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  • help with optima

    at my shop we have a pheonix 456 with a xra feeder and gun and an optima pulser. My problem is with a black hue around the weld. Ive completely replaced all items from the flow meter to the nozzle(including in the gun itself), as the miller technition had said it sounded like a gas problem. I thoroughly clean all surfaces to be welded with a stainless rope wire brush on an angle grinder then wipe all surfaces down with acetone immediately before pulling the trigger. I also set my flow gauge at 15 cf . The material is 6061 t6 and the wire is 4043 . I have a red wiper on the wire that I soak with acetone before welding also. I've tried pushing the puddle, pulling the puddle, and even perpendicular to the puddle. all this and it still looks like a tig pass with a contaminated tungsten. I am currently at my wits end with this machine, the last guy who worked here was unable to weld aluminum at all and the managers are wondering why they even invested in this machine at all.
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  • #2
    Any chance that the roll of wire is really old or exceptionally oxidized. I've had a similar problem with TIG rod. Just a guess...Jeff PS.. is the parent metal new?
    200DX 350P 625 Plasma & other stuff I forgot

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    • #3
      dyn88,

      What happens if you run 5356 on the exact same equipment set up with the 6061 base? Gas or filler problems? Have you set the Optima to function only as a remote current control (take the pulse out of the loop to test)? Need more info if possible?

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      • #4
        both the filler wire and the base are new from the supplier. Wire from ABCO and stock from yarde. Ive not tried changing filler as my manager wont approve the expense.(I have to have all purchases approved through the plant operations manager) I work for a machine shop, and its difficult to explain that these problems are difficult to fix to someone who knows nothing about welding.Any information you may need just ask and Ill be happy to give. Yes this occurs with or without pulse.
        Trailblazer 302g
        coolmate4
        hf-251d-1
        super s-32p
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        • #5
          dyn88,

          I have experience with all equipment and material involved except the Phoenix. However, I have worked with similar machines. Do you think they will let you change out the argon? My guess is you are 100% argon. If a mix what mix? Sometimes gas suppliers get bad runs.

          This black hue you speak of- Does it wipe off? Does the bead look good when you are running it? From your posts I gather you are experienced with the Al GMAW process so I won't ask any technique questions.

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          • #6
            Just for the sport of it how about cranking the gas up 5 cfh and see what happens. Maybe there could be a breeze coming thru so subtle and steady you are not even aware of it?

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            • #7
              I could go on for hours describing everything that ive tried. Ive varied my gas from 5-30 cf(Ive found in my experiance that anything more than 30 with nozzles less than 3/4 inch causes an unwanted invitation for atmosphere).I have tried using 25He75Ar(the mix is for my tig,I often weld thicker materials and found this mix give me better penetration).The tank on the machine is certified to be 99.995% or better pure(we weld,in flight parts). I am not greatly experienced in al mig. Only what ive done at expos and demonstrations. It may very well be my technique,as ive never been formaly trained in al mig. The phoenix is the exact predecesorto the xmt 456 from what i can tell.the black does wipe off mostly with a dry rag completly with a stainless brush. The beads look good but seems like not enough heat, then when I turn up heat I go 5-6 weaves and burn through. Im welding .1875wall 2x2 square tube.Ill try to post pics on monday
              Trailblazer 302g
              coolmate4
              hf-251d-1
              super s-32p
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              • #8
                The black smoke on the weld sonuds normal to me I am no expert but at work I weld up to 200 feet of aluminum on any given day. If your bead comes out really silver and shiney then you are to cold what you are looking for is sort of a soft gray with the white cleaning action around it and at the very edge of the toes there should be a fine silver line. What type of manipulation are you using?

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                • #9
                  There is nothing white, silver or gray about this,It is black. By manipulation Ill think you mean pattern since i already stated angle and puddle approach.My"manipulation"is elongated circles.Stay tuned for pics
                  Trailblazer 302g
                  coolmate4
                  hf-251d-1
                  super s-32p
                  you can never know enough

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                  • #10
                    here are the photos as you can see I have a problem with al mig, I also included a photo of my al tig and steel mig to retain some integrity. Yes I can weld. Just not al mig for dome reason. Please help
                    Attached Files
                    Trailblazer 302g
                    coolmate4
                    hf-251d-1
                    super s-32p
                    you can never know enough

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                    • #11
                      Frustrating problem as it seems that you know what you are doing. It does look like contamination problem.

                      You mentioned that you have switched over everything, wire, feeder, torch and the argon has been certified to be pure.

                      The only common element that has not been inspected or changed is the acetone, SS brush and gloves. What are the chances that one of these items is contaminated?

                      Secondly, is the gas flow constant when you are welding? If there is an automatic gas valve and if it is intermittent then you would not have the atmosphere required.

                      Thirdly, does this contamination only occur on Al or do you see evidence of it on other metals as well?

                      Finally, as a long shot, are you 100% sure that the machine is working correctly in AC mode? Can you put a scope on it to verify? If one of the diodes are blown or working incorrectly then the cleaning cycle may not be operating correctly. If the machine is similar to a TIG welder then if you switch the ground and electrode do you get the same results? (On a TIG I would expect that if diodes were blown then the tungsten would melt as a check, if everything is working correctly then there should be no difference)

                      I am not all that experienced in welding and I am not familiar with MIG at all but hopefully these suggestions will help.

                      Cheers,

                      Steve

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dyn88
                        here are the photos as you can see I have a problem with al mig, I also included a photo of my al tig and steel mig to retain some integrity. Yes I can weld. Just not al mig for dome reason. Please help
                        Did you try using a straight ahead torch movement with no circles? Maybe a straight move and a little pause. Also a slight wiggle side to side works pretty well sometimes. This is from owning a powermig 300 and watching a new MM350p in action with the right operator.

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                        • #13
                          Further to the gas valve sticking.

                          If you look at the welds, the contamination gets progressively worse from the start of the weld to the end of the weld, implying that the atmosphere is worsening from start to end. I base this on the observation that the black 'plume' gets larger as the bead progresses.

                          If it was the wire/gloves/SS brush/acetone/machine then the contamination would be constant. If the machine gas valve opened and then slowly closed it may cause this problem.

                          Can a flow meter be placed after the machine to double check? I am not sure if the flow meter at the regulator would show an immediate loss of flow, especially if the cables are long.

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                          • #14
                            the gas valve on an xra gun is a rubber diaphram at the gun itself and it flows at a position before the wire is actually "live". I did take xtra care this time in insuring a clean surface. Against my better judgement i did this bare handed, with a new rag,my acetone may have been dirty but this problem has been ongoing for quite some time now.I read that pulse mode is still d/c only, working like the acen side of advance squarewave).Id really like to cure this as I cant send unpainted products out the door looking like this(just about all the black comes off but still stains the beads themselves). This appearance is the best I could achieve, after testing several different torch angles.(just imagine what the test pieces look like)
                            Trailblazer 302g
                            coolmate4
                            hf-251d-1
                            super s-32p
                            you can never know enough

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                            • #15
                              Scott V has got it alomst bang on with the manipulation. Just Move forward pause and let the bead fill out and then move and pause and move and pause and so on. When you move in circles you draw air in to the weld. Also I think you should turn up your gas at work I run 35-40psi and I don't get dirty welds but I use 3/4" nozzles try it and see.

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