Plasma cutters guides: how to become a better welder and how to choose the top welding equipment. Use the smallest tungsten that will get the job done. Use the smallest tungsten to get the job done. …within reason. Another way of saying this is don’t just use a 1/8” electrode for everything. There are jobs where a 1/8” electrode is great like for welding 3/16” thick aluminum. But what if you are welding on the edge of a .030” turbine blade? A .040” electrode will be plenty to handle the 15 amps and will give much better starts than even a 1/16” electrode. Too large an electrode can cause an erratic arc and contamination…and A bad start where the high frequency tries to arc up inside the cup and off the side of the tungsten can easily melt off a thin edge and scrap an expensive part. 2% thoriated or lanthanated tungsten electrodes hold up at high amperage better than most all other electrodes. When welding at higher amperages, often times you can use one size smaller electrode by using 2% thoriated or lanthanated. And that is a good thing.
And another tip is use the old school type of collet body(not gas lens) and one size smaller cup than you would use for steel that still provides good shielding. A smaller old school (not gas lens) TIG cup confines the shielding gas envelope to the puddle so that arc energy is not wasted in the form of frosty cleaning action outside the weld. A lot of Old timers use the small cups, they just don’t know why. Pay attention next time you weld aluminum and use a small cup and then turn the shielding gas flow down to around 12-15 cfh with a #6 cup and see if things don’t quiet down a bit.
Do a practice run. This may sound silly, but you’ll find that many professional welders do this before every pass. Get in the most comfortable position you can, with support blocks in place if helpful, and run your hands along the path they will traverse as you make the weld. You will often find that a slight adjustment of your position will allow you to make a longer pass, or to move your hands with less stress. Any strain in your position will have a negative impact on the weld. Also, you build valuable muscle memory when making your practice run, which will help keep everything on track when you make the ‘real’ pass. Clean a contaminated electrode immediately! Every welder will contaminate their electrode at some point, but it’s essential that you replace a contaminated electrode immediately. I usually keep a group of pre-sharpened electrodes right on my welding bench, so I can swap them out without having to walk to my grinder.
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Improper drive roll selection and tension setting can lead to poor wire feeding. Consider the size and type of wire being used and match it to the correct drive roll. Since flux-cored wire is softer, due to the flux inside and the tubular design, it requires a knurled drive roll that has teeth to grab the wire and to help push it through. However, knurled drive rolls should not be used with solid wire because the teeth will cause shavings to break off the wire, leading to clogs in the liner that create resistance as the wire feeds. In this case, use V-grove or U-groove drive rolls instead. Set the proper drive roll tension by releasing the drive rolls. Then increase the tension while feeding the wire into your gloved hand until the tension is one half-turn past wire slippage. Always keep the gun as straight as possible to avoid kinking in the cable that could lead to poor wire feeding.