Why Is Argon Used in Welding?

Written By: Liam Bryant

Reviewed By: Russell Egan

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Argon is used in welding as a shielding gas to protect the weld pool from atmospheric contaminants, such as oxygen and nitrogen. Its inert properties prevent chemical reactions with the molten metal, resulting in cleaner, stronger welds with minimal oxidation, porosity, and spatter.

The gas ensures other, more dangerous gases are removed from the area and guards the welders themselves from possible accidents. For this reason, more welders gravitate towards argon for their gas needs.

To learn more about what makes argon the best in gas protection, I’ll cover more relevant questions in the points below. Let’s continue with the question of why argon is used in welding.

So, Why Is Argon Used in Welding?

Welding a piece of metal to another is no small feat. It involves precise conditions for the weld to bind together properly. Argon does the trick in a variety of ways.

This gas does its job as a shielding agent very well. Extreme heat levels while welding attracts other elements to mingle with the electrode and central metal. These elements will damage the weld and make it dangerous for the welder if they’re allowed near the weld zone

Argon gas stabilizes the arc of the weld gun while keeping other gases away before they can do any damage. A stable arc makes for a clean weld throughout, after all.

argon welding gas bottle

What Properties Make Argon Useful in Welding?

The properties of Argon below will surely let you see what makes this gas a highly-recommended shielding agent.

Argon Is a Noble Inert Gas

What’s interesting about the meaning of the word “argon” is that it means “without work”. This gas is inactive or inert. It will only adversely react when put under rather extenuating circumstances.

The Gas Is Non-toxic

A non-toxic shielding gas is ideal for welding jobs in the power, food, and drink industries. Argon gas is prominently in use for this particular reason.

It’s Non-flammable

Welding entails very high temperatures to bind one material to another. Argon has a high threshold for intense heat, which facilitates the best weld possible.

The Gas Prevents Oxidization

Argon closes up this portion of welding metal from oxygen too. The weld zone won’t rust during the time it takes for the welder to patch things up.

It Has Low Chemical Reactivity

Low chemical reactivity means this particular gas won’t easily cause an adverse chemical reaction between it and the surrounding elements. It stabilizes this closed atmosphere for the welder.

How Is Argon Used in Welding?

Argon gas in welding is used as a shielding gas. Argon encapsulates the weld in its protective atmosphere for safety.

Two central welding procedures that greatly benefit from Argon. These are TIG welding and MIG welding.

TIG Welding

Argon is chiefly used in TIG welding. Professionals utilize this gas because TIG welding is a more advanced level of welding. TIG welding, or Tungsten Inert Gas welding, gets its name from the tungsten electrode it handles.

The welding gun for TIG welding has a pre-flow setting, a post-flow setting, and a gas diffuser for the argon. The first setting mentioned gets the gas going even when you haven’t started welding yet.

You can hit a pedal or flip a switch to turn on the gas. The initial flow of gas relieves the surface of any contaminating matter.

The diffuser gets to work from there. It usually is a large part of the TIG gun, with a primary opening. It makes sure that the gas itself shoots toward the desired point.

TIG welding is known for using almost all argon gas when it comes to shielding the work surface as well.

MIG Welding

Metal Inert Gas welding (or MIG for short) applies a heated electrode with its welding gun in the weld pool. This process is one of the more basic skills you can develop while using argon gas as a welder.

The gas diffuser here is smaller than the one in a TIG welding gun. The diffuser is under the gun’s nozzle, with a few holes along its sides. The aim is not as direct as the other gun.

MIG welding doesn’t have a pre-flow setting, Instead, it focuses on the post-flow setting for its projects. This setting is for the end of the weld. It stays over the weld zone for a while after welding. It guarantees that the finished weld is safe to handle while the welder seals up what’s left.

MIG welding doesn’t entirely use argon for its welding process. It uses a mixture of carbon dioxide and argon. Welders only add a smaller percentage of argon to the mix since it does help the arc keep steady.

What Are Shielding Gases?

Shielding gases welders use are most, if not all, inert gases. The point of shielding gases is to shield the surface the welder is working with.

The type of gas essentially insulates the electrode the welder is using and the weld zone from being tarnished by surrounding contaminants. These contaminants can end up interfering with the weld, making it uneven or weak.

Argon gas isn’t the only available shielding gas on the market. Other effective shielding gases help fellow welders in their duties like the following: 

  • Hydrogen
  • Oxygen
  • Helium
  • Nitrogen
  • Carbon Dioxide

Alternative Welding Gases

Welders use other gases for their trade. They also use reactive gases or gases that react to help the formation of the weld. Inert and reactive gases are further broken down into the following categories apart from the shielding kind: 

Heating Gases

Heating gas is used to fire up the weld zone before the welder does anything. Using a heating gas will prevent the weld from developing cracks as it cools.

Blanketing Gases

The point of a blanketing gas is to protect the weld zone after welding. The newly-formed weld is hot to the touch so any interference would damage it.

Purging Gases

Purging gas is the partner of sorts of shielding gas. This type of gas removes any contaminants under the weld zone instead of above it.

In Conclusion

Why is argon used in welding, you ask? This gas effectively shelters the welders and the spot where they meld the materials. This way, the welding process will go without a hitch.

A gas like argon is non-toxic and non-flammable. It prevents oxidation from happening. Argon also has low chemical reactivity.

Welders use argon beginner welding practices like MIG welding. They do use it in advanced ones like TIG welding as well.

Argon gas is one of the ablest shielding gases to protect your weld zone from nearby debris and other gases present in the air. If you’re looking for alternatives, there are other options like carbon dioxide and hydrogen.