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Thin aluminum

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Thin aluminum

Postby Dalzani » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:25 pm

Hello all.

I´m from Brazil and a beginner welder. Weldingtipsandtricks is my learning guide for a least an year.

We have a motorcycle customize workshop. Here are some of machines customized by us https://www.facebook.com/FiftyNinersCustoms (sorry portuguese only). This is only an introduction.

Ok...

We have been doing steel welding, fenders and another motorcycle part for a while. Never aluminum. Our machine is only DC (TIG). Now we have a project all in aluminum, long and short welding runs between 1.5mm aluminum sheets. We are buying a AC/DC machine 200A from a local dealer, the same one than LONGEVITY TIGWELD 200 EX or SMART TIG AC/DC-200P.

We are worried about the following: This project envolves a laser cutting and a press-brake and we are expecting some gaps between the folded pieces like 0.5mm (max I hope). So I would like to ask for the experts what is the level of difficulty to weld this thin pieces with this gap and some guide lines to make this process not so hard (if is the case).

Thank you.
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Re: Thin aluminum

Postby Coldman » Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:48 pm

If the gap is in a butt joint there shouldn't be a problem. The best technique would be laying the wire into the joint, hold the arc over the wire and fuse it into the two edges. That way you can avoid melting away the edges.

If it is a lap joint you should clamp the edges together - any gaps here will be a problem and result in severe distortion if you do get it fused.
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Re: Thin aluminum

Postby Dalzani » Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:29 pm

Yes will be butt joint most of the time all long runs 30 to 50cm. Some corner joints but no gaps or very little ones and short runs.

I'll try this tip for sure. For the long runs, how far can I go each time to avoid a lot of warping? I have no experience welding aluminum. For carbon steel on thin sheets like this I never go more than one inch each time, wait for cooling and another 1 inch far away from the last one.

Thanks.
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Re: Thin aluminum

Postby Coldman » Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:35 pm

That depends on your preparation. If it is a flat joint you can clamp chill bars from dissimilar metal like copper or steel/ss and also to restrain the edges above and below the joint. In this case you can pretty much go the whole way in one run successfully. Unrestrained it will be a problem. The better the preparation the better the result.

Tacking every 25mm helps alot too.
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Re: Thin aluminum

Postby MosquitoMoto » Mon Jul 31, 2017 4:53 am

I do moto work as well.

As others have said, add tacks quite closely together. When I use 'chill blocks' (clamping the thin sheet to thick blocks of aluminium) it helps control the heat.

If you use AC frequency of, say, 100 - 120hz and a sharply pointed electrode I find it focuses the bead on the edge very well. Using this technique you can build up the edge of a sheet that has a gap in the fitup, then once you have tightened up the gap you just weld as normal.

Get together some scrap pieces and do some practise before you take on the main job. If you are used to welding DC only on steel, it might take awhile to get used to the technique, but you will get there eventually with patience.

I will try to post up some photographs as soon as I can.



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Re: Thin aluminum

Postby AndersK » Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:51 am

How far you can go without warping depends a lot of how much shape you put into the pieces. Following pics are on a profile I made of 1,5mm aluminium. Those I tracked with 75 to 100 mm spacing and jumped between sections . I haven't ground the welds flush yet but it looks like nearly zero distorsion, fairly easy to correct with hammer & dolly if needed.

Weld parameters :
75 amps, torch switch only
150 Hz
35% EP
3/32 pointed tungsten
3/32 1070 filler
IMG_20170612_17423.jpg
IMG_20170612_17423.jpg (41.42 KiB) Viewed 780 times
IMG_20170731_22901.jpg
IMG_20170731_22901.jpg (42.14 KiB) Viewed 780 times
IMG_20170731_45958.jpg
IMG_20170731_45958.jpg (46.54 KiB) Viewed 780 times


Weld looks cold but it's the camera. Full penetration achieved.

It's a little bit high but I didn't have any smaller 1070 filler.
I prefer the 1070 for sheet work due to the high ductility. This bead I can hammer down completely flat without cracking. Won't do that with 4043.
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Re: Thin aluminum

Postby Dalzani » Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:59 am

Like i said, I have no experience with aluminum yet, but we do a lot of steel motorcycle fenders, extending it. Does not matter the way I do, always have some degree of warping. Needs a hammer sometimes to fix it and filler before the paint job. Maybe due the shape. I do tacks all over the piece first and them one inch in the center, one inch on one side, one inch another side and so on. Pulse does not solve but a think I get less warping.

Anyway, thanks for all information. We´ll buy the AC/DC machine this week probably and I´ll run my first tests. For sure more questions and some pics. By the way the aluminum for the project will be the 5052 alloy.

Again, thanks all.
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Re: Thin aluminum

Postby AndersK » Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:19 am

Dalzani wrote:Does not matter the way I do, always have some degree of warping.


That's the nature of the beast.

I guess you already found out, since you seem to be experienced in thin sheet, even a polishing disc can warp a flat sheet.

You will find aluminium much easier to get back in shape.

Also 5052 is good practise to anneal before you try and put some shape in it. It has a tendency to age harden if the sheet has been laying in the shop a long time, hence can give you a good match.
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Re: Thin aluminum

Postby LtBadd » Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:14 pm

AndersK wrote:How far you can go without warping depends a lot of how much shape you put into the pieces. Following pics are on a profile I made of 1,5mm aluminium.
Weld looks cold but it's the camera. Full penetration achieved.

Anders what is this you're making?
Richard

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Re: Thin aluminum

Postby AndersK » Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:16 am

A little wałl art project when weather is bad. Which it hasn't been for a while now.... ;)
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