Conventional TIG/GTAW is a melt-in process. Surface tension causes the molten metal to circulate, moving the heat first to the sides and then flowing to the bottom of the weld pool, before returning to top centre of the pool. This results in a broad, shallow and typically turbulent weld pool. Conventional TIG tends to be restricted to currents below 250 amps because higher amperage causes distortion and depression of the weld pool surface. Generally this is unstable.
The energy is derived from higher than conventional welding currents. Currents range from about 320 to 600 amps, and occasionally higher for very thick materials.
Once deep penetration is achieved, the K-TIG process is able to open up and maintain a highly stable ‘keyhole’. The sides of the pool act like an elastic membrane attached to the top and bottom openings in the plate, and the result is that the cavity spontaneously converts to a self-stabilising structure.
This makes the K-TIG process highly efficient, as it melts the minimum amount of material necessary to achieve full penetration, whereas with conventional TIG/GTAW most of the energy is wasted.
Joint completion times are typically reduced by 50x to 100x relative to conventional TIG welding.
In both TIG/GTAW and K-TIG, only one gas is associated with the actual welding process. This is delivered as per conventional TIG, flowing down between the electrode and the gas cup.
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