How To Weld Aluminum With A Mig Welder – You Can Do It

Yesterday, when searching for information about alloy welding in some forums, I saw a status.

Here is the content:

“MIG (Metal inert gas) welding is a hard technique, which only pro welder can do it. Beginners should not try, especially girls.”

I completely disagree with this opinion.

Don’t do anything regarding welding when you haven’t learned about it carefully. But, once you have enough knowledge and careful preparation, let’s try. Whether you are a boy or a girl, you will find my guide on how to weld aluminum with a MIG welder helpful for beginners alike.

What you need to prepare

Protective items
Protective items

Before welding, you have to prepare  the following things for the best outcomes:

Welding machine

The thicker your metal is, the more powerful welding machine you need to look for.

Shielding gas

For aluminum welding, you should buy a shielding gas of pure argon, which is the combination of argon and carbon dioxide (CO2). This choice requires you to replace regulators designed for CO2, but you don’t have to buy new hoses.

Aluminum electrodes

The thickness of electrode plays a critical role in welding aluminum. While the too thin wire makes aluminum hard to feed, the thicker wire needs a larger current for melting.

The ideal size of electrodes for welding aluminum is 035 of an inch in diameter (under one mm). You can also use filler metal as a replacement.

Protective items

No matter what you weld, protective items are indispensable.

Make sure that you wear clothing which can cover your arms and legs as well. Especially, wearing a pair of gloves will help you avoid unwanted accidents for your hands. If you are careless, flying sparks and embers will harm your skin for sure.

Last but not least, wearing a faceplate ensures that you never look at the arc directly to avoid harming your eyes.

The key to aluminum welding

Although there are numerous uses for aluminum, it is a rather soft metal and must be strengthened by the addition of an alloy or alloys. Working with aluminum can bring some special problems because of the material’s distinct qualities from those of steel, such as deformation and susceptibility to heat input. Despite these problems, MIG welding aluminum isn’t that tough as long as the correct tools are used and the necessary processes are followed.

When MIG welding aluminum for your application, keep in mind these crucial considerations.

Tips for getting started

  1. Think about the material thickness: Aluminum may be MIG welded at thicknesses of 14 gauge and higher; the maximum thickness you can weld depends on the output capability of your welder. If you want to MIG weld aluminum that is thinner than 14 gauge (.074 inch), you might need to employ pulsed MIG or AC TIG welding gear.
  2. Keep it clean: Aluminum has to be completely cleaned before welding, and any lubricants should be removed. A stainless wire brush, either a hand wire brush or a cup wire brush, should be used to remove oxide after degreasing. Keep the rpms and pressures low while using a power wire brush to avoid smearing the material’s surface, which might trap oxides and contaminants underneath.
  3. Pick the proper gas: Since aluminum is a non-ferrous metal, it needs a shielding gas made entirely of argon. It is advised to use flow rates between 20 and 30 cubic feet per hour.
  4. What method ought you to employ? The preferred mode for MIG welding aluminum is spray transfer. The transfer of molten metal droplets from the electrode’s tip to the molten pool during this operation is remarkably seamless. The diameter of the droplets crossing the arc is less than that of the electrode. The deposition rate and efficiency of spray transfer are quite good, and there is no short-circuiting. Be mindful that spray transfer includes a significant amount of heat, which might result in a sizable weld pool with strong penetration that is challenging to manage.
  5. Options for gun and wire feeding: Before MIG welding aluminum, selecting a gun and wire feeding system is crucial. Aluminum wire is frequently supplied using a push-pull method or a spool gun. Spool guns, which place a tiny pool of wire on a pistol-grip type gun, enhance the feeding of soft wires. Because the wire only feeds a few inches using a spool gun, bird nesting is completely eliminated. A motor in the cannon pushes the wire through the liner in a push-pull arrangement, while a motor on the feeder serves as an assist motor. This solution might be more ergonomic and user-friendly and is perfect for welding away from the power source.
  6. The best metal for filler: Know the aluminum alloy in your base material and the environments to which the completed product will be exposed. The two types of aluminum filler wires that are the easiest to get are ER4043 and ER5356. For advice on the best wire alloys for your application, speak with your neighborhood welding dealer or the representative for aluminum filler metal.

Step-by-step Instruction On How To Weld Aluminum With A Mig Welder

How To Weld Aluminum With A Mig Welder
How To Weld Aluminum With A Mig Welder

Cleaning your aluminum and electrodes

Before starting, remember to clean the aluminum by applying a few droplets of solvent like acetone or use a wire brush.

Use an aluminum feeding kit to feed the electrodes and soft aluminum wire.

Welding aluminum with a MIG welder

To perform correctly without being distorted, keep in mind the following features:

  • The contact tips need holes which are large enough to enter and small enough to offer electrical contact.
  • Aluminum requires a U-shaped drive roll that will not shave aluminum wire.
  • Add a non-metallic liner to minimize the friction on the wire.
  • Try to keep the gun cable as straight as possible since the soft wire tends to be kinked due to feeding restrictions than steel.
  • While performing, if your MIG welder has any issue, you can try to use lubricants for troubleshooting.

The advantages and disadvantages of aluminum MIG Welding

Like TIG welding, MIG welding technique also comes with benefits and drawbacks. Please take a look below:

Advantages

  • Quick weld deposits
  • X-Ray quality welds
  • All-position welds

Disadvantages

  • Requires special equipment
  • Has difficulties in welding thin aluminum
  • Needs good welding skills

It’s time to weld aluminum

Don’t have pressures that you are a beginner or a girl. No, it’s possible with my post. MIG welders are very straightforward. So, if you know how to weld aluminum with a MIG welder, you can handle several other projects in the future.

Is this experience interesting? Please let me know by leaving your comment below this post or contact us through Tools Working.

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