Aluminum Welding

The aluminum welding technology area has instructions, tips, and product information geared specifically toward welding this lightweight, versatile material.

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Aluminum Workshop: An introduction to pulsed MIG power supplies

December 19, 2014

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Q: What’s the story behind pulsed gas metal arc welding (GMAW) aluminum? Some think it’s great, but others say it’s just a way for equipment makers to sell expensive power supplies. A: GMAW transfers metal in three ways. At low currents, you get short-circuit transfer, in which the molten...

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Aluminum Workshop: TIG welding and radio frequency interface

December 18, 2014

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Q: When I gas tungsten arc-weld aluminum using AC, my portable radio speakers buzz. Does the high frequency that stabilizes the arc cause this? Will it hurt the radio or other electrical equipment? Can I shield adjacent equipment or minimize the effects? A: The high frequency (HF) that...

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Aluminum Workshop: Why 6061 filler metal doesn’t exist

December 15, 2014

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Q: The most common grade of aluminum I see is 6061-T6, but I’ve never seen 6061 filler metal. Why is this? Why does everyone seem to weld 6061-T6 with 4043 or 5356 filler metal? A: You never see 6061 filler metal because, if it existed, it would be an awful filler metal. Virtually every weld you...

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Aluminum Workshop: Cleaning aluminum parts

December 15, 2014

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Q: What’s the proper method to clean aluminum parts before welding? A: Cleaning aluminum parts before welding is a two-step process. First, remove oils, grease, and other contaminants to prevent weld porosity. Second, eliminate oxide from the areas to be welded to prevent lack of fusion and...

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Aluminum Workshop: New wire brand may mean new parameters

December 12, 2014

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Q: When I run out of aluminum gas metal arc welding (GMAW) wire and buy a different brand, it doesn’t seem to weld as smoothly. Is there that much of a quality difference among brands? A: While there may be a difference in quality, you may be experiencing something else entirely. If you’ve...

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Aluminum Workshop: Preheating aluminum

December 12, 2014

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Q: What preheat temperature should I use when welding aluminum? I’ve heard different numbers, and I know they can’t all be right. A: Let me begin with a bold statement: If you have the right equipment, you never need to preheat when welding aluminum. I have gas tungsten arc-welded (GTAW)...

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Aluminum Workshop: Alloys for furniture fabrication

December 11, 2014

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Q: Which alloy would you recommend for cold bending aluminum tubing or fabricating aluminum law furniture? A: First consider alloy availability. Many alloys are available as round tubing, but not all are obtainable. Most small-diameter tubing is extruded because it’s relatively economical to...

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Aluminum Workshop: Electrical current in TIG and MIG

December 11, 2014

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Q: When I gas tungsten arc weld (GTAW) aluminum, I always use alternating current (AC), but when I gas metal arc weld (GMAW) aluminum, I always use direct current electrode positive (DCEP). Why the difference? Does anyone GTAW aluminum using DC? Does anyone GMAW using AC? A: In both GTAW and GMAW,...

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Aluminum Workshop: Determining aluminum metallurgy

December 10, 2014

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Q: Most of my aluminum welding involves the repair of components my customers bring me. How do I know which alloy they are made of and which filler metal to use? A: This is a good question and one to which there is no easy answer. There is no quick, cheap test that will tell you which aluminum...

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Aluminum Workshop: Acceptable tensile sample failure

December 9, 2014

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Q: We are fabricating components from ½-in.-thick 5083-H131 armor plate using robotic GMAW and 5183 filler metal. The tensile samples are failing at 41 KSI during welding procedure qualification. My customer says this is unacceptable and that the tensile samples should fail at 46 KSI or higher....

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Aluminum Workshop: A hotshot’s guide to hot short

December 8, 2014

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Q: A few months ago, you wrote that 6061 is “hot short.” I’m not familiar with this term. Can you explain it? A: Hot short is a standard metallurgical term, but I shouldn’t have assumed that everyone would be familiar with it. If a material is hot short, it means that the material is...

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Aluminum Workshop: Clearing up oxide misconceptions

December 8, 2014

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Q: My company welds 6063 tubing using AC gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) with 4043 filler metal and pure argon shielding gas. Appearance is important. How can we eliminate, or at least minimize, the oxidized area on each side of the weld? A: We need to first clear up a misconception. The area you...

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Aluminum Workshop: Matching colors after anodizing

December 5, 2014

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Q: I’m welding on 6061-T6 tubing which then gets anodized. I was advised to use 5356 filler metal to get a good color match between the tubing and the weld after anodizing. The color match is close, but the weld and the tubing are a slightly different color after anodizing. What can I do to get...

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Aluminum Workshop: To reheat, not to reheat T4 temper material

December 5, 2014

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Q: Three years ago I bought 6061-T4 extrusions for a project. My idea was to weld in the T4 temper and then to improve the strength of the weld by performing an aging treatment after welding. The project sat dormant until now. Will the T4 temper material need to be heat-treated again before...

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Aluminum Workshop: Using 4043, 4643 when welding 6061-T6

December 4, 2014

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Q: Most 6061-T6 is welded using 4043 filler wire. If you heat-treat the weld, will the 4043 get stronger? What happens if I use 4643 filler instead of 4043? A: Is the weld heat-treatable? Well, yes and no. Remember, the first step to producing T6 temper is heat treating at around 1,050 degrees F...

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