate (pure copper plate or graphite plate). Slightly scrape on the arc initiation plate to ignite the arc, then move to the starting point of the weld to start welding, avoiding burn-through at the start of the weld. This method is suitable for thin plate welding. Gas should be supplied 5~10s before initiating the arc.

3. Wire feeding

See Table 5-95 for wire feeding methods and key operation points. When wire feeding, also pay attention to the following points:

Table 5-95 Wire feeding methods and key operation points

Filling MethodKey Operating PointsApplication Scope
Continuous Wire FeedingUse the thumb, index finger, and middle finger of the left hand to feed the wire, with the ring finger and little finger holding the wire to control direction, requiring the wire to be fairly straight, minimal arm movement, and move forward as the wire is about to run outCauses minimal disturbance to the protective layer, suitable for wire feeding in large amounts, under strong welding parameters
Intermittent Wire Feeding (Drip Feed)Hold the wire tightly with the thumb, index, and middle fingers of the left hand, keeping the end of the wire always within the argon protection area; the wire feeding action should be gentle, relying on the up and down repetitive movements of the arm and wrist to deliver the molten droplets of the wire end into the molten poolSuitable for All-Position Welding
The wire closely follows the groove and blunt edge to melt into themBend the wire into an arc shape, closely fitting it into the gap of the groove, ensuring that the arc melts the blunt edge of the groove while also melting the wire, requiring the gap between the joints to be smaller than the diameter of the wirePrevents the welding wire from obstructing the welder’s view, suitable for welding in difficult positions
Transverse Oscillation Wire FeedingThe welding wire swings laterally with the welding gun, and the amplitude of both should be consistentThis method is applicable to weldments with wider weld seams.
Backside Wire FeedingThe welding wire is fed from the back side of the workpiece, which requires high standards for the groove gap, wire diameter, and operating techniqueThis method is applicable to overhead welding.

1) Must wait until both sides of the groove are melted before adding wire. When adding wire, the angle between the welding wire and the surface of the workpiece should be about 15°, swiftly advance from the front edge of the molten pool, then retract, and repeat.

2) The wire feeding should be uniform, and the speed appropriate. The wire feeding speed should match the welding speed. When the groove gap is larger than the diameter of the welding wire, the wire should swing laterally in sync with the arc.

4. Left-hand welding or right-hand welding

Left-hand welding is suitable for welding thin parts, with the welding gun moving from right to left, the arc pointing towards the unwelded part, which preheats, resulting in fast welding speed, narrow weld seam, and short high-temperature dwell time in the molten pool, beneficial for refining metal crystals. The welding wire is located in front of the arc, making it easy to control. Right-hand welding is suitable for welding thick parts, with the welding gun moving from left to right, the arc pointing towards the welded part, which helps protect the weld surface from high-temperature oxidation with argon.

5. Welding

1) Arc length (with filler wire) 3~6mm. The length of the tungsten electrode protruding from the nozzle is generally 5~8mm. The tungsten electrode should be as vertical as possible to the workpiece or maintain a larger angle (70°~85°) with the surface of the workpiece. The distance between the nozzle and the surface of the workpiece should not exceed 10mm.

2) For sheet metal thicker than 4mm, both downward and upward vertical welding are possible, and for workpieces thicker than 4mm, upward vertical welding is generally used.

3) To achieve the necessary width of the weld, the welding gun can make appropriate lateral swings in addition to linear motion, but should not jump.

4) For flat welding, horizontal welding, and overhead welding, either the left-hand or right-hand welding technique can be used, generally the left-hand technique is adopted. The angle of the welding gun and the position of the filler wire for flat welding are shown in Figure 5-62, for vertical welding as shown in Figure 5-63, and for horizontal welding as shown in Figure 5-64.

Figure 5-62 Flat welding gun angle and filler wire position
Figure 5-62 Flat welding gun angle and filler wire position
Figure 5-63 Vertical welding gun angle and filler wire position
Figure 5-63 Vertical welding gun angle and filler wire position
Figure 5-64 Horizontal welding gun angle and filler wire position
Figure 5-64 Horizontal welding gun angle and filler wire position

a) Horizontal welding root pass gun angle and filler wire position

b) Horizontal welding cover pass gun angle α 1 =95°~105°, α 2 =70°~80°

5) See Table 5-96 for key operation points of various welding positions in tungsten electrode argon arc welding.

Table 5-96 Key operation points of various welding positions in tungsten electrode argon arc welding

Welding MethodsCharacteristics of WeldingPrecautions
Flat welding of I-groove butt jointsChoose the appropriate method to hold the welding gun, nozzle height of 6~7mm, arc length of 2~3mm, tilt the welding gun forward, use the left-hand welding method, and place the end of the welding wire at the front edge of the molten pool.The welding torch travel angle and welding current should not be too high; to prevent the welding torch from shaking, it is best to use an air-cooled welding torch.
Flat welding with I-groove anglesThe method of holding the welding torch is the same as for butt flat welding. The nozzle height is 6~7mm, and the arc length is 2~3mm.The tungsten electrode extension should not be too long, the arc should not deviate too much from the center of the seam, and the filler wire should not be added excessively.
Flat welding of lap jointsThe method of holding the welding torch is the same as for butt flat welding. The nozzle height and arc length are the same as for corner flat welding, and when not adding wire, the weld width is approximately twice the diameter of the tungsten electrode.When the plate is thin, filler wire may not be added, but the lap joint surfaces must have no gap and the two plates must fit tightly; the arc length equals the diameter of the tungsten electrode, and the seam width is about twice the diameter of the tungsten electrode, the welding speed must be strictly controlled; when adding wire, the seam width is 2.5~3 times the diameter of the tungsten electrode, adding wire from the top of the molten pool can prevent undercut.
Flat welding of T-jointsThe method of holding the welding torch, nozzle height, and arc length are the same as for butt flat welding.The arc should align with the top corner; the welding torch travel angle and arc length should not be too large; first preheat until the sides of the notch at the starting point melt, forming a molten pool before starting to add filler wire.
Vertical welding of butt jointsGripping the welding gun as in flat weldingPrevent undercut on both sides of the weld and sagging in the middle.
Upward vertical welding of T-jointsThe method of holding the welding torch and nozzle height is the same as for flat welding. The best filler wire position is at the very front of the molten pool, the same as for butt vertical welding.
Horizontal welding of butt jointsThe best filler wire position is at the edge in front and above the molten pool.To prevent undercut on the upper side of the weld and weld lumps on the lower side; at the same time, the working angle between the welding gun and the two vertical surfaces above and below should not be equal, using the upward blowing force of the arc to support the liquid metal
Horizontal welding of T-jointsHow to hold the welding gun: The arc length and the nozzle height are the same as the flat welding of the T-joint
Overhead welding of butt jointsThe best wire feeding position is right at the front edge of the weld pool
Overhead welding of T-jointsIf feasible, use backfilling wire on the reverse sideSince the weld pool tends to sag, the welding current should be low and the speed should be fast
Combining flat, vertical, and overhead weldingThe starting point of welding is generally chosen at the “6 o’clock” position of the clock, first weld counterclockwise to the “3 o’clock” position, then weld from the “6 o’clock” position to the “9 o’clock” position, and then start arcs separately from the “3 o’clock” and “9 o’clock” positions, welding to the “12 o’clock” position, as shown in figure 5-65; when the pipe diameter is small, you can weld directly from the “6 o’clock” position to the “12 o’clock”The joint should be ground first to ensure penetration; the welding wire can be pre-bent into a certain shape for feeding; the angle between the welding gun and the workpiece should always remain unchanged, and the position of the welding wire should be convenient

6) The welding sequence of the pipe is shown in figure 5-65. The relative position of the welding gun or welding wire to the workpiece during flat butt welding of the rotating pipe is shown in figure 5-66.

Figure 5-65 Pipe welding sequence
Figure 5-65 Pipe welding sequence
Figure 5-66 Relative position of the welding gun or welding wire to the workpiece during flat butt welding of the rotating pipe
Figure 5-66 Relative position of the welding gun or welding wire to the workpiece during flat butt welding of the rotating pipe

7) During welding, the end of the welding wire should always be within the argon protection zone, the welding wire should not be placed directly under the arc or lifted too high, nor should the droplets be allowed to “drip transfer” to the weld pool. The position of the wire filling is shown in figure 5-67.

Figure 5-67 Position of the filler wire
Figure 5-67 Position of the filler wire

a) Correct
b) Incorrect

8) During the operation, if the tungsten electrode accidentally touches the welding wire, causing an instantaneous short circuit, it will contaminate the weld. Stop welding immediately, grind off the contaminated area with a grinding wheel until a metallic luster is revealed, and cut off a section of the filler wire tip. The contaminated tungsten electrode should be reshaped before continuing welding.

6. Pay attention to the following issues at the joint in the weld:

1) The joint should have a slope and no dead angles.

2) The re-ignition position should be behind the original arc pit, making the weld overlap 20~30mm, generally adding little or no filler wire at the overlap.

3) The molten pool should penetrate to the root of the joint to ensure thorough fusion at the joint.

7. Ending the arc

When ending the arc, use an automatic current decay device to avoid forming an arc pit. If this device is not available, change the angle of the welding gun, lengthen the arc, and increase the welding speed.

When closing the weld seam on a pipe, it is common to slightly extend the arc, overlap the weld seam by 20~40mm, and add little or no welding wire to the overlapping part. After extinguishing the arc, delay stopping the gas supply for about 10 seconds. For the operation details and applicable situations of the arc extinguishing method in manual TIG welding, see Table 5-97.

Table 5-97 Operation details and applicable situations for the arc extinguishing method in manual TIG welding

Arc Termination TechniquesKey Operational PointsApplicable Situations
Weld Reinforcement MethodAt the end of welding, the speed of moving the welding gun forward decreases, the tilt of the welding gun backward increases, and the amount of wire feeding increases until the molten pool is sufficiently filled and then the arc is extinguished.This method is widely used and generally applicable to all structures.
Increased Welding Speed MethodAt the end of welding, the speed of moving the welding gun forward gradually increases, the amount of wire feeding gradually decreases, until the workpiece does not melt, and the weld seam narrows from wide to narrow, gradually coming to an end.This method is suitable for pipe argon arc welding and requires high skill from the welder.
Use of a Run-off Plate MethodAttach an arc lead-out plate outside the arc extinguishing area of the workpiece, extinguish the arc on the lead-out plate after finishing the workpiece, and then cut off the lead-out plate.This method is relatively simple and suitable for flat and longitudinal seam welding.
Current Decay MethodAt the end of welding, first cut off the power supply, let the rotation speed of the generator gradually decrease, and the welding current also weakens, thereby achieving arc decay.This method is suitable for occasions using arc welding generators. If using a silicon arc welding rectifier, an additional simple device to gradually reduce the excitation current is required.
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