How Do You Weld Aluminum?
aluminum is a bit of a challenging task even for experienced
welders. There are several scattered sources of information regarding
aluminum welding and many manuals that are available
also carry scant meaningful information. There are few basic welding
books but with very short sections on aluminum welding. Even
today most welders learn aluminum welding more through a method of
trial and error.
First let us look at the equipments needed for aluminum
Inert Gas (TIG) welder is by all accounts, ideally suited
for welding aluminum. It is said that aluminum can also be
welded with a MIG welder or a stick welder or even
a with a gas torch.
Good quality durable welding glove are essential
if the welder
wishes to avoid suffering from the painful blisters. Equally necessary
is a sturdy welding
helmet and market reports suggest the gold tinted auto
darkening helmets as the most suitable.
Argon or Argon / Helium mix gas is required and it
is nearly certain that mixes of other gases are not fit for aluminum
welding. Another important fact to know is - using the tank from the
welder on the TIG
welder will not work.
The welding rod prescribed by many for aluminum
welding is 4043. It is necessary to have a separate dedicated
stainless steel brush exclusively for use for aluminum welding.
It is also preferable to have a special metal bench to help put out
a fire while welding.
It is preferable to have a squirt bottle with water - not so much
for cooling the work, as for putting out small fires without using
a fire extinguisher. Please be aware that any attempts to hastily
cool aluminum may result in crack in or near the weld.
Last, but not least in importance, is a heavy long
sleeve cotton work shirt. It is pertinent to note that TIG
welding produces more UV radiation than any other welding
process. One would also need clamps or vise grips and some blocks
or bars of aluminum or copper to use as heat sinks.
Useful Welding Tips
Clean the aluminum and this is a very necessary step that should not
Here is how to prepare the aluminum for welding:
- spray the aluminum with little carb cleaner or electrical cleaner.
- rinse the aluminum in water, just in case there's any nasty residue.
- use a stainless steel brush to scrub the aluminum shiny clean around
the area to be welded.
There is a suggestion that the aluminum should be
scrubbed in one direction only to avoid working contaminants into
the aluminum. It is also reported that 3M scotchbrite pads are a good
way to prepare aluminum for welding.
Clamp your work to a heat sink made of copper or
aluminum as using a heat sink under the area to be welded will absorb
some of the heat and help keep the work from warping. Preheat the
area before welding as this makes it a lot easier to weld
If the tungsten gets contaminated, then stop welding
and fix it. When the tungsten gets touches the weld pool or the filler,
the arc becomes unstable and the weld quality goes way down. Fit the
parts together as tightly as possible leaving no gaps. This is somewhat
hard to do when welding aluminum with the TIG. Use one amp
per .001" of material thickness. Set the amperage a higher than
the maximum you expect to use and use the foot pedal to back it down.
It is advisable to use a filler rod size equal to the tungsten size
and adjust the tungsten to project from the hood a distance roughly
equal to the diameter of the tungsten. The arc length should be roughly
equal to the diameter of the tungsten.
The tips furnished herein are by no means complete
but there are many informative articles available on the Internet
for beginners in aluminum welding.