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Tig Welding Aluminum


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Old 03-22-2008, 12:41 AM   #1
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Tig welding aluminum is very different than steels. Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat, meaning it will shed heat faster than steels. This requires a ton more amperage for welding. Where 3/16" steel would need no more than 120a aluminum of the same thickness needs over 150a. Also, a/c current must be used, this poses issues with the electrode. I have had the best results using a pure tungsten electrode. One thing that is very different is the tip of the electrode. Prep is the same, but once you start welding a ball will form on the end. This is normal, if you are using too much heat for the electrode this ball will start to fall to the side, so keep an eye on it if you are using a big machine.

I recently made a custom aluminum backer for welding thin stainless shields together. It is made from 1/4" x 3/8" aluminum flat stock.

Here is a shot of the machine set up for an aluminum weld:



Cleanliness is key with all Tig welding, aluminum is very picky and any crap will cause a poor weld.

Here is a picture of a piece of aluminum before cleaning:



Here is the same piece after cleaning:



After cleaning the piece off I ground a chamfer in each side of area to be welded. I am going to weld both sides, this is to ensure proper penetration.

Here are a few pictures of the chamfer:





The grinding was done on a bench grinder with a very coarse wheel on it.

After setting the 2 pieces to be welded up I used a "c" clamp to hold the pieces together.

Here is a picture after being squared and the clamp tightened:



You can see the gap where the chamfer was cut into the piece.

Here is a closer look:



For the weld I used a vise, and clamped the vise jaws and the grounding clamp onto the "c" clamp not the aluminum. The reason is the setup was squared and was a bit fragile. This ensured that nothing moved.

Here are a few shots of the setup:





After getting everything was situated I cleaned the aluminum with straight rubbing alcohol. This ensures that there are no contaminants on the welding surface.

When you weld aluminum you have to insert the filler rod quickly into the weld puddle. If you don't the heat from the arc will melt it before it gets to the weld and make a mess.

Here are a few shots of the first weld:





For the inside weld I put the piece in the vise so there was a trough formed. This makes it easier to weld and also keeps the molten aluminum from flowing out of where I wanted it.

Here are some shots of the setup prior to welding:





Again before I welded the surfaces were cleaned with alcohol.

Here are some shots after the weld:







I went slow with this weld and left a smooth finish. That dimple is where I went a little too fast.

_____________________________________________
Dan

2004.5 CCSB 4wd LLY Duramax Diesel 17,500 lb recon winch, aFe mouthpiece, 5" MBRP straight pipe downpipe back, resonator plugged internally, spectre filter, airbox mod, Edge CTS w/lockpick reverse cam, PPE SS Tie Rod Sleeves, 17x9 procomp 7031's w/33.5x12x17 super swamper m16's

mig...tig...stick...any questions
lincolnmetal's welding learning center

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Old 03-22-2008, 12:42 AM   #2
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And here is the piece after grinding and polishing:








And in the channel:





Nice tight fit

_____________________________________________
Dan

2004.5 CCSB 4wd LLY Duramax Diesel 17,500 lb recon winch, aFe mouthpiece, 5" MBRP straight pipe downpipe back, resonator plugged internally, spectre filter, airbox mod, Edge CTS w/lockpick reverse cam, PPE SS Tie Rod Sleeves, 17x9 procomp 7031's w/33.5x12x17 super swamper m16's

mig...tig...stick...any questions
lincolnmetal's welding learning center

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Old 03-25-2008, 01:15 PM   #3
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wow.....okay, now that is a nice weld. I am extremely impressed.

Shit, if I had half the skills as you do with welding, I could be making some decent money!

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-Nathaniel-
1990 F-250 5.0 5spd
2001 Silverado K2500HD 8.1/Ally
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