Aluminum Top

Welding Aluminum

Until 1889, aluminum was one of the capstones of rare, expensive metals. A single ounce cost around $300 in today’s money. Now, it’s everywhere, from cars to streetlights to sliding doors. It has a special quality that makes it uniquely certified for situations where no other metal will work. So knowing how to TIG weld aluminum properly can be a top-notch skill to have. Here’s a couple key tips to remember while working with aluminum:

Helium Vs. Argon Vs. Mixes?

Often filler metal manufacturers have requirements on what gases need to be used when welding. If you’re AC TIG welding, you can usually save some dough by using 100% argon. There used to be a few suppliers that recommended using 100% Helium for welding aluminum, but those companies are mostly out of business thanks to their unscrupulous sales force. Generally, the only time you would use 100% helium is when working with extreme high heat applications and one extremely thick pieces of aluminum. Normally, you would use 100% argon for most steels & aluminum welding.

Welding Machine with Square Wave Technology

Welding Machine with Squarewave Technology

Scrubba Scrub Scrub

Breaking through aluminum’s contaminated layers is one of the most difficult parts when welding. First, you’ve got a top layer containing all sorts of oils, grime and dirt. Below that, you’ve got another layer of oxide that surrounds the entire piece. The first step is to remove the oils and grime with your preferred cleaning solvent (Acetone, etc.). However, no amount of cleaning will remove the oxide from your aluminum. A good way to get past this layer is by using a machine that has Square Wave technology. Square Wave is a function that cleans the metal as you weld. If you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation, you can find it here.

15 Degree Angle

As you weld, you’ll want to dab your filler material at the bottom of your weld puddle, never in the middle. Ideally this would mean you’d want your torch positioned perfectly perpendicular to your workpiece (0 degree angle). However, this means your torch would be directly in front of your face, obstructing you from seeing your weld. So the most widely accepted angle to position your welding torch at is a 15 degree angle.

Don’t Push Through It

We know you’re a tough guy. You’re used to taking a difficult situation and pushing through it. But with TIG welding aluminum, that’s not the answer. Often when a welding pool becomes contaminated, welders will try to weld through it. With aluminum, it’s only going to get worse. Once your pool has been contaminated, it’s best just to stop and restart.

TIG welding can be a difficult feat in its own right and aluminum only makes it that much harder. Following these 4 tips will really help you get an edge on your weld performance and make the process that much easier. What tips have helped you weld aluminum? Let us know in the comments section and check out more pro-tips on welding copper with the link below.

Pro-Tips for Welding Copper