What is MIG Welding Aluminum?

After learning all about MIG welding, you may find welding Aluminum a bit difficult or more demanding. Don’t worry, and we have made a Guide for MIG welding aluminum, making things easy for you. Follow these steps, and you will be able to consider the core factors more easily.

How to weld Aluminum with a MIG (Complete Guide)

Aluminum in its pure form is a relatively soft metal, but you can make additions of different alloys to increase its strength, making it useable for various requirements. Since the properties of Aluminum are very other than steel, the processing of the material can pose some unique challenges, such as distortion and sensitivity to heat input.

MIG welding aluminum is rugged despite these problems, make sure to use the right equipment and proper procedures to follow.

So, to make things easier for you, keep in mind the following factors before choosing your MIG welding aluminum for your needs.

How to Get Things Started

1.      Watch the Thickness of the Material

When welding Aluminum, most of the time, you can have thicker materials. On average, you will find the thickness of the material around 14 gauges or heavier. Also, the output of your MIG determines the thickness of your welding.

We recommend using a unique pulsed MIG welder if you are looking to weld aluminum material thinner than 14 gauge. But if you don’t have that, you can also use AC TIG welding types of equipment.

2.      Try To Keep Things Clean

Aluminum should be thoroughly cleaned and greased before welding. After degreasing, use a stainless steel wire brush, hand brush, or stainless steel wire brush to remove rust, or one cup will do. Maintain a low speed and pressure during use to reduce surface contamination of the material, which may trap oxides and contaminants below the surface. To avoid contamination of the substrate, always use a wire brush for Aluminum only.

3.      Select the Right MIG Welding Gas 

As you may know, Aluminum tends to react as a non-ferrous metal. Therefore, 100% pure argon gas would be the ideal gas for welding such metals. According to your working style, you can have the flow rate, but experts recommend a 20 to 30 cubic feet flow rate per hour.

4.      What Process to Use?

Spray transfer is the ideal mode for MIG welding aluminum. This process is a very delicate process in which droplets of molten metal transfer from the electrode’s end to the welding pool. The droplet passing through the arc is smaller than the diameter of the electrode.

The spray transmission is short-circuiting, and the deposition rate and efficiency are relatively high. However, this jet transfer requires much heat, which creates a sizeable molten pool with good penetration that is difficult to control. Thinner than 14 gauge material.

5.      Gun & Wire Feeding

The wire feeding system is an essential step before MIG welding aluminum. The aluminum wire comes with a gun spool or a push-pull system. The reel-to-reel gun improves the soft wire feed by inserting a small reel of wire into the pistol gun.

The roll-to-roll gun prevents birds from building nests because the wires only go in a few inches. In a two-stroke system, the welding gun motor pulls the welding wire through the bushing, and the wire feed motor participates as an auxiliary motor. Keep away from the power source when welding, which is more ergonomic and user-friendly.

6.      Choose the Right Filler Metal

Excellent and efficient welders have a sound knowledge of the alloy to use for your base aluminum and the sufficient conditions of the finished part require. Well, there are two most reliable aluminum fillers, used mainly are ER4043 and ER5356.

Before choosing the right one for you, make sure to have an expert opinion or do sound research.

Techniques to Use for MIG Welding Aluminum

Certain things are making an impact on your welding techniques like;

Your skill levelTypes of joints  
Positions and fit-up of your welding  Welding Power Supply  

Moreover, we try to describe you in detail, so consider the following techniques to make your skills more effective.

  • Try to use a 10 to 15-degree push angle and position the tip and nozzle in the direction of travel. Using a dragger angle tends to give more dirty and porous welding because of the lack of gas coverage.
  • Try to make a good enough tip-to-work distance and have a contact tip around 1/8 inch inside the nozzle.
  • When MIG welding aluminum, the heat reflected and welding puddle may feel very hot. When you try to hold the tip closer could lead to the burning of the welding wire. So, try to take care of this issue efficiently.
  • Try to have a more torch speed because when welding, the base metal gets hotter.
  • Avoid using large aluminum mesh cables. When more significant fillet welds are required, multilayer welds especially have a better appearance and are less likely to overlap, jam, and other welding defects.

Common Problems of MIG Welding Aluminum

So, now that you are ready to go, you can face specific problems when MIG welding aluminum. We tried to mention most of them; try to consider these steps when you got into a position like anyone of the following.

Overheating of Base Metal

  • Immediately increase the travel speed and try to make shorter welds.
  • If you have the option try to move around the part that got heated
  • Try to use thicker metals or change the joint design if you can
  • You can also change the welding process
  • Remove or try to reduce gaps.

Dirty Welds

  • Try to use a more push angle rather than any other technique
  • Also, you can increase the voltage
  • Make sure to use a standard base metal cleaning technique. For example, try to have a stainless steel brush
  • Make sure to have efficient shielding gas and alloy welding wires

Setting Up Wrong Settings of the Welding Machine

  • Make sure to check settings of your welder is efficient enough before starting your job.
  • If you got stuck, try to get help from the user manual provided by most MIG welding aluminum machines.
  • Lastly, if there is an experienced person around, try to reach him, or you can get help from the internet as well.

Welding Wire Burning Back

  • To avoid this problem, try to have a safe distance called tip-to-work distance.
  • Also, check that the contact tip, driver rolls, and gun liner size matches the wire diameter.

Wire Bird-nests Against the Gun

  • Firstly adjust the tension of the driver rolls.
  • Make sure to have driver rolls matching the wire diameter
  • You can also check and replace the tip

Conclusion

MIG welding aluminum is a complicated process, and it requires some particular knowledge and expertise. So, here we are explaining all the basics of MIG welding aluminum. We tried our best to explain all the essentials aspects providing a piece of sound knowledge to the newcomers and the experienced ones.

Hopefully, you will find these articles enough informative and helpful to your welding journey. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment box.

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