Can you use Argon for MIG welding? This one is one of the most common questions to be heard from all the welders. While you can use Argon for MIG welding, there are certain factors that you must be aware of to make a sound decision.
In this article, you’ll find almost everything there is to know about using Argon for MIG welding. From the factors to consider to the ideal ratio of the gas mixtures, all the necessary information has been provided to make this as convenient for you as possible.
So, continue reading along if you’re interested to learn all about it.
Can You Use Argon for MIG welding?
The answer is yes; you can use Argon for MIG welding. Argon is one of the most commonly used inert gas when it comes to MIG welding. It can be used on various forms of steel, such as mild steel and other metals such as aluminum.
You may use Argon in its pure form; however, experts suggest using it in a mixture to deliver the best results. Do you know which tool bag is best for welder?
Things to Consider When Using Argon
While Argon gas is one of the most popular choices amongst the four inert gas used for MIG welding, certain factors must be considered before making your final decision. They are – your budget, the nature of your project, and the thickness of the metal.
Argon gas can be used as 100% pure, which isn’t as expensive compared to other gases such as Helium. However, if you want to buy mixtures such as 75%-25% Argon-Carbon mix, the cost of the gas won’t be quite as budget-friendly.
· Nature of Your Project
Certain kind of work comes with their own sets of demands which dictates what gas is needed. For projects that require deep penetration into the metal or requires stability, Argon is the ideal choice.
· Thickness of Metal
Although Argon is capable of working with thick metal, we’ll recommend not to go for pure ones if you want the best quality of work. However, if you have Argon mixed with other gases, you’re guaranteed to achieve the best quality of work despite the size of the metal.
Working with 100% Pure Argon
Argon gas provides the welder with the best arc stability and penetration while reducing splatter. One of the best parts of Argon is that it’s an inert gas. Thus, you won’t have to worry about the gas reacting with any of the materials or gases.
Now, using 100% pure Argon gas should be your last resort since it gives a very coarse and weak welding bead. In fact, it’s likely to leave the welding bead ununiform and narrow.
It happens because pure Argon doesn’t feature high thermal conductivity, resulting in cooler gas flow on the outside compared to the middle section. This leaves small cavities inside the metal, making it prone to breaking and creating many splatters.
Overall, using pure Argon gas is recommended for when you either run out of gas or can’t find an alternative.
How is 100% Argon Different?
These are some of the points that you need to be aware of before you select 100% pure Argon gas for MIG welding:
- Due to Argon’s low ionization potential, it can’t produce much arc voltage and power.
- The arc tends to be unstable.
- As Argon features lower thermal conduction, it results in the outside edges of the arc to stay cool; this produces slender, reduced penetration with reduced fusion.
- The combination of an unstable arc with decreased power results in a molten pool of metal – that is too stiff and hard to work with.
- MIG welds that use 100% Argon are prone to be destabilizing.
- The filler material remains on the top of the steel in a thin, tall bead.
- Using pure Argon to weld on steel tends to result in decreasing ductility. Due to this, twisting or bending the steel may end up cracking or breaking the rigid weld.
Tips for Using Pure Argon to MIG Weld
Now, there might be some situation that’ll demand you to use pure Argon. So, here are a couple of pointers to keep in mind if you want to make the best of using pure Argon:
- By beveling the ends of the joint, you can fuse the base metal to create a much stronger joint.
- If you increase the heat enough to get the bead to sit flat, but not too much to burn through the thinner steel, you’re likely to have better stability.
Some of the metals that can be welded using 100% Argon are Aluminum, Titanium, Magnesium, Nickel (under 1/8”), and Copper (under 1/8”)
Best Way to Use Argon for MIG Welding
If you want to make the best out of using Argon gas, blending it with Carbon Dioxide CO2 will be it. This mixture should have around 5-25% CO2, depending on the material you’re going to weld.
The blend of these two gases produces a fluid and workable puddle that offers better penetration; this helps to eliminate the undercutting while also decreasing spatter.
More importantly, the mixture of these gases helps control the heating and cooling; this improves the weld’s overall resistance and gives it more flexibility. Thus, you can bend and twist without fear.
When working on stainless steel, the ideal blend of gases would be a trimix of Argon, CO2, and Helium. Sadly, this mixture is quite expensive and not readily available everywhere. However, if you want quality work on stainless steel, there really isn’t a better option.
Alternatives of Argon
It’s imperative to choose the right type of gas when working with MIG welding applications. We’ve presented some of the alternatives of Argon along with their features/properties down below:
· Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
CO2 is the most popular reactive gas used for MIG welding. It’s the only reactive gas that can be used on its own, even without inert gas. Using pure CO2 will produce deep weld penetration, which is perfect for using on thick materials.
That being said, it delivers a comparatively less stable arc and produces more spatter if compared to when it is mixed with any other gas. It’s also restricted only to the short circuit process. However, it’s the cheapest common shielding gas available in the market.
· Oxygen (O2)
Another popular reactive gas for MIG welding is Oxygen. Oxygen is never used on its own since its highly reactive; thus, you’ll find it ratios of 9% or less. The Oxygen mixtures refine weld pool fluidity, arc stability, and improved penetration in stainless steel, mild carbon, and low alloy.
As it triggers oxidation of the weld metal, it’s not ideally recommended to use on Magnesium, Aluminum, Copper, or any other exotic metals.
· Helium (He)
Similar to Argon, Helium is used on non-ferrous metals. However, it can also be used with stainless steel. As it creates a broad, deep penetration profile, Helium is ideal to use on thick materials. It’s almost always used in mixtures, especially with Argon, as pure Helium is quite expensive.
The ratio of Helium to Argon can be anywhere from 25-75 for both the elements. This ratio will depend on the type of penetration, travel speed, and bead profile required for the project.
As Helium produces hotter arc, it delivers faster travel speed as well as high productivity rates. That being said, Helium is a lot more expensive and demands a higher flow rate as opposed to Argon.
If you’re on a budget, you’ll definitely have to calculate the significance of the efficiency increase against the cost of the gas. When working with stainless steel, Helium needs to be in a trimix formula with CO2 and Argon for the best results.
We hope by now we were able to provide a satisfactory answer to the question, “can you use Argon for MIG welding or not?” It’s important to use the right type of gas or gas mixture when it comes to MIG welding if you want to do it properly. If you have any more confusion, do look up the type of gas needed as per the metal to come to a solution quickly. Best of luck with your future endeavors!