GTAW Process: Consumables
TIG welding accessories and related items required to weld can require the largest cash expenditure besides the welder purchase itself. Items needed are basic consumables like Cups, collets, back caps, tungsten, and gas lenses. Consider byying these in full box volume. The overall cost per item will be lower when bought a box or full package at a time, and the peace of mind is well worth the extra cash. Many welding supply stores will sell partial box quantities of each, yet they can charge up to 50% more for small lot items. Usually items such as tungsten can be economically in 10 packs. Collets and cups can be bought in 5 and 10 packs as well. Gas lenes are usually sold individually and last for some time. However, different sizes should be considered along with the appropriate cups. These quantities are manageable for most small shops and home garages.
Cups are the ceramic nozzles that train the flow of shielding gas. They are fragile by nature and dropping the torch, overheating it, or any mistreatment will result in breakage. Fortunately, when bought in box quantities, the price is manageable. Multiple sizes will be required to suit different parameters such as joint type and amperage. Gas lenses help improve gas flow, and special designed cups are used with gas lenses. If a gas lens is purchased, then an extra assortment of cups will be required.
Collets hold the tungsten securely in place while welding and allow shielding gas flow to pass through to the cup. Collets are sized to match the corresponding tungsten diameter. Collet bodies hold the collets and the tungsten tightly as the back cap is tightened against the collet. They are usually sized to correspond to the appropriate collet size, however some collet bodies will work with multiple sizes of collets. Collet bodies aren’t as prone to damage as collets, and only a few of these are needed, one or two per collet size. However, collets can be damaged from the heat and from inexperienced welding techniques. 5-10 of each size to start would be ideal.
Back caps come in short, medium and long lengths. This allows greater flexibility in reaching tight areas. While fairly resilient, they can break through mishandling or over tightening. At least a couple of each size should be kept in inventory. These are usually purchased in single lot quantities.