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What Is Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)?

What Is Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)?

GTAW or “Gas Tungsten Arc Welding” is also popularly known as TIG welding or “Tungsten Inert Gas welding.”

It is known for producing some of the strongest welds and is therefore often used in the shipbuilding and aerospace industries.

What is GTAW?

GTAW is a type of arc welding which uses an electric arc to heat the metal. The weld is produced via a non-consumable tungsten electrode while internet gasses such as argon, Neon, and helium are used to protect the welding area from contaminates.

Gas tungsten arc welding requires a bit more skill as the welder needs to maintain a short arc length while also making sure that the electrode does not make contact with whatever is being welded.

The Three TIG Welding Methods

If you have a TIG welder, then there are three main welding methods that you can use depending on what you are welding.

1. Scratch TIG

The Scratch Start Method is still very popular but somewhat crude. It involves scratching the tungsten across the metal like you would when striking a match. It is very effective and also one of the more reliable methods for starting an arc.

However, during the scratching process, small pieces of the tungsten tip are likely to break off and get stuck in the weld. As a result, the weld will be contaminated and may cause structural problems depending on how the weld is put to use.

2. Lift TIG

The Lifts Start Method is a bit less crude when compared to the Scratch Method. Like the Scratch Method, it involves the tungsten making contact with the metal. However, instead of using a scratching motion, the tungsten lightly touches the metal and then is quickly lifted straight up. As a result, an arc is formed between the tungsten and the metal.

This method is much cleaner than the Scratch Method but can still produce contaminants on the weld. The Lift Method also helps preserve the point on the tungsten.


The HF or “High Frequency” start Method is not only one of the most popular options, but it is also the cleanest and best option to use. As the name suggests, a high frequency start is utilized to generate a powerful arc that can ionize the air between the tungsten and metal—thereby producing an arc without any need for contact.

This method produces the least or even no contaminants and is ideal for welding aluminum if your welding machine has a high-frequency start option.

tig welder welding machine

Final Thoughts

All in all, while GTAW can be more difficult to master than other types of welding, it produces strong and quality welds that are often utilized in more demanding industries. When it comes to creating an arc, one of the best GTAW or TIG welding methods is the High Frequency start method due to its cleaner welds.

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