TIG welding versus MIG welding machines
MIG welding machines can make quick work of those around the house projects. With a basic configuration you have your MIG welding machine set up with “gasless” filler material commonly known as “Flux Core“. It welds ok, but you find that if you want “clean” results you need a bottle of Argon/Co2 75/25% mix and “bare” filler wire. In the advertising literature and instruction manual it may say that you can weld aluminum, however you need to change the wire feed rolls and replace the Steel Gun Liner with a near frictionless plastic liner or utilize a MIG welding attachment called a “spool gun”. You also need to get a new bottle of 100% Argon for welding aluminum. Now that you have made the changes to your welding system, purchased or leased the additional gas bottle and changed the filler wire to aluminum, you are now, in theory, ready to begin welding aluminum. Once you pull the trigger you maybe quickly surprised and almost disillusioned with the results. The reality is, MIG (metallic inert gas welding) is very easy to learn when applied to steel applications. The less expensive machines, (under $500.00) typically do not have precise controls and are difficult to “tune-in” to thin materials, (under 16 gauge). They also are not good for material in excess of 1/8″, therefore, your window of opportunity with the basic set up is 1/8″ to 1/4″ steel.
TIG Welding Aluminum. The welding of aluminum is where the TIG welding process, commonly known as “Heliarc” provides a great deal of benefit by allowing you to weld most weldable materials including 4130 Cr-Mo, Stainless, Aluminum, Titanium, Magnesium, as well as many other materials using only Argon gas. Not only can you weld a variety of materials, but with the variable foot control you can precisely adjust your welding amperage on the fly and weld super-thin materials, typically as thin as 24 gauge. Alternating current is recommended for general-purpose work since it provides the half-cycle of cleaning action.
TIG welding does require more skill, weld disposition rate is reduced and you need to be especially careful about keeping everything very clean. Exposure of the hot filler rod to air using improper welding techniques causes weld metal contamination. Very much like Oxy Acetylene gas welding, you have to manually apply or “dab” filler material into the puddle using cut length alloys in diameter of your choice. The TIG torch provides the heat source through a tungsten electrode and you hold the tungsten electrode directly above the area you are welding. Depress the “foot control” (very much like a car accelerator) until you see a “liquid” puddle. Dab the filler metal into the base of the puddle, (not the middle), and move at a slow consistent speed, dabbing the puddle as you go. This method of welding is slower than MIG, however, cold lapping is virtually non-existent with TIG, whereas it is somewhat common in MIG.
TIG welding machines are now smaller, with a lower cost, power requirements are 115V and 220V and typically require no more than a 50 amp circuit.
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