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Aluminum Workshop: Explaining the causes of black smoke

November 25, 2014

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Q: I get a lot of black smoke on the surface of my aluminum welds. What is it, and how can I get rid of it? A: I can tell you what the black smoke isn’t. It is not soot and it doesn’t contain carbon, as most people think. It is, in fact, a mixture of very fine particles of aluminum oxide and...

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Aluminum Workshop: Addressing arc blow

November 25, 2014

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Q: I’m welding aluminum plate and extrusions of various alloys using both GTAW and GMAW. Sometimes I encounter what seems to be arc blow while welding, mostly with GMAW. But since aluminum isn’t magnetic, arc blow shouldn’t be possible. Is it something else? If so, what? A: This is a common...

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Aluminum Workshop: Dissecting a die casting dilemma

November 24, 2014

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Q: I weld a lot of aluminum castings. Most of the time they weld fine, but sometimes the weld blows out at me. What’s going on? A: The problem is caused by the casting process. There are three types of casting processes—sand casting, permanent mold casting, and die casting. The molds for sand...

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Aluminum Workshop: Meet tensile strength requirements with the right filler metal

November 24, 2014

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Q: I am trying to conduct a procedure qualification test on 5083-0 temper material using 5356 filler metal and gas metal arc welding (GMAW). I have welded a number of test plates, but the tensile samples always fail at a tensile strength of 37 to 39 KSI. The code requires a minimum tensile strength...

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Consumables Corner: Understanding heat input and its limitations

November 21, 2014

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Q: We manufacture structures for the utility industry and primarily weld A36, A572-Gr. 50 and A871-Gr. 65. Recently we converted some of our welding processes to higher-deposition submerged-arc welding (SAW) but are concerned about the amount of heat we are adding from welding. What is the...

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Arc Welding 101: Those dang CVN requirements

November 21, 2014

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Q: Table 4.6 of AWS D1.1: 2010 is a list of supplementary essential variable changes that would require weld procedure specification (WPS) requalification due to Charpy V-notch (CVN) testing requirements. Under base metal (item 2) it indicates: Minimum thickness qualified is T or 5/8 inch...

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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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