One of the questions you are likely to ask about MIG welding with argon gas is: can you use pure argon for welding purposes?
Well, the simple answer to that is yes. You can, of course, use pure argon for welding, but it has several pros and cons.
Metal inert gas welding, popularly known as MIG welding, has been a common welding practice across the world for a very long time. It is known to be faster and cheaper than other welding techniques and creates excellent results.
What Is MIG Welding?
It is a welding process that uses a continuous solid wire electrode heated and fed into the weld pool with the help of a welding gun. It melts two base materials that are to be welded together.
MIG welding is considered a semi-automatic process as many steps must be done manually. This is why you need someone with skilled hands to undertake MIG welding for you.
Characteristics of Pure Argon: Things to Know
While navigating MIG welding with argon, you need to know certain gas characteristics to avoid uneventful surprises and risks.
Some of the defining characteristics of argon include:
- The ionization potential of argon is low, which significantly lessens the arc voltage and power.
- It can lead to a less stable arc instead of other gases and combinations.
- Argon has lower thermal conduction that leads to not so strong penetration.
- Argon welding can be prone to breaking as it is less ductile.
- MIG welds that use pure argon are more susceptible to undercutting.
MIG Welding with Pure Argon
Though highly uncommon, sometimes people do undertake MIG welding with pure argon. Some of the reasons include the following:
- Out of necessity: it is unlikely, but sometimes you can’t find other gases and have an urgent project, and you end up finishing the project using pure argon.
- Non-reactive: argon does not react with other metals during the process, making it a great welding gas. It also ends up using a lot less energy as a great result.
- Superior service: argon offers greater penetration and reduced splatter, making cleaning the process easier and simpler.
How to Best Use Pure Argon for MIG Welding?
There may be times when you have to use pure argon for welding purposes. What to do in such instances? We have you covered. Use the following tips to make the most out of working with pure argon.
- Bevel the joint edges to add more strength and resilience to the joint.
- Always work at a higher temperature by turning up the heat. You must, however, be cautious to not burn thinner steel.
- These steps may make working with pure argon slightly easier.
The Disadvantages of Using Pure Argon for MIG Welding
People seldom use pure argon for MIG welding because of several constraints of this inert gas. Some of the disadvantages of using pure argon for MIG welding include:
- Limited penetration capacity when used alone.
- Greater costs take the budget of any project significantly high.
- The finished products can have inconsistencies and defects.
It is primarily the high cost and the inconsistencies that make people resistant to using pure argon for MIG welding. This is aided by the fact that several other options and combinations work with higher efficiency.
Take, for instance, a professional welder. They will have to factor in their labor and expertise costs alongside the high cost of argon to perform MIG welding. This will make their services very costly, leaving only a niche audience to work with.
This may be agreeable to a few, but the majority still will choose other options such as the carbon-argon combination.
TIG vs. MIG: The Better Method to Harness Argon
The TIG welding is better suited for you if you plan to use pure argon. The basic difference between the two methods is that they use different filler methods and electrodes. The biggest difference is that TIG welding uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode. It also feeds the filler separately.
The TIG method handles the static nature of argon more efficiently and creates stable arcs as a result. For MIG welding, the best combination available is argon and carbon. Read on to discover what makes it tick.
Why Carbon and Argon Together Are Ideal for MIG Welding
A 75-25 carbon and argon combination, with argon being the higher proportion, is considered the best for MIG welding. This combination leads to a stable arc, stronger penetration, and excellent results.
It reduces undercutting, which is a problem with pure argon, and also considerably reduces spattering making the cleaning post-welding easier.
If you are looking for an excellent piece of work, this is your best bet. The biggest advantage is that you will be spared the high cost of using pure argon, taking your budget down slightly.
This combination also works on many surfaces, including fragile and thin surfaces, which is not the case with pure argon.
Video: Mig Welding Gas Setup Made Simple
Argon is one of the most commonly used gases in the welding process alongside carbon. It offers great benefits, but a combination method is the most optimum for excellent welding results.
However, there is no universal answer to the best combination. It is highly dependent on a budget of a specific project and the desired results. Based on this, you can even go with pure argon. However, the decision should be taken after weighing the pros and cons to avoid having regrets later.
Bear in mind that the TIG welding is more suited to pure argon, and if using argon is your priority, you may want to consider that route. In any case, we would suggest getting in touch with an expert to eliminate any other doubts and take a decision that is in your best interest.