MIG weld aluminum seems difficult since it is different and a little trickier than MIG welding mild steel task. And if you are new to this type of work you will surely get confused.
The most commonly asked question of beginners is “Can you MIG weld aluminum and how can you do that?”
Well, this article aims to answer this particular question more briefly and precisely. So that the next time you need to do aluminum welding task, you can spontaneously do so without any confusion.
What Is MIG Welding?
Before you can move onto the actual MIG welding process let’s have a glance at the basic definition of MIG Welding and how does it work-
MIG welding or, Metal Inert Gas welding is also commonly known as Gas Metal arc welding or, GMAW. In this specific welding process, a continuous solid wire electrode will feed through a welding gun into the weld pool to join the two base Matels together.
MIG welding process also allows a shielding gas will dispatch through the welding gun to protect the molten pool of weld metal from any contamination.
Can You MIG Weld Aluminum?
Yes, you can MIG weld aluminum but remember that it’s not an ideal choice of action. And I will explain the whole process thoroughly in below but before I start that let’s have a look at what you will require for the welding task-
A shielding gas tank: You can either use plain argon or, helium gas. If you want to use an argon helium mix or combo option, that will work too. But make sure you have a 75% helium and 25% argon combo as your gas option.
Aluminum filler Wire: You can use either push-pull wire feel system or a spool gun. Remember that for space limitation issues or out of position works spool gun will be more accurate.
An oversized tip: Tip in Aluminum version is highly recommended but in case your machine’s tip is not available in the aluminum version then choose a 1.0mm tip for 0.8mm wire.
A Plastic or Teflon Liner: Instead of regular liner wire use a plastic or Teflon liner.
How to MIG Weld:
To MIG weld aluminum without any hassle just follow the below instructions thoroughly-
Step-1 Choose Your Equipment:
For MIG Welding task you need to choose a more powerful welding machine for working on thicker metals. For example, a 115-volt welder machine can handle aluminum up to 3 mm thick with ample preheating. Or, if you are picking a 230-volt machine then that can weld aluminum up to 6 mm thick. So, pick a machine that can deliver greater output than for regular welding works.
Step-2 Select The Correct Materials:
Now time for choosing the correct shielding gas and use pure argon in contrast with steel, which typically uses a combo of argon and carbon dioxide. You may not need any new hoses for that but you will need regulators especially designed for carbon dioxide.
After that, determine your aluminum electrodes and the electrodes for welding aluminum should be less than 1 mm. For your reference, remember 4043 aluminum can be an ideal choice for such welding tasks.
Step-3 Feeding the Electrodes:
Now, feed the electrodes with a commercially available aluminum feeding kit since those allow to feed softer aluminum wire.
As you may know that aluminum expands more than steel so the contact tips should be larger and the aluminum feeding kits are perfect for that with their larger holes on contact tips. These kits have U-shaped drive rolls to prevent from shaving the aluminum wires. Also, the non-metallic liners of those feeding kits help to reduce friction on the wires as they go through the feeder.
Step-4 Keep The Gun Cable As Straightened:
Now keep the gun cable as straight or aligned as possible to ensure that the wires feed thoroughly and properly. Keep in mind that the softer wire is more prone to get twisted because of the feeding restrictions.
Can You MIG Weld Aluminum to Steel?
No, steel cannot be welded to aluminum via any conventional welding technique such as MIG or, GMAW. But you can weld steel to aluminum by using a bimetallic transition insert before the welding process it helps to weld the aluminum side to aluminum and steel side to steel.
Can You MIG Weld Thin Aluminum?
Generally, you can easily MIG weld materials that have 14 gauge thick and heavier. But if you want to weld aluminum thinner than 14 gauge, then you will need specialized pulsed MIG equipment.
Can You MIG Weld Anodized Aluminum?
Welding an anodized aluminum is not recommended because you can only weld some parts and also there will be a high chance occur discoloration during the process.
Can You MIG Weld 6061 Aluminum?
There are some aluminum alloys that you cannot weld without filler materials. 6061 aluminum is one of them and will require a filler for welding. Otherwise, it will get cracked.
Can You Weld Aluminum with A MIG Welder?
Yes, you can weld aluminum that has a thickness of 14-18 gauge with a MIG welder but if your aluminum is thinner than that go with a TIG welder.
Is MIG Or TIG Better for Welding Aluminum?
MIG welding is better for larger materials. It gives you smooth control and faster service but if your materials are thinner, then TIG will work better.
Can You MIG Weld Aluminum Without Gas?
Yes. That welding process will also expose the material to the oxygen air of your workstation which will make the welding less secured.
MIG Welding Aluminum Polarity?
MIG welding on all materials including aluminum requires electrode positive polarity but flux-cored processes use electrode negative polarity
As a beginner or new welder having confusion about the various type of welding processes is very normal. But when you have the proper knowledge and practice you can develop the skill like a pro with time. And can you MIG weld aluminum is one of the most common queries I hear from the new learners. So, I’ve tried to explain the answer as easily as possible.
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