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Thread: Bad tungsten causing sparks and porosity on mild steel?

  1. #26
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    Re: Bad tungsten causing sparks and porosity on mild steel?

    Steel must be ground for TIG welding. No solvent or soap is a substitute. Acetone after.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  2. #27
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    Re: Bad tungsten causing sparks and porosity on mild steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mach_Zero View Post
    Lol thanks Welder Dave. I mean that was the entire premise of my post though. I tried a new tungsten and it worked way better. So I was just asking if it's possible for an electrode to go bad.

    Ultimately I think the issue is that even though I had ground in a new tip, I hadn't cleaned the oxides on the shank of the tungsten electrode that I thought was the problem.
    I wasn't trying to be smart. Most tungsten comes out of China... and have heard of bad tungsten like Lanthanated splitting. A lot of people still prefer 2% thoriated with an inverter. Only reason some suppliers dropped it is they think it's going to turn weldors into Spiderman because it has slight amounts of radiation.

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  4. #28
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    Re: Bad tungsten causing sparks and porosity on mild steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B View Post
    I wonder about a machine malfunction sticking on AC.

    I experimented once DC EP for aluminum. The sparks were like sparklers on independence day! Aluminum AC with balance reversed IE 80/20 EP will spark bad! 80/20 EN might not do enough to cathodically clean (I learned that from Shovelon), but no fireworks.

    I haven't figured this out. Can't help thinking 5 minutes with Shovelon, you'd be fixed.

    You have one minor problem, figure it out, you're golden.

    Buy me a round trip plane ticket, I'll get there, call Shovelon, I'll fix you.
    Huh, wut?

    We had a run of shenanigans a while back. An A-hole was cutting stainless tig rod, grinding like a tungsten and loading them in our torches. Fer sher the culprit was a gas problem. Would not weld for beans and melted back the electrode. That was a fun day. I promised not to do it again.
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  6. #29
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    Re: Bad tungsten causing sparks and porosity on mild steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Welder Dave View Post
    I wasn't trying to be smart. Most tungsten comes out of China... and have heard of bad tungsten like Lanthanated splitting. A lot of people still prefer 2% thoriated with an inverter. Only reason some suppliers dropped it is they think it's going to turn weldors into Spiderman because it has slight amounts of radiation.
    Oh sorry I thought you were being facetious. The tungsten that was giving me issues could be a cheap one since it came with a Vulcan machine (it's 2% ceriated just in case anyone was wondering). And the new stuff I got was from CK so I think it was good. But I think there was probably something else going on like me not cleaning the rest of the tungsten and not jusr grinding the tip. I've been messing around more and more and just noticing little things while tinkering. I'd like to get a gas lens and just upgrade the torch eventually. First step is the new power cable that is arriving hopefully tomorrow (shipping was delayed ). Thanks for your help!


    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B View Post
    Steel must be ground for TIG welding. No solvent or soap is a substitute. Acetone after.
    I'm definitely learning this lesson the hard way. Cleaning is so tedious at times I do a lazy job. But I'm realizing the only way you'll get nice welds is if the base metal is very clean. I'll have to pick up some acetone tomorrow. Then I'll weld that test coupon and report back. At any rate, despite the hiccups tig welding is a lot of fun. I appreciate everyone in this forum for helping me out.

    Also if anyone has some good recommendations for a gas lens, let me know. (Not looking for the huge cups, just some standard cup sizes with the gas lens)

  7. #30
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    Re: Bad tungsten causing sparks and porosity on mild steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mach_Zero View Post
    Oh sorry I thought you were being facetious. The tungsten that was giving me issues could be a cheap one since it came with a Vulcan machine (it's 2% ceriated just in case anyone was wondering). And the new stuff I got was from CK so I think it was good. But I think there was probably something else going on like me not cleaning the rest of the tungsten and not jusr grinding the tip. I've been messing around more and more and just noticing little things while tinkering. I'd like to get a gas lens and just upgrade the torch eventually. First step is the new power cable that is arriving hopefully tomorrow (shipping was delayed ). Thanks for your help!




    I'm definitely learning this lesson the hard way. Cleaning is so tedious at times I do a lazy job. But I'm realizing the only way you'll get nice welds is if the base metal is very clean. I'll have to pick up some acetone tomorrow. Then I'll weld that test coupon and report back. At any rate, despite the hiccups tig welding is a lot of fun. I appreciate everyone in this forum for helping me out.

    Also if anyone has some good recommendations for a gas lens, let me know. (Not looking for the huge cups, just some standard cup sizes with the gas lens)
    Non chlorinated brake cleaner is acetone in an aerosol can. DO NOT USE CHLORINATED BRAKE CLEANER!
    Steel isn't quite as fussy as aluminum, but you can't have mill scale or rust.
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  8. #31
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    Re: Bad tungsten causing sparks and porosity on mild steel?

    Ok so it's definitely a gas coverage issue.

    I was struggling again with some simple butt and outside corner joints on some test pieces, even with carefully ground tungsten and sanded metal (not acetone clean, but pretty clean).

    I bought a consumable kit online that came with all the stubby consumables as well as stubby gas lens consumables.

    First try with the new collet body, collet, and ceramic cup (non gas lens) and I had a perfectly clean weld with no porosity or sparks. And this was with the same tungsten diameter and same ceramic cup diameter I had been using. Old collet body must have some issues or something.

    Switched to gas lens and #10 Pyrex glass cup (just because it looks cool lol) and same clean weld bead. Even on a dirty butt joint it still left a really nice weld. The puddle was dirty and it left some deposits on the top of the bead (scrap test pieces), but no sparks or porosity. And the Pyrex cups are awesome!

    Lesson learned! Sparks means no gas coverage. Makes sense since I would imagine sparks can only occur in the presence of oxygen. Even a contaminated weld shouldn't spark if there's no oxygen for it to burn.

    I'll stop being lazy and cut some test coupons and really get them perfectly clean for a weld. Then I'll post some pictures and see what you guys think.

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  10. #32
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    Re: Bad tungsten causing sparks and porosity on mild steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mach_Zero View Post
    Ok so it's definitely a gas coverage issue.

    I was struggling again with some simple butt and outside corner joints on some test pieces, even with carefully ground tungsten and sanded metal (not acetone clean, but pretty clean).

    I bought a consumable kit online that came with all the stubby consumables as well as stubby gas lens consumables.

    First try with the new collet body, collet, and ceramic cup (non gas lens) and I had a perfectly clean weld with no porosity or sparks. And this was with the same tungsten diameter and same ceramic cup diameter I had been using. Old collet body must have some issues or something.

    Switched to gas lens and #10 Pyrex glass cup (just because it looks cool lol) and same clean weld bead. Even on a dirty butt joint it still left a really nice weld. The puddle was dirty and it left some deposits on the top of the bead (scrap test pieces), but no sparks or porosity. And the Pyrex cups are awesome!

    Lesson learned! Sparks means no gas coverage. Makes sense since I would imagine sparks can only occur in the presence of oxygen. Even a contaminated weld shouldn't spark if there's no oxygen for it to burn.

    I'll stop being lazy and cut some test coupons and really get them perfectly clean for a weld. Then I'll post some pictures and see what you guys think.
    It is amazing how a nice gas flow improves quality and productivity. After playing around with it you can actually lower your flow to save gas, then when hit the bottom limit raise a tad. I found only standard collet bodies with extended ceramic nozzles flow argon well. I guess the length of the inside gives the turbulence a chance to dissipate. I do use standard extended cups for getting into deep places, and have basically mothballed my short ones. Gas lenses are the shizzle.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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  12. #33
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    Re: Bad tungsten causing sparks and porosity on mild steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mach_Zero View Post
    Lesson learned! Sparks means no gas coverage. Makes sense since I would imagine sparks can only occur in the presence of oxygen. Even a contaminated weld shouldn't spark if there's no oxygen for it to burn.
    We all have to learn it You'll know for the next time... and there will be a next time, I have no doubt, that's just life!
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  14. #34
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    Re: Bad tungsten causing sparks and porosity on mild steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelon View Post
    It is amazing how a nice gas flow improves quality and productivity. After playing around with it you can actually lower your flow to save gas, then when hit the bottom limit raise a tad. I found only standard collet bodies with extended ceramic nozzles flow argon well. I guess the length of the inside gives the turbulence a chance to dissipate. I do use standard extended cups for getting into deep places, and have basically mothballed my short ones. Gas lenses are the shizzle.
    Yeah you're definitely right. I just couldn't figure out why my aluminum welds looked perfectly fine (any ugliness was purely due to my technique, not the argon coverage lol). But then steel was giving me the issues. I was trying to hold off on getting a gas lens because I've read online and seen videos where people advise you learn on standard consumables to develop proper technique, then later you can get the fancy gear.

    The ceramic cup I was using is one of the longer ones, and I still can't figure out why it was giving me issues. Do collet bodies wear out or something? Even with a new collet it was giving the same results. But even with the new stubby collet body (non gas lens) I was getting great coverage. I can't wrap my head around what went wrong with the original collet body. It came with the machine and was used quite a bit by the previous owner, but still it looks ok. Just a little discolored from the heat.

    Maybe the ceramic cup was dirty and causing those issues? I have two ceramic cups that came with the machine, #5 and #8, and both were giving me issues. So that's why I feel like it's the collet body rather than the cup. No idea.


    Quote Originally Posted by Munkul View Post
    We all have to learn it You'll know for the next time... and there will be a next time, I have no doubt, that's just life!
    Ha! Yeah plenty of learning to do in this hobby. But it's been a fun journey.

  15. #35
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    Re: Bad tungsten causing sparks and porosity on mild steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mach_Zero View Post
    Yeah you're definitely right. I just couldn't figure out why my aluminum welds looked perfectly fine (any ugliness was purely due to my technique, not the argon coverage lol). But then steel was giving me the issues. I was trying to hold off on getting a gas lens because I've read online and seen videos where people advise you learn on standard consumables to develop proper technique, then later you can get the fancy gear.

    The ceramic cup I was using is one of the longer ones, and I still can't figure out why it was giving me issues. Do collet bodies wear out or something? Even with a new collet it was giving the same results. But even with the new stubby collet body (non gas lens) I was getting great coverage. I can't wrap my head around what went wrong with the original collet body. It came with the machine and was used quite a bit by the previous owner, but still it looks ok. Just a little discolored from the heat.

    Maybe the ceramic cup was dirty and causing those issues? I have two ceramic cups that came with the machine, #5 and #8, and both were giving me issues. So that's why I feel like it's the collet body rather than the cup. No idea.




    Ha! Yeah plenty of learning to do in this hobby. But it's been a fun journey.
    Yes collets wear out. But more often bad collet bodies screw up the gas flow right off. Not that I hate standard collet bodies, I have had much better success with the gas lens.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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  17. #36
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    Re: Bad tungsten causing sparks and porosity on mild steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelon View Post
    Yes collets wear out. But more often bad collet bodies screw up the gas flow right off. Not that I hate standard collet bodies, I have had much better success with the gas lens.
    This is really good to know! That's a relief. Upon inspection, the collet body looked fine other than the copper discoloration/oxides from heating. But yeah the gas lens is incredible.

    How about the gas lens? Do they wear out and go bad too? And if so, do they last longer or shorter than standard collet bodies? I would assume longer if anything since they have the diffuser.
    Last edited by Mach_Zero; 06-02-2021 at 03:41 PM.

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    Re: Bad tungsten causing sparks and porosity on mild steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mach_Zero View Post
    This is really good to know! That's a relief. Upon inspection, the collet body looked fine other than the copper discoloration/oxides from heating. But yeah the gas lens is incredible.

    How about the gas lens? Do they wear out and go bad too? And if so, do they last longer or shorter than standard collet bodies? I would assume longer if anything since they have the diffuser.
    Over time the outer screen may catch debris. When it is so bad I suspect bad flow I tear it off to expose the screen under it. You want at least one good screen left to normalize the flow. But at that time I relegate them for crap work.

    Inside the gas lens the seat where the collet gets pinched can deform and wear allowing the collet to drop and the back cap to cover the gas port in the torch. Now I only use TecTorch "Made in USA" collets machined from tellurium copper alloy. They cost twice as much as chinese soft copper collets but they last ages. By the time the seats wear, the screens in the gas lens are usually toast too. So I pull the last stainless screens and recycle the copper. TecTorch consumables are usually only available from authorized distributors like your local weld supplier. But the performance is outstanding and all made in USA.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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