So you’ve grown tired of the kind of metal you are welding now, and you want to try out aluminum, no worries, for you are in the right place. It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie or not, by the end of this article, it is our goal to impart basic knowledge to you with regards to aluminum welding.
- Visualize the end result that you want. If you do this, it may be able to help you carry on with the project and not stop halfway through. Of course, with every project you should already have an idea on how you will carry it out and how it will be all ending.
Is aluminum really the best material for the product that you have in mind?
If so, then let’s head on to number two.
- Gather the materials that you will be, or you may possibly be using. This includes the safety gear. Find a thick shirt that is made from 100% cotton. Your gloves should be fit with the kind of welding that you will be doing. Check it’s thickness. No to pants with cuffs. Make sure that you have every necessary thing you need within arms reach, so you won’t have to make much of an effort just to reach something.
An extra piece of advice, it is greatly encouraged to keep a fire extinguisher near you just in case something catches fire.
- Test run. Before you start welding seriously, check every thing. Check if your helmet is working as it should be. Check the wires, the gas tubes, check for leaks, kinks, and also take note of your welding area. Is it dirty? Are there any flammable objects around it? Clear these up to prevent any avoidable accidents or small fires. Remember you are using fire and electricity in your work, so you have to be extra careful since they are quite dangerous elements.
- Check the aluminum that you will be welding. Is there a lot of rust? You may clean it up with acetone and with the use of a wire brush.
You will also need to clean the filter rod. You can use an abrasive cleaning pad for this.
- Now if you are satisfied with everything, you must now get into position. Put your helmet on, and then be sure that you are holding the torch properly.
I’m talking about this torch below.
- Practice moving the torch across the area that you will be welding. Put your gloves on and safety gear on so you’ll get the real feel of it. This prevents any mistakes in your movements. For small welds you can move your entire hand, instead of just your fingers.
- Take note of the way you hold the filler. It should be held at about a 90 degree angle to the torch tip. Remember that you should push the torch and not drag it. Do not allow the filler and the tip to have contact with one another or this could result to losing structural integrity.
- Now on to the real deal, when you feel like you have finished practicing and you can see where your hand will be moving towards, you may now start welding for real. Do not forget to preheat the aluminum piece. The reason behind this is that aluminum will be much easier to weld if the work is already hotter that the room temperature. You have to preheat it or else it could lead to a weak and shallow bond. You do not want this to happen.
You can put the work piece inside an oven, or you can choose to use the gas torch to apply heat to the heat sink that the piece should be clamped to. Doing this will make it easier to distribute the heat throughout the work piece. The ideal temperature for this should be about 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 176 degrees Celsius.
- As tight as you can, fit the pieces together. Fill them before clamping them together. You do not want gaps in your joint.
- An ideal amperage would be 1 amp per 0.001 inche (0.025 mm) of the aluminum’s thickness. Set it higher than your expected need, but not too much! You can then use the foot pedal to tone the current down a little bit.
- Start welding! Slowly but surely extend the tungsten electrode but not more than the diameter of the torch’s nozzle. Tap the electrode tip on the work piece then pull away for about 3 mm. Don’t forget about using the foot pedal to allow you to create an electrical arc.
- Melt it until you have created a little puddle. If the size of the puddle is just right, you can now use your filler rod to fill in the joint, and then slowly move unto the next portion of the weld.
Don’t forget that you can use the foot pedal to lower the amperage as you continue so you can control the puddle.
- Push the puddle. Secure your joint and don’t forget to add filler as you continue to move. Make sure that the puddle is at a consistent size. Don’t make it too big.
Now take a look at your finished product, is it the same as the product you visualized it to be? If it’s not, relax, you are just getting started. What they say about practice making perfect is true. You cannot perfect a task at one try, unless you are a super genius with unparalleled extremity control. Keep welding and soon you will notice that you are getting better and better at what you are doing. As we end this article, I’d just like to say that you have to remember to keep yourself safe beforehand. Invest in quality materials if possible.
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