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Tig welding thin aluminum

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  • Tig welding thin aluminum

    Hello. I’m new to aluminum tig welding but have a bit of experience steel tig welding. I have a miller diversion 180. The thickness of aluminum is about 0.06”. I’m using 45 amps with about 18 cfh of pure argon. The tungsten is 1/16 pure tungsten. I’m having an issue both getting a puddle started as well as getting a good finish on the beads.

    I can’t seem to get the puddle initiated without overheating the aluminum. Any ideas?
    I’ll attach pictures of my ‘welds’Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    Wire brush the heck out of the material, using a clean stainless brush used only for aluminum. Try 2% lanthanated tungsten instead of pure tungsten. Make sure you don't have excessive stickout. Grind your tungsten pointy with only a little radius on the end. If you dip it, re-grind immediately.
    Last edited by Bushytails; 03-17-2021, 10:27 PM.


    • #3
      What sort of cup setup are you and size? 18cfh is quite a bit and would normally only be required for a big cup. Take whatever size cup you're using and double that to get a #6 cup would be around 12CFH.

      As mentioned, inverter machines and pure tungsten don't really work well together, so 2% lanthanated would be a good choice.

      What are you using for filler rod? What percentage of cleaning are you using?

      The general rule is 1A for every thousandth of an inch of thickness, so I'd try 60A, hit the pedal hard to get a puddle quickly, and then back off once you've moving along. If it takes more than a couple of seconds to get the puddle started you're putting too much heat into the piece to get a good finish.


      • #4
        What grade of aluminum are you welding? It may be that the surface of that material was been cleaned properly for welding.

        I would try a different piece of aluminum to make sure what you’re welding is actually a weldable material.


        • #5
          Thanks for the responses everyone! The cup size I’m using is a #5, so probably a little high on the cfh. I’m using 4043 filler and I’m not 100% certain on the grade of aluminum (just some extra McMaster trim I had laying around from a project).

          Didn’t know the stainless wire brush thing...was using a carbon steel brush with acetone to clean.

          Unfortunately the diversion 180 doesn’t have squat as far as fine adjustments (just material type and amperage) so I cannot adjust ac balance, frequency, or any of that stuff.

          I will try a 2% lanthanated tungsten, with around 13 cfh and 60ish amps, on material that I KNOW is 6061 aluminum. I will also try the stainless steel brush cleaning suggestion and let you guys know how it works!

          Any suggestions on how I keep the heated region tight enough such that it doesn’t overheat and melt the surrounding region?

          Last edited by ForemLuc; 03-18-2021, 12:50 PM.


          • #6
            Most all aluminum trim has been treated with an alodine or anodize coatings to protect the product from to grind it off in order to weld..


            • #7
              That’s exactly what aluminum welds look like when you try to weld on something with the coating not removed too.