How hard is it to weld aluminum? I'm looking to get some drilled holes filled on strut tower caps.
Aluminum can be tricky, but with practice it's all a piece of cake.
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I haven't welded aluminum in 4 to 5 years. my company wants to get me certified in it for some military contracts we want. this is what my first weld looked like
its not hard, its all in the heat. if I keep on welding alum I'll get back in the swings of things and it will look like stack of dimes again.
personally I would not use a torch to weld aluminum it doesn't melt like steel does. use a tig machine with an a/c option
I saw a program on Nat Geo last night about building the Audi R8, and the whole aluminium space-frame is Mig welded which surprised me
What sort of setup could they be using for that, and could I replicate it at home? I can't afford a proper Tig, but I can Mig steel just fine. Would they have special Mig machines (HF maybe?), or just spool guns on standard machines?
I have a Millermatic 180 and it does steel and aluminium.... http://www.millerwelds.com/products/...c_180_autoset/ They mention the use of a Spoolmate that plugs into this welder and allows you to easily weld Aluminium. I have a buddy with a Tig that does aluminium so I have never bothered to look into this but it looks like a decent Tig with an add-on will do this easily enough.
The MIG machines that weld AL have a Pull/Push type gun. since the aluminum filler wire is fragile, it needs a gun that allows it to flow through the gun cable. These machines are pretty expensive because you need alot of settings to get the weld correct. One example of such a machine is the Lincoln Electric Power-Mig 350MP. It's a multi-process machine, and costs quite a bit.
What most people do is buy a spool gun, I've worked in a welding shop where I had to weld 1"thick aluminum for an IBM contract, and I did it with a spool gun. They're somewhat annoying, but for the price, you can't beat it.
Or just take the caps to a local shop, they probably wouldn't charge you too much.
Power Mig 350MP: http://www.mylincolnelectric.com/Cat...t.aspx?p=18685
"Cougar" Push-Pull Gun: http://www.mylincolnelectric.com/Cat....aspx?p=104170
"Python" push-pull gun (this is one that I've used with the 350mp and it's an awesome unit, but it costs insane amounts of money): http://content.lincolnelectric.com/p...ture/e1213.pdf
And finally, here's a good old spool-gun: http://content.lincolnelectric.com/p...ture/e1221.pdf
Last edited by mk2 16v turbo; 09-07-2010 at 04:31 PM.
I looked in to welding alu with my Mig, one of my clients is a welding supply store, the guy said that spool guns work the best, but you can usually get a teflon sleeve gun that is also shorter in overall length and use pure argon gas and you are golden. I don't have the money for the gun but I'm going to try it once I do. Luckily my old Snap-On welder uses standard parts.
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I have the Miller 180 with the spool gun.
My 2 cents.
It works but not as good as the tig. It's a spray transfer, so you have to hold the gun far away and the aluminum comes spraying off of it. Hard to explain, but it's kind of hard to direct the transfer. If you push with the gun you'll melt the tip, if you get to close with the tip it'll melt as well.
That being said, once you get used to it, it's fine. But I've made a couple 2.9 mod manifolds and they look nowhere as pretty as the one shown up above. For dirty metal it makes it a little tough because you get the contamination rising up out of it (just like with a tig). Anyway, I'd prefer to have a tig welder but the Miller with a spool gun will definitely work, it's just a little bit different of a technique.
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ive used a spool gun for years working on highway trailers and aluminum headache racks and the like....it is really all in how you set the machine up our spool gun does actually run more like a standard mig, not really spray transfer so it is fairly simple to operate. but a spool gun is definatley the way to go if you cant afford a tig welder =]
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Nothing is impossible, It Just costs more
Things that are aluminum and robotic welded are fed with CNC spool guns. They work well because they are able to measure arc by voltage and can adjust feed height and rate. A hand spool gun is a little sloppy - you have to move nice, have good height, and the stuff has to be CLEAN.
Welding aluminum via TIG is a little easier to learn on than on steel personally. I can do both decently, but aluminum seems to allow for more mess ups to be honest.
Last weekend on the Spike channel there was a program about off road vehicles. The whole program covered welding aluminum with a spool gun, converting a MIG to weld aluminum, and TIG welding aluminum. Covered surface prep, etc. Bottom line is clean the metal before you weld.