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Best Practices for Tungsten Preparation

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

A clean, well-prepared tungsten of good quality is absolutely essential to the proper performance of your TIG set-up.

Tungsten Grind 2With inverter machines in both AC and DC polarities, your 2% Ceriated or 2% Lanthanated electrode should be ground to a point with an included angle between 15 and 30 degrees, then the tip blunted slightly. If the tip is left as a fine point, there will be a much higher likelihood of tungsten inclusions, as the point can melt off into the weld pool.


Always grind your electrode along the axis, never perpendicular to the axis. When the grind marks go around the tip instead of along it, the arc will be more likely to wander as it tries to follow those minute grooves. Be sure to use a grinding wheel — preferably diamond and never aluminum oxide — dedicated to tungsten sharpening to avoid cross contamination from other metals.

Tungsten Grind 1


If your electrode is dipped into the weld pool, never grind through the contamination because it may get loaded onto the wheel and deposited right back onto your electrode whenever you rework it. Also, never break off a contaminated tip. Instead, it should be cleanly cut off with an abrasive wheel to prevent the small cracks that result from fracturing. These cracks can wreak havoc on the electrode’s performance.

Taking care of the small details can have a significant effect on your welding success!

Devan DePauw

Welding Engineer

TIG Solutions

Winterize Your Gas Engine Welder Generator

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
If you live in a colder climate and use an engine-driven welder/generator, you need to take a few precautions to make sure you properly maintain the equipment during winter months. Whether you continue using it regularly or will pack it away for the winter, take note of the following:
  • Use a lighter weight oil for temps lower than 0 degrees F.
  • Avoid phase separation (ethanol and gasoline separate causing engine seizure) by using additives and keeping the fuel tank as full as possible at all times.
  • Drain the carburetor of fuel if you expect the engine to sit unused for a long period of time.
  • Prevent carburetor icing by adding isopropyl alcohol to your fuel supply and avoid extended periods of no-load idling.
  • Keep your battery fully charged to keep it from freezing.

Improve Out-of-Position Welding with Welding Protection

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

There are many ways to improve out-of-position welding, such as adjusting the electrode angle and equipment settings, or repositioning the body. One factor that is often overlooked, but can greatly improve performance, is the type of welding protection being used. PPE that provides versatility and application-specific protection and features, can increase welder performance, productivity and safety.

The Digital Elite® Series Welding Helmet is ideal for out-of-position welding, making it easier, more efficient and more precise to weld in obstructed view applications. Four arc sensors and four operating modes – Weld, Cut, Grind and X-Mode – make it versatile and responsive for all applications. X-Mode is most beneficial for out-of-position welding, eliminating:

• Sunlight interference
• Intermittent Sensing (Pipe)
• Low-Amperage Lens Openings (TIG)
• Obstructed Sensors issuesAvailable in black and nine graphics.
The Arc Armor® Leather Jacket is made from premium grain pigskin leather to withstand sparks, spatter and abrasions common in out-of-position welding. Black leather offers full coverage for overhead welding and reduces reflections, while expandable leather placed near the shoulder provides added mobility for hard-to-reach welds.

Visit to learn more about our full line of Welding Protection.

Avoiding porosity when welding aluminum

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Porosity is a common problem when welding aluminum that has not been properly prepared. It is often caused by the presence of trapped contaminants in the porous layer of aluminum oxide on the metal’s surface. For the best results, this layer and any associated contamination must be removed prior to welding.  This can be done in three simple steps:

  1. Degrease: Use acetone or denatured alcohol and a lint free rag to remove any hydrocarbons and moisture that may be present on the surface.
  2. Mechanically remove the oxide: This can be accomplished by scraping, cutting or milling without cutting fluids or by using a clean stainless steel brush. (Never use an abrasive. Most are made from aluminum oxide itself and all can leave foreign material imbedded in your base metal)
  3. Degrease again: Repeating the process of step 1 will take care of any remaining oils that may be present.

*ALWAYS store flammable substances safely away from the weld zone and be certain any degreasing agents have fully evaporated from the workpiece before you begin welding.

*NEVER use any cleaners or degreasers that contain chlorine or chlorinated hydrocarbons in or near your weld zone. Harmful chemical compounds can be released when such cleaners are used in conjunction with welding processes.

Devan DePauw

Welding Engineer

TIG Solutions

Maintaining your welder/generator’s gas engine

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

A little preventative maintenance goes a long way in keeping your welder/generator in top shape. The article below walks through best practices for maintaining the gas engine in your welder/generator, and the consequences of poor maintenance. Regular maintenance will:

  • Extend engine/welder life
  • Ensure peak performance at all times
  • Maintain reliability/avoiding costly breakdowns
  • Prevent voiding warranty coverage
  • Maximize resale value

Read on to learn more:–advice-from-the-experts-on-maintaining-your-welder-generator-s-gas-engine/

Chris Wierschke
Product Manager
Bobcat and Trailblazer

Tips for TIG welding an upper control arm

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Buzz Johns, head fabricator at ThorSport Racing, explains how to fabricate an upper control arm. Watch this two-part series for a step-by-step process and tips for keeping weld distortion to a minimum.

Part one:

Part two:

Five Basics to Remember for a Good Cut with Plasma

Friday, March 15th, 2013

There are a few simple checks that can make plasma cutting work like a dream or can cause extreme frustration. Below are the 5 most common problems and questions people seem to have when using a plasma cutter.

1) Work Clamp (or “ground” clamp): The work clamp needs a good electrical connection. If you are cutting on rusty, galvanized, painted or dirty material, you will need to grind off a place for the work clamp. The torch will cut at its rated capacity, provided the work clamp has a good connection.

2) Consumables: If the torch consumables are worn beyond the manufacturer’s recommendation, you may experience arc outages. Normally, for tips, if the hole in the end has doubled in size when compared to a new tip, it is time to replace it. Electrodes need to be replaced when the Hafnium in the center of the electrode has reached a depth of 1\16”. Always check your manual for specific information on when to change the consumables. In standard applications, you may be able to use 2 tips for every one electrode.

3) Standoff distance: Typically a recommended standoff height is 1/16” to 1/8” off without touching your work piece. Remember electricity is lazy. It wants to take the path of least resistance. If you get too far away from the work piece, resistance between the work piece and electrode (cutting circuit) is much higher than the resistance between the tip and electrode (pilot circuit). This will cause the machine to stay in pilot and shut off after the five seconds.

4) Retaining cup: If the cup is on too tight, it prevents the electrode from moving freely. This will in turn prevent the arc from transferring. When threading the cup onto the end of the torch you should be able to feel and hear the cup switch in the torch click. Once this switch has been closed the cup does not need to be tightened any farther.

If there is any moisture in the air supply it can prevent arc transfer and create arc outages. Also, excess moisture in the system can lead to premature consumable wear. It can also cause the tips to wear unevenly which can cause problems with the kerf angle of your cut.

Following these simple guidelines will help you ensure that your machine operates to its full potential and will help extend the life of your machine and consumables.

Tim Lux
Plasma Service and Applications Specialist


Using Pulse Variables

Monday, March 4th, 2013

When utilizing the pulse feature on the Miller Maxstar or Dynasty products, there are several variables to adjust that can yield significant benefits. With the proper settings of these variables, the pulse feature can increase weld quality, weld penetration, and travel speed – all of which translate into increased productivity. The three variables are:

  1. Pulses Per Second [PPS] (the number of times the machine switches from a high to low amperage each second)
  2. Peak Time [Peak t] (percent of the pulse cycle spent in the high amperage)
  3. Background Amperage [BKGND A] (low amperage as a percent of the peak amperage).

A good starting point for these variables is 120 hz, 40%, and 25% respectively.

Adjusting the PPS provides the most visible change to the weld operator. Increasing this frequency will tighten the arc cone which can result in better directional control, a smaller weld puddle, and increased penetration.

Andrew Pfaller
TIG Solutions Product Manager/Weld Engineer

What do you need to start welding Aluminum?

Friday, February 1st, 2013

If you already own a MIG welder, you may be wondering what it takes to start using that machine to weld some aluminum. Miller® has continued to provide spool gun solutions that are simple and directly connect to your welder for welding aluminum. This makes changing to aluminum faster and less expensive than you may think.

First, you’re going to need a spool gun. Why another gun? Well, the column strength or the amount you can push on Aluminum wire without buckling is only about one-third the amount that mild steel wire can withstand. This causes feeding issues if you try to push the aluminum through a standard MIG torch. Spool guns only push the wire a short distance in a straight line from the drive rolls, so feeding isn’t compromised. The Spoolmate™ 100 Series spool gun is a direct connect option for the Millermatic® 140 Auto-Set™, 180 Auto-Set and 211 Auto-Set with MVP MIG welders, and the Multimatic™ 200 MIG/TIG/Stick welder. The Spoolmate™ 200 Series spool gun is the entry level spool gun for the Millermatic 212 Auto-Set and Millermatic 252 MIG welders. For the more industrial user, the Spoolmatic® 15A or 30A guns are a better fit on those machines.

The next thing you’re going to need is different shielding gas. Aluminum requires 100 percent argon shielding gas. Any shielding gas containing oxygen will cause an unstable arc with impurities when welding Aluminum.

Finally, you will need to be sure you have good MIG welding technique.  Aluminum requires you to push the torch to ensure effective shielding gas coverage. Everything else in your technique is the same as welding mild steel, but at a faster pace. Due to the high thermal properties of Aluminum, more heat is required to start a molten puddle. This increased amount of heat then requires a higher travel speed once the puddle is established to prevent burn through. Aluminum MIG welding doesn’t have to be difficult with the appropriate equipment and some practice.

Think about weld penetration

Monday, January 7th, 2013

When welding thick to thin or thinner material, concentrate or point the gun more at the thicker material and roll the bead toward the thinner material. This will help with adequate penetration on both the thick and thin piece. Take precautions to prevent warpage. When welding thin material, you may want to place a thicker piece of copper or aluminum behind the weld area to help “sink” the heat away (which prevents warping). This also will help with burn-through. Keep in mind that if you are welding on a table, you’ll want to get one with a thick metal top. A top with a ¼-in steel plate or thicker will not warp while you are welding on it. Do not place a metal plate on top of a wooden table. It will still burn the wood. I know it sounds like common sense, but it happens….

Until next time,

Andy Weyenberg
Motorsports Marketing Manager