How TIG Welding Without Gas Works – With Alternatives and Consequences of the Method

Either you are a professional welder or a beginner, you must have to face some situations where you need to perform TIG welding without gas. It can be windy weather conditions or dirty metal, creating welds without gas is important to understand. In this article, TIG welding without gas will be discussed in detail. Workability and different parameters play an important role if you are not using gas. After completing this article, the readers will be able to understand the methodology for performing TIG welding without gas. However, it is extremely important to understand the negative and positive consequences of it. Moreover, the article also provides other alternative welding processes that can be performed without gas. So, if you are looking for a complete package of TIG welding without gas, you are in the right place. 

What is TIG Welding?

Before addressing the issue itself, I ought to mention some basic facts about the ones who are trying TIG welding for the first time. I am mentioning them because, without the basics, it isn’t easy to understand the technical information that I will write later. Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding is a type of arc welding that consumes a tungsten electrode for producing a weld. The old name of TIG welding is ‘heliarc’ welding because ‘helium’ is used as an inert gas.

The welding process was devised in 1941 and it was developed for welding the aluminum, stainless steel, and magnesium. Still, TIG welding is mostly used for welding stainless steel. The welding process got popularity because of its use in the war industry. The welding of non-ferrous metals is a difficult process and it requires highly specialized techniques because non-ferrous metals react with impurities. In the beginning, bottled inert gases were used to address this issue. Over time, the technique of gas-shielded welding process emerged in the aerospace industry for welding magnesium and other lightweight metals. 

What are the characteristics of TIG Welding?

In the TIG welding process, the welder uses a tungsten electrode to create a weld pool. The pointed electrode is used for this process and it helps in producing high quality and high precision welds. TIG welding does not consume electrode. Because of the non-consumable electrode, the need for balancing the heat input is eradicated. If the welding process requires filler metal, it is provided separately to the weld area. 

What is the power source for TIG Welding?

TIG welding can be performed with direct current and alternating current. However, it is required that the power source remains consistent throughout the welding process. A consistent power source helps in avoiding excessive currents. Excessive currents can result in short-circuiting of the electrode. Usually, the chances of short-circuit are at the beginning of the arc. But it can also happen during the welding process if the supply will not remain consistent. The use of AC supply is preferred over the DC supply because oxygen contaminants are removed because of the alternating current. This makes the AC supply more suitable for the materials that have tenacious surfaces.

What kind of electrodes are used in TIG Welding?

For the DC power supply, a pure tungsten electrode is used. 2 to 4% thoria is added to the electrode for improving the arc ignition. For obtaining the superior performance, lanthanum oxide and cerium oxide are added to the tungsten. They help in decreasing the consumption of the electrode and stabilizing the arc. The selection of the correct electrode tip angle and the diameter of the electrode must be made in accordance with the level of the current. The general rule is that the diameter of the electrode and the tip angle is lowered with the low current and vice versa. 

When the alternating current is used as a power supply, the electrode is used at much higher temperatures than the DC supply. High temperatures erode the tungsten electrode. An easy way to overcome electrode erosion is to use tungsten electrodes that contain zirconia. It is very difficult to maintain the tip of the electrode and the tip is changed into a spherical ball shape at higher temperatures. 

Can TIG Welding be Performed Without Gas?

There can be few reasons for which the TIG welding is performed without gas. In reality, no kind of welding process can create a weld puddle without shielding material. The only difference is that welding processes such as TIG welding require a real gas for shielding purposes and some other processes need flux or coatings that act as a shielding material. 

Considering TIG welding, the welding process is performed with an uncoated, bare filler metal wire and a tungsten electrode. 

Also, the workpiece and workspace must be 100% clean. Without using argon, there are chances of burning of the tungsten electrode. Moreover, the absence of argon can cause the contamination of the weld area. Helium was used in the older times and argon has replaced it because of its advantages, availability, and low costs. 

TIG welding without gas can be performed with the help of modern welding units. The modern welding units have multi-processing options. TIG welding and arc welding are similar processes but arc welding consumes electrodes and leaves mark on the workpiece. On the other hand, TIG welding does not consume electrode and it is a very fine process. It is recommended that welding should be performed with gas because it helps in achieving high precision and high quality. Moreover, a weld made without gas cannot be trusted for the long term. 

How to Perform TIG welding without Gas?

It is uncommon to not use gas with this method. However, performing TIG welding without gas is not an easy job. Whenever the term ‘TIG welding without gas’ is mentioned, it means the involvement of TIG wire with flux core. No external shielding gas is used and the shielding effect is produced with the burning of the flux during the welding process. It requires high skills and some preventions. The methodology for performing TIG welding without gas is given in this section.

  1. The first step is to make sure the safety of the welder. Either you are a professional welder or a beginner, welding processes demand proper safety and precaution measures. During the different welding processes, high temperatures are achieved and they can cause damage to the welder and the equipment. Therefore, it is important to check all the safety equipment before initiating the welding process. 
  2. TIG welding without gas has an advantage that dirty work-pieces can be weld in a decent way. However, if one of the metal is dirty and the other one is clean, the difference will remain there after performing the welding. Therefore, the next step is to clean the workpiece by brushing it or grinding it. Basically, the objective behind cleaning the workpiece is to remove external particles and to release the trapped air bubbles. 
  3. The next most crucial step is to select the welding unit. There are many welding units available that can perform TIG welding without gas. 115-volt welding unit or higher than it is recommended for performing the TIG welding without gas because the 115-volt welding unit can penetrate every metal up to a thickness of 8 inches. The welding unit can be chosen on hit and trial bases. Pieces of metal with proper marking can be cut down for selecting the appropriate unit.
  4. After selecting the welding unit and testing the weld, the next step is to place the workpieces in the precise positions. It has to make sure that the pieces are firm in their positions. Now, select the electrode with the required thickness and flux core and turn on the welding unit. Parameters of the welding unit must be adjusted according to the metal. Some metals require highly specified settings while some metals can be weld with general settings. 
  5. Start the welding process. While performing TIG welding without gas, stay as much consistent as you can. When the TIG welding is performed without gas, excessive and noxious smokes are produced that do not let the welders see into the weld pool. Beginners must spend some time on increasing their consistency. 
  6. After the completion of the process, use a brush to clean the slag. It will help in achieving a decent weld. However, a neat weld can be produced by lightly grinding the weld area. 

What Are Alternatives Methods to TIG welding without Gas?

The best alternative to Argon gas is Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW). In FCAW, there is no need for an external shielding gas because the flux inside the core of the electrode provides enough shielding to the process. In FCAW, liquid slag is produced that shields the welding process. The consumable electrodes are used in FCAW and they have tubular orientations that are filled with flux. 

In actual cases, there are many other ingredients in the core of the electrode other than the flux only. These ingredients help in protecting the welding arc at higher temperatures. The welding process is very popular because it offers high penetration rates into the base metals. Moreover, the high skills of the operators are required for performing FCAW without gas. Because the wrong manipulation of the electrode can lead to porosity and other welding defects.

Gasless MIG welding is another option that can be opted for. Gasless MIG welding has some advantages over TIG welding without gas. Such as gasless MIG welding offers more stability and strength of the weld. It is easier to handle and it offers a diverse range of materials on which it can be performed. Usually, when the welding is performed without gas, welders prefer MIG welding over the TIG welding. 

What are the Pros and Cons of This Method

After getting a clear understanding of the TIG welding without gas, some of the advantages of TIG welding without gas are given here:

  • The welders do not need to carry large and heavy gas cylinders with them. In case gas is required, small-sized cylinders can be used instead of heavy ones because weight might create problems. Heavy cylinders weigh more than 200 pounds and it is difficult to place them on a welding cart. They are also hazardous and can cause a severe accident in case of falling over.
  • TIG welding without gas is preferred in outdoor conditions. Argon gas is not stable in windy conditions. However, flux can bear the winds and it only burns when the wire is melted. 
  • TIG welding without gas can produce neat welds on dirty metals. It can also work on rusty surfaces while TIG welding with gas isn’t favorable on rusty surfaces. 
  • TIG welding without gas can produce higher temperatures. However, it does not ensure the quality of the weld because the quality of the weld depends on the penetration of the arc inside the workpiece. 

Along with these advantages, TIG welding without gas also has some disadvantages:

  • The welder is unable to see into the weld pool.
  • TIG welding without gas results in hazardous smokes and fumes. So, ventilation is more important in this case.
  • TIG welding without gas takes more time than TIG welding with Argon or Helium.

Conclusion

In the final verdict, TIG welding is a very versatile process and it is extensively used in different applications. TIG welding without gas is a simple process and it is not restricted to professionals or beginners. It allows you to weld in outdoor conditions and it saves cost on gas. A consumable electrode is used and it is fed through the welding gun. It is important to keep the gun cable as straight as possible so that the wire can be fed properly. However, TIG welding without gas requires a lot of patience and practice but it can help in performing the demanding task perfectly. 

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