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How to Choose the Right TIG Torch for Your Application

Date: 20-09-2022

How to Choose the Right TIG Torch for Your Application - Alphaweld

With so many TIG torch types and sizes, it's easy to get confused. Choosing the right TIG torch for your application will make your job easier, and likewise, getting the wrong torch can make welding more difficult and time-consuming.

In this guide we will highlight the key differences between TIG torches and the type of work they are designed for.

Water-Cooled vs. Air-Cooled TIG Torches

Air-cooled TIG torches are the most popularly used and have a lower duty cycle. Ambient air and internal shielding gas flow cool these torches, so once they overheat, you must wait before they cool down.

Water-cooled TIG torches have inlet and outlet tubes for water flow that continuously dissipates heat. These torches have much longer duty cycles and handle far higher amperages.

Every TIG torch has a duty cycle amperage rating which states how long the torch can continuously weld before needing to cool down. This rating is expressed in a percentage of a 10-minute interval. So for example, a torch with a 35% duty cycle at 130A can weld for 3.5 minutes with the machine set at 135A before cooling for the remaining 6.5 minutes.

TIG Torch Sizes

The most common air-cooled TIG torch sizes are:

• Size 9 - capable of about 125A
• Size 17 - capable of about 150A
• Size 26 - capable of about 200A

The most common water-cooled TIG torch sizes are:

• Size 20 - size 9 equivalent, capable of about 250A
• Size 18 - size 17 equivalent, capable of about 350A

The actual amperage capability may vary from manufacturer, ambient temperature, welding position, the heat reflected by the welded material, and other variables.

Mixing and matching consumables between different TIG torch sizes is not possible. While torches need the same consumable types (collet body or gas lens), each torch size has matching size consumables.

The size 17 torch is most commonly used and sold with portable inverter-based TIG welders, and you can complete most TIG welding jobs with this torch. The size 9 is a good choice for getting in tight spaces, thanks to its low profile. At the other end of the spectrum, the bigger size 26 is meant for welding thick materials, but it's also more likely to cause hand fatigue due to added weight.

The Unimig T2 Torchology torches are equivalent to size 17 but have higher amperage ratings than most others. Instead of 150A, they can handle 190A. Plus, their unique consumables last up to 20X longer. Their water-cooled counterparts are even more capable with duty cycles up to 35% at 240A.

Flex-head vs. Rigid-head Torch Design

All TIG torch types discussed above come in flex-head or rigid-head designs. Usually, a flex-head torch is a better choice because you can modify the torch's head shape. As a result, it's possible to weld tight corners and hard-to-reach areas. Plus, it's generally easier to weld if you tailor the torch to your welding technique.

The Unimig torches we’ve mentioned are flex-head but other options like the Tigmaster Kemppi Superflex 150 and the Tigmaster Kemppi 3 Piece TIG torch also offer similar features.

Valved TIG Torches

If your TIG welder doesn't have a dedicated shielding gas inlet valve for TIG welding, you’ll need a TIG torch with a gas valve.

Valved TIG torches have a separate gas line that attaches directly to the gas regulator of your shielding gas cylinder. So, once you open the valve on the torch, the gas is released through the torch and into the welded joint.

Need Further Help?

The experts at Alphaweld are always ready to assist and help you choose a TIG torch that’s most suitable for your application. To speak with our team of trusted experts, give us a call on (08) 9456 8000 or get in touch, and we'll gladly assist you.