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Gas Tungsten Arc Welding ( GTAW )


Gas-tungsten arc welding       

        Gas–tungsten arc welding (GTAW) is a process that melts and joins metals by heating them with an arc established between a nonconsumable tungsten electrode and the metals, as shown in figure aside. The torch holding the tungsten electrode is connected to a shielding gas cylinder as well as one terminal of the power source, as shown in figure (a) aside. The tungsten electrode is usually in contact with a water-cooled copper tube, called the contact tube, as shown in figure (b), which is connected to the welding cable (cable 1) from the terminal. 

Figure : Gas–tungsten arc welding:

(a) overall process (b) welding area enlarged.

       This allows both the welding current from the power source to enter the electrode and the electrode to be cooled to prevent overheating.The workpiece is connected to the other terminal of the power source through a different cable (cable 2). The shielding gas goes through the torch body and is directed by a nozzle toward the weld pool to protect it from the air. Protection from the air is much better in GTAW than in SMAW because an inert gas such as argon or helium is usually used as the shielding gas and because the shielding gas is directed toward the weld pool. For this reason, GTAW is also called tungsten–inert gas (TIG) welding. However, in special occasions a noninert gas can be added in a small quantity to the shielding gas.

Therefore, GTAW seems a more appropriate name for this welding process. When a filler rod is needed, for instance, for joining thicker materials, it can be fed either manually or automatically into the arc.

Advantages and Disadvantages

       Gas–tungsten arc welding is suitable for joining thin sections because of its limited heat inputs. The feeding rate of the filler metal is somewhat independent of the welding current, thus allowing a variation in the relative amount of the fusion of the base metal and the fusion of the filler metal. Therefore, the control of dilution and energy input to the weld can be achieved without changing the size of the weld. It can also be used to weld butt joints of thin sheets by fusion alone, that is, without the addition of filler metals or autogenous welding. Since the GTAW process is a very clean welding process, it can be used to weld reactive metals, such as titanium and zirconium, aluminum, and magnesium. 

       However, the deposition rate in GTAW is low. Excessive welding currents can cause melting of the tungsten electrode and results in brittle tungsten inclusions in the weld metal. However, by using preheated filler metals, the deposition rate can be improved. In the hot-wire GTAW process, the wire is fed into and in contact with the weld pool so that resistance heating can be obtained by passing an electric current through the wire.

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