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TIGing Alum. New to TIG & Alum.

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  • TIGing Alum. New to TIG & Alum.

    I have been TIG welding with my Syncrowave 300 TIG welder for about 2 months now on and off. I have gotten pretty good at Mild and stainless steels and have even gone as far as to fabricate a few things, but when i try Aluminum i dont have such luck. I dont know if its the kind of AL i am welding on or what the rpoblem is. Well i was wondering what kind of tips or tricks you guys could give me. Any info is appreciated. thanks...
    -Brian W.
    <--1976 Miller Syncrowave 300
    "****, this things 7 years older than me!"

  • #2
    get some aluminum that you know is good.

    I'd recomend some 3/16" or so 6061 flat stock and 5053 filler

    and practice the flat position for a bit. once you get the hang of it it not so bad. play with the balance and modulating the heat to get different size beads.

    I'm no expert but I'm getting better

    P.S. aluminum road signs are quite weldable.
    T/A 185

    Comment


    • #3
      A couple things here which I can share, that you may or may not no already.

      1) It will take many more amps to weld 1/8" aluminum then the same 1/8" steel or stainless steel, for the heat is transfered quickly with aluminum, brass & copper metals.
      2) Clean the aluminum with wire wheel, brush & or acetone cleaner.
      3) Aluminum is somewhat a porous metal and will absorb moisture, so a little heat to expel moisture will also help. If welding thick alumnium pre-heat material prior to welding this will help a lot.
      4)You can use a pure tungsten for aluminum or 2 % tunsten will work also, so this should not be a problem for you.
      5) Get puddle started before you bring in filler rod, for when filler rod melts off prematurely because of arc from tungsten its kinda easy to have it stick or blow up a bit onto the tunsten and you will be cleaning tungsten very often. Maybe keep good distance from metal and watch so's not to glob filler on, must get puddle going.

      Have fun
      Jerry Streets
      J P Streets Welding LLC

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi:

        In addition to everyone elses suggestions, make sure you're using AC rather than DC, of course.

        Also, check into what kind of aluminum alloy you're trying to weld. There's quite a few Al alloys...some weld easily (sometimes even with no filler for flat welds), some are difficult to weld (require a filler of a different alloy that cools and solidifies slower to fill cracks in the base material), and some simply aren't weldable (the bead or even HAZ cracks as it cools, and the base alloy doesn't mix well with a filler that cools slower, or it simply doesn't have any strength afterwards).

        Here's a really good web-site on aluminum alloys and filler selection: http://www.alcotec.com/atfas.htm

        HTH,
        Dave
        Dave Sisk, Ferrous fun fanatic

        TIG: ESAB Heliarc 161 AC/DC
        Plasma: Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 38
        MIG: Millermatic 210
        Projects: www.ipass.net/davesisk/metalprojects.htm

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Jerry
          If welding thick alumnium pre-heat material prior to welding this will help a lot.
          Jerry - any tips on the preheating? That's definitely something I need to start doing. I'm working on some 1/16 and 1/8 aluminum, and am having issues I'm starting to think preheat could answer.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hey Junk,
            Are you doing that on your new TA 185? If so let me know how it works out on both the 1/16" and 1/8". I'm currently working on a deal to pick up a 185 package for $1600

            Oh yeah and LsiTurbo, when I do finally get my machine, I'll show you mine if you show me yours
            welding and fabrication
            http://www.fab-forum.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Yeah, I'm working with 1/16 and 1/8 myself. So far, not too well. Yes, with the 185, but I think I just need to get the preheat down and things will be good.

              Comment


              • #8
                In my experience, I've never had to preheat any aluminum weldment thinner than 3/8" plate. It sounds to me like you need to strike the arc and ramp up slowly until you reach the heat you want. By then, poof, there's your preheat. Plus that gives the hi-freq time to get your base nice and clean before you add nice clean filler and start your progression.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MikeR
                  In my experience, I've never had to preheat any aluminum weldment thinner than 3/8" plate. It sounds to me like you need to strike the arc and ramp up slowly until you reach the heat you want. By then, poof, there's your preheat. Plus that gives the hi-freq time to get your base nice and clean before you add nice clean filler and start your progression.
                  I have to agree with Mike, that's one reason I like the bigger machines for aluminum and a water cooled torch.

                  Just remember hi-freq does not clean the metal. It is not a part of the welding process it is only a pilot light it's the electrode positive cycle that breaks up the oxides on the surface of the aluminum.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Aircraft,
                    Thanks for correcting me! I think I have the fat finger virus in my brain.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Don't kid me all mechanics have fat brains, me included

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        aluminum preheat

                        I tried a preheat trick I learned on this forum, and it seems to work rather well. I soot the aluminum with acetylene, then pre heat until the soot vanishes. This seems to get the aluminum to welding temp without guessing. You might want to give this a try. Good luck.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hey Bill,
                          What kind of flame are you using to preheat?
                          welding and fabrication
                          http://www.fab-forum.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            preheat aluminum

                            I don't usually use acet for pre-heat. We use this big propane torch. The kind you might melt ice or burn weeds with. It throws out a pretty big flame, especially handy for larger jobs.

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                            • #15
                              hmmm...thats not a bad idea
                              thanks
                              welding and fabrication
                              http://www.fab-forum.com

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