The thickness of the aluminum you’re welding should determine your welding equipment. If it’s 14 gauge or heavier, a MIG welder can be used. However, a specialized pulse MIG or TIG welder might be needed if it’s thinner than 14 gauge. PHOTO courtesy ESAB.
This TECH TIP is provided by ESAB
Welding aluminum is far different from mild steel and poses a range of challenges. For instance, high thermal conductivity leads to the heat dissipating faster which makes welding trickier and potentially leads to defects.
Read on to learn about the tips from ESAB welding engineers and don’t miss the video with Ian Johnson to help you master MIG welding with the spool gun.
To help you handle this metal, and make better MIG welds with it, here are a few simple tips to follow:
#1: Use the right equipment. This depends on the thickness of the aluminum you’re welding. If it’s 14 gauge or heavier, a MIG welder can be used. However, a specialized pulse MIG or TIG welder might be needed if it’s thinner than 14 gauge.
#2: Clean the aluminum. Make sure the aluminum is clean before you weld. Anything, like lubricants, should be removed with a degreaser followed by a stainless steel wire brush dedicated only for aluminum use.
#3: Consider your gas. Aluminum is non-ferrous, which means it needs a 100% argon shielding gas with flow rates between 25-35 cubic feet an hour (cfh) or argon-helium gas blend with flow rates between 35-55 cfh.
#4: Choose the proper filler metal. To do this, you have to understand the conditions your finished part will have to withstand, as well as the alloy of your base aluminum.
#5: Select the right gun and wire feeding system. Spool guns can improve feeding soft wires, preventing birdnesting because it feeds only a short distance before exiting the contact tip. A push-pull set up, on the other hand, uses a motor at the welding gun to pull the wire through the liner assisting the primary wire feeder drive rolls which helps prevent feeding issues.