Aluminum Welding Articles


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Aluminum Workshop: Why it’s so hard to weld anodized aluminum

January 20, 2015 | By Frank Armao

Q: I bought some anodized 6061-T6 tubing to make a structural framework and I’m having trouble welding it. The welds are black and ugly. Can you help? A: I think I can help. First, it would be helpful to explain what anodizing is. Anodizing is a reverse plating operation of sorts in which the...

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Aluminum Workshop: Welding 6061-T6 without filler metal; choosing shielding gas for GMAW

January 6, 2015 | By Frank Armao

Q: I’m trying to use gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) without filler metal to join 6061-T6, and almost every weld I make cracks. What’s going on? A: A common aluminum alloy, 6061-T6 is welded every day, so we assume it must be easy to weld. Unfortunately, it isn’t. In fact, 6061 and the other...

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Aluminum Workshop: Welding anodized 6061-T6 extruded tubing, 7075 series aluminum

January 6, 2015 | By Frank Armao

Q: I bought anodized 6061-T6 extruded tubing and have been trying to gas tungsten arc weld (GTAW) if, but the results so far haven’t been satisfactory. The welds look black and porous. I’m an experienced welder, and I’ve welded aluminum before, but I’ve never run into this. Is there...

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Aluminum Workshop: Choosing an aluminum alloy

January 5, 2015 | By Frank Armao

Q: I have a project I want to build from aluminum sheet and extrusions. Some of my friends tell me to make it entirely from 6061-T6. Other tell me to use other alloys, mostly 5000 series. The project entails a lot of welding. Which alloy should I use? A: Without knowing more details about your...

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Aluminum Workshop: Defining cast and helix

January 5, 2015 | By Frank Armao

Q: What are cast and helix? I keep hearing about them, but no one seems to really know what they are. A: First of all, cast and helix are two separate attributes of spooled wires intended for gas metal arc welding (GMAW). The terms have no meaning for straight cut lengths of wire meant for gas...

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Aluminum Workshop: Understanding AC and HAZ ‘cracks’

January 2, 2015 | By Frank Armao

Q: I know that when aluminum alloys are gas tungsten arc-welded (GTAW), usually we use alternating current (AC) because it give some sort of cleaning action. Can you explain what it is and how it works? A: Sure, let’s try. But before I start, let me admit that this explanation is a bit of a...

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Aluminum Workshop: Defining arc rectification

January 2, 2015 | By Frank Armao

Q: Sometimes when I’m AC gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) aluminum, the arc will start to flutter for a while. I can see it and hear it. Usually it goes away after a few seconds. What’s going on? A: First of all, the good news is that you’re not imagining it. This phenomenon is fairly common...

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Aluminum Workshop: Using 4043 versus 4047 filler wire

December 30, 2014 | By Frank Armao

Q: I usually use 4043 filler wire for welding 6061-T6 and castings. My friend told me I should switch to 4047 because it’s stronger. Is that true? It’s more expensive than 4043. Is it worth it? A: As you know, 4043 and 5356 are the most common aluminum filler alloys. In fact, these two alloys...

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Aluminum Workshop: Cleaning aluminum before welding

December 29, 2014 | By Frank Armao

Q: What’s the best way to clean aluminum before welding? How long can I wait to weld it before it needs to be cleaned again? A: Preweld cleaning requires two operations: oil and grease removal and oxide removal. Before you do anything else, remove any oil, grease, or water vapor from the...

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Aluminum Workshop: Fabricating aluminum plant boxes

December 29, 2014 | By Frank Armao

Q: I am bidding on a job to fabricate aluminum plant boxes. They will sit inside 4-foot-tall walls in an office. These rectangular boxes, or troughs, will be 7.5 inches tall, 7.5 in. wide, and 48 in. long, placed end-to-end to form 16-ft. dividers. I plan to use 5052 aluminum. A 1.75-in. flange,...

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Aluminum Workshop: Passing tensile tests for 6061-T6

December 26, 2014 | By Frank Armao

Q: I am having problems passing the tensile tests for my procedure qualification of aluminum alloy 6061-T6 on 6-inch-diameter pipe, Schedule 120. I am using ER4043 filler metal for a gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW)-gas metal arc welding (GMAW) combination process on the first joint and ER5363 on...

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Aluminum Workshop: Aluminum arc welding with other processes

December 26, 2014 | By Frank Armao

Q: Columnist’s Note: This issue’s column addresses several questions subscribers have asked about shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) of aluminum. Some of you asked about a flux cored welding (FCAW) wire for aluminum and where to get it. Others asked whether aluminum has ever been submerged arc...

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Aluminum Workshop: Arc blow, contact tips

December 24, 2014 | By Frank Armao

Q: Is it possible to encounter arc blow when welding aluminum? Since aluminum isn’t magnetic, I don’t think so, but my friend thinks it is. A cup of coffee is riding on your answer. A: It looks like you’d better get ready to pay up. It is possible to encounter arc blow when welding aluminum....

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Aluminum Workshop: An introduction to pulsed MIG power supplies

December 19, 2014 | By Frank Armao

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 | By Frank Armao

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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