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Can I MIG weld Aluminum?

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Can I MIG weld Aluminum?

Postby Josh MacD » Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:10 pm

I have a simple Hobart Handler 120 and I use 75/25 gas for MIG welding. I'm a very new welder and have been learning on some very simple fabrication projects. My wife has a project or 2 for me that might work best in aluminum (I may have to use sheet metal instead). Is it possible to use my set-up to weld aluminum? I tried to search through this forum but didn't see anything other than TIG welding aluminum.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Can I MIG weld Aluminum?

Postby MikeFW » Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:36 pm

FYI I just purchased my first TIG unit to weld 14 gauge aluminum tread plate with.

You definitely can weld Aluminum with MIG. For me anything thinner than 11 gauge was just not working out. I was using a spool gun, which helped with the soft aluminum wire, but bird nesting was still a problem.

You will have to get pure argon. the C25 will not work, my understanding is it has a higher thermal conductivity. Maybe one our the experienced individuals can explain.

Edit --> Just looked up on EBay and they do have a teflon liner for the H-14 for $12 US (I think this is your torch.)
Check the costs of getting the second tank of Argon.
Last edited by MikeFW on Thu Aug 24, 2017 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can I MIG weld Aluminum?

Postby AndersK » Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:37 pm

The short version is yes.

But, you need a bottle of pure Argon

Don't know anything about your machine but the hardest part is to get the wire to feed smoothly if the machine isn't built for aluminium.
The lining in the hose must be in very good condition as well as the neck, to much friction and you will create a bird's nest inside.

The tension must be set carefully, to high and it will flatten the wire, to soft and it will slip causing irregular wire speed.
I have created lots of bird nests trying this in a mig that wasn't up to it...

A spool gun is to prefer if you have that option.
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Re: Can I MIG weld Aluminum?

Postby cj737 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 4:27 pm

Pretty sure your machine won't run aluminum nor support a spool gun.

Birds nesting is usually too low a wirefeed speed with aluminum. If you feel the wire bumping the parent metal, increase your volts.
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Re: Can I MIG weld Aluminum?

Postby Coldman » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:03 pm

Any mig can run aluminium that has the right parts are available. The right parts are:
- teflon liner to reduce friction
- knurled drive rollers in the correct diameter to grip the wire without flattening it.

Keep the whip as straight as possible to the gun, this reduces the risk of bird nesting. Blow out the liner with compressed air regularly and keep your spool protected from dirt and dust. This also helps keep friction down. Adjust roller tension to minimum required to keep a steady feed. You don't want loose rollers that result in stabbing feed nor do you want to crush the wire.

Your 125 machine hasn't much grunt for aluminium, but for thin sheet metal it should be ok.

We all like to show off our aluminium skills with tig diming etc, but mig is a serious alternative for volume welding and should be considered for fabrication work because it can do a great job when set up right. It will result in a black sooty finish but this will clean up nice.
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Re: Can I MIG weld Aluminum?

Postby weldin mike 27 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:49 pm

One slight 2 cents worth, I thought it should be smooth U shape drive rollers as I was told that knurled will chew the wire and cause the bits to be drawn it to the liner. Normal mild steel mig rollers are V shaped.

Regards, Mick
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Re: Can I MIG weld Aluminum?

Postby Coldman » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:52 pm

Dam now you made me go back to my books!

OK, my memory fails me (probably too much pickling fluid).

Knurled roller is for steel fluxcore wire.

U-groove roller is for aluminium wire. Shows you how much I mig aluminium!

Sorry for the snafu.
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Re: Can I MIG weld Aluminum?

Postby Coldman » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:58 pm

Thanks for lookin over my shoulder Mick.
It's gettin close to beeroclock and my mind is on that and the mega seafood buffet up the RSL tonite and life members get a discount!


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Re: Can I MIG weld Aluminum?

Postby weldin mike 27 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:35 am

Not a problem mate.
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Re: Can I MIG weld Aluminum?

Postby Josh MacD » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:09 pm

Thanks for all of the input. I'm new enough that some of that went over my head. Here is my take away.
1. I probably need a second bottle for just argon.
2. I need to buy a spool of aluminum filler wire
3. I might need new rollers for feeding the wire (I don't know if my machine has knurled or 'V')
4. I need a teflon liner for my __?___. I don't know where the liner goes.

I can see myself liking to play with aluminum welding so I'll look into these things. But, for this one project, it is probably easier to just use light sheet metal instead.
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