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  • Trouble welding Aluminum

    I have a TIG syncrowave 250dx which i bought used about a month ago. At this point i am fairly proficient with mild steel and i am trying to weld aluminum. 1/4" thick alum strips. No matter what i do the weld sounds really off, the arc constantly wanders, the tip really ***** up fast and it's impossible to make any real weld with it. Any ideas?

    I have used pure tungsten and 1.5% lanthanated tungsten. Machine is set to AC. Post flow at 9 seconds, balance at 4, and HF at 20-60. HF cont. is also set correctly. 100% argon set to 19cfm.

    At this point i am beginning to think something is wrong with my machine. Any ideas? If my settings sound right what malfunction on the machine's side would cause this to happen?

  • #2
    regal,

    Assuming you've given the aluminum a good SS brushing to remove the surface oxides, crank the balance up to 7-8. This will put more heat into the weld and less heat to the tungsten.

    I prefer the 2% Lanthanated over the 1.5%. I don't even buy pure anymore.

    You didn't mention what filler you're using or what amps you're welding at.

    I'd recommend practicing with 3/32" or 1/8" 4043. I'd set my amps at 220 or so and use the pedal to adjust. You'll have to back off slightly on the pedal anyway as heat starts to build in the aluminum.

    What you're experiencing with regard to fouling the tungsten is quite common when learning to weld aluminum. Aluminum will contaminate your tungsten much faster than mild steel or SS. You might get away (sort of) with what I call a micro dip when welding steel, but you won't get away with it with aluminum. Aluminum likes to be welded hot and fast. When you get to the end of a bead, you'll have to back off on your amps while still feeding that last puddle. If not you'll end up with a crater for sure.

    You can tell when the balance is just right when you have a very small cleaning zone (about 1/16") adjacent to the bead.

    With aluminum, there's no substitute for hood time. Practice, Practice, Practice.

    PS. Most likely technique rather than the machine. I've owned 3 Sync 250's and they've all welded great.

    Didn't follow that balance crap in one of your other posts. When welding in DC, there is no balance. Balance only comes into play when welding in AC. Balance refers to the amount of time the machine spends in DC- and DC+.
    Syncrowave 250 DX Tigrunner
    Dynasty 200 DX
    Miller XMT 304 w/714D Feeder & Optima Control
    Miller MM 251 w/Q300 & 30A SG
    Hobart HH187
    Dialarc 250 AC/DC
    Hypertherm PM 600 & 1250
    Wilton 7"x12" bandsaw
    PC Dry Cut Saw, Dewalt Chop Saw
    Milwaukee 8" Metal Cut Saw, Milwaukee Portaband.
    Thermco and Smith (2) Gas Mixers
    More grinders than hands

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    • #3
      Sundownlll thanks so much for your post. i took the balance up to 7 and laid some real nice beads. (Nice for a novice anyway.) I had no idea how different alum was compared to mild steel until tonight. lol. Thanks for your help!

      A couple side questions. What is the best way to set the dial adjustment for HF? I know if it's too high it interferes with electronics etc and if it's too low the arc wanders. is there an obvious way to know when i have it set correctly? Right now its at 45. The other question is the HF will be the same for AC and DC right? I dont have to keep adjusting depending on AC or DC right? (DC HF Start.)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by regal2800 View Post
        A couple side questions. What is the best way to set the dial adjustment for HF? I know if it's too high it interferes with electronics etc and if it's too low the arc wanders. is there an obvious way to know when i have it set correctly? Right now its at 45. The other question is the HF will be the same for AC and DC right? I dont have to keep adjusting depending on AC or DC right? (DC HF Start.)
        I thought the square wave machines only need HF to get the arc going even on AC. When the wave switches from positive to negative (or vice versa) the transition is so fast the arc doesn't go out. My old dialarc uses continuous HF on AC because its a sine wave machine and the arc would extinguish. Comments?
        Con Fuse!
        Miller Dynasty 350
        Millermatic 350P
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        Hypertherm PowerMax 1000G3
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        • #5
          Originally posted by con_fuse9 View Post
          I thought the square wave machines only need HF to get the arc going even on AC. When the wave switches from positive to negative (or vice versa) the transition is so fast the arc doesn't go out. My old dialarc uses continuous HF on AC because its a sine wave machine and the arc would extinguish. Comments?
          Nope. The HF is continuous for aluminum on AC.

          Griff

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          • #6
            Originally posted by regal2800 View Post
            I have a TIG syncrowave 250dx which i bought used about a month ago. At this point i am fairly proficient with mild steel and i am trying to weld aluminum. 1/4" thick alum strips. No matter what i do the weld sounds really off, the arc constantly wanders, the tip really ***** up fast and it's impossible to make any real weld with it. Any ideas?

            I have used pure tungsten and 1.5% lanthanated tungsten. Machine is set to AC. Post flow at 9 seconds, balance at 4, and HF at 20-60. HF cont. is also set correctly. 100% argon set to 19cfm.

            At this point i am beginning to think something is wrong with my machine. Any ideas? If my settings sound right what malfunction on the machine's side would cause this to happen?
            Sundown gave you great info. One thing he left out (or I missed) is your post flow needs to roughly one second for every ten amps of output.

            This won't affect your first weld but could affect later welds as your tungsten deteriorates due to not being cooled off enough after you stop each arc.

            If I remember correctly, the manual for your adjustable HF machine says to" run the HF as low as possible and still get acceptable results". Not very definitive.

            Remember, the HF is not doing any welding, it is just sustaining the arc as the voltage switches from + to - or - to + in AC mode. In DC, the HF is only initiating the arc for you.

            The later Syncros have eliminated the adjustable HF.

            Griff
            Last edited by griff01; 02-12-2010, 07:53 AM. Reason: additional info

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            • #7
              Regal,

              As long as the neighbors (or the wife) are not complaining about the HF messing up the TV, you're probably fine. The newer Sync's don't even have the same adjustment for HF intensity.

              As has already been mentioned, HF is continuous (with the Syncrowave's) when welding in AC. HF is used for arc starting only when welding in DC. What ConFuse is referring to applies to the "advanced squarewave" machines, such as the Dynasty, where the wave is switching between DC- and DC+ so rapidly that continuous HF is not required to keep the current from extinguishing when pass thru 0.

              Post up some photos and we may be able to help you refine the process.
              Syncrowave 250 DX Tigrunner
              Dynasty 200 DX
              Miller XMT 304 w/714D Feeder & Optima Control
              Miller MM 251 w/Q300 & 30A SG
              Hobart HH187
              Dialarc 250 AC/DC
              Hypertherm PM 600 & 1250
              Wilton 7"x12" bandsaw
              PC Dry Cut Saw, Dewalt Chop Saw
              Milwaukee 8" Metal Cut Saw, Milwaukee Portaband.
              Thermco and Smith (2) Gas Mixers
              More grinders than hands

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              • #8
                Sundown,
                Great post. "Hot and Fast". That is key right there. I have always followed this process, and even starting the puddle. I like to get a puddle right away and move move move. I got into a war on another site regarding hot and fast and as soon as I posted pics of my "hot and fast" aluminum welds he stopped posting about how wrong I was.
                T.J.
                Miller Dynasty 300DX
                HTP MIG 240
                HTP 380 Plasma

                Bridgeport Milling Machine
                South Bend Lathe
                Etc. Etc....
                tjsperformance.com

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                • #9
                  Post flow?

                  1 sec per 10 amps? That I'm not familiar with.

                  So at 250 amps I have to run a 25 second post flow? Wowsir!
                  Mustangs Forever!

                  Miller equipment.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TJS View Post
                    Sundown,
                    Great post. "Hot and Fast". That is key right there. I have always followed this process, and even starting the puddle. I like to get a puddle right away and move move move. I got into a war on another site regarding hot and fast and as soon as I posted pics of my "hot and fast" aluminum welds he stopped posting about how wrong I was.
                    T.J.
                    I'd like to see your pic [I've never welded alm.]

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                    • #11
                      Alright here is the last pic from this evenings Alum welding. It's much tougher then steel and you have to get used to the speed. Let me know what you guys think and where you think i can improve.
                      Attached Files

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                      • #12
                        See the problem is when someone says "hot and Fast"
                        Well that a relative term and to some one with experience Hot and fast is good.
                        But to a new guy Hot may not be hot enough and fast may be dead slow.

                        It's all based on experience. and that pic shows some experience. even though you can see it's a bit on the over heated side. Not saying it's a bad weld at all. it's just not perfect. but you knew that
                        Miller Syncrowave 200 W/Radiator 1A & water cooled torch
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                        • #13
                          kcstott,

                          Looks pretty dang good to me. Especially for a guy who was having trouble getting a puddle less than 48 hours ago.

                          Seems like Regal didn't have a lot of trouble understanding "hot and fast".

                          Nice work there Regal. You're getting the hang of it. Use the pedal to back off the heat as you proceed with the bead. That will help to maintain consistent bead size as heat builds in the base metal.

                          That's one thing a lot of people don't take into account when welding aluminum. Alum is a tremendous heat sink. Running multiple beads on a piece of scrap is like preheating the metal. Subsequent beads will require less heat than earlier ones.

                          Kipp,

                          That old 1 sec/10A is a quote from the Miller Owners Manual. Personally, I use it as a guideline for up to about 120A. I haven't had much problem with frosting my tungsten, even at hi amps when I set the postflow at about 12 sec. Keep in mind I use mostly water cooled torches and additional postflow can help cool down an air cooled torch. On the other hand, the guy who says you need 25 sec of postflow is probably the guy selling gas at the LWS.
                          Syncrowave 250 DX Tigrunner
                          Dynasty 200 DX
                          Miller XMT 304 w/714D Feeder & Optima Control
                          Miller MM 251 w/Q300 & 30A SG
                          Hobart HH187
                          Dialarc 250 AC/DC
                          Hypertherm PM 600 & 1250
                          Wilton 7"x12" bandsaw
                          PC Dry Cut Saw, Dewalt Chop Saw
                          Milwaukee 8" Metal Cut Saw, Milwaukee Portaband.
                          Thermco and Smith (2) Gas Mixers
                          More grinders than hands

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks for all your help guys. I really appreciate it. I am going out of town for a couple days but when i get back I am going to try it again with less heat. I have to back off the pedal but for some reason on alum i notice the puddle is too hot a little too late if you know what i mean. Anyhow thanks again for everyone's input.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by captkipp View Post
                              1 sec per 10 amps? That I'm not familiar with.

                              So at 250 amps I have to run a 25 second post flow? Wowsir!
                              It is in the manual.

                              Griff

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