Argon is a shielding gas used in Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) and Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding. Argon gas in MIG and TIG welding is popular because its nontoxic, nonflammable, and odorless. This makes argon welding one of the most effective and safest ways to make durable welds.
But what exactly is argon welding? What makes argon the best shielding gas for use in the welding process? And what welding techniques are argon shielding gas most effective for? This article answers those questions and more.
Before discussing the benefits of using argon shielding gas, it’s vital to know about a vital piece of equipment—
The Argon Gas Regulator
The argon gas regulator controls the gas flow from the argon tank to the welding gun. The delivery gauge shows the gas flow rate in liters per minute and cubic feet per hour. For most MIG and TIG welding, the recommended argon gas regulator should show the delivery rate in liters per minute. The argon regulator can also be used for argon mixtures, for example, argon and Co2 mixed gases.
What is Argon Welding?
Argon welding describes the shielding gas used in TIG and MIG welding techniques. Argon is one of the noble gases, meaning its colorless and odorless. The primary factor that makes argon one of the most popular shielding gasses is its “inert” properties. Inert gases are vital in welding because they don’t react with other gases.
Inert shielding gasses in welding are crucial to protect the weld pool from contamination. An inert shielding gas like argon also prevents weld oxidation. It is especially useful when welding aluminum, stainless steel, carbon steel, mild steel, and nonferrous metals.
What is Argon Used for in Welding?
Argon is used in welding because its one of the most effective inert shielding gases. During the welding process, argon gas is diffused around the molten pool creating a protective environment. This unique atmosphere ensures that contaminants from outside can compromise the weld integrity.
Argon in welding is used this way — the gas flows from the argon tank, through the gas regulator, and out the diffuser on the welding gun.
With TIG welding, the gas flow is more direct than with MIG welding and flux-cored welding. This is because of where the diffuser is placed on the gun.
How is Argon Used?
Argon is used to shield the weld while the metal and filler material melts. Welding creates temperatures more than 5,000°F, and these extreme temperatures change the composition of the metal. Therefore, argon creates a protective atmosphere so that impurities in the air don’t get into the weld. In addition, argon is nonflammable and nontoxic; therefore, it’s safe to use in extreme conditions.
Argon and helium are both inert shielding gasses for welding. However, argon is typically chosen over helium gases because it is cheaper and more accessible.
How Does Argon Help Welding?
Argon is a popular shielding gas because of its versatility in the arc welding process. An electrical current heats metal to exceedingly high temperatures to fuse metals. During this process, the molten metal readily reacts with the surrounding air. For example, air elements like oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen can severely impact the quality of the weld.
Argon is also crucial to maintain arc stability during welding. The protective shielding gas increases weld penetration, leading to better filler wire transfer and a more attractive, durable weld.
What argon does is protect gasses in the air from getting into the molten metal. The gas forms a miniature atmospheric protective environment, hence the term—shielding gas.
What Type of Welding Uses Argon?
Argon is the most common shielding gas used for gas metal arc welding (GMAW) and gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW). These are other names for MIG and TIG welding, respectively. Typically, both of these welding processes use pure argon or an argon mix for the shielding gas.
Using Argon in MIG Welding
Metal inert gas welding creates an electrical arc between the wire electrode and the piece of metal. The wire electrode is fed through the welding gun to be used as filler material. Argon is diffused through the welding gun’s nozzle to create a shielded environment.
MIG welding using an argon shielding gas is typically used for welding thicker and larger pieces of metal, including nonferrous metals. It is also relatively easy to learn for beginners and amateur welders.
Using Argon in TIG Welding
Tungsten inert gas welding creates a welding arc to make the weld. However, it uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode rather than use a consumable wire. The welder has a hand-held filler rod to create the weld with the base material. Argon plays a vital role in TIG welding by protecting the weld from oxidation and contamination.
TIG welding using pure argon or an argon mix shielding gas is commonly used on thinner metals like aluminum. However, TIG is also popular for welding stainless steel or carbon steel. Compared to MIG welding, TIG is trickier to learn and requires greater skill. However, it produces a cleaner weld bead.
Is Argon Welding Strong?
Argon produces cleaner and stronger welds because it’s the most effective of the common shielding gases. The gas is stable, nontoxic, nonflammable, and odorless. Also, its inert properties mean it doesn’t react with other gases in the air like oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen. Therefore, argon does an excellent job of protecting welds from corrosion and oxidation.
Why do You Need Argon to TIG Weld?
TIG welding requires a stable, noble gas to create a shield around the weld area. From all the shielding gasses, argon is the best choice. It is cheaper than helium and just as effective at protecting liquid metal from contamination. Using argon in TIG welding also has a wide range of uses on various types and grades of metals.
Can I Use Argon for MIG Welding?
Argon is one of the most popular shielding gasses for MIG welding. Usually, pure argon is the most common gas type in welding because it’s the most effective. You can use an argon mix with 75 percent argon and 25 percent carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide mix creates a hotter weld puddle and allows deeper penetration.
In industrial settings, a combination of argon and helium can be used in MIG and TIG welding.
Other shielding gasses you can use when welding are helium, carbon dioxide, and oxygen. From these gasses, oxygen and carbon dioxide are classed as active shielding gasses because they react in specific ways with some metals.
Do You Need Argon to Stick Weld?
Stick welding doesn’t require argon or any other shielding gas because it uses flux as a shielding material. Sometimes called shielded metal arc welding, stick welding uses a flux-coated metal rod as the filler material. The flux vaporizes as the heat melts the metal and filler rod, creating a shielding gas to stabilize the arc and protect the weld puddle.
The advantages of flux welding are that you don’t need an external gas supply. Because there is no gas, stick welding is better for outdoor welds because the wind doesn’t affect the argon gas flow.
Argon welding is the most common method for metal inert gas (MIG) welding or tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding. Argon gas is safe because it doesn’t create odors and is nonflammable. It also creates an ideal shielding gas because its inert properties don’t react with other gasses.