Pinjas

Methods of welding Aluminum together

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Hello,

I have more than a few prototypes on my sketch lab that I want to put into real world environments and that means making them out of something. Right now the cheapest option sounds like aluminum, which is great for prototyping. I am looking into methods for welding aluminum together, at one point I was considering getting a Tig machine but the cost doesn't seem to justify it and I felt there was a better choice for putting copper or aluminum together. So I started looking around and then I recently discovered this website.
This forum has a lot of fantastic information that I find to be very useful. I am learning a bit about green sand and lost foam casting. I am still pretty lost on these two ideas, all I can find are how they are different from each other. It seems as though that green sand is something you mix with clay or something else, the green sand is what you really need because it is able to withstand very high temperatures. I am not sure about it all so any resources would be much appreciated concerning casting methods that are nice and cheap.

The welding portion seems to have a lot of options, far more than the few casting options I am looking at right now. I see tigs, migs and torches of sorts. The most affordable option I see right now is a 'mapp torch'. I guess you melt some other kind of melt to a corner between aluminum or something like that. I don't entirely grasp how welding works but I know I want to learn and this place seems to have more than a few welding vets that are willing to lend there knowledge and advice.

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aluminum can be gas welded depending on how thick the section is very common for thin sections

there are also arc welding sticks for aluminum

and mig and tig

nothing as pretty as tig

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If you can do so - Buy a TIG machine. It sounds like you have lots of ideas and if your going to do half of them - you'll wish you did spend the $$$ on the TIG machine. Yes they are a little spendy to get into but once you have it - you'll be using it more than you originally thought. Also, you may be able to recoup some of the expense by doing repairs for the nieghbors after they know you can weld aluminum. - Good Luck - JK

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What ever method you decide on..... your first step should be to take welding courses in a trade school. There are a couple of big steps you need to learn before you can do any kind of welding sucessfully.

The tuition at the school of self taught is about right, but the labs are pure heck.

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Well said Charlotte, truer words were never uttered.

Frosty

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You guys mention a tig, - Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices would this be a suitable tig? I am not planning on welding metal that is very thick, probably nothing thicker than 1/16th of an inch for most of my applications.


Unfortunately no

to tig weld aluminum you must have a high frequency machine its actually ac current which is pulsed

typically these machines are quite expensive you will find probley starting at around 1500 us dollars for a brand name lower model

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Aluminum can also be soldered. Joints must be designed with solding in mind, and requires the use of special solder and flux.

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Product Listing Alloy 5 What about this sort of idea? video: how to weld aluminum, aluminum welding & repair I assume I would use a mapp torch with a propane tank and then just go to town just like that video. Also, what is flux?

Also, I am still very interested in some sort of guide or instruction on the whole casting process, maybe a quick link on how to use green sand and/or lost foam? That would be very appreciated. Edited by Pinjas

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Like most of us, there is so many wonderful things to do and they all need more tools. :) Not that I have that problem but I've heard. Pick the one you are attracted to the most and learn some of the basics. Do some projects in that medium/ technique and you begin the journey, you will find that the trail will wind around to other areas that you are then more prepared to do.
[auctioneer chatter]
Pick one, any one, doesn't matter which one, and GOOoooo!

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Product Listing Alloy 5 Also, what is flux?

Also, I am still very interested in some sort of guide or instruction on the whole casting process, maybe a quick link on how to use green sand and/or lost foam? That would be very appreciated.


Flux is a cleaner... in the case of aluminum it removes the surface oxide, allowing the metal to bond.

Go to google, enter sand casting, lost foam, lost wax, moldmaking, read until you are tired, start again tomorow. Casting is a giant feild.

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MIG Welding - The DIY Guide I found this website and it seems to have a fair bit of helpful information. Any websites on mig welding would be very appreciated. Essentially what I am looking for is someone to hold my hand like a 5 year old and point out for me what is good, what is bad and what I need to accomplish my deeds.
I am trying to weld together, as cheaply as possible, pieces of 16 gauge aluminum together, maybe a bit thicker at times. There seems to be three brands of migs I am considering at the moment. Lincoln, Miller and Hobart I think it is, there are a few others I am open to I think but I certainly don't want to buy some piece of junk, unless you folks advice otherwise : P.
There are sooo many choices and I know sooo little about it, it seems they always involve 'arcing' for the creation of the heat, some use gas, some don't. I feel that based on the opinion of more than a few that the best route is using some sort of gas like pure argon with a non-flux sort of wire. That should give the best weld I assume. Any hints or a solid point in the right direction, even a few links to well priced products would be -greatly- appreciated. I live in Wisconsin by st. paul.

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That site didn't come up for me, so I can't comment on it's content. Lincoln, Miller, and Hobart are all good brands, Ford, Dodge, Chevy, a matter of taste more than anything. I personaly prefer Lincoln, but have owned good Millers and other brands as well. Hobart is now a division of Miller.
Any process for MIG welding aluminum is going to involve inert gas, specificaly Argon.
MIG welding aluminum in general is a difficult operation primarily because the filler wire (aluminum) is soft and therefore difficult to feed. For this reason, and reasons of apearence and ease of welding, TIG is prefered, especialy in thin sections such as 16 gauge.
Asuming that you would prefer MIG, most welders would choose the Spool on gun method of MIG welding. Additionaly, a thin filler wire such as .030" or .035" is recomended. You will need to practice on scap pieces extensively, to get the proper heat and wire speed settings. Personaly, I would consider the TIG process instead, perhaps with a machine such as a Thermal Dynamics inverter.

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Learning to weld from videos is like learning music from video; It look/sounds easy in the video but then you pick up the instrument, and try to perform, you learn that you didn't learn. Mig welding isn't as hard as playing a musical instrument IMHO, but it takes practice to do it well and as arftist says above, TIG is more user friendly on aluminum than MIG. In my experience, the lighter the material, the harder it is to do well on any material, especially aluminum. 16 ga is rather light material. Auto body material is only a little lighter. Regardless of the method you choose, if you don't opt for instruction in person from someone experienced in welding aluminum, plan on adding to you scrap pile before you achieve success. Even with personal instruction, there will be a learning curve. Good luck in your endeavors :D

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for ease i reccoment a MIG welder, hit the surface to be welded with a sanding disk to clean the oxide off to help it fuse better. or tack it all up and hit it with a wire buff where it is to be welded.

TIG is an Excellent option, not as quick as MIG, but much more astetically pleasing and possibly stronger. i majority of the time, MIG weld.

there is also the option of pop rivetting it together on an aluminium angle frame?

best of luck

personal prefference, i like Lincoln, CIG, WIA and Kemmpi welders. Kemmpi are an expensive machine, but have a digital memory bank preset upto 99 settings, can weld STICK, MIG and TIG. very reliable, and have a 2t 4t trigger setting.

also for welding alumium with a MIG welder you will require a (push/pull) aluminium handset specific to the perpous.

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The basic is that welding,,and including aluminum is not a skill that we are born with. Do not buy anything pricey now. Take a welding class and see if yoiu still wisht to weld. Then you will know wot machine will do wot you wish. Another option is to just buy wotever youi thiink will do it,,try and figure out how to weld,,get either motivatred or discouraged and then buy a more pricey machine and sign up for a class.

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one of the cheapest ways I found to weld alluminum is a mig. it has good turn out for heavier gauge materials and leaves a nice weld.
just remember to set up a Mig you need around a 250 or greater machine and a tefflon liner and pure argon. I use 5356 .035 wire. flip the polarity(Positive ground) and off you go. always start your weld off center of a seam and walk it in( pre heats the material to be welded). try looking at an alluminum semi trailers for how they are welded. you will see the detail.

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Get ye back to school! Look for the nearest metalworking instruction center and sign up. Nothing beats one on one instruction with an experienced hand as a mentor. You ain`t gonna learn what you need to know staring at this screen and we can`t spoon feed it to you over distance. The only way you learn how to produce acceptable welds is by getting the training, welding and then destroying what you welded to see what made it fail. I`ve seen beautiful looking weld beads that didn`t hold any better than hot glue once you took a hammer to them and Mig is the worst offender I`ve seen for this type of stuff.
Invest in your future and safety and make your first purchase a training course. The investment will pay for itself in time and money saved on consumables and material and possibly medical bills. Getting to use the equipment at a school will also help you sort out what you personally really need so it`ll save you money by keeping you from buying inappropriate equipment, getting frustrated and selling that lightly used equipment at a loss when you get frustrated and lose interest.
Now step away from the keyboard,pick up the phone book and start talking to a real live expert and make arrangements to meet him face to face. Best advice I can give you or anyone else backed by over 30 years experience as a welder and fabricator.

BTW- Aluminum may be cheap but it`s not an appropriate material for every project. You never said what you intend to make prototypes of so aluminum may be an entirely inappropriate material to begin with.
If you`re just trying to prove a theory and refine a design then many of the folks I`ve worked with make initial prototypes out of materials like plywood, disassemble the working prototype, then use the parts as templates to transfer the now proven and refined design into the most appropriate metal or composite. They can also hand some of those templates off to subcontractors and have them make the things they aren`t properly geared up for. Sometimes the most cost effective way to do something is to hand off what you can`t or don`t want to do so you can be doing what you are good at and can make money at. To quote one of my mentors; "If you try to be good at everything you`ll only diminish your chances at being really good at what your true calling is".

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Just a few notes from a 40 yr aluminum welder. AC and high freq is NOT required nor is ARGON. Can be stick welded and DC mig using reverse polarity. Any inert gas will do. Helium is great for more heat at the same amps. Prefer my old 330 ABP Miller tig /stick welder(from los alamos lab)
Ken

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http://www.harborfreight.com/welding/tig-arc-welders/tig-mma-inverter-welding-machine-with-digital-readout-98233.html

Is NOT a good Alum welder it says so .

Mig spool gun or arc welding is fine the machines are high dollar the small rigs are ment for DIY folks but used seldom . go to a Weld shop or 2 or 3 and chat with them hold your ground stay in budget and get the top of the line you can afford that will do what you want to do .

Sam

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I'll tell ya whut...If you are a half way decent weldor, weld it with stick.......you should push the stick INTO the weld and feel it popping back into the stinger, go fast-ish.... at a high heat ( alum. disperses heat quick ) oh yeah, 3/32 is good for thin-ish alum

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Find a welding school. Talk to your instructor about what you want to do. If you have a project in mind, the instructor will set you up with series of steps that will lead you to your goal. And, along the way, you might become interested in other types of welding. There is so much more to welding than picking a type of welder.

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One thing I have noticed here. Too many opinions and advice with NO statement of history. If a haven't made a living at aluminum welding please shut up. I have been doing it for longer than some of you have been alive. Have gas welded it. Stick Mig and Tig. HI freaq or not. Argon or not. AC or not. Wife went from soldering stain glass to mig and tig in one session. My Miller
can do from .5 to 460 amps(beercan to 1 inch solid) PM for advice.

 

IFI has always had the basic rules of No cussin, No fussin and treat each other with respect.  While I can relates to the frustration off clueless guesses not being helpful,    telling people to shut up is pushing your luck on the treat with respect clause.

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