starting out welding bronze

Hi,

I have been making my own designs for 20 years, but apart from a short stint arc welding 20 years ago, I have been getting welders to do all my welding for me over the last 16 years. I am now in a position where I can start doing all my own welding again and I would welcome some advise. I want to be able to tig weld 2mm and 3mm phosphor bronze sheet ( I have very little experience tig welding). I am going to buy a tig welding machine and before I do that I would welcome any advise as to what ampage a machine I need etc, whether a pedal is essential (for high temp to start, then lower temp to avoid melting etc). I know from watching other welders, that weld porosity is a problem, so any advise on avoiding this would also be very welcome.

Thanks Niamh


Rich Waugh's picture

Niamh, For 3mm bronze you'll

Niamh,

For 3mm bronze you'll want a 200 amp or bigger machine. Definitely a DC machine and if you can get one with pulse feature that helps on the thinner stuff. That said, If given my druthers I'll use silicon bronze over phosphor bronze every time - no porosity and perfect color match.


Niamh's picture

welding sheet bronze

Hi Rich,

 

Thanks so much for the answer, this is my first time on this forum (or any forum for that matter) and it amazes me that I can have access to such a wealth of knowledge here.

I'm a beginner, so sorry if some of these questions are basic.

Ok, so as far as I know it will have to be phosphor bronze ( I'm in Ireland) because silicon bronze is only available for casting here.....I've read through lots of answers posted here and just so I dont go and spend a lot of money on the wrong eqipment, can you confirm. To weld phosphor bronze sheet, mostly 2mm and 3mm thick, I will need.

1. DC tig welder, minimum 200amp with pulse frequency. Kit incl torch, gas regulator etc. I'm looking at http://www.wholesaleweldingsupplies.ie/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=53

2. Foot pedal to control heat.

3. Argon gas

4. welding mask.

What should I be looking for in a mask, I want to buy the best I can afford, so any guidelines would be very welcome.

Thanks in advance, Niamh.


johndach's picture

bronze welding

Niamh,

I looked at the welder on the link you posted, only comment I would say is the duty cycle is 60% @ 200 amps. Bronze sucks up a LOT of heat and it is always better to have extra heat than not enough...... maybe a bigger unit but a test run, if the company will let you, would give you the best feed back.... I have never welded/worked with phosphor bronze so I would make sure that is in fact weldable...... Other listed items seem good but you may want to consider dealing with the fumes. Some sort of home made welding table with exhaust draft or a head/hood with outside air supply. Again, see if you can try a using with your material before you have to buy it.....

GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Dach
john@MLCE.net
web site: http://www.MLCE.net and ctmandalas.com


Niamh's picture

Hi John, Thanks for your

Hi John,

Thanks for your response. Phosphor bronze is weldable.....but by all accounts silicon bronze is much easier. I just had a look at your website and I just love that you have a cooking section, put a smile on my face. Niamh


Ries's picture

You are on the right track-

You are on the right track- I would second Rich that you should buy as large a machine as you can possibly afford- bronze is not as bad as copper at sucking up the amps, but it still helps to have the amps.

I would avoid the cheapo chinese machines- and from what I can find out about R tech online, they are an importer of either chinese or, possibly eastern european stuff.

If I was shopping, in europe, for a tig machine, I would be looking at Kemmpi and Esab, which are much higher quality.

A pedal IS essential.


Niamh's picture

Hi Ries,This is the machine

Hi Ries,

This is the machine I am looking at now, it's pricey but I am aiming for a long term investment. I would appreciate any feedback you have.http://www.bakersgas.com/ESA0460450882.html

Thanks again,

Niamh


Rich Waugh's picture

Niamh, That machine is, I

Niamh,

That machine is, I think, too light duty for what you propose to do. It only has 25% duty cycle at 150 amps, which means you can weld for 2-1/2 minutes and then it must sit idle for 7-1/2 minutes. Duty cycle refers to how much time out of each ten minutes can be welding time.

That machine is an inverter unit, making it light and portable, which can be nice for on-site installation work, but also means lighter duty unless you spend really big bucks. Another drawback, for welding copper aloys or aluminum, is that it doesn't come with a water-cooled torch or cooler unit. You will want a water cooled torch for welding those alloys as they take high power and that means a hot torch very quickly.

If you plan to do your work in a shop and don't really need portability, I'd recommend this:  250 Amp Tig Welder or something equivalent to it from Miller, Lincoln or Esab.  Whichever machine your local dealer sells and supports, basically.  While this Miller welder is considerably more expensive than the little Esab inverter unit, it has higher power, better duty cycle and comes with the water cooler, water-cooled torch and foot pedal.  It is a true industrial quality machine that will have excellent power and a good resale value later.  It a transformer-type unit, so it is heavy (300+#) and large, but it is very stable and

If you really want/need a portable machine, then get a somewhat bigger inverter TIG.  The Miller Dynasty series is reputed to be good, as are the Esab and Lincoln machines.  Again, whatever your local dealer supports.  I do think you'll soon wind up wanting a water-cooled torch, no matter what, so figure that cost into the equation when you're shopping around.  The water cooler does slightly diminish the portability of the unit, but not impossibly so, and it makes all the difference in the world as far as your comfort is concerned. Any on-site work with TIG is going to involve schlepping not only the power supply and torch/cables, but also extension cord(s), the shielding gas cylinder and consumables, so adding the water cooler (say 45-65#) to the mix isn't going to make it an impossible task.

Finally, you should know that these are just my opinions and I'm not nearly as knowledgeable as Ries is on these things.  I'd go with whatever Ries recommends, as he has decades of experience using TIG welders (both transformer and inverter-type) for artistic, sculpture and architectural work.


Ries's picture

I think UK distribution of

I think UK distribution of both Miller and Lincoln is pretty rare, and the machines are pretty expensive, as they are unusual imports.

In terms of European machines, I would stick with Esab, Fronius, or Kemmpi, which are the euro equivalents of Miller and Lincoln.

I agree with Rich- a 150 amp machine is too small, to do bronze on an ongoing basis.

I have both older, transformer style welders, and new inverters- I like them both, but I think inverters are the way to go, as they are more flexible, lighter and easier to move, and put out more weld amperage on a lower mains feed amperage.

for instance, all of these look interesting-
http://www.weldingmachineworkshop.co.uk/DC/

we dont see either Fronius or Kemmpi here in the USA- neither has decided to take on miller and lincoln, and their entrenched places at the top of the market- but both are worldclass machines that are very good.

these guys sell all the big names- miller and lincoln, as well as kemmpi and thermal arc- all very good.
http://www.rapidwelding.com/dynamic/Category.aspx?c=ATIG240V&o=0&zz=0&zl=2&sq=4

you absolutely will need a water cooled torch, a radiator/coolant pump unit, and a foot pedal, along with a flowmeter and a tank of argon, all of which are on top of the price of the power supply itself.

this adds up, and from what I can see online, UK prices are pretty high to begin with- I am guessing that to buy a decent brand, 200 plus amp machine, with accessories, you are probably looking at north of 3000 pounds sterling.

Definitely more than we would pay here for a similar machine, by about 25% to 30%. Which explains why som many welders over there are buying chinese or eastern european machines, when they are so much cheaper.


Niamh's picture

Hi Ries, Thanks for your

Hi Ries,

Thanks for your reply. I think that in the long run that would be the ideal but as I am restricted by budget and single phase electricity plus no running water supply to my studio I have decided to go for the esab caddy tig 1500i TA34 http://products.esab.com/Templates/T041.asp?id=161411. I think on the basis that I work with 2mm and 3mm sheet bronze this will be good enough for the moment. I did order a pedal at least! Other people I know who weld similar thickness bronze have similar and in some case in ferior machines so I'm hoping that it does the trick. I'll know next week. By the way I'm in Ireland so prices here are usually even higher then in the UK. Be back soon with the verdict.

Thanks again for all your advise. Niamh


Rich Waugh's picture

Best of luck with it, Niamh!

Best of luck with it, Niamh! No matter what, you'll enjoy owning a TIG machine and you're sure to find it opens up a lot of new possibilities for your artwork. It may be a bit marginal on power for the thicker bronze, but you may be able to offset some of that by setting up a propane burner for general pre-heat. That machine will mate right up with Esab's Cool-Mite cooler unit so you could add that later s finances permit. Keep in mind too, you don't need running water for the water-cooled torch - it has its own circulating pump and reservoir. Fill it once and use it for hours, then add a bit of water if necessary.


Niamh's picture

Thanks....I'm eagerly

Thanks....I'm eagerly awaiting my new arrival and will keep you posted. Niamh