Closing the TIG gap

How new technology can help with the lack of skilled TIG welding professionals


Manufacturing has a skills shortage. Everyone knows it. Just about every skilled trade is suffering from a shortage of workers as older workers retire. Welding is no different, but it also suffers from an image problem. Common perception links welding with a dirty or harsh environment and possibly repetitive tasks day in and day out.

While it takes more than new technology to change perceptions, technology can help make difficult jobs more attainable by lessening the experience necessary to do the work. For welding, the most skills-heavy manual process is TIG welding. It is also one of the most versatile processes as it can be used to weld any material in any position.

Process primer

TIG welding is viewed as the most difficult of all the manual welding processes. In addition to weld parameters and other input requirements, the welder needs to pay attention to three physical operations at once. While one hand is guiding and angling the tungsten holder, the other hand is adding the filler metal.

Fronius’ TIG DynamicWire, an intelligent wire feeding system, automatically compensates for current conditions, torch position and component tolerances up to 30 percent.

And, because TIG welding is a cold-wire process where room-temperature metal is pushed into a hot arc, the welder also uses a foot pedal to adjust the amperage, which affects the heat in the weld. Good equipment can assist, but with so much relying on physical coordination and skill, TIG welding requires the most experience and muscle memory.

With MIG welding, on the other hand, once the parameters are set, the main physical aspects a welder needs to worry about are the torch angle and travel speed along the seam. The wire feeder pushes the filler metal through the torch automatically. There is still quite a bit of skill and knowledge involved, but the process and coordination are less complicated, allowing for less-experienced welders to be more efficient.

The idea of merging the TIG welding process with a wire feeder has been around since the 1960s when hot-wire TIG was developed. In this process, the filler metal is preheated through an electrical charge (hot), and when it contacts the workpiece, the circuit completes and welding can occur. Mostly used as an automated process, hot-wire TIG has a lot of benefits, but also a lot of costs, and it still requires skill and experience when used manually.

With the TIG DynamicWire system, TIG welding is smarter and less physically demanding, which lowers the barriers of entry for inexperienced welders.

Innovative advantage

Because companies that perform TIG welding are finding it harder and harder to complete work and satisfy customers, TIG welding just needs to be easier to do. But how can that be possible?

Enter TIG DynamicWire, the intelligent wire feeding system from Fronius. This solution actively adjusts the wire speed to the weld machine based on set amperage. It can automatically compensate for current conditions, torch position and even component tolerances of up to 30 percent. Matched with the company’s iWave welding platform, DynamicWire uses voltage feedback to self-regulate, helping less-experienced welders achieve excellent TIG welds.

This isn’t the first continuous TIG wire feeding system, but it is the smartest. The innovative advantage lies in the automatic self-regulation, where the machine adapts to the welder, not the other way around. It always provides the correct wire speed, adapting as necessary to the welding behavior. Once set up, it’s easy to start welding each day. The welder just sets one parameter and it’s ready to go. The rest of the parameters are applied automatically based on the material-specific characteristics.

When paired with the Fronius iWave welding platform, the TIG DynamicWire system uses voltage feedback to self-regulate, helping less-experienced welders achieve excellent TIG welds.

Equally gamechanging, the aluminum wire holder is ergonomic and lightweight, produced with a material-saving 3-D printing process. By mounting it directly onto the tungsten holder, TIG welding becomes a single-handed process.

In conventional TIG welding, the wire is fed at a constant rate and weld quality can vary if travel speed varies. In some equipment, the wire is oscillated to help with droplet detachment. This can induce vibrations in the torch, causing fatigue. Fronius has removed the back-and-forth wire movement without diminishing the weld quality and it improves the user experience.

Lowering barriers

By making the process smarter and lessening the physical demands, Fronius is lowering the barriers to entry for TIG welding. At Fabtech 2022 in Atlanta, users that had never held a TIG torch were able to make solid welds using the iWave and DynamicWire.

The welds weren’t pretty, nor would they pass inspection, but they held on the first try and the users didn’t contaminate the tungsten. Not an easy feat. Think what they could do with the ability to read a puddle, basic welding knowledge and a small amount of training.

The aluminum wire holder for the TIG DynamicWire system is ergonomic and lightweight. By mounting it directly onto the tungsten holder, TIG welding becomes a single-handed process.

With an aging workforce and an expectation of almost 50,000 job openings per year, more can still be done to attract young people to the trade. Reaching out to younger workers about the safety and benefits of a welding career, removing negative bias and being open about corporate mindfulness to current global issues are positive steps.

With these issues in mind and an eye on smart solutions like touchscreen interfaces and DynamicWire, Fronius is keeping future generations in mind both for employment and through sustainability. Like all Fronius products, iWave and DynamicWire have been designed and built with sustainability in mind, meaning a long service life, repairability and recyclability.

Fronius USA LLC

Get industry news first
Subscribe to our magazines
Your favorite
under one roof