Every welding professional who wants a clean, precise, high-quality weld knows that the TIG process is the preferred option. However, with numerous brands and models claiming to be top-of-the-line, finding the best TIG welders that meet your requirements may take time and effort.
We at Canada Welding Supply have you covered. In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about the best TIG welders on the market.
What Is A TIG Or Tungsten Inert Gas Welding?
TIG welding or GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) is an arc welding process. It utilizes a tungsten electrode and inert gasses, such as argon or helium, as a shielding gas. Due to its accurate control of heat input to the base material, TIG welding is popular for clean welds on thin material and specialty alloys. Tungsten has a high melting point, tolerating high heat and accurately controlling electron flow to the weld puddle for accurate and high-quality welding.
Benefits Of TIG Welding
TIG welding offers numerous benefits, which is why most welding professionals prefer TIG welding over others for precision welding.
The following are some of the advantages of TIG welding:
- Better precision and heat control.
- Ability to weld thin and thick material.
- Clean welds with no spatter to clean up.
- Weld in any position, horizontal, vertical, overhead.
- Ability to weld many different alloys
- Many different torch accessories for different applications.
How To Choose The Best TIG Welder?
Here are a few key factors to consider when looking to buy the best TIG welding equipment:
- Consider Your Welding Requirements
Although welding requirements may vary from project to project, it is crucial to consider your general welding needs.
Requirements include the following:
- The type of materials to be welded, such as steel, aluminum, stainless steel, or exotic metals. The materials affect the power and features needed during welding.
- Assess the thickness of the materials to be welded. Different welders come with different amperage, power, and duty cycle capabilities.
- Lastly, determine the welding process, such as AC or DC. Many TIG welders offer both options.
- Choose a Broader Amperage Range
Regarding TIG welding, different metal thicknesses require different amperages to weld. The more range the welder has, the more the machine is capable of welding.
Choose a TIG welder with the largest amperage range within your budget. The more amperage capacity, the more the machine will cost so don’t buy a 400 amp machine if you do not need it, but if you might need it eventually, it makes sense to invest now and have the capability in the future.
- Choose a TIG Welder with High-Duty Cycle
Duty cycle is the ratio of time a TIG welding machine is welding compared to the time the TIG welding machine is idle. Duty cycle, is expressed as a percentage of ON time. A TIG welding machine with a 60% duty cycle is a machine that is rated to run at a specific power output for 6 out of 10 minutes without stopping to cool down. TIG welding machines can have multiple duty cycle ratings at different power outputs. For example at a TIG welding machine may have a 60% duty cycle at 125 Amps / 15.0 Volts. But if you lower the power output of the same machine to 110 Amps / 14.4 Volts, the duty cycle becomes 100% meaning you could weld continuously without the machine overheating. This is an important consideration as it greatly affects the cost of a TIG welding machine and the efficiency of work that can be done by the welder using the machine.
- Assess the Portability of the Welding Equipment
Depending on the nature of the welding work, choose either a portable or stationary welder. If your primary work is in a workshop, a stationery welder is just fine.
On the other hand, if you deliver projects on-site, consider buying a portable welder.
If you want to deliver services at both your workshop and on-site, pick one that best suits your needs. The torch leads included with machines are typically 12.5 ft. but 25 ft. leads are available as an upgrade to allow for additional maneuverability. The input power requirements are also something to consider. Many portable machines can be operated on 120 volt or 220 volt single phase power, where as larger industrial machines often operate on 460 to 575 volt three phase power. It is important to consider what type of power supply you have available before you make a decision on what TIG welding machine to buy.
- Explore Pulse Welding Options
Look for a TIG welder that offers pulse welding settings. This helps to control the heat input specifically when welding thin materials. Pulsing the output can also have advantages to the appearance of the weld, travel speed and help with preventing the machine from going over it;s duty cycle in certain applications. Many TIG welding machines offer a pulse feature but the adjustable parameters such as the frequency range and background amperage settings can vary depending on the model you choose.
- Gas Cooled or Water Cooled?
Most TIG welding applications can be accomplished with a gas cooled (sometimes referred to as air cooled) configuration. This is a lower cost option with more flexibility as there are less accessories and components to worry about. For TIG welding at amperages above 200 amps a water cooled setup will be required. The other benefit that is recognized with a water cooled torch is that it is physically smaller therefore allowing for welds in more confined spaces.
- Remote amperage controls
One of the critical accessories for TIG welding are amperage controls with foot pedals being the most common option here in North America. Find out if the TIG welding machine that you are considering buying includes a foot pedal or another type of remote amperage control. Hand controls are very popular for welding in the field and are available in many different configurations.
- Stick Welding Options
Virtually all TIG welding machines include stick welding otherwise known as MMA (Manual Metal Arc or SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) capability. This is great as it gives you additional flexibility to use your investment for welding projects that may not be suitable for TIG welding such as repairing a farm implement out in a field where you do not have a bottle of argon gas available.
- Digital or Analogue Controls?
There are TIG welding machines on the market with either digital or analogue controls and it is not fair to say that one is better than the other. Some users prefer the simplicity of dials, they set the machine where they like it and don’t adjust the settings often. Others prefer a digital display with a user interface that allows for features such as saving job settings or recommended parameters.
- Consider Your Budget
Different TIG welders fall into different pricing categories. Set the budget first, and then look for the best TIG welder that fits your requirements.
List the features from essential to preferred. Choose the welder that has the essential features within your budget before you move on to further features.
A budget helps to put your preferences into perspective.
- Brand and Warranties
Many brands offer different models of welders. They also provide different types of warranty periods and service options.
Go with a brand that offers the best options for you and your needs. The longer the warranty, the better. The more flexible the service options, the better.
Take your time to decide, as this will ensure peace of mind in the long run.
Tips to Maintain TIG Welders for Ultimate Longevity
Purchasing a TIG welder is the first step. You must take care of the TIG welder for it to last for many years. After all, it would be silly to have to buy new TIG welding equipment every other year.
Here are the steps to follow to ensure the best life for all your TIG welding tools and equipment:
- Clean the machine daily after use to protect it from dust and other tiny metal particles
- Deep clean the welder every six months by disconnecting all power units and vacuuming the interior
- Inspect the shielding gas flowmeter and hoses routinely to ensure the best shielding gas coverage for high-quality, accurate welds
- Make sure to use high quality tungsten electrodes.
- Use the manufacturer’s manual to service the TIG welder on time and replace any parts when needed.
- If you use a water cooled set up, ensure you water hoses are in good condition and that the coolant is clean. Water is not recommended as bacteria can grow in the coolant reservoir and plug up the small orifices in the TIG welding torch.
Buying the best TIG welder is crucial for a welding business to deliver the best services to its clients. The quality of the welding and the time taken to do it often determine whether the customer will come back with another job. The quality of your equipment plays a huge role in assuring quality and quick delivery of the project.
That is why getting the best welding equipment is so important! It is not enough to have the best welder; you also need all the right service welding supplies.
If you are searching for the top TIG welding equipment, Canada Welding Supply is the best place to start.
We carry a vast collection of all the necessary tools, accessories, consumables and equipment any welder could ever need.