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Old 01-07-2011, 04:25 AM   #1
oguitar
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Default Tig Welding Aluminum Noob Questions

I asked a question in the post your beads thread and thought I should make a new thread rather then messing up the bead thread.

So I am a noob welder. Honestly this is just for a school project and I have to pick this up really quickly. I know in order to properly learn how to weld I need a class, but I am under the gun and need to iron my issues out quickly.

I know the best thing I can do is to practice so I watched some videos on you-tube and practiced like crazy today.

FourOnTheFloor asked me some specific questions so I will answer them first.

I am using a Miller Syncrowave 180 SD. This is a basic TIG welder. The only dials I got on it are amps and gas flow. I had done some research on a more advanced welder and thought I might have dials to turn but it looks like I just have the two dials mentioned above.

The only thing I know about the tungsten tip is that it is about 2mm thick and has a green color code. The collett is either a Radnor 10N25 or 10N28. I am using helium for the gas. I thought it was Argon but I verified today that it is Helium.

The pipes I need to weld are 6061 T6 1.25" X .125" thick. I have other dimensions of this same pipe that need welding though. I am not sure where the pipe was mfg'd but it has ASTM B221 on the pipe. That must be American but I truly don't know. I suppose I could look that up.

So after all that. I have my gas dial set to about 8. This is closer to max penetration on this machine. The guy who set us up told us to use 90 amps and vary it with the foot pedal. My teammate must have the magic touch on the foot pedal because his welds are looking good. Mine are not so pretty and I won't be touching the car anymore until I get my welds down to a science.

Sorry for the book but I am trying to explain it the best I can. All welds are being cleaned by a wire brush and then aluminum cleaner. The tungsten tip is being cleaned/shaped on a grinder. Basically I just need some tips from the pro's because when I see some of your welds I am amazed. This is no easy task.

So pictures explain things better.

Here is the welder


This is one of the pipes


One of the copes


A good weld (at least for us rookies)




My blown weld. I think we got it fixed


I think my problem is that I am heating up the metal too much and it is getting soft on me. I wish the welder I am using had square wave control but it doesn't and I got to use what I have.

This frame is going to be used for a solar car. I wish we could have used steel but we needed the lightness of aluminum. Thanks for any advice offered.
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Old 01-07-2011, 09:49 AM   #2
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I'm very new to welding, but 100% helium is going to make things very very hot, and it's gonna make it tough to start an arc.
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:04 PM   #3
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What wire brush? And what Alum cleaner? Wire bush needs to be Stainless and then whipe it down with laq thinner to acetone. Green works great, what size filler are u using? and what is the grade on the filler?

http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/...-aluminum.html
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:31 PM   #4
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Oh Solar car.....I was on Baja SAE in college haha.

The AC setting on that machine is a square wave, but that doesn't matter. AC is AC.

First things first: As previously stated clean the crap out of the aluminum using a dedicated (i.e. DONT use it ANYWHERE else) stainless steel wire brush and then wipe clean with Al cleaner or acetone. Your joint fitup is nearly flawless which is awesome.

Use 100% Argon (see why here:http://www.esabna.com/us/en/educatio...g-aluminum.cfm), 1/8" Pure (green) tungsten with ~20CFH gas flow. Use 1/8" 4043 aluminum filler (also wipe it down with acteone prior to use).
You need to set your machine a little higher in amperage (120A) and modulate the current with the footpedal. I like to set my pedal at ~75% during normal welding so I can have that extra umph if I need it for a trouble spot.

If you have ever TIG welded steel, Al is a different animal. It requires a lot more awareness of the arc and the molten weld pool. Basically it ain't easy.

P.S. In order to not have crater cracks try to add a little dab of filler at the end of the weld to fill the crater in.

Good Luck!
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Old 01-07-2011, 02:22 PM   #5
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Its a great Unit.
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Old 01-07-2011, 04:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Token-Negro View Post
Its a great Unit.
Now that is a nice setup. PVC for SS, CS, and Al filler I presume?
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Old 01-07-2011, 04:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigusnickus View Post
Now that is a nice setup. PVC for SS, CS, and Al filler I presume?
Yeah had to because the local suppy house dang near gives filler away if u buy in bulk.
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Old 01-07-2011, 08:55 PM   #8
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90 amps is too low for .125 your welds are cold
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Old 01-07-2011, 09:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigusnickus View Post
else)1/8" Pure (green) tungsten

P.S. In order to not have crater cracks try to add a little dab of filler at the end of the weld to fill the crater in.

Good Luck!
I disagree I use 2% ceriated on both aluminum and stainless only changing diameter depending on amperage. I realize it's not what they tell you will work better but by using the 2% the tip stays sharp and last much longer. The whole you should have a ball at the end of your tungsten is BS. Just sayin

As for the crater try "rolling out" of the pedel. It does the same thing

Quote:
Originally Posted by TIGWERKS View Post
90 amps is too low for .125 your welds are cold
Depends on how fast they are moving across the joint. As this picture indicates they are staying in one place for a looooooong time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oguitar View Post
The best advice I can give you is when you see the puddle form feed filler and begin moving across the joint. Do not sit in one place as your weld pool gets bigger and bigger. If the base metal is melting then keep moving. Puddle diameter matters but keep moving and you'll soon notice your manipulating the metal to do what you want it to. Tig welding is a skill that won't happen overnite but if you stick with it one day everything will begin to click.
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:44 AM   #10
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who the hell wants to dab filler every 5 seconds, one pass on that joint should take what.....10 seconds total
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:53 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by scubydrew View Post
I disagree I use 2% ceriated on both aluminum and stainless only changing diameter depending on amperage. I realize it's not what they tell you will work better but by using the 2% the tip stays sharp and last much longer. The whole you should have a ball at the end of your tungsten is BS. Just sayin
I know what you mean. There is a guy at work that swears by sharpened ceriated and it must work great because the work he and you guys turn out is amazing. You can prevent tungsten inclusions from the tip melting by turning up the frequency correct?
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:13 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g00fy View Post
I'm very new to welding, but 100% helium is going to make things very very hot, and it's gonna make it tough to start an arc.
This is an issue I am having it is hard to create and keep the puddle moving.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Token-Negro View Post
What wire brush? And what Alum cleaner? Wire bush needs to be Stainless and then whipe it down with laq thinner to acetone. Green works great, what size filler are u using? and what is the grade on the filler?


http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/...-aluminum.html
I will have to find out this info. I know the AL cleaner is specifically for aluminum. It smells like soap. The filler might be a little too thick. We are almost out so when we order more I might ask for something thinner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigusnickus View Post
Oh Solar car.....I was on Baja SAE in college haha.

The AC setting on that machine is a square wave, but that doesn't matter. AC is AC.

First things first: As previously stated clean the crap out of the aluminum using a dedicated (i.e. DONT use it ANYWHERE else) stainless steel wire brush and then wipe clean with Al cleaner or acetone. Your joint fitup is nearly flawless which is awesome.

Use 100% Argon (see why here:http://www.esabna.com/us/en/educatio...g-aluminum.cfm), 1/8" Pure (green) tungsten with ~20CFH gas flow. Use 1/8" 4043 aluminum filler (also wipe it down with acteone prior to use).
You need to set your machine a little higher in amperage (120A) and modulate the current with the footpedal. I like to set my pedal at ~75% during normal welding so I can have that extra umph if I need it for a trouble spot.

If you have ever TIG welded steel, Al is a different animal. It requires a lot more awareness of the arc and the molten weld pool. Basically it ain't easy.

P.S. In order to not have crater cracks try to add a little dab of filler at the end of the weld to fill the crater in.

Good Luck!
Thanks for the help. I was playing with the current and gas flow settings. When you say to set the amps to 120 and modulate it with the foot peddle; do you mean to use the foot peddle like a guitar wah-wah peddle? If so that will be pretty tough. That is why I wish I had more AC frequency control built in the welder.

I definitely think I am staying too long in one place. My teammate has his welds landing pretty good. This is hard but it is fun. Thanks for all the tips and advice.
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Old 01-08-2011, 04:39 AM   #13
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You really need to get argon.

By modulating the foot pedal he means use it to fine tune the amperage. Aluminum is strange in many ways. One thing that makes it difficult to weld is that it conducts heat way better than steel. Even though it melts at a much lower temperature, you must put a lot more heat into it to get a puddle to form because all of that heat is quickly dispersed. This is one of the reasons why aluminum requires a higher amperage than steel for a given thickness. Welding aluminum seems to be the best thing to teach you to control heat with the pedal.

I would really suggest that you play around with a flat piece of scrap that is the same thickness first. Start by flooring the pedal to get a puddle to form. If the metal is cleaned properly, it shouldn't take long to get a nice shinny little puddle to form. If it looks like a gray, wrinkly, water balloon, you didn't clean the metal well enough. When the weld is cleaned properly, there should be an area around the puddle, like a halo, that will look rough when welding. You will probably see stray arches, leaving the tip and going out around the weld to form this area. After you are done welding you will see that this area looks almost white. This is the area that is being cleaned, or etched, by the AC current. Once you have formed a puddle, it gets larger as you hold the torch in one area. It is also getting deeper. If you hold it here too long it will melt through the metal. Let off the pedal slightly and move the torch slowly. Watch the size of the puddle. If it is getting too big let off the pedal more. If the puddle is getting too small give more pedal. Keep moving, and play with the puddle size using the pedal. You will start to see that you must put a lot of heat into the metal a first to get the puddle where you want it, then you will have to gradually let off as you move after a second or two as the heat builds up in the metal. At this point you can keep the pedal almost still, until you are ready to finish the weld. Play around with controlling the size of the puddle without adding filler until you are comfortable reacting to different conditions. Try starting a puddle about 1 inch from the edge of the metal, and move toward the edge. You will have to let off the pedal a lot to keep the puddle where you want it, because there is nowhere for the heat to go as you get close to the edge.

Now once you are comfortable controlling a puddle start adding filler too it as you move. Form a puddle first, get it nice and hot, then dip the end of the filler rod into it. It almost sucks the metal off the rod. As soon as it melts, move, and form another puddle. You will probably actually find that it becomes easier to control the heat once you are adding filler. This is because you are taking a huge amount of heat out of the metal when you add a dab of filler. You are taking a small amount of metal that is fairly cool and melting it in a fraction of a second. It takes a lot of heat out of the puddle to melt that glob of filler.

When you are ready to finish a weld. Add more filler than usual to the last bead as you gradually let off the pedal. You want to finish with a little mound of filler, not a crater. If you leave a crater it will crack as it contracts and cools. Sometimes you will get a little dot right in the center of the end of the weld. To prevent this don't let off the pedal all the way with the torch still right on the center of the weld. As you are letting off the torch and you watch the puddle starting to solidify, flick your wrist to move the torch away from the weld. You don't need to do this too much, move the torch 3/8" max. You don't want to move the gas envelope away from the weld, just the center of the arch cone.

Just practice, practice, practice. It is amazing how much better you get after just running beads on scrap for a few hours. Remember to keep every thing clean, even you filler. When, not if, you contaminate your tungsten, meaning you dip it in the puddle, or hit it with the filler rod. Stop what you are doing immediately and replace or regrind your tungsten. Aluminum especially loves to wick up the tungsten. Even a small amount of aluminum on it will really mess up the weld. Plus the hassle of having to regrind your tungstens, all the time pisses you off enough so that you learn not to contaminate it.

I hope this helps. I am not an expert by any means. Tig welding is just a hobby for me, but I pretty much taught myself to do it. I understand how frustrating it can be. Above all you just need to practice, a lot.

Last edited by FourOnTheFloor65; 01-08-2011 at 04:54 AM.
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
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You really need to get argon.

I taught myself how to weld and picked up aluminum in 30 minutes. Your having difficulties because the sheilding gas your using. Change it to argon and you'll do much better.

also if you have ? try here, they most likely have the answer
http://www.welding-advisers.com/Weld-FAQ.html
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:53 PM   #15
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To help move the puddle make sure you are holding the torch between 40 and 25 degrees off perpendicular form the puddle.

To prevent crater cracks like you have in your pictures don't shut off the power instantly, back off of it for 1-2 seconds to slowly cool the puddle and add a dab of filler just before you start backing out.

Also- the switch to argon with help a ton.
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Old 01-08-2011, 06:26 PM   #16
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OK I am going to give argon a shot. All of the advice given was truly helpful. I will continue to practice.

The next big thing to learn is complex coping. This will be a challenge for sure.

Do you all want to see the frame model? I need it to withstand a 5G frontal impact. Not sure if I can achieve this. I think the regulators will let us slide though since we are not ME's.
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Old 01-09-2011, 02:11 PM   #17
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Argon all the way. I just got done with 3 weeks of tig class at the Lincoln factory a few months ago. Still cant get aluminum down for some reason.
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Old 01-09-2011, 08:19 PM   #18
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I find that setting my amperage a little on the hot side helps with aluminum. I'd probably set up at 150 amps for this type of work. Mostly because the tubing will be cold when starting the weld. I always feel that it is very important to keep your foot active on aluminum. Once the workpiece starts to heat up you should be coming out of the power some. If I equate it to using a wah pedal, imagine not going for the 'wah-wah-wah' sound, but more going for a particular frequency in the wah range. Like; fully open the gate at the beginning of the note and trailing into the lower frequencies as the note sustains and then dies. This is how you would use the pedal while welding. The complete weld would be the note. Fully open into the highest frequecies would be the highest heat (where your machines amps are set) to deal with the fact that the metal is cool, coming out of the pedal as the material heats up. If you really finesse it, you will get a consistently wide weld from beginning to end. Rhythm is really helpful. Think of dipping as picking, and heat as volume. Try to achieve a consistent rhythm at a consistent volume. Don't let your awareness settle only into your hands and shoulders, remember your foot. Use props to rest your torch hand on to help keep you steady. Use a #11 or 12 lense in your hood, and keep your tungsten out of the puddle! Good luck! Rock out!
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:09 PM   #19
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Sorry to intrude but didnt want to make a thread about it. Does anyone know what type of Aluminum Subaru uses on their intake manifolds? I'm wondering about my 06 N/A manifold because I need to tig some areas. I have no equipment so was reading/researching on tig welders. Looks like its going to cost a minimum of $500.
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Old 01-18-2011, 01:20 PM   #20
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Anyone?
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Old 01-19-2011, 11:40 AM   #21
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Quote:
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Sorry to intrude but didnt want to make a thread about it. Does anyone know what type of Aluminum Subaru uses on their intake manifolds? I'm wondering about my 06 N/A manifold because I need to tig some areas. I have no equipment so was reading/researching on tig welders. Looks like its going to cost a minimum of $500.
Well its cast that is one attribute
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Old 01-19-2011, 11:41 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 25rsti View Post
Sorry to intrude but didnt want to make a thread about it. Does anyone know what type of Aluminum Subaru uses on their intake manifolds? I'm wondering about my 06 N/A manifold because I need to tig some areas. I have no equipment so was reading/researching on tig welders. Looks like its going to cost a minimum of $500.
Try doing a little bit of research before posting your I want answers now rant. There is a intake manifold thread just a few posts down from this one. Try there..
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Old 01-22-2011, 03:30 AM   #23
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So I think I finally got the feeling of welding Aluminum. I just wanted to say thanks once again to all the pro's who hooked me up with great advice. I will post pic's up later with how this frame is coming along.
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Old 01-27-2011, 02:12 AM   #24
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some pretty good info was given. now to just practice
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Old 01-30-2011, 08:53 PM   #25
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do they make 50/50 argon / helium bottles?
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