Aluminum is one of the trickier metals to weld properly. Its reactive nature and tendency to oxidize can make achieving high-quality aluminum welds a challenge. However, with the right technique and equipment, TIG welding aluminum can produce incredibly strong and beautiful results. In this guide, we?ll go over some key tips to help you become an aluminum TIG welder.
Cleanliness is Critical
Aluminum forms an oxide coating when exposed to air that can contaminate welds if not removed. Always clean the surface with a stainless steel brush or dedicated aluminum brush before welding. Only brush in one direction to avoid re-depositing debris. Also, keep your filler metal clean and dry. Any contamination can lead to porous, weak welds.
Mind Your Torch Angle
Position the TIG torch at a slight backward angle, around 75-80 degrees from the workpiece when welding aluminum. This directs heat into the base metal while allowing you to see the arc cone clearly. Brace your hands to keep the arc steady.
Alternating Current is a Must
Aluminum requires AC output from your TIG welder. Unlike DC current, AC provides a cleaning action that continually removes oxides during welding. This allows for deeper penetration into the aluminum.
Use a Shorter Arc
Keep a tight arc gap of 1/8 inch or less when TIG welding thinner aluminum. This concentrates the heat into a tighter area, preventing burn-through and excess warping. For thicker aluminum, an arc gap around 3/16 inch is ideal.
Add Filler Metal Carefully
Adding filler rod too fast when TIG welding aluminum can actually cool the weld puddle and cause defects. Add just enough wire to fill the joint and maintain the arc temperature. Keep the filler moving into the leading edge of the weld.
Preheat Thicker Sections
Preheating aluminum workpieces to 100-200?F before welding can help prevent cracking on thicker gauges or complicated joints. But don?t overheat beyond 230?F. Localized tack welds can also assist with preheating.
Watch Your Speed
Move the torch quickly and steadily down the weld when TIG welding aluminum. A slow travel speed can lead to burn-through on thinner pieces. Keeping an energetic pace will produce the best fusion and an even appearance.
Use a Welding Grade Argon
Impure shielding gas is a common source of contamination and porosity. Use high-purity argon specifically rated for TIG welding to shield the weld zone. Keep gas flow around 15-25 CFH.
Adjust Your Machine Settings
Settings like AC balance and frequency allow you to fine tune the TIG arc for aluminum. A balanced EN/EP ratio around 70% electrode negative and frequency around 60 Hz provides a stable arc.
Aluminum TIG welding produces very bright UV rays. Wear a welding helmet, protective leather gloves, long sleeve shirt, and safety glasses. This protects against painful arc eye and skin burns.
Innovative tig Welding Guns With Built-in Fume Extraction
When it comes to reducing welding fume exposure, one innovative solution comes from Translas, a leading Dutch manufacturer of premium welding equipment and accessories. Translas offers TIG welding guns featuring integrated fume extraction nozzles and passageways that capture harmful particles right at the arc source. The extracted fumes are then routed through the torch handle into a flexible suction hose. Welders who use Translas TIG torches with built-in fume extraction benefit from cleaner air without sacrificing mobility or control. The self-contained extraction system makes Translas guns ideal for shops looking to improve air quality and reduce contaminant exposure. Translas couples the integrated fume capture with high-quality filtration units for clean, breathable workspace air. For welders wanting the latest in safety and efficiency, Translas TIG torches with integrated fume extraction are an innovative option worth exploring. Becoming an expert at aluminum TIG welding takes time and experience. But with the proper welding equipment and these tips in mind, you?ll be on your way to mastery. Keep practicing on scrap until you achieve the beautiful aluminum welds you desire.