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TIG electrode consumption

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  • TIG electrode consumption


    I am new to the process of TIG welding and it is my understanding that the electrodes are non-consumable.

    Mine seem to be consumed at a fairly slow rate - quicker when I make contact with the puddle

    Is it normal for the electrodes to be slowly consumed? I have found that when welding Al my consumption rate is higher.

    Any comments would be appreciated.



  • #2

    The tungsten electrode will be slowly consumed. It is categorized as a non consumable since it does not become part of the finished weld (we hope). Yes is will boil off faster if touched by the filler rod or weld puddle as well as too much heat for a particular size and tungsten alloy. Aluminum TIG is a hotter process for practical discussion than is steel TIG so you will have a slightly higher rate of tungsten consumption.

    What machine and tungsten alloy are you using for AC and DC? I assume you are using AC for aluminum. Also how are you prepping the elctrode for use on AC and DC?


    • #3
      Thanks for the information.

      I am using a Miller Twin Econo HF with AC for Al and DC straight polarity (electrode grounded) for mild and stainless.

      I have been playing around with both Cesium and Thoriated 1/16" electrodes, I do see somewhat easier welding with the Cesium however given that it is radioactive I prefer the Thoriated.

      For both types of electodes I am griding down to a fine point with a dedicated grinding wheel although I use the same wheel for all the metals that I use. I understand that a different wheel should be used for different base metals to reduce cross contamination. Since I am still in practice mode/non structural welding this is not a huge concern of mine.

      I have found that grinding down the electrode to a finer point 6-7 diameter, rather than the 2-2.5 diameter as suggested gives me better results.

      If this is used for AC welding I prepare the electrode the same way but before I use it for actual welding I draw a bead on a scrap piece of Al to form the ball.

      I plan on taking a TIG course this November at our local college. It is a bit pricey at $450 for 30 hours and I hope to be at a reasonable level before the course so that I can get the most out of it.

      Of the many questions I have some of the major ones are basic things like:

      Am I supposed to push or pull the electrode? I find it easier to push with mild steel/SS steel as the beads are not as tall and pull with Al since the beads seem to be taller.

      With my Al practice I have some unknown scraps of Al and I am welding with 6011 rod. There may be a mismatch with the filler and base material and I am not sure if this adds to the difficulty of laying proper beads.

      I have found that to get good at welding mild or SS, get good at aluminum, once you can lay a bead in aluminum, SS and mild steel are quite forgiving!

      I will end this post here as I could spend the next 4 hours typing out questions that I cannot seem to find answers to in books. I think that the course will be quite usefull in this respect. Many of my basic questions will be answered.




      • #4

        You are slightly messed up on which tungsten is radioactive. The Thoriated is the radioactive and Cerium is not. Stick with the Ceriated. It also welds better.

        Good luck.



        • #5
          Originally posted by ASKANDY View Post

          You are slightly messed up on which tungsten is radioactive. The Thoriated is the radioactive and Cerium is not. Stick with the Ceriated. It also welds better.

          Good luck.

          Actually, you are messed up on which tungsten is radioactive - they both are.

          Both thorium and cesium are radioactive.


          • #6
            Originally posted by DarkSky View Post
            Actually, you are messed up on which tungsten is radioactive - they both are.

            Both thorium and cesium are radioactive.
            Read the article you referred to again DarkSky, it states that 2% ceriated tungsten is NON-RADIOACTIVE:

            "Due to the problem discussed in the section above, two significant alternative, non-radioactive tungsten materials have been developed. The first one, introduced in the 1980's, is most commonly available as 2% ceriated tungsten. This material is commonly used for lower amperage DC welding applications. In fact, it holds a very high market share in sales for the orbital welding process.

            More recently, 1½% lanthanated tungsten..."

            Ceriated tungsten is a fabulous ALU welding solution, but if you're concerned about using it, there are other options out there. I believe that cyberweld sells electrodes that they class as "other alloying elements" that are a good substitute for both Thor. and Cer. electrodes. You could also consider 1.5% lanthanated-- tho I don't like the way they start when welding on DC.

            For my money I would stick with 2% Cer. for everything.
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            • #7
              I believe you guys are confused. There is no Cesium doped Tungsten electrode that I know of. The common one we use is Cerium doped at about 2%, and is non radioactive. Normally referred to as "ceriated tungsten".

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              • #8
                No one has pointed it out yet, so here goes-----------if you are using 6011 filler rod AND Aluminum plate, We need to have a serious talk!


                • #9
                  ALWAYS push when tigging. There are few apps that will require you to pull but those are special situations.
                  Take your time and get your technique down.
                  A TIG only course for 450 bucks is expensive in this economy but in my area, that price would be "a steal".
                  Good luck!
                  Measure twice, cut ONCE............

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                  • #10
                    Hello out there

                    7 YEAR OLD POST



                    • #11
                      The "radioactive" thorium tungsten has the same radioactive value as dirt.

                      I know because I asked two radiology labs in the San Francisco Bay area.
                      A gave them the radioactive level listed on the side of the box of tungstens.

                      If you know the history... many of these new tungsten types were developed at the same time as the GTAW robots started to be put into production.

                      Then all the scare tactic ads came out in the welding magazines to sell the ceriated and lanthinated tungstens.

                      There has been much discussion about this already on all of the welding forums.
                      My advice is get the radioactive value of the tungsten listed on the box and call a radiology lab and ask them what your risk is.
                      Also practice safe work habits when sanding the tungsten.
                      Keep the sanding residue contained and out of your lungs and mouth.

                      One more thing. If you polish the tungsten after you sand it, it lasts even longer before it needs re sharpening.
                      If you see little swirls in your welding bead it means the point on the tungsten is getting all ragged on the tip.
                      Last edited by Donald Branscom; 03-20-2011, 05:30 PM. Reason: spelling


                      • #12
                        What thickness material are you welding? If your torch allows it, i would think that an 1/8" electrode would be better. The bigger electrode would handle the heat better and wouldn't erode as quickly. Ceriated is a good tungsten for a variety of different materials. I made proficient welds with 2% Ceriated on Al, SS, and low carbon steel.

                        Edit: I sharpen my tungsten to 1.5 times the diameter of the tungsten