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TIG welding filler wire and Mig welding wire from a spool are essentially the same composition except that mig welding wire often contains more silicon and that can actually be a good thing for TIG welding steel. Don’t hesitate to use steel or stainless steel mig wire if you run out of TIG welding filler metal. If its too small, double it up and twist it up in a cordless drill
Standard Tig wire for welding mild steel is E70S2 It seems like the standard mig welding wire off the shelf these days is almost always E70S6. The 2 and the 6 indicate the addition of silicon and deoxidizers in the wire.
Stainless tig and mig wire is most often E308L unless you ask for something else.
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Don’t use too much torch gas when welding aluminum on A/C. Aluminum takes a lot of amperage to weld. Even though the melting temperature of aluminum is less than half that for steel, it takes about twice as much amperage to weld.
Why? Because aluminum conducts heat away from the weld puddle faster than you can put it in. this brings me to an important point.
Do not use more argon than necessary on your torch gas. If you do, it will be like blowing cool air on something you are trying to heat up with a torch. All that argon blowing on the part makes for a loud erratic arc because the arc force is so great. Have you ever lit up on a thick aluminum casting and listened to how loud the arc is? I bet your torch gas was up around 20 like the books recommend. That’s too much for aluminum (unless you are using an argon helium mix).
And another tip is use the old school type of collet body(not gas lens) and one size smaller cup than you would use for steel that still provides good shielding. A smaller old school (not gas lens) TIG cup confines the shielding gas envelope to the puddle so that arc energy is not wasted in the form of frosty cleaning action outside the weld. A lot of Old timers use the small cups, they just don’t know why.
Pay attention next time you weld aluminum and use a small cup and then turn the shielding gas flow down to around 12-15 cfh with a #6 cup and see if things don’t quiet down a bit.
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Shielding gasses for TIG welding Argon is not the only shielding gas used for TIG welding…just the most common and versatile. Argon will usually get the job done. But there are times when some helium mixed with argon makes a world of difference. Especially if you are using a small inverter TIG welder that is limited to around 200 amps.
100% Argon – is the most often used and coolest gas ..the best all around gas. 75% Argon/25% Helium – even 25% helium will make a big difference when welding aluminum that is thicker than .063". Anything under .063" thick and helium is unnecessary.
50/50 argon/helium—awesome for thick aluminum and magnesium 75% Helium/25% Argon – Awesome for thick aluminum castings… puddles really quick and welds cleaner than 100% argon. Also good for welding bronze and pure copper on DCEN.
100% Helium – . Hot but Hard to start the arc on A/C.
Did you know that you can use UHP helium (ultra high purity) and weld aluminum on DCEN? I have not been able to make this work on dirty castings but on something like an injection mold or aluminum fixture made from new fresh aluminum plate that is not heavily oxidized , it works great and does not heat the base metal nearly as much as welding on A/C.. takes a lot less amperage too.
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TIG welding is not nearly as forgiving as Mig or stick when it comes to dirty metal. For TIG welding, the metal needs to be clean; no rust, scale, paint, etc. that means hot rolled steel needs to be ground to shiny bright metal…not just polished over.
Welding hot rolled steel without grinding will make you look bad.
Don’t do it if there is a chance someone might see it. Windy conditions or drafts in the welding area and you will lose shielding coverage and get pinholes/porosity in the weld . If you have to TIG weld in windy conditions, you are going to have to spend some time making wind breaks out of cardboard, plastic, or whatever you can get.
TIG welding will just not tolerate much of a breeze much less a gust of wind. And please don’t try to TIG weld with a coat hanger or gas welding rod. They will bubble and hiss.
TIG welding rods like E70s2 have silicon and other deoxidizers designed to scavenge impurities out of the weld. GAS welding rods are pretty much copper colored coat hanger wire. Don’t use them.
If you just cannot clean hot rolled steel, using ER309 stainless looks better and stops the porosity. But it’s much more expensive and not to be used to replace engineering authority for coded or critical welds.
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for tig welding tips #1-7 click here