Welding is Cool

“Why do you need to kill a person 100 times? Isn’t 1 time enough?” Joanne asked.

That should be the answer to the question of why is welding cool. Or more specifically, why TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding is cool. Because you’re controlling an arc that carries about 30 amps to melt aluminum or steel plates in seconds. And with 30 amps, you can kill a person 100 times over.

TIG welding. Photo courtesy: quality-fab.com.

Welding is a skill that takes 10 minutes to learn but a long time to master. It’s easy to learn how to weld. I can teach you now. First, hold the torch with the tungsten tip just above the material. Press the trigger and wait for the arc to form and the metal to melt. Once the metal melts, put in the filler rod. Advance the torch to the left (or right if you’re using the rightward method) and repeat. Easy? Wait till you start burning holes through the material.

The basic setup of a TIG welding system. Explanation below. Image courtesy: wikipedia.com

The tungsten tip is where the arc forms with the material. Tungsten is used because it can stand high heat. Why else would they make light bulb filament with it. Argon gas is to prevent the hot metal from oxidizing because it displaces the oxygen around the weld. The filler rod is made out of the same material as the material to be welded. If you’re doing welding on an aluminum sheet, you’ll use an aluminum filler rod. If you’re welding on a stainless steel sheet, you’ll use a stainless steel filler rod. This makes sure that the final weld consists of a mixture of similar metals so dissimilar metal corrosion will not take place.

TIG welding torch. Photo courtesy: wikipedia.com

If you look at the picture above, the tungsten tip is sharp. That means it’s used for welding steel. Blunt tips are used for welding aluminum. The sharp tip ensures that the arc is concentrated at a smaller point so more heat is directed to a small point only. Contaminated tips (tips that came in contact with the filler rod or molten material) must be cut off or the weld would not form properly. This is what I learned after two days of welding so don’t quote me. But it works.

Not me by the way. Video courtesy: Shufi.

Welding is fun but it’s also difficult. It takes a long time to have that gut feeling. You have to have a steady hand to place the weld beads properly and spaced equally. You have to know the speed to advance the torch or it’ll burn a hole through your material. All these take time and experience to master. So the next time you see a welder at work, think of all the time and hard work he spent to acquire the skills and experience. Even if you don’t respect him for that, don’t mess with him. He has the power to kill 100 men, right at his fingertips. Now that’s cool. Continue reading