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Aluminum porridge anyone...

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Aluminum porridge anyone...

Postby johnny340 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:12 pm

Trying to weld 5mm aluminum and am doing something wrong:

Lincoln Electric Tig200 Square Wave machine
AC 150 Amps
Pulse OFF
balance 60%
Freq 100
Gas: Argon 18CFH
3/32" 1.5% Lanthanated Tungsten slightly rounded tip (with diamond grinding wheel.)
3/32" 4043 filler rod (which never actually got added..)
Preheated to 150°brushed with dedicated AL wire brush and wiped with Acetone.

Thanks in advance!

I cannot get a puddle to form. The material simply gets too hot without puddling.

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Before:
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Kaboom:
20180212_145941.jpg (35.36 KiB) Viewed 290 times
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Re: Aluminum porridge anyone...

Postby MinnesotaDave » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:12 pm

General rule of thumb, if the puddle doesn't start in 3 seconds or less, need more amps.

In general, Aluminum likes amps, be bold, hammer down. Once puddle starts, back off pedal as needed.

However, your pieces are small and you may have to back off the amps almost as soon as you get some filler in the puddle.

Try starting the puddle with all 200 amps. Don't "sneak up" on the amps like is possible with steel.

Being gentle, and/or using too low of amps, the aluminum edges melt away from each other.
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Re: Aluminum porridge anyone...

Postby motox » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:44 am

try turning up the amps and get a tack on each end first.
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Re: Aluminum porridge anyone...

Postby MarkL » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:24 am

I found it useful when I learned to weld aluminum to start in the middle of the flat piece and run a decent bead with filler to get a feel for starting the puddle and maintaining proper heat. I still do that exercise because I'm a home hobbyist who doesn't weld every day. Then I moved closer to the edge to see the effects of having less aluminum mass to conduct the heat away. Then I gradually rolled over on the edge of the aluminum, and finally tried different joints. The hard part with aluminum is that it takes a very large initial pulse of heat to get a puddle going, then you have to back off really quickly on the heat, or else push a lot of rod into the puddle to keep the piece from melting and burning through. For aluminum I don't try to guess how much current I'll need, I dial up to 200A and use as much pedal as necessary to quickly form a puddle.
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Re: Aluminum porridge anyone...

Postby johnny340 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:31 pm

Thank you for these great tips! I never would have thought that I needed even more heat to start the puddle but that was key to my problem!
Now I just have to learn how much to back off before I melt the entire piece! :o
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Re: Aluminum porridge anyone...

Postby MinnesotaDave » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:46 pm

johnny340 wrote:Thank you for these great tips! I never would have thought that I needed even more heat to start the puddle but that was key to my problem!
Now I just have to learn how much to back off before I melt the entire piece! :o


Yeah that does get tougher when your part is that small.

You'll find it get easier when the parts have more mass. Everything is a little more predictable.
Dave J.

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. ~George Bernard Shaw~

Airco 300 - Syncro 350
Invertec v250-s
Thermal Arc 161 and 300
MM210
Dialarc
Tried being normal once, didn't take....I think it was a Tuesday.
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Re: Aluminum porridge anyone...

Postby Bill Beauregard » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:21 pm

MarkL wrote:I found it useful when I learned to weld aluminum to start in the middle of the flat piece and run a decent bead with filler to get a feel for starting the puddle and maintaining proper heat. I still do that exercise because I'm a home hobbyist who doesn't weld every day. Then I moved closer to the edge to see the effects of having less aluminum mass to conduct the heat away. Then I gradually rolled over on the edge of the aluminum, and finally tried different joints. The hard part with aluminum is that it takes a very large initial pulse of heat to get a puddle going, then you have to back off really quickly on the heat, or else push a lot of rod into the puddle to keep the piece from melting and burning through. For aluminum I don't try to guess how much current I'll need, I dial up to 200A and use as much pedal as necessary to quickly form a puddle.


I have a thing about a weld filling the joint at both ends. As the aluminum workpiece gets hot, I find it very difficult to keep the very end full. Run off tabs are a solution, adding helium is an expensive cure, but a thrill. Or, I can begin at one end, weld to center, then begin anew at the other end. Beginning an aluminum joint must be approached boldly, with courage. Gobs of heat will not cause problems beginning. Zap talks of leaving his 350 amp welder on KILL, and using full pedal to start. Of course, southern Massachusetts dims when he does.
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Re: Aluminum porridge anyone...

Postby ConcealPro » Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:23 pm

I had a bad habit of easing in with the pedal trying not to blow any holes, but ended up making it worse. Got the confidence to drop the hammer and was amazed at the results.
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