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GTAW Applications 240

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Class Outline
Objectives
What Is GTAW?
Pros and Cons of GTAW
Metals Welded with GTAW
GTAW Equipment
GTAW Torches
Parts of the GTAW Torch
Tungsten Electrodes
Electrode Characteristics
Shielding Gases
DC or AC Selection
Amperage
Voltage
GTAW Electrode Preparation
GTAW Joint Preparation
The Touch Start Method
The High-Frequency Start Method
GTAW Torch Manipulation
Running a GTAW Bead
Summary
Copyright 2004 Tooling University, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Lesson: 1/20
Objectives
Define GTAW.
Distinguish GTAW from other arc welding
processes.
Identify common metals welded with GTAW.
Describe characteristics of common GTAW
equipment.
Distinguish between gas-cooled and
water-cooled torches.
Identify parts of the GTAW torch.
Describe common types of tungsten
electrodes.
Describe characteristics of typical tungsten
electrodes.
Describe the characteristics of shielding
gases used for GTAW.
Distinguish between using DC or AC for
GTAW.
Describe GTAW amperage characteristics.
Describe the factors that affect voltage for
GTAW.
Describe common methods for tungsten
electrode preparation. Figure 1. A GTAW circuit.
Describe common methods for preparing a
joint for GTAW.
Describe the touch start method.
Describe the high-frequency start method.
Explain how to manipulate a GTAW torch.
Explain how to run a weld bead using GTAW.
Figure 2. In GTAW, electrode extension must be kept as short as
possible.
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Lesson: 2/20
What Is GTAW?
GTAW is the American Welding Societys abbreviation for gas
tungsten arc welding. GTAW is a very precise arc welding
process often used to weld complex materials. GTAW uses a
nonconsumable tungsten electrode to establish the arc, as
Figure 1 illustrates. This electrode is nonconsumable because
it does not melt or transfer to the weld. Tungsten is good
electrode material because it has the highest melting point of
all metals and is an excellent conductor. GTAW also uses an
inert, external shielding gas to protect the tungsten and
molten metal from contamination. For this reason, GTAW is
often known as TIG welding, or tungsten inert gas welding.
GTAW can be performed with or without a filler metal. Once
the weld puddle begins to form, the welder can add filler metal
from a separate rod or wire, as Figure 2 shows. The need for
filler metal depends on the shape and size of the joint, as well
Figure 1. Gas tungsten arc welding. as the type of material to be welded. However, keep in mind
that the filler metal must never touch the electrode or it will
contaminate it.
GTAW can be a manual, semi-automatic, or automatic process.
In a manual process, the welder controls every part of the
process, manipulates the welding torch, and adds filler metal
as needed. In a semi-automatic process, the welding torch
may be mounted on a special holder. In an automatic process,
all of the welding variables are programmed into a welding
machine. In this class, you will learn about the characteristics
of manual GTAW and its common applications.
Figure 2. The welder adds filler metal from a
separate wire.
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Lesson: 3/20
Pros and Cons of GTAW
The main advantage of GTAW is that high-quality welds can
be made with almost all weldable metals. One reason is that
the inert gas surrounding the arc and weld area protects
the molten metal. Also, the GTAW process provides the best
control of the weld pool of all the arc welding processes.
This is because GTAW produces an intense, highly
concentrated arc, which provides more heat control for
hard-to-weld metals and thin metals, such as the aluminum
in Figure 1.
Another advantage of GTAW is that it is a very clean
process, with no spatter, smoke, or slag, as you can see in
Figure 2. This makes the weld area highly visible, which also
results in better control of the weld pool. Finally, in GTAW,
filler metal can be added independently of the electrode.
The main disadvantage of GTAW is that it produces the
slowest metal deposition rate of all the arc welding
processes. This is because GTAW is a precise process used
Figure 1. GTAW is often used to weld thin metals like
to weld complex materials. In turn, GTAW often requires
aluminum.
highly skilled welders and slow welding speeds. Another
drawback is that GTAW uses complex equipment and inert
gases, which are high in cost.
Figure 2. GTAW is a clean process with no spatter or
smoke.
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Lesson: 4/20
Metals Welded with GTAW
GTAW can be used to weld almost all metals and alloys.
GTAW is especially used for welding reactive metals and
some nonferrous alloys. Common reactive metals include
titanium, shown in Figure 1, nickel alloys, and
magnesium. These metals require high-quality welds, and
freedom from atmospheric contamination is critical. Even
small amounts of oxygen, hydrogen, or nitrogen react with
these metals, causing a loss of ductility and corrosion
resistance. GTAW is preferred for welding these metals
because it provides the best protection from contamination.
GTAW is also ideally suited for welding aluminum. This is
because aluminum has high thermal conductivity, and
GTAWs highly concentrated arc allows for more control of
heat input. Also, aluminum contains an oxide film on its
surface, which must be removed before welding. GTAW
Figure 1. GTAW often welds reactive metals, such as
provides a cleaning action on the surface of aluminum to
titanium.
remove the film. Figure 2 shows a clean GTAW aluminum
weld.
GTAW is well suited for welding thin sheets of all weldable
metals because it can be controlled at very low amperages.
Figure 3 shows welding a thin material with GTAW. However,
GTAW should not be used for welding metals with very low
melting points, such as zinc-based alloys, because the high
temperature of the arc makes it difficult to control the weld
puddle.
GTAW is not commonly used for welding carbon steels.
However, it can be used for thin steel sheet and root passes
on heavy plate and piping. Other arc welding processes are
used for filler passes on thick plate due to GTAWs slow
deposition rate.
Figure 2. A clean GTAW aluminum weld.
Figure 3. GTAW is suitable for welding very thin
materials.
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Lesson: 5/20
GTAW Equipment
GTAW uses a constant current welder. This
means that the machine supplies varying amounts
of voltage while the amperage remains
constant. This is unlike gas metal arc welding or
flux-cored arc welding, which uses a constant
voltage welder. GTAW uses three types of
current: AC, or alternating current, DCEN, or
direct current electrode negative, and DCEP, or
direct current electrode positive. The type of
metal to be welded and other variables determine
the type of current to use. Figure 1 shows the
complete GTAW circuit.
The electrode in GTAW is a nonconsumable
tungsten electrode. However, a welder may
manually add a filler metal rod or wire to the
weld. The welding torch, shown in Figure 2,
holds the tungsten electrode, which conducts
electricity to the arc. The torch also provides a
means for delivering shielding gas to the weld
area.
Figure 1. A GTAW circuit.
In GTAW, welders can control welding current with
remote controls, like the foot pedal shown in
Figure 3. The foot pedal is generally used in an
area where the welder can sit down. The welder
raises or lowers the pedal for more or less welding
current. However, for out-of-position welds, hand
controls are used to allow the welder more
freedom to move.
Finally, a gas cylinder supplies the shielding gas
used in GTAW. The cylinder pressure gauge
indicates the amount of gas pressure present in
the gas cylinder. The shielding gas flowmeter
controls the amount of shielding gas pressure that
continuously flows to the weld area.
Figure 2. The welding torch holds the tungsten electrode and
delivers shielding gas to the weld area.
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Figure 3. The foot pedal controls welding current.
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Lesson: 6/20
GTAW Torches
The GTAW welding torch holds the tungsten
electrode so it can be manipulated along the
weld path. Like the welding guns used in
other arc welding processes, the GTAW torch
is rated according to its duty cycle, which is
the maximum current that can be used
without overheating. This means that the
torch performs work only for a certain amount
of time before it must cool. The GTAW torch
conducts electricity to the electrode and
supplies inert shielding gas to the electrode
tip, arc, and weld area. It also insulates the
electrode and electrical connections from the
welder. Figure 1 shows typical GTAW torches.
The heat generated in the torch during
welding is removed by water cooling or gas
cooling. A water-cooled torch is cooled by
Figure 1. GTAW torches.
the passage of water through hoses in the
torch, as Figure 2 illustrates. The water exits
the system through a line in the power cable.
Water-cooled torches are typically used for
high-current applications. These torches are
larger, and they also require connections to
tap water and a drain.
Figure 3 shows a gas-cooled torch and a
water-cooled torch. A gas-cooled torch is
cooled by the passage of inert shielding gas
through the power cable. Unlike water-cooled
torches, these torches are generally used for
low-current applications or light-duty field
work where water is not available. These
torches are also lighter than water-cooled
torches.
Figure 2. The interior of a water-cooled welding torch.
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Figure 3. The gas-cooled torch is cooled by the passage of gas
through the power cable. The water-cooled torch is cooled by the
passage of water through a hose.
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Lesson: 7/20
Parts of the GTAW Torch
The typical GTAW torch consists of the torch body, a collet set, a
torch cap, and a nozzle. Figure 1 shows the parts of a typical
welding torch:
The torch body is the plastic part of the GTAW torch that
holds the electrode and collet set.
The collet set secures the electrode in the torch. This
two-piece collet set is made to fit each standard size tungsten
electrode. The collet set is typically made of copper, which is
a highly conductive metal.
The torch cap is tightened on the back of the torch body. As
a result, the collet grips the electrode when the torch cap is
tightened in place. Torch caps are designed in varying lengths
to match standard tungsten lengths and adapt the torch for
welding in small areas.
The nozzle, or cup, fits over the arc end of the torch to
direct inert gas over the electrode and weld pool. The inert
gas flows through the torch body and through holes in the
Figure 1. The parts of a typical welding torch.
collet to the arc end of the torch. Nozzles are made of a hard,
heat-resistant material, such as ceramic, and are available in
various shapes and sizes. Larger nozzles give more complete
inert gas coverage of the weld area, but they may be too big
to fit into smaller areas. Smaller nozzles provide adequate
gas coverage in smaller areas.
The gas lens also may be used in a GTAW torch. The gas lens
fits around the collet and produces a longer, undisturbed flow
of shielding gas. This allows the welder to use a longer
electrode extension than with a standard nozzle. A longer
electrode extension improves welders ability to see the weld
pool and allows them to reach places with limited access,
such as inside corners.
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Lesson: 8/20
Tungsten Electrodes
Unlike other arc welding processes, GTAW does
not use the tungsten electrode as filler metal.
The melting point of tungsten is extremely high;
it does not easily melt and transfer to the weld
like consumable electrodes. However, the
tungsten electrode conducts electricity to the
arc, which supplies the heat required for
welding.
There are three common types of tungsten
electrodes. Pure tungsten electrodes, shown
in Figure 1, contain at least 99.5 percent
tungsten, with no intentional alloying elements.
Pure tungsten electrodes have the lowest
conductivity and a low resistance to
contamination. However, these electrodes are
lower in cost and provide good arc stability.
Pure tungsten electrodes are primarily used with
AC for welding aluminum and magnesium
alloys. Consequently, the cleaning action of AC
helps remove any possible contamination on
the electrode.
Figure 1. Pure tungsten electrodes are primarily used with AC for
Thoriated tungsten electrodes, shown in welding aluminum.
Figure 2, contain tungsten and small amounts of
thorium. Two percent thoriated tungsten is
most commonly used. Thorium is a radioactive
element added to tungsten to improve the
electrodes operating characteristics. Thoriated
tungsten electrodes are superior to pure
tungsten electrodes in many ways. They have
higher conductivity and generally last longer.
Thoriated tungsten electrodes also have greater
resistance to contamination when using either
AC or DC. In addition, these electrodes provide
greater arc stability, have less tendency to stick
to the workpiece, and make arc starting much
easier.
Zirconiated tungsten electrodes contain
tungsten and small amounts of zirconium
oxide. These electrodes are most often used
with AC welding because they combine the
desirable characteristics of pure tungsten
electrodes with the starting characteristics of
thoriated electrodes.
Figure 2. Thoriated electrodes have high conductivity and generally
last longer than pure tungsten electrodes.
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Lesson: 9/20
Electrode Characteristics
When selecting an electrode for GTAW, you must
consider the electrode material, size, tip shape,
torch, and nozzle. These factors depend on the
welding application, base metal, and joint type.
Figure 1 illustrates common GTAW electrode tip
shapes.
The total length of the tungsten electrode is
limited by the length that the torch can
accommodate. Longer electrode lengths allow for
more electrode preparation than shorter lengths
and therefore are more economical.
The distance that the electrode extends from the
nozzle to the end of the electrode is known as
electrode extension. The tungsten electrode
must extend enough to reach the joint and allow
the welder to see the arc. However, too long of an
extension may cause air to mix with inert gas and
contaminate the weld. Also, the electrode
extension determines the amount of heat in the
Figure 1. When selecting an electrode for GTAW, you must
electrode. This heat has no value to the weld
consider the shape of the electrode tip.
because the heat in GTAW must be concentrated
in the arc and not in the tungsten electrode.
Therefore, the electrode extension must be kept
as short as possible to provide easy access to the
joint. Generally, an extension of 3/8 in. to 1/2 in.
is appropriate, as Figure 2 shows.
Figure 2. In GTAW, the electrode extension must be kept as
short as possible.
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Lesson: 10/20
Shielding Gases
Inert shielding gas surrounds the entire weld area and
the tungsten electrode. This inert gas protects the
tungsten, molten metal, and heat-affected zone from
oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen. If the weld is not
protected, the atmosphere absorbs into the weld, and it
becomes brittle and porous.
Argon is the shielding gas used for most GTAW
applications. However, helium and argon-helium mixtures
are also often used depending on the type of material and
application. These gases are readily available and less
costly than other inert gases. Argon has many advantages
over helium. It produces a smoother, quieter arc and
operates at a lower voltage at any given current.
Consequently, the arc is easier to start because of these
Figure 1. Helium transfers more heat from the arc to
low voltage characteristics. Also, argon is much heavier
the weld pool.
than helium. Therefore, argon blankets the weld area and
is more resistant to drafts. Helium instead tends to rise
rapidly and cause turbulence. Turbulence occurs when
excessive gas creates a whirling motion and mixes with
outside air.
Argon-helium mixtures are often used for welding thick
sections and for materials with high thermal conductivity
and high melting temperatures, such as aluminum and
copper. This is because helium transfers more heat to the
weld pool causing deeper penetration, as Figure 1
illustrates.
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Lesson: 11/20
DC or AC Selection
GTAW uses three types of current: direct current
electrode negative (DCEN), direct current electrode
positive (DCEP), or alternating current (AC). The type of
current used depends on the metal to be welded.
GTAW uses DCEN for welding most metals. In DCEN,
electricity flows from the tungsten electrode to the
workpiece. In turn, DCEN generates the greatest amount
of heat in the workpiece, as Figure 1 illustrates. This
produces deeper weld penetration. However, one
disadvantage is that DCEN does not provide a cleaning
action on the surface of the metal. This is generally
acceptable except for when welding aluminum. Aluminum
has an oxide film on its surface, which must be removed
before welding.
In DCEP, electricity flows from the workpiece to the
tungsten electrode. In turn, the tungsten electrode
receives most of the heat, as Figure 2 illustrates. This
produces shallow weld penetration. DCEP has limited use
in GTAW because it directs most of the heat toward the
Figure 1. DCEN generates the greatest amount of heat in
tungsten, taking away the heat required in the
the workpiece.
workpiece. However, one advantage of DCEP is that it
provides a cleaning action to remove the oxide film from
the metals surface.
AC combines the deep penetration characteristic of DCEN
with the cleaning action of DCEP, as Figure 3 illustrates.
Aluminum and magnesium are generally welded using AC
because, during the DCEP part of the cycle, weld
penetration is reduced and more heat is directed at the
tungsten electrode. As a result, the arc removes the
oxides from the surface of the material, making welding
easier. During the DCEN part of the cycle, most of the
heat accumulates in the workpiece.
Figure 2. DCEP generates heat in the tungsten electrode.
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Figure 3. AC combines characteristics of DCEN and DCEP.
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Lesson: 12/20
Amperage
The amount of amperage determines the amount of
heat in the arc. GTAW uses a constant current welder,
like the one in Figure 1. This means that amperage is
pre-set before welding begins, and the welder
calculates voltage automatically. In GTAW, the
constant current welder must provide enough
amperage for melting the metal at a low voltage.
However, GTAW typically uses constant current with a
drooping characteristic. With a drooping
characteristic, the welder may vary the current level
slightly by changing the arc length. Welders can
change the current level with the use of hand or foot
controls. Figure 2 shows a welding torch with a hand
control. These controls allow the welder to apply
additional current for deeper penetration, or reduce
current levels for bridging gaps. Welders can also
apply current slowly to prevent burnthrough on thin
material.
GTAW has a wide range of amperage capabilities. It
can use 2-3 amps to weld 0.005 in. metal sheet, or
Figure 1. GTAW uses a constant current welder.
use 1000 amps to weld 1 in. metal plate. In other
words, each 0.001 in. of metal generally requires
about 1 amp of welding power.
Figure 2. The welder may use a torch with a hand control to
change current levels.
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Lesson: 13/20
Voltage
In GTAW, the amperage is pre-set on the welder, and
the welder calculates the voltage automatically.
Voltage is a dependent variable and is affected by
other variables such as current, tip shape, arc length,
and type of shielding gas.
Voltage varies in proportion to the amperage. For this
reason, to keep a fixed arc length, if the amperage
changes, it is also necessary to change the voltage
settings. Arc length is important because it affects the
width of the weld pool. A shorter arc length yields a
narrower weld pool, as you can see in the narrow weld
in Figure 1. A narrow weld is essential in GTAW.
High-voltage is generally used to start the arc.
However, using excessive voltage, shown in Figure 2,
Figure 1. A narrow weld is essential in GTAW.
can cause porosity, spatter, and undercut. In
addition, the welder may lose control of the weld pool.
On the other hand, using insufficient voltage, shown in
Figure 3, can cause an erratic, popping arc that will
not melt the base metals. This may also cause the
tungsten to stick to the workpiece.
Figure 2. Excessive voltage may cause the welder to lose
control of the weld pool.
Figure 3. Insufficient voltage may cause the electrode to
stick to the workpiece.
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Lesson: 14/20
GTAW Electrode Preparation
Preparing the tungsten electrode tip is an
important variable in the GTAW process. The
shape of the electrode tip affects the size and
shape of the weld bead. Tungsten tips are
generally prepared by balling or grinding. Balling
forms a hemispherical ball on the end of the
tungsten electrode, as Figure 1 illustrates. To
create a ball:
1. Sharpen the tungsten electrode to a long
taper with a point.
2. Insert the pointed electrode in a torch so
that the tip extends about in. beyond the
nozzle and tighten the cap.
3. Start the arc on a test piece of steel or
copper with a low current, and then increase
the current to form the desired ball diameter.
Figure 1. Balling occurs when a hemispherical ball is formed on
the end of the tungsten electrode. Too much current used during balling can cause
the tungsten to separate from the electrode,
contaminating the weld. If this happens, use a
larger diameter electrode that carries more
amperage. AC and DCEP welding require a
hemispherical electrode tip. This shape tends to
increase the width of the weld bead and decrease
penetration. Keep in mind that the size of the ball
must not exceed 1 1/2 times the electrode
diameter.
Grinding uses an abrasive to wear away at the
surface of the tungsten electrode tip, changing its
shape. The electrode must be perpendicular to the
axis of the grinding wheel. The electrode
contacts the wheel's outer surface. The grinding
wheel used for tungsten electrodes must be used
only for tungsten to prevent contamination of the
tip. Figure 2 shows a grinding wheel exclusively
Figure 2. Grinding wheels used for tungsten electrodes must only
used for tungsten. In DCEN welding, the tungsten
be used for tungsten.
tip is ground to a taper point. This is generally no
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more than 2-3 times the diameter in length. This
tip should be cone-shaped instead of a sharp
point, as Figure 3 illustrates. A sharp point
promotes easy arc starting, but it can melt and
form a small ball on the end. The flatter tip end
will maintain its shape within the current range.
Figure 3. In DCEN, the electrode should have a conical tip.
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Lesson: 15/20
GTAW Joint Preparation
Almost all joints must be prepared before welding. Joint
preparation often involves thoroughly cleaning the base
metals before welding as well as machining them to
remove any possible surface defects. Grinding is often
used to remove impurities from the metals surface. Keep
in mind that grinding wheels must be cleaned and used
only for the material being welded. Grinding wheels, like
the one in Figure 1, may contain abrasive particles,
which can cause porosity in the weld if they are not
removed.
GTAW is used to weld most standard joint types.
Nevertheless, a major consideration in GTAW joint design
is proper accessibility. The groove angle, like the one in
Figure 2, must permit manipulation of the torch to obtain
adequate fusion of the groove face. In addition, the
characteristics of the weld metal must be considered
when preparing a joint. For example, high-nickel alloys
Figure 1. Grinding wheels are often used in joint
move very slowly when molten, and the weld metal does
preparation.
not wet the groove face well. Therefore, groove angles
must be wider to provide space for manipulation.
Finally, the choice of whether or not to use filler metal
must be considered. For example, consider the
square-edge butt joint in Figure 3. If you are not using
a filler metal, and the joint requires complete
penetration, make sure that the joint edges are prepared
so that they align properly with a minimum gap.
Figure 2. The groove angle must permit proper torch
accessibility.
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Figure 3. The edges of a butt joint must align properly
when using GTAW.
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Lesson: 16/20
The Touch Start Method
The GTAW arc is commonly started using the touch
start method. The touch start method occurs when
the welder lowers the torch toward the workpiece
until the tungsten electrode makes contact. This
creates a short circuit and an arc, which allows
current to flow. The torch is then quickly withdrawn a
short distance to establish the arc.
The touch start method is a simple arc starting
method. However, this method is generally not used
for critical work because the electrode may stick to
the weld if the torch is not pulled away quickly. If the
tungsten electrode dips into the molten weld pool, it
will be contaminated. Contaminated electrodes may
cause tungsten inclusions in the weld metal, as
Figure 1 shows. To avoid contamination, you must
break off the contaminated section with a pair of wire
cutters or pliers and regrind the electrode to the
required shape.
Figure 1. Contaminated electrodes may cause tungsten
inclusions in the weld metal.
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Lesson: 17/20
The High-Frequency Start Method
The most common method for starting the arc in GTAW
is the high-frequency start method. High-frequency
start can be used with both DC and AC. This start uses
high voltage to generate a spark when the tungsten
electrode nears the workpiece. The high voltage ionizes
the gas between the electrode and the work, and the
gas conducts the welding current. When using DC, the
welder starts the high frequency until an arc is
established and then turns it off. When using AC, high
frequency remains continuous during welding.
High frequency is maintained by a control, like the
button on the torch in Figure 1. If the high frequency
remains on for a long time, it may create tracking
marks on the weld surface. Therefore, some machines
use "hot start." This causes high current to start the arc
quickly and reduce the duration of high frequency.
However, this method may cause problems for thin
materials that melt easily. Nevertheless, high-frequency
start avoids tungsten contamination because the
Figure 1. The control on this welding torch generates the
tungsten does not touch the workpiece.
high-frequency start.
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Lesson: 18/20
GTAW Torch Manipulation
The GTAW torch is usually held like a pencil,
as Figure 1 shows. This angle allows the
welder to move the torch easily and change
angles if necessary. When welding in the flat
position, hold the torch with your favored
hand at an angle of about 15 from the
vertical, and place your other hand lightly on
a surface, so your welding hand moves
across the joint evenly. If you move the
torch using only your fingers, this may cause
incorrect torch angles and a poor weld.
Figure 2 illustrates the proper torch and filler
metal angles.
The angle at which the filler metal enters the
weld is critical. When adding filler metal,
grip the wire or rod in your fingers. Keep this
hand as close as possible to the arc to hold
Figure 1. The GTAW torch is usually held like a pencil.
the filler metal steady. Move the filler metal
in conjunction with the torch movement.
Always maintain a flat entrance angle of the
filler metal into the weld pool. This angle
should be about 15 to 20 from the
workpiece to the filler metal.
Figure 2. The welding torch must be held about 15 from vertical, and
the filler metal must be moved in conjunction with the torch.
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Lesson: 19/20
Running a GTAW Bead
Manual GTAW requires a highly skilled welder to manipulate
the torch with one hand while controlling the weld current
with a foot pedal and feeding filler metal with the other
hand. Figure 1 illustrates how to begin a GTAW weld bead.
To begin the GTAW process:
1. Hold the torch in one hand with the tungsten about
in. away from the base metal.
2. If you are using the high-frequency start, step on the
foot pedal and push down about part way to initiate
the high frequency.
3. Move the torch slowly toward the plate until you
establish an arc, and then increase the current to the
required amperage by pushing the foot pedal all the
way down.
4. Hold the pedal down until a weld pool is established.
5. Next, hold a length of the proper filler wire in the
other hand with about a 10 in. extension and feed into
the front end of the weld pool at about a 15 angle
from the plate.
6. Pull the wire back out of the pool slightly and melt the
Figure 1. This process illustrates how to begin a GTAW added metal into the pool with a forward motion of the
weld bead. torch.
To prevent the hot end from oxidizing, the filler wire must
not be pulled back out of the inert gas shield. When adding
filler wire, you must avoid touching the wire to the tungsten
electrode. This will cause tungsten contamination and an
unstable arc. If this occurs, the electrode must be removed
and either ground down or replaced.
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Lesson: 20/20
Summary
GTAW is the American Welding Societys abbreviation for gas
tungsten arc welding. GTAW uses a nonconsumable tungsten
electrode to establish an arc and an inert shielding gas to protect
the electrode and weld area. GTAW is often known as TIG welding
and can be performed with or without a filler metal.
GTAW is a precise process often used to weld complex materials.
GTAW produces a highly concentrated arc, which provides more
heat control for hard-to-weld metals. GTAW is also a clean
process, with no spatter, smoke, or slag. However, GTAW requires
highly skilled welders and produces the slowest deposition rate.
GTAW uses a constant current welder, a tungsten electrode, a
welding torch, shielding gas, and remote controls. The type of
metal to be welded determines the type of current to use for
GTAW: alternating current (AC), direct current electrode negative
(DCEN), or direct current electrode positive (DCEP). The GTAW
torch can be water-cooled or gas-cooled. The parts of the torch
consist of the torch body, a collet set, torch cap, and nozzle.
The most common tungsten electrodes used in GTAW are pure
Figure 1. Balling is typically used with AC
tungsten and thoriated tungsten. The shape of the electrode tip
welding.
affects the size and shape of the weld. Tungsten tips are generally
prepared by balling or grinding. Balling is used only with AC
welding and grinding is typically used with DCEN welding.
The GTAW arc is commonly started using the touch start method
or the high-frequency start method. Touch start may cause the
electrode to stick, which causes tungsten inclusions.
High-frequency start avoids tungsten contamination because the
tungsten does not touch the workpiece.
Figure 2. A GTAW weld bead.
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Class Vocabulary
Term Definition
A material consisting of hard particles used to wear down, rub away, or machine material. abrasive
Current that regularly reverses the direction of its flow. AC is often used in GTAW to weld AC
aluminum and magnesium alloys.
A silvery white metal that is soft, light, and an effective conductor. GTAW is sometimes the first aluminum
choice for welding aluminum.
A measurement that indicates the amount of current flowing in a circuit, which is measured in amperage
amperes. FCAW amperage is determined by wire speed.
An inactive gas commonly used as shielding. Argon is much heavier than air, so it effectively argon
shields the weld area.
An electrode preparation process in which the tip of the tungsten electrode is formed into a balling
hemispherical ball. This shape is required for AC and DCEP welding.
Excessive melt through or a hole in the base metal. Extremely high welding temperatures can burnthrough
cause burnthrough.
A type of joint between two metal parts that lie in the same plane. A butt joint is the most butt joint
common joint type.
A steel that is made up of iron and carbon, without any additional materials. carbon steel
A nonmetallic material made from clay and hardened by firing at a high temperature. GTAW ceramic
nozzles are often made of ceramic because of its resistance to high temperatures.
A two-piece set, usually made of copper, which secures the electrode in the torch. Standard collet collet set
sizes are made to fit each standard size tungsten electrode.
A material that allows for the flow of electricity. For a successful arc weld, electrodes and base conductor
metals must be good conductors.
A welder that uses current that varies slightly with changes in voltage. Constant current, or CC, is constant current
often used in gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) and shielded metal arc welding (SMAW). welder
A welder that uses voltage that varies slightly with changes in current. Constant voltage, or CV, is constant voltage
often used for gas metal arc welding (GMAW) and flux-cored arc welding (FCAW). welder
A reddish metal that is very ductile, thermally and electrically conductive, and corrosive resistant. copper
Copper is often used to make electrical wire.
A metal's ability to resist attack by other elements and chemicals. corrosion resistance
Another name for the nozzle in GTAW. cup
cylinder pressure
The device that indicates the amount of shielding gas present in the gas cylinder.
gauge
An abbreviation for direct current electrode negative. DCEN is another way of expressing direct DCEN
current with straight polarity.
An abbreviation for direct current electrode positive. DCEP is another way of expressing direct DCEP
current with reverse polarity.
The rate at which an electrode melts into the molten weld puddle to form a weld. deposition rate
A characteristic of welding current that occurs when using a constant current welder. Even though drooping
current is constant in GTAW, when the welder raises or lowers the welding torch, current varies
slightly.
A metal's ability to be drawn, stretched, or formed without breaking. ductility
The amount of time in a ten-minute period that an electrical device can perform work without duty cycle
overheating. If a welding gun has a 30% duty cycle, it can operate for three consecutive minutes
and must rest for seven.
The distance from the end of the contact tip to the end of the electrode. electrode extension
The use of processes that prepare the tungsten electrode before welding. Grinding and balling are electrode preparation
common electrode preparation processes.
Metal deposited into the weld that often adds strength and mass to the welded joint. GTAW filler metal
sometimes uses filler metal that is added independently of the tungsten electrode.
A single progression of welding with the purpose of filling the joint with metal. GTAW is generally filler passes
not used for filler passes due to its slow deposition rate.
An arc welding process that uses a continuously fed consumable electrode that contains flux in a flux-cored arc welding
hollowed-out center. It is also referred to as FCAW.
A type of control that, when pressed by the welder, initiates frequency. Pushing the pedal all the foot pedal
way down increases amperage.
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The rate at which an electrical current alternates, expressed as the number of cycles per unit of frequency
time. Frequency is typically measured in Hertz (Hz) or cycles per second.
An external device used to house shielding gas. Shielding gas flows from the gas cylinder, to the gas cylinder
gas hose, to the welding gun.
A specially designed screen assembly that attaches to the welding torch and gas nozzle to maintain gas lens
a longer shielding gas flow.
An arc welding process in which a bare wire electrode and inert or active shielding gas is fed to the gas metal arc welding
weld through a welding gun. It is also referred to as GMAW or MIG welding.
A very precise arc welding process that uses a nonconsumable tungsten electrode. It is also gas tungsten arc
referred to as GTAW or TIG welding. welding
A type of welding torch that uses shielding gas to cool the torch. Gas-cooled torches are often used gas-cooled torch
for low-current applications.
The use of an abrasive to wear away at the surface of metal and change its shape. Grinding is grinding
often used for tungsten electrodes to maintain the required shape.
A wheel coated with an abrasive that is used to grind a workpiece. grinding wheel
The total angle of the groove in between workpieces. GTAW joints must have wide groove angles groove angle
to accommodate for torch manipulation.
The exposed surface of the groove weld in between workpieces. groove face
The American Welding Society abbreviation for gas tungsten arc welding. GTAW
A type of control mounted on the welding torch, which initiates frequency. Hand controls allow the hand control
welder more freedom to move.
The portion of the base metal that has not been melted, but its mechanical properties have been heat-affected zone
altered by the heat of welding.
An inactive gas commonly used as shielding. Helium is much lighter than air and can escape the helium
weld area quickly.
A half circle of molten metal formed on the tip of the tungsten electrode. The hemispherical ball is hemispherical ball
formed during the balling process.
An arc starting method in which high voltage is used to generate a spark between the electrode high-frequency start
and the workpiece to establish an arc. With this method, the electrode does not touch the method
workpiece.
A type of gas that does not react with other elements. Argon and helium are inert gases. inert gas
To convert something into ions, which are atoms that carry positive and negative electrical ionize
charges. With high-frequency start, high voltage ionizes the gas, which conducts the current.
A variety of processes that prepare base metals before welding. This can involve preheating, joint preparation
cutting, or other preparations.
The process of removing metal by producing chips through the use of cutting tools. machining
A grayish white, extremely light metal that is also brittle and has poor wear resistance. magnesium
A metal that contains nickel, which is a hard, malleable, silvery white metal used in various alloys nickel alloy
to add strength, toughness, and impact resistance to metals.
An electrode made of tungsten that is not melted by welding heat and does not become part of nonconsumable
the molten weld metal. tungsten electrode
A metal that does not contain iron. Aluminum and copper are common nonferrous metals. nonferrous alloy
A device attached to the front of the torch body that directs inert shielding gas over the weld area. nozzle
GTAW nozzles are typically made of ceramic.
A chemical compound that contains oxygen, which forms a thin layer on the surface of metals oxide film
when exposed to air. Oxide film should be removed before welding.
A type of tungsten electrode made with at least 99.5 percent tungsten. Pure tungsten electrodes pure tungsten
are primarily used with AC for welding aluminum and magnesium. electrode
A type of metal that undergoes a chemical reaction when combined with elements such as oxygen, reactive metal
hydrogen, or nitrogen. Reactive metals include titanium, nickel, and magnesium.
A device used to control a welding sequence or welding current. GTAW uses hand controls and foot remote control
controls to control current.
A single progression of welding in the root of a joint. root passes
A gas that protects the weld puddle and arc from reacting negatively with the atmosphere. GTAW shielding gas
shielding gas is supplied by a cylinder and flows through the welding torch.
shielding gas
The device that controls the amount of shielding gas that flows to the weld area.
flowmeter
A gradual decrease in the width of an object. Tungsten electrodes are tapered to a point. taper
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The rate at which heat flows through metal. thermal conductivity
A type of tungsten electrode that contains approximately 2 percent thorium. Thoriated tungsten thoriated tungsten
electrodes have higher conductivity and generally last longer. electrode
A heavy, radioactive element used in tungsten electrodes. thorium
Another name for gas tungsten arc welding or GTAW. TIG welding
A silver-gray, strong, but lightweight metal known for its corrosion resistance. Titanium is often titanium
used in the aerospace industry.
The metallic part of the welding torch that holds the electrode and collet set. torch body
A cap on the back of the torch body that allows the collet to grip the electrode when tightened. torch cap
Torch caps are designed to match standard tungsten electrode lengths.
An arc starting method in which the tungsten electrode contacts the workpiece to create a short touch start method
circuit and an arc. This method is not used for critical work because it may cause electrode
contamination.
A gray metal that is very strong at elevated temperatures. Tungsten is used to make tungsten
nonconsumable electrodes.
A piece of tungsten entrapped in the weld metal. Tungsten inclusions contaminate the weld. tungsten inclusion
An upset in the even flow of shielding gas to the welding area. Turbulence causes gas to swirl, and turbulence
as a result, mix with outside air. Turbulence is often the result of excessive shielding gas.
A groove melted into the base material, usually along the toes of the weld, that produces a weak undercut
spot in the weld.
The electrical force or pressure that causes current to flow in a circuit. voltage
A type of welding torch that uses water to cool the torch and power cable. Water-cooled torches water-cooled torch
are often used for high-current applications.
Equipment used to perform the welding operation. A welding machine is used in an automatic welding machine
welding process.
The device that holds the tungsten electrode, delivers shielding gas to the weld area, and insulates welding torch
the welder from the welding current.
An alloy that contains zinc, a bluish-white metal most often used in brass and bronze. zinc-based alloy
A type of tungsten electrode, which contains small amounts of zirconium oxide. Zirconiated zirconiated tungsten
tungsten electrodes combine the characteristics of pure tungsten and thoriated tungsten electrode
electrodes.
A white, crystalline powder used in zirconiated tungsten electrodes. zirconium oxide
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