Must-Know Aluminum Welding Tips

Randall Edwards

Must-Know Aluminum Welding Tips

The problem with welding aluminum is that aluminum heats up very quickly and can be difficult to work with. Hence, aluminum welding tips are needed.

Aluminum has a relatively lower melting point. It is not easy to weld metal such as aluminum; a lot of over-confident, inexperienced welders have learned this in their time. With its low melting point, oftentimes, an inexperienced welder will melt the piece of aluminum they may be working with rather than welding it.

Two common methods of welding aluminum are Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding and Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding. TIG welding is also known as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW). TIG welding uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to weld metals together.

MIG welding, on the other hand, is a semi-automatic welding process that uses a consumable wire electrode and shielding gas. It is a subtype of Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW). Welding aluminum may be difficult, but it is not too hard.

With good safety precautions in place, you can weld almost any piece of aluminum. What follows are some aluminum welding tips for both TIG welding aluminum and MIG welding it.

Aluminum Welding Tips

  • Clean your work piece – Always clean the piece of aluminum you are about to work with. This is especially true for aluminum that has been kept in the outdoors, exposed to the elements. Such aluminum is prone to excessive oxidization, which will make it burn really easily once you apply the torch to it.
  • Pre-heat – Always pre-heat the work piece with your blowtorch before you begin welding. A sudden hotspot will often cause aluminum to distort. Preheating will reduce this problem.
  • Be quick – Be fast with the process of welding. If you linger too long at a single spot, you run the risk of burning or melting the aluminum at that spot. Also, compared to metals like steel, aluminum has a much lower threshold for heat content and it has a lower melting point too. Which means you must move your torch faster over aluminum than you do over steel. Never stop at on a spot after you have welded that spot.
  • Use Argon and Helium – Most welders prefer to use Argon when welding aluminum, although a mixture of Argon and Helium is also a good option, depending on the equipment you are using.
  • TIG Welder or MIG Welder? – TIG welder is the standard welder used when welding aluminum. But TIG welders are very costly – a new on costs about $6,000. You can use a MIG welder to weld aluminum too, but it is much more difficult to pull off.
  • Don’t use contaminated electrodes – Always be careful that you are using a clean tungsten electrode. If you find your electrode has been contaminated, stop using it at once and get another one. It’s quite common for the tungsten electrode to become contaminated, so you must be prepared to replace your electrode at all times.
  • Make better joins – With steel; you can easily fill the gaps between the two joining surfaces. However, aluminum does not allow this, so the pieces must fit as tightly as possible to make a clean weld.

These aluminum welding tips are written for the beginner and will help you work with this metal.

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