Whether you’re new to TIG Welding, or a master fabricator, the myriad adapters, connectors and couplers on the market can be overwhelming. To complicate matters further, over the years manufacturers changed the design of their welding machines, taking advantage of inverter technology and streamlining the options. There are many different styles of machines in the field today; these tips will make hooking up your TIG/GTAW torch to any machine easy. We provided links to product pages as well if you find a connector that sounds familiar.
1. Know Your Welding Machine
To properly hook up your TIG torch to your welding machine, the first thing you need to know is what kind of connection your machine supports. With older power supplies the TIG torch bolts onto the machine via a threaded stud terminal on the front panel of the power supply. Newer welding machines make use of an international style Dinse connector which is a twist-locking quick disconnect system. There are two sizes of Dinse connectors: small, which the pin size is 3/8″ (9.5mm) in diameter, or the more common large Dinse connector with a pin size of 1/2″ (12.7mm) in diameter. Some machines allow for a Gas Through Dinse connection, whereby your torch’s shield gas supply flows through the Dinse connector, eliminating the need for an additional gas connection. The gas flows from your tank and flowmeter/regulator through the machine to the connector and into the torch. Some power supplies use a Tweco type (also called American style) split pin connector that also twists and locks into place.
The newest twist on machine connections is happening with the increasing prevalence of import machines using a quick-disconnect for gas and water connections. And some cases, the female receptacle on the Dinse plug may be slightly shorter than the industry standard, and you may need to trim off a portion of the male pin on the Dinse connector.
Consult your welding machine manual to know which connector type you have. Or, if you no longer have your manual, contact the manufacturer directly and have ready your machine’s model and serial number.
2. Know Your TIG Torch
Different TIG torches have different TIG torch adapter connections at the machine end. A water cooled TIG torch has a 7/8” x 14 left-hand threaded male fitting on the end of the power/water return line. Generally an air-cooled TIG torch rated 200 amps or above has a 7/8” x 14 right-hand threaded male fitting and an air-cooled torch rated 150 amps or below has a 3/8” x 24 right-hand threaded male fitting on the end. Some specialty torches like the CK TrimLine series use a “B” size 5/8” x 18 right-hand thread. While these fittings may look like parts you can buy at your local hardware store, they are unique to the welding industry and available through welding suppliers only.
3. Standardize Your Connections
Upgrade your machine(s) to accept a Dinse style connector to make switching from one torch to another easy. For a large corporation, this means you can standardize your connections and run different applications at different times, or accommodate different shifts, removing and storing torches to protect them from theft or damage. Even a small fabrication shop will want to be able to use different torches on the same welding machine. With the Dinse connectors you don’t need tools to change your torch, and all your torches will connect the same way. Also, the connection is insulated with a rubber or plastic boot.
If you have an older style welding machine with the threaded stud, you can buy a stud-to-Dinse female converter to upgrade your machine’s stud connection. A machine with a Tweco style connection can also be converted to accept a Dinse style plug with an adapter that mounts onto the machine as well.
4. Use Quick Release Gas And Water Hose Couplers
Standard gas and water hoses require the use of a wrench to tighten the mechanical connection. If you’re in the field or in the shop and need to change torches frequently, this can be cumbersome. Like the Dinse connectors, quick-release hose couplers are available and allow you to change torches without tools. These quick-release couplers thread onto the male fitting at the end of your gas and water hoses then mate to a corresponding female adapter that is mounted on your water cooler or gas connection. They are similar to air line quick release couplers, and connect by twisting and locking into place.
Heavy-duty gas hose couplers are also available for just a couple dollars more and are a better choice for welding in the field.
If you’re not sure what type of adapter you need, give Arc-Zone.com a call toll free, 800-944-2243 (US) or 1-760-931-1500 (worldwide). We have welding experts on staff that can help you find what you’re looking for!