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 aluminum, stainless steel, and magnesium. Still, TIG welding is mostly used for welding stainless steel. The welding process got popular 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 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 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?

TIG welding without gas must NOT be applied on any professional or important project where human, property, and environmental safety is at stake. Without the inert gas, the surrounding air greatly deteriorates the mechanical properties of the weld such as toughness and strength. Also, making small tack welds for proper positioning of the metal pieces is not allowed when the safety of the structure is vital.

How to Decide if TIG Welding Without Gas is Worth It

Now, when it comes to repairs where strength and toughness are not significant requirements I could consider using TIG without gas only for a quick temporary fix or for tack welds. Keep in mind that not using a filler metal would still create oxidation to both the filler metal and tungsten. As you will find out later in this article, you can do something to save some of the strength but there is nothing you can do to save the toughness of it. Therefore, a weak hit could break the weld and separate the pieces.

Even for fixing a metallic fence, TIG without gas would not do it considering that the force of the wind sooner or later would break the seam.

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. 

Without using argon, there are chances of burning of the tungsten electrode. Moreover, the absence of argon can cause contamination of the weld area. Controlling the arc becomes hard because the shielding gas creates a stable arc. Without gas, the arc is constantly moving which makes the procedure harder.

Keep reading to find out what options you have and what to pay attention to if you still want to go for it without gas.

What Options Do You Have

I have written instructions on how to TIG weld without gas later in this article. However, you should only consider using TIG welding without gas if ALL the following conditions are true:

  • the requirements of the weld in strength and especially in toughness are minimal to none. If the loads are significant or the seam might be hit you must not use TIG without gas.
  • there is no risk to humans, property, or the environment if the weld fails.
  • you can control an unstable arc because you have some experience.
  • the weld is on carbon steel or cast iron, and NOT on stainless steel, copper, or aluminum.
  • you can’t use Stick or Flux-Core Welding.

If any of the above conditions is not present then you have no option but to order some gas. You can check this shielding gas from Amazon if you are in a hurry.

Your other option is to use another welding process. Keep reading to find out what you could do.

What Are Alternatives Methods to TIG welding without Gas?

TIG welding without gas can be avoided with the help of modern welding units that are both TIG welders and stick welders. Having an old machine that is only a TIG welder stops you from performing more difficult projects. So, you can buy a TIG/Stick welder and sell your old machine. This way, you have a newer with more advanced features for the money machine. Therefore, you can handle more difficult tasks, you become more versatile and you have financed that with your old machine.

You can check my top picks on TIG machines in another article that I wrote. For amateur welders, I recommend this affordable Weldpro TIG/Stick Welder, and for professionals, this high-duty cycle Lotos TIG/Stick Welder.

Now, if you already have a good stick welder you can use it instead. Make sure to use small diameter electrodes because the weld pool will be much larger in stick welding. I recommend these US Forge electrodes for this scenario that a welder of any skill can use.

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 weld. 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.

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 Flux Core over TIG welding. 

All Flux Core welders are also MIG welders. I have written a complete article about the best flux core welders. From that list, I recommend this Forney Welder for amateur welders and this Lotus Welder for professionals.

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. Also, the workpiece and workspace must be 100% clean.TIG welding 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. Considering the fact that you don’t use a gas, it creates lots of problems. So, cleaning and brushing are essential.
  3. The next step is grinding and preparation of the joint.
  4. 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.  You can cover more area to mitigate the lack of strength but it will also further decrease the already extremely low toughness.
  5. After the completion of the process, you have to clean the weld area and base metal again.

General Tips For TIG Welding

After getting a clear understanding of the TIG welding without gas, some of the tips about TIG welding, in general, 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 with gas can produce neat welds on dirty metals.
  • The welder is difficult to see into the weld pool without shielding gas
  • TIG welding can result in hazardous smokes and fumes. So, ventilation is very important.
  • 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. However, TIG welding without gas requires a lot of patience and practice but it can help in performing the demanding task perfectly. Just make sure that you use quality TIG machines like the ones from Everlast.

Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions in the comments. Also, you can share the post if you have found value in it.

2 thoughts on “How TIG Welding Without Gas Works – With Alternatives and Consequences of the Method”

  1. Could I run a tig torch off my miller maxstar 161 S using 120v? Just put my torch off the negative and ground positive

    Reply

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