Which tungsten electrode should I use ?
or even more specifically
What is the best Tungsten for precision TIG welding with AC (alternating current) on Aluminum using an inverter based machine?
A lot of folks in the industry have some very strong opinions on this subject, some based on fact, some based on ego and greed and some– just not having the experience. . .
For sure the answer is NOT Pure tungsten (color code: Green)! Even though many say you should use pure, and back in the day specifications called out Pure tungsten for AC TIG welding. But that’s old skool; I never use pure, and I would not recommend even trying it!
We have several industrial customers who purchase tungsten electrodes from us in quantity– and they have spent a lot of time and money testing different materials. From precision orbital TIG welding of high-purity stainless steel tubing, to manual TIG welding of yacht towers or special interest auto intake/turbo manifolds and other aluminum fabricated parts where the finished product is the “money.” In other words, these master fabricators know what they’re talking about when it comes to TIG Welding and tungsten electrodes and hands down, they prefer our ArcTime(TM) Hybrid tungsten electrodes.
Based on my 20+ years in the welding industry, I would say it comes down to two things – the tungsten brand name (who makes it), and the material blend or formula (how it’s manufactured).
Tungsten Brand Name:
Arc-Zone.com sells all the leading brands of high-quality tungsten electrodes: ArcTime, Amplify, CK Worldwide, Multi-Strike, Sylvania, and Weldcraft. With these trusted brands, you are assured that the material is top-quality and manufactured to the highest specifications and with adherence to International ISO 6848 and AWS A5.12 standards.
Tungsten Blend or Formula:
If you look at our sales from users around the world, ArcTime™ Hybrid (color code: Sky Blue) is the most popular and the 2% Ceriated (color code: Orange) and Lanthanated (color code: Dark Blue) are the second most popular, especially for precision fabricators. Again that is based on our sales and conversations with fabricators and leading power supply manufactures – (Weldcraft will be adding 2% Lanthanated to their product line shortly, and they currently offer a Rare Earth material, which is a generic material designed to compete with ArcTime™, Trimix, and Multistrike).
For the record, we sell Multi-Strike, and we sold Trimix for many years, but those materials are very expensive, and our customers told us the performance did not justify the extra cost.
Also important and often overlooked is the quality of the tungsten material. Like it or not the vast majority of the tungsten electrodes are made in China. The raw material for the most part has always come from there, as they have some of the largest tungsten mines. That said there are many high-quality manufacturers, just as there are poor quality manufacturers. Your best option is to buy a material that has a trusted brand name, from a supplier that offers only carefully selected and tested products from known manufacturers.
Free Tungsten Samples / Free Pizza:
A local “New York style” pizza joint comes by the shop and offers us free pizza, since we often have pizza on Fridays–to celebrate exceeding our customer experience goals–we ordered one of those free pizzas. It was terrible. We threw it out!
Recently they stopped by again, and when our receptionist said “No thank you,” the stooge they hired to pass out the free pizza flyers was floored.
“You guys don’t want a free pizza? I don’t get it, you don’t eat?” he said.
She told him their pizza was not worth the phone call.
I know that may sound harsh, but it’s true and you know what I am talking about…. you get what you pay for. We have some “competitors” that offer free tungsten samples.
So, no, we don’t offer free tungsten samples, but what we do offer is the best Brand Name tungsten welding electrodes on the planet, backed by our unsurpassed technical support, and every order ships with material safety data sheets, user guides, how to’s, material specifications with mill runs and lot numbers, a bag of our signature M&M’s, plus the industry’s only unconditional MONEY BACK GUARANTEE and a NO-HASSLE return policy.