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Aluminum Workshop: Determining contact tip size

November 21, 2014

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Q: What is the right contact tip size for using 0.0468-in. filler wire to gas metal arc weld aluminum alloys? Some people use a tip that is one size larger (for example, a 0.0625-in. tip on 0.0468-in. wire), while others use the size the manufacturer specifies for 0.0468-in. wire. Still others use...

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Aluminum Workshop: Welding fumes in aluminum MIG

November 21, 2014

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Q: I just started gas metal arc welding (GMAW) aluminum in my shop. I have noticed that a lot of white smoke comes off when I weld. Is this dangerous? Are there other issues with fumes I need to be aware of when welding aluminum? How concerned should I be? A: You are absolutely doing the right...

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The case for consumables

November 21, 2014

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New-generation GMAW consumables reduce the number of components, eliminate threads in the electrical path, and feature gas ported contact tips that run cooler and can accommodate more wire in a single tip.

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Aluminum Workshop: Push/pull guns for aluminum MIG welding—Are they necessary?

November 21, 2014

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Q: I’m just starting to weld aluminum with gas metal arc welding (GMAW). Do I really need a push/pull gun—they’re expensive—or can I use a standard gun with a Teflon® liner and contact tips for aluminum? A: This is not a yes or no answer. It really depends on the type and size of filler...

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Aluminum Workshop: Using backing material for large-diameter pipe

November 20, 2014

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Q: I need to fabricate many pieces of aluminum pipe from plate. The pipe will be 16 in. in diameter and 8 ft. long with 0.25-in. wall thickness. I want to weld the seam in one pass from the outside, but I don’t want to use any backing material and I don’t want to do anything to the root of the...

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Aluminum Workshop: Adding weld strength with aging

November 20, 2014

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Q: I plan to fabricate components using 6061-T4 and then age them after welding. I have heard than I can increase the welded strength this way. Is this true? What is the aging treatment? If I buy 6061-T4, which is aged at room temperature, will it keep aging in my shop? Will I eventually need to...

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Aluminum Workshop: Searching for 4043 yield and tensile strengths

November 19, 2014

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Q: I have been trying to find the yield and tensile strengths for 4043 filler metal, but so far I’ve been unsuccessful. Can you help me? Why is this data so hard to find? A: Believe it or not, the data exists. Weld metal data for virtually all aluminum filler metals was developed in the 1960s....

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Aluminum Workshop: Welding steel to aluminum—Is it feasible?

November 19, 2014

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Q: I’m building a horse trailer and I need to join some aluminum parts to the steel frame. Can I use arc welding to do this? A: Surprisingly, yours is a very common question that I feel should be addressed. While solid-state joining processes like friction stud welding and flash butt welding can...

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Aluminum Workshop: Guestimating aluminum alloys

November 18, 2014

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Q: If someone hands you a piece of aluminum, is there any easy way to tell what alloy it is? Everyone tells me I need to buy very expensive equipment to do this. A: Unfortunately, the people you are speaking with are correct. However, that’s assuming you need to know what alloy you have exactly....

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Aluminum Workshop: Where in the world is the 5052 filler alloy?

November 17, 2014

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Q: I am about to begin a project that requires me to weld a lot of 5052-O sheet material. There’s just one problem: I can’t find 5052 filler. Can you tell me why this is and what I should use instead? A: I can understand why you might think that you should weld 5052 sheet with 5052 filler...

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Arc Welding 101: Wire-feed welding, stick welding with the same machine

November 17, 2014

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Q: I would like to know if a wire-feed welding machine can double as a modest-amperage DC shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) machine if I attach an electrode holder to the output. I have been told that aluminum welding works well and is convenient using SMAW and DC. I have the aluminum roller kit...

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Aluminum Workshop: Taming 6061-T anodized tubing

November 14, 2014

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Q: I’m having a very difficult time welding 6061-T aluminum tubing that has been anodized. The weld won’t flow out correctly, I can see a lot of porosity, and the weld has a black color to it. What can I do to make the weld better? A: The problem you are describing is a common one. Let’s...

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Arc Welding 101: Advice for MIG welding a motorcycle frame

November 14, 2014

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Q: I just ran across the article you wrote about gas metal arc welding (GMAW) machines in the July/August 2004 issue of Practical Welding Today. Your article was very informative. I will be purchasing a welding machine soon and would like to know if a GMAW machine can handle a motorcycle frame. Any...

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Arc Welding 101: Electrodes and machine settings

November 13, 2014

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Q: I know how to arc weld. I took arc welding classes in high school and was certified in the state of California. Unfortunately, they never taught me about the settings and what electrodes were best for what jobs. For example, I’m rebuilding a motorcycle and I want to straighten a minor bend...

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Aluminum Workshop: What’s so bad about welding 7075, 2024?

November 12, 2014

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Q: You have discussed previously the fact that some aluminum alloys, such as 7075 and 2024, should not be welded. But I know a fabricator who occasionally welds 7075. Is he engaging in a poor practice, or is there something I don’t understand? A: I can’t really answer your question...

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