Laser Welding vs TIG Welding

Laser welding uses laser emitters, while TIG welding utilizes tungsten electrodes to melt and fuse metals.

If you’re seeking the difference between Laser and TIG welding, you’ve come to the right place. Both methods have their areas of effectiveness, which I’ll cover in this article.

What Is Laser Welding?

Laser welding is a technique that uses a highly concentrated beam of light to melt the surface of a piece of base material before connecting it with another piece. It’s also known as laser beam welding or LBW.

There are a few kinds of lasers used for welding, including:

The weld has to be protected from the natural atmosphere to prevent any impurities from mixing using shielding gas. This gas is usually carbon dioxide, which covers the area around the weld.

laser welding

Laser Welding Modes

Laser welding has two modes, which depend on the beam’s intensity on the piece. These are keyhole welding and heat conduction welding.

Keyhole Welding

When we use keyhole welding, the laser beam heats the metal to the point that it’s vaporized on the contact area, penetrating deeper into the material. This produces the “keyhole,” wherein the metal is hot enough to become plasma.

Keyhole welding is commonly used for projects that require high weld strength and a high-powered laser.

Heat Conduction Welding

Heat conduction welding has the laser heat the metal above the melting point, but never to the extent that it vaporises and turns to plasma.

What comes is a clean-looking weld with a smooth feel to it.

Heat conduction welding is best for works that don’t require a higher-strength weld. It uses a low-powered laser.

What Is TIG Welding?

TIG, also known as Tungsten Inert Gas, welding is a technique that uses a tungsten electrode to heat and melt the workpiece. Inert gasses, such as argon, are used to prevent the weld from being contaminated with oxygen.

An arc of electricity is channeled between the base metal and the electrode, which results in a molten weld pool. Next, a thin filler is fed to the pool to melt. While this happens, a shield composed of inert gas protects the pool and electrode contamination.

tig welding

TIG Welding Modes

There are two modes in which TIG welding can be done: direct current and alternating current. These modes are determined by how the electrode creates the arc.

Direct Current

Direct current has electricity moving in a single, constant direction and a consistent polarity. It’s used for all metals except for magnetic ones, such as magnesium alloys, as it isn’t hot enough to overcome magnetic forces.

Active magnetic fields can deflect the electrical arc, resulting in a lower-quality weld.

Alternating Current

Alternating current has electricity that constantly shifts its direction, which creates a voltage that reverses polarity at times. Magnetic fields don’t affect alternating currents, so it can weld magnetic metals.

Advantages

Laser Welding

  1. The precision of the lasers ensures more consistent quality in laser welding.
  2. The laser emitter doesn’t contact the surface of the workpiece, so it doesn’t need as much maintenance as electrodes do.
  3. The lower heat input of laser welding means that there’s less thermal distortion on the weld.
  4. Lasers can pass through small gaps to weld on difficult-to-reach areas inside a workpiece.
  5. If you had properly used gas shielding, laser welds on aluminum and stainless steel might not need any post-production processing. It can be used “as-is.”
  6. Laser welding is much faster.
  7. Laser welding can be automated.

TIG Welding

  1. Electrodes are cheaper than laser emitters.
  2. TIG Welding can join workpieces with bad fit-up or sizable gaps.
  3. You have more direct control over the welding.
  4. TIG Welding can use a lot of different metals.
  5. Good for detailed works.

Disadvantages

Laser Welding

  1. Laser emitters tend to be expensive.
  2. Not good for reactive materials.
  3. Because it’s so precise, having big gaps between workpieces will adversely affect the quality of laser welds.
  4. Automation requires intensive maintenance.

TIG Welding

  1. Heat intensity may result in weaker welds and thermal distortions.
  2. Potentially dangerous when used in overhead positions due to the pool of molten metal.
  3. Slower welding and production.
  4. More susceptible to oxygen contamination.
  5. Requires a great deal of skill.
  6. Equipment isn’t easily portable.

Equipment Required

Laser Welding

  • Laser machine
  • Shielding Gas
  • Electric Power Source
  • CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing), when the laser machine is combined with a computer to speed up the welding process (optional)
  • CAD (Computer Aided Design), a software for automating the welding process (optional)

TIG Welding

  • Tungsten Electrode
  • Torch/Electrode Holder
  • Shielding Gas
  • Filler metal
  • Welding machine for channeling the electrical supply to the electrode
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For any kind of welding, you’ll also need protective gear. This list is a good place to start:

When To Use Laser vs TIG Welding

Laser welding is best for mass production in industrial setups, as it’s quick and costly.

TIG Welding, on the other hand, is best for personal use. The equipment is cheaper, and you have control over the welding process.

Conclusion

Laser welding and TIG welding are different techniques that excel in different areas. Laser welding has the main advantages of speed, precision, and consistency. However, it’s more expensive to maintain. 

TIG welding, meanwhile, is cheap, more versatile, and better at details. On the other hand, it’s slow, potentially inconsistent, and very skill-intensive.