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Is a 3/32 Electrode the Holy Grail?

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Is a 3/32 Electrode the Holy Grail?

Postby tungstendipper » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:36 am

Being new to TIG welding, and almost through my second tank of argon, I have only used a 3/32 electrode.
I've welded thin stainless, thin aluminum and steel; always using a 3/32 electrode. Using a 200 amp., inverter machine, and being able to sharpen a finer point on the electrode, it seems unnecessary to use anything else. Even Jody welds razor blades with 3/32 electrodes. When should I use something else? Is a 1/16 more precise, less heat? What do you use?
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Re: Is a 3/32 Electrode the Holy Grail?

Postby Arclight Ironworks » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:39 am

Our Force Majeur for ferrous/non-ferrous materials is a 3.2mm (1/8in) Tungsten. RED for ferrous, BLUE for non-ferrous, and CREAM for special apps. 90% of the Tungsten manufactured by DGP (German).

On occasion, we'll use 2.4mm (3/32in) in RED and BLUE. Ejected the use of 1.6mm (1/16in) long ago. Our typical materials for TIG weldout range in thickness from 0.5mm (0.020") to 9.5mm (3/8"). Non-pulsed, pulsed, and pseudo-orbital.

2.4mm in BLUE tends to 'breaks down' at the tip for us, even at mid-range amperages, while welding Aluminum. Especially at protracted duty cycles (ie. longer runs). Using 3.2mm in BLUE eliminates that problem, based on our experiences.

From an O&M perspective, having a single sized Tungsten allows us to minimize the assortment of torch components (ie. collets, gas lens body, collet body, gas lense shielding cups, and standard shielding cups). This translates not only to a co$t saving$, but also to smoothing out the time required to change components and configure the torch for arclight.

Our weps include CK Worldwide 17/18 series and HTP 17 series valved torches. The Key is to understand how to properly profile/shape the tip of the Tungsten based on your material thickness/composition.

A video is worth a thousand images, goes the saying. Watch Aaron (http://www.6061.com) prove this point in his nicely produced YT productions:

* part I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GJBESqEvLY
* part II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L1UgdtpCpw

P.S. Aaron's online training is worth it's weight in Platinum.
Last edited by Arclight Ironworks on Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is a 3/32 Electrode the Holy Grail?

Postby bruce991 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:20 pm

3/32 2% Lanthanated is my normal and most used I tried a 1/16 in once and is not suitable for the amperage's I run.
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Re: Is a 3/32 Electrode the Holy Grail?

Postby Oscar » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:33 pm

Arclight Ironworks wrote: The Key is to understand how to properly profile/shape the tip of the Tungsten based on your material thickness/composition.


That is indeed the key. There are uses for different sized tungstens; if there weren't they wouldn't still exist. Arc starts sometimes play a role. Thicker tungstens can [sometimes] not have crisp low-amperage arc starts. Do you always need crisp, low-amperage arc starts? No. Might you sometimes/someday? Who knows, maybe. If and when you do, that's when a smaller tungsten can be beneficial.

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Re: Is a 3/32 Electrode the Holy Grail?

Postby pgk » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:59 pm

+1 for Aaron, that guy lays down some amazing beads, most all with 1/8th electrodes ...
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Re: Is a 3/32 Electrode the Holy Grail?

Postby LtBadd » Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:58 pm

Aluminum more so then other materials you can (and usually need) a larger electrode, I've done a lot od TIGing with .040" and 1/16" tungsten, really depends on whats being welded

I also think that with the inverter tech now in most machines, the arc starting is much better.
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Re: Is a 3/32 Electrode the Holy Grail?

Postby Louie1961 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:54 pm

I use a 3/32 2% Lanthanated (blue) tungsten for all steels as I never need to get above 200 amps. For aluminum I always use a 1/8 2% lanthanated (blue). If I need to do thin stuff I re-profile the point to something sharper, thick stuff I use a truncated point kind of reminiscent of a crayola crayon. Never had a need for anything different
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Re: Is a 3/32 Electrode the Holy Grail?

Postby entity-unknown » Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:05 pm

ArcLight and Oscar! SOLID advice! If there was an upvote I'd do that but I'll "waste" a post for say THANK YOU!
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Re: Is a 3/32 Electrode the Holy Grail?

Postby entity-unknown » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:24 am

This has been bothering me since I read this post....

So most of my failures with Al has been due to too deep of penetration. Most of my welds were very wide and made arc control difficult where I'd have to start out real heavy on the pedal then taper off to almost nothing on the pedal for a good consistent weld.

In every situation I've made my tungsten grind to the equiv of the shape of pencil lead after you've finished with a fine point pencil sharpener. Recalling the arc width, it was VERY wide but I just assumed that was normal....

So what I'm gathering here is I've been doing it wrong all along (not the first time).

Recap: Are we saying a tungsten grind that matches a sharpened fine point pencil is bad for Al and instead I need a flattened end? I see the pics and that's exactly what I'm reading, just confirming a n00b's dumb ?
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Re: Is a 3/32 Electrode the Holy Grail?

Postby tungstendipper » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:12 am

entity-unknown wrote:
Recap: Are we saying a tungsten grind that matches a sharpened fine point pencil is bad for Al and instead I need a flattened end? I see the pics and that's exactly what I'm reading, just confirming a n00b's dumb ?


This is the kind of questions I hope this thread would bring. Keep it going I'm learning a lot.

BTW...For what purpose would you use 1/8 tungsten on all thickness of aluminum? It make no sense to me. I can see it used on 1/4" and thicker.
Thanks for all that posted!!! Good stuff!
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