Tungsten inert gas welding or TIG welding, a.k.a. gas tungsten arc welding, is one of the most-challenging manual welding processes to learn and master, both physically and mentally. TIG welding requires the use of all of the welder’s extremities, as the welder is typically standing on one foot while using a foot pedal remote with the other foot. The welder wields the welding torch in one hand, while the other holds the metal that will be used to produce a highly-precise, clean weld.
TIG welding has been a speciality of our services for customers for nearly 35 years, therefore Axenics necessitates its welders come to the company with a strong base-level knowledge of tube welding in tight spaces.
Experience Prior to Axenics
Brian Thessen, a journeyman or instructing welder (more on classifications of welders below) at Axenics, said incoming welders should have baseline experience in gas metal arc welding a.k.a. MIG welding, shielded metal arc welding (called SMAW or stick welding), brazing as well as some machining knowledge.
Brian came to Axenics four years ago with more than 20 years of welding experience in the field of construction, and fabrication, preceded by schooling in welding. Brian also has over 10 years as a weld instructor.
A strong resume may get you in the door at Axenics, but all incoming welders are required to take a test before getting hired. Brian encourages young welders to utilize free time to practice welding as often as possible. In order to master TIG welding, he said having a passion for it is important. Having a combination of learning welding techniques in school as well as some professional welding experience is the strongest way to become a successful welder at Axenics.
Axenics’ Welding Expectations
Our customers expect high-quality and high-purity welds that will maintain the integrity of their end products, so we require strong skills from our welders. A level one or entry-level welder likely does not yet have the skill set to thrive at Axenics. Level two or an advanced welder or journeyman has real-world experience and is more-likely to be able to perform at the level Axenics and our customers expect. Level three or a program administrator is the next level, and the highest level of welder is sometimes called a testing supervisor, welding instructor or C.W.I. (Certified Weld Inspector).
In order to successfully perform TIG welds, your eyes have to be trained to see really small, Brian said. When someone is first welding, they are likely seeing in a panoramic view. As an individual becomes a more experienced welder, their eyes are retrained to truly view the fine-tuned details of a weld puddle. Mastering puddle control at a very precise scale is a requirement for welders at Axenics.
Axenics performs TIG welding for customers in the fields of medical devices, alternative energy and research labs, completing precise and hard-to-reach manual welds for semiconductor components.
For the majority of the parts welded for customers at Axenics, it is a one-time weld. If the weld is not perfectly accurate at the first attempt, it’s essentially junk. Therefore, a seasoned journeyman welder is utilized to perform most TIG weld jobs in order to save time and prevent unnecessary costs.
Because our customers expect such high purity welding when Axenics delivers a component, many of the welds produced in-house are subjected to destructive and non-destructive testing, such as X-ray and die tests. After non-destructive testing is performed, the weld is sometimes destroyed, as the pieces need to break down in a certain way. In order to be able to weld a specific product part, all of those tests must be performed successfully.
Since our customers have high expectations, it’s important that Axenics takes TIG welding to a higher level. These welds – to the point of a needle’s point – are some of the smallest applications that can be achieved by a human, and can only be achieved be a seasoned journeyman welder.