Last Updated on August 4, 2021 by weldinghubs
It is necessary to know what tungsten to use for TIG welding in order to get the best welds. What you need will depend on a variety of factors, including the thickness and composition of the material, as well as the type of welder. There are two main types: thoriated and non-thoriated. The latter has a higher melting point so it is better for thicker materials and harder metals like stainless steel or titanium alloys. Thoriated tungsten can be used with most other materials though.
So, what tungsten to use for TIG welding? The most common types of tungsten for TIG welding are 2% thoria, 1.5% lanthanum, and pure tungsten (green), including AC and DC types.
Tungsten is a metal that can be used to create tungsten inert gas (TIG) welds. What Tungsten should you use? What are the benefits of each type and how do you choose which one to use? These questions will be answered in this blog post.
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# Table of Contents
TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) Welding
Tungsten Inert Gas Welding is a process that uses an inert shielding gas to protect the weld area and electrodes from being contaminated by outside forces. It also features a non-consumable electrode, which when used with an appropriate power supply produces strong seams for tough applications like shipbuilding or metal fabricating. This method can be applied in many other industries including construction, mining, aerospace engineering, and site development among others.
What type of Tungsten should you Use?
Tungsten Inert-Gas Welding – What type should you use?
The first step in choosing what kind of tungsten inert gas welding material to use is considering your budget and intended application. If the item or surface can be easily scratched, then go with thoriated tungsten; otherwise non-thoriated is a good option. The type of welding machine you use will also factor into your decision with thoriated only working for certain types, while others are compatible with both.
The two main types of tungsten are thorium and non-thoriated. Non-thoriated is a great choice if the material being welded is thicker, such as stainless steel or titanium alloys. Thoriated is good for most other materials but might not leave a neat finish.
The benefits of thoriated are that it’s easier to weld thin material with this type and the arc produces less spatter which can be helpful when welding on delicate surfaces or in confined spaces; non-thoriated tungsten has been praised for its ability to withstand high temperatures while delivering better quality steel. The downside is that it doesn’t maintain its shape as well, which means you will need more tungsten for the same project.
On the other hand, welding metal requires different parameters depending on the type of material you are trying to weld. Welding thin blades for razors or thick aluminum castings is a lot more like welding metal as opposed to welding, which requires knowledge in one area instead of many. Before starting with your project, keep three criteria in mind
- Low-amperage, clean DC starts and restarts.
- Tungsten with a 3/32” diameter can withstand up to 200 amps of electricity at 120 volts.
- Tungsten works well with both transformer and inverter welders.
Although tungsten electrodes are not 100% interchangeable, if an electrode meets these three criteria it is a good choice for an all-around application.
There are many different types of tungsten in the market, but there were only minor differences on DC tests. However, it was found that at higher amperage ratings, the 2% lanthanated was more stable up to 200 amps than any other type worldwide.
Moreover, the lanthanated electrode, which we formulated at 2% concentration, would start an arc on low DC amperage and could also provide better efficiency across AC voltage sources.
So if you’re deciding on just one tungsten electrode to use for all jobs, make sure it’s 2% lanthanated.
Lastly, I want to make it very clear that while 2% lanthanated might be the best overall go-to, you should have several different types of tungsten in order to get the absolute best for each application.
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How does It work?
Tungsten is a heavy metal that is very dense, which means it will sink to the bottom of any liquid. That’s why you need something in between when welding with tungsten – either an inert gas or fluxing agent like borax is used.
In addition, TIG welding relies on manual control and skill because there is no automatic process or computer control.
Voltage is used to heat the tungsten, and it has a high resistance (meaning that electricity passes through it with difficulty). Because of this, if you want more current in your system, you’ll need a transformer for increased voltage.
As soon as the metal gets hot enough- around 6191℉ (3422℃),- the tungsten begins to evaporate and form a plasma. This is what allows for arc welding, so in order to maintain that you need control over your gas flow.
The shielding gas also helps protect against oxidation (rust).
This technique requires constant movement of both hands- one hand on the torch handle and the other hand on the welding wire feed with the intermittent movement of one back and forth.
A good TIG welder will have a fast-moving, smooth arc that is narrow at its base and wider towards the top where it meets your tungsten electrode. A bad weld has an erratic arc or no arc at all because you did not get the metal hot enough.
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How to Choose the Right Tungsten?
As you know, TIG welding is a detailed and delicate process. When it comes to getting the most out of your welds though, there are many factors that need to be considered. Of course first off when buying new tungsten rods for this type of work make sure they’re made specifically for use on aluminum or other non-ferrous materials since traditional steel alloy rods can cause contamination between these metals in an unfortunate event such as dropping them while being used!
As mentioned above with using AC vs DC processes: if working without gas shielding then remember that DC requires less power but may not reach denser metal sections whereas AC will easily penetrate any thicknesses due to its arcing nature; however, keep in mind too where you’re welding in relation to power sources as it can be a safety hazard for the operator.
The tungsten type that you choose will also depend on Experience and Work Diversity.
Work experience is important because if you’re getting into the business of TIG welding then this will be your primary skill, and will depend on how much experience you have in it.
You will be able to use your tungsten for a long time when you have built up TIG welding hours. When you’ve learned how to keep steady hands, and don’t dip the electrode in the puddle often or sharpen it frequently, because this means that they can buy an expensive set at their toolbox without worrying about high maintenance costs.
The more experienced you are at tungsten welding, the better you’ll become at using cheaper rods without worrying about them not keeping up with their properties.
You’ll also have the ability to weld in more places as you gain experience because there will be a large variety of tasks that you can take on with your tungsten!
So if you’re just getting into it and want to buy an expensive set from day one: make sure they are specifically designed for TIG welding aluminum or other non-ferrous metals, because they can’t use steel alloy rods which would cause contamination with those types of materials.
- Work Diversity:
If you’re a welder that does different types of metal all the time, then it is better to have one or two tungsten electrodes in your shop so that you can switch when necessary.
Having many would be too difficult and cumbersome for your workshop space.
Thoriated may not work as well on steel but can work on brass or copper.
The power in a welder can come from two different sources: AC or DC. The types of tungsten are the same so you just have to make sure that your machine is set up for what type of metal and voltage it will be welding with.
The electrodes are also diverse in shape. Some may be round, while others could have a flattened edge or an extra-long nose to get into tight spots. The point is that there’s something out there for everyone and every job requirement.
There are two main types of tungsten known as lanthanated and thoriated. Lanthanated is often used for welding aluminum and magnesium. Thoriated tungsten wires are typically used to weld steel but can be used on brass or copper too. Steels electrodes, like lanthanated and thoriated, work well with any job requiring electrical current—you just need to know how they should be used.
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Types of Tungsten for TIG Welding
Tungsten is used to make the arc hot enough for welding. There are three types of tungsten rods – AC, DC, and gas-shielded. Gas-shielded tungsten is more expensive but lasts longer than other types. AC and DC tungstens are less expensive, but they last for a shorter period of time.
When choosing a type of tungsten rod, it’s important to consider your budget and how often you’ll be using the rod. It’s also important to know what type of materials you will be welding with before picking out any kind of tungsten rod.
The tungsten rods can be either thoriated or non-thoriated. What type do you need? It Will depend on the material that is being welded and its thickness, as well as what kind of welder you are using. Thoriated can usually be used with most other materials though so it’s a good choice for beginners.
This blog post is part of a larger series on welding. What tungsten to use for TIG welding will help you understand what types of rods are available and what they’re best used for, so that you can get the welds you want without any hassles!
Tungsten rods can be used for TIG welding. The 7 tungsten rods that are available are made of different materials in the following categories:
- 5% Lanthanated (Gold)
- 2% Lanthanated (Blue)
- 2% Ceriated (Grey)
- 2% Thoriated (Red)
- Rare Earth Mix (Purple)
- Pure Tungsten (Green)
- 8% Zirconiated (White)
01. The 1.5% Lanthanated (Gold)
The 1.5% lanthanated tungsten electrodes are perfect for welds with titanium alloys, copper alloys, nickel alloyed steels, and non-corrosive steel due to their ability to withstand a large amount of heat without losing its strength or breaking down as quickly in environments such as high humidity and saltwater.
These electrodes contain less lanthanum than their blue counterparts, yet they are still an excellent choice for AC and DC applications. However, it’s best not to use them on metal-containing a high concentration of sulfur or chloride ions as the corrosion may become too severe.
02. 2% Lanthanated (Blue)
The blue 2% lanthanated electrodes have gained popularity over the other types because they are easier to strike and use less amperage. As a result, these electrodes are well known for their versatility. They can be used both as AC and DC and in any application making them a popular choice when it comes to welding aluminum alloys, magnesium alloys, nickel alloyed steels, copper alloyed steel products, or titanium elements.
03. 2% Ceriated (Grey)
Ceriated 2% (Grey) electrodes are a popular choice for people with difficulty holding the proper angle when welding because they produce an arc with lower amperages and also do well in both AC and DC applications. They’re best used with titanium, copper, magnesium, aluminum, nickel, and non-corrosive steel types of alloys to produce optimal results.
04. 2% Thoriated (Red)
The 2% thoriated electrode is a red hot favorite for DC welding applications. With an extreme lifespan and durability, it’s no wonder why these are the most popular in America. These high-quality, red electrodes are perfect for copper alloys and can be used with ease on nickel, titanium, or noncorrosive steels.
05 . Rare Earth Mix (Purple)
These electrodes are a good alternative to the 2% thoriated (red) electrode. They will perform well in tough welding applications and can be used on several different metals like aluminum alloys, magnesium alloys, titanium alloyed steels with low corrosion rates in both AC and DC welding as well as vapor or no-cored welding of nickel-copper based products like copper or stainless steel without adverse effects from contact to moisture or other environmental conditions.
06. Pure Tungsten (Green)
The green pure tungsten electrodes are capable of conductivity, durability, and performance due to the high percentage of tungsten (99.7%). You can achieve an excellent weld with all of its durable characteristics and performance capabilities related to AC-weld projects that involve magnesium or aluminum alloy materials.
07. 0.8% Zirconiated (White)
0.8% Zirconiated electrodes are different from traditional tungsten electrode wires because they operate with higher resistance and handle high amp levels, which makes them ideal for AC welding. Zirconium is also known to be strong against contamination during the arc process as well as resistant to splitting when used on magnesium or aluminum alloys.
Safety tips when using tungsten in a welding environment
The best way to ensure safety during welding with tungsten is to always use proper precautions and the right type of tungsten for your job.
- When you are buying tungsten for a welding job, try to find out what the chemistry of the metal will be. A common question is if an electrode can weld aluminum and copper alloys so research before making your purchase.
- Tungsten sticks should never be used straight from their original packaging without testing them first. This can be done by cutting off a small piece and running it across the surface of your welding equipment to see if there are any sparks or arcs.
- Always grind your tungsten before each use, this will help with arc stability as well as getting rid of contaminates on the tip that could leave particles in whatever you’re working on.
- Tungsten electrodes should be filed after being ground before each use; this will help create the desired arc shape when it comes time to weld.
You should follow the aforesaid safety precautions when using tungsten in a welding environment.
The best way to store tungsten so it lasts longer and doesn’t break as easily
Tungsten is a brittle material that can break if stored improperly. That’s why it’s important to keep tungsten in the right storage conditions so they last longer and don’t get ruined as quickly.
The main thing you need to know about storing tungsten is where not to store them, which includes anywhere near: high-temperature environments, humid spaces such as your kitchen or bathroom, outside of their packaging (especially when wet), places with heavy vibrations or shaking like an engine room on a boat. If these rules are followed then there should be no problem keeping your tungsten from breaking.
One way people have found success at storing their TIG welding equipment for long periods without worrying about cracking and shattering pieces is by using film canisters and taping them shut. These are typically used in movies to store camera film for later use, but they also make perfect storage containers for TIG equipment when traveling or on-the-go as well.
A more permanent option is to invest in a sturdy metal container that will keep your welding tools intact while still ensuring you have easy access when needed.
The last thing anyone wants is their expensive pieces of gear packed away and inaccessible! It’s important not only the durability of the carrier but also its ability to protect against humidity, vibration/shaking, heat exposure (especially direct sunlight), etc. One popular choice of the receptacle is the Hoffman Container.
This container is made from sturdy metal and has a secure lid that will protect your tungsten equipment against damage while still allowing you to quickly access them when needed.
Tungsten is an important ingredient in any tig welding arsenal. But, what type of tungsten should you use for your project? We’ve covered the types of tungsten and how to store it so that you can weld with ease! If you need a new piece or want to know more about which type would be best for your next project, we have all the information you need on our website. It’s time to get started on those projects now – don’t forget about storing your materials correctly so they last longer than ever before.