What Is TIG Welding?

gas tungsten arc welding

There are at least sixty-seven processes welders use to join metals. The type of pressure, heat, and equipment used is what makes one process different from another. TIG welding is one of the most popular welding processes. It produces high-quality welds but also requires a high level of skill. 1 Read more about TIG welding.

TIG Welding Definition

TIG welding is another name for gas tungsten arc welding. The aircraft industry created it to weld magnesium in the 1930s and 1940s. Ideally the process works like this: the welder makes an arc between the base metal and the non-consumable tungsten electrode, a type of electrode that does not melt. At the point where the arc hits the base metal a molten weld pool forms. A thin wire of filler metal is slowly handfed into the weld pool, where it melts. All the while, an inert shielding gas protects the tungsten electrode and weld pool from oxygen contamination. No fluxes are used. The finished product is a sound, slag-free weld that shares the same corrosion resistance properties as the parent metal. 2

What Is TIG Welding Used For?

TIG welding can be used for more metals than any other type of process. For this reason, a variety of industries rely on TIG welding. It is used in the construction of spacecraft and airplanes in the aerospace industry. Auto manufacturers use TIG welding on fenders for its anti-corrosive properties. TIG welding is also widely employed in auto body repair shops. Artists appreciate the excellent quality of TIG welds using them in sculpture welding.

TIG Welding Advantages and Disadvantages

tig welder

One of the greatest advantages of TIG welding is the amount of control it allows. A welder can control heat and amperage with precision using a foot or thumb remote control switch. The TIG welder is thin, which adds to the control a welder with excellent dexterity can have over the process. As a result, TIG welding is good for projects where detailed designs or curves are required on the base metal.

Since the TIG welding torch uses low amperage, the process works well on thin pieces or metal. The combination of the low amperage and remote control switch allows welders to quickly switch from working on thin pieces of metal to thick ones, making TIG welding a versatile process. Since no fluxes are used and it’s possible to produce a low-profile weld bead, the weld is clean and free of slag. 3

Only a small area of space separates the arc of the flame from the base metal, so TIG welding requires a high level of focus and hand-eye coordination. Performing TIG welding requires skills and patience because the process can be time consuming. 4 Despite this, welders can overcome challenges with training and practice.

TIG Welding Careers

TIG welding is a challenging, yet rewarding process. Learning to execute it well can lead to a host of promising careers. Top industries for skilled TIG welders include aerospace, petroleum, and construction. Some TIG welders even get to work in exciting places like racetracks at NASCAR.

One of the first steps to these careers is learning to TIG weld. The good news is there are welding training programs that teach this technique.


1 – Title: Welding Principles and Applications; Author: Larry Jeffus; Delmar Cengage Learning; Seventh Edition; Textbook page 8-9
2 – Title: Welding Principles and Applications; Author: Larry Jeffus; Delmar Cengage Learning; Seventh Edition; Textbook page 374
3 – http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-advantages-of-tig-welding.htm#didyouknowout
4 – http://www.gowelding.org/articles/types-welding/