Shielding gases are an important component of any welding project, as they protect the area from oxygen and water vapor in the air, which can cause holes and excess spatter. The four most commonly used gases are oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, and helium, but they can be mixed together or with other gases like hydrogen and nitrogen. Knowing which gas to use and when can prove difficult. Below are a few factors you’ll want to consider when selecting your shielding gas.
Your Guide to Choosing Your Shielding Gas
If keeping costs low is your main priority, carbon dioxide is an excellent choice. It’s the cheapest shielding gas, and because you don’t have to combine it with an inert gas, it’s even more affordable. Carbon dioxide is ideal for thick materials because it provides deep penetration, but even welding hobbyists often find they need a mix of gases, which increases the price.
Location of Weld
While carbon dioxide is the cheapest shielding gas, it also comes with the most spatter. This makes it a great choice for welding areas that won’t be visible, like the underside of a vehicle, for example. However, it would not make a good choice for the side of a car. When aesthetics are a concern, a combination of argon and carbon dioxide is a great option. The most popular combination is 75% argon and 25% carbon dioxide. This reduces the spatter and post-weld cleanup, while still offer the ability to weld thick materials.
After considering costs and the visibility of the welding area, you need to consider the materials you’re working with. Gases like argon and helium are great for non-ferrous metals like aluminum, titanium, and magnesium. When mixed with carbon dioxide, argon offers a confined, yet deep penetration profile, which is great for thick materials. Helium is also a great choice when working with stainless steel, as is oxygen. Helium is the better choice when thickness is a concern, but it’s the most expensive gas.
If you still aren’t sure which type of shielding gas will work best for your welding project, the experts at Wayne Oxygen & Welding Supply in Waynesboro, VA, can help. In addition to providing gases like carbon dioxide and mixtures of shielding gases, they also supply other welding equipment, like helmets. With nearly 60 years of experience, they can answer any of your questions and provide you with all the tools needed for your project. Visit their website to learn more about their services, or call (540) 942-4145 for more information.