Los Angeles Trade Technical College instructor Ch Chancy oversees student Taylor Nakamura'
The process for welding aluminum is essentially the same as that for welding steel, and some guys will tell you aluminum is the easiest metal to weld. But there are a few differences that will really trip you up when working with No. 13 on the periodic table of the elements. Here's a quick rundown of the things you need to know to get started welding aluminum.
We'll be focusing largely on the TIG process, as it's generally the preferred method to use, but you can also use a MIG welder or even an oxyacetylene torch if you have a couple of specialized items specific to aluminum. Los Angeles Trade Technical College instructor Ch Chancy helped us with a lot of the technical bits for this article.
|CHE CHANCY'S TOP 10 ROOKIE MISTAKES |
|PROBLEM ||SOLUTION |
|Parts not cleaned ||Use a stainless brush. |
|Bad ground ||Check all connections. |
|Improper torch angle and distance to joint ||Practice fixes this (lots of practice). |
|Improper stick-out ||Gained by experience, check online resources. |
|Bad fit-up ||Jig or clamp parts properly. |
|No experience ||Never weld on the good stuff until you’ve verified the settings on scrap first. |
|Not filling craters ||You can’t fix cracks once they’ve started. |
|No rhythm ||Keep a count in your head. |
|Contaminated tungsten || Don’t allow the tungsten to touch the weld puddle of the filler rod. if you do, |
you must grind off the contamination.
<<<< Any welding endeavor requires a substantial initial investment, and the cost of the welding machine can be eclipsed by the cost of the additional equipment and consumables you'll also need before you even switch on your machine. This is a rather modest spread of stuff you'll need for the TIG process: tungsten electrodes, filler rods, a welding helmet with a No. 10 shade, cleaning brushes, gloves, and a variety of clamps and holders.
>>>> One of the first problems you may encounter is how to properly cut the aluminum. Pure aluminum melts at 1,215 degrees F, but its alloys melt at much lower temperatures, as low as 900 degrees F. That's why cutting with a die grinder or a chop saw is not the best choice-it can get the piece hot enough that it will melt onto and clog up the blade (note the shiny bits on the edge of our chop saw blade).
A popular Internet myth we ran across said to lubricate the blade with a variety of slippe
Our favorite cutting method-the acetylene torch-was a complete disaster.