Aluminum is one of the most common and most useful metals on Earth. Its lightweight feature makes aluminum an excellent material for building homes and establishments that need to be light but durable. Aluminum is also not prone to corrosion or rust, and it is recyclable and paintable.
TIG welding aluminum is an efficient way to join aluminum pieces together. However, aluminum can be a difficult material to weld, especially for beginners. So read this article to learn how to tig weld aluminum and discover the best TIG welders for aluminum in the market.
TIG Welding Aluminum Tips
Welding aluminum using a TIG welder is an essential skill to master. However, TIG welding for aluminum is not an easy task. This process involves a lot of meticulous steps, so gaining and improving your skills will take time and effort.
Here are some quick tips for you to efficiently weld aluminum.
Basic Hand Placement
Ignoring this vital step will result in wasting aluminum. You should know how to place your hand and the torch properly because this is the key to controlling the puddle and gaining mastery of the torch.
To ensure proper hand placement, you should support the torch using your wrists and your little finger. Then, you can move the torch while keeping a stable hold on it. See to it that you keep about a ¼-inch distance between the tungsten and the aluminum.
Check the Amperage
It’s essential to set the correct amperage on the welding equipment, and you can do this through the fingertip control and the foot pedal. For TIG welding aluminum, the standard amperage is 1 amp for every thousandth thickness. For instance, 125 amps will be necessary for welding a 0.125-inch-thick aluminum base.
Prewarm the Aluminum
If you want high-quality results when welding aluminum, preheating the aluminum is a must. When you preheat aluminum at the right temperature, we guarantee you will get the best outputs. Doing this will help the welding machine make a smooth and seamless weld. Plus, it will create a stable arc without destroying the metal. Just remember that aluminum with a high density needs prewarming while aluminum with a low density doesn’t.
Set the Balance Control
Balance control enables you to set the ratio between the electrode-negative (EN) and electrode-positive (EP) cycles. The EN cycle is the welding side of the waveform, while the EP is where the cleaning takes place. If you experience “peppering,” in which tiny dots appear in the puddle, it means you did not set the balance control correctly.
Clean the Tungsten Electrode
You should regularly clean the tungsten electrode to produce good welding results. Leaving the electrode unclean will result in weld contamination and will therefore lower the quality of the weld.
To clean the electrode, just spread it on a flat surface, and hammer off the contaminated part of the electrode.
Adjust the AC Output Frequency
You can set the AC output frequency in modern welding power sources. Usually, older power sources have 60-Hz input power, while today’s equipment has a 120-Hz preset output frequency. With the proper AC output frequency adjustment, you can easily weld in tight spaces. You can use 150–250 Hz for thin materials and 80–120 Hz for thick materials.
Don’ts in Welding Aluminum
Aside from the tips we gave above, you should be aware of the things and practices you should not do in welding aluminum.
- Do not wear improper attire. You need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect yourself during the welding process. Accidents and minor injuries are common while welding, and you can avoid them with PPE. You should also follow safety protocols to prevent these incidents.
- Do not forget to adjust the settings. Welding a different material requires a different process. For instance, welding aluminum needs different settings compared to welding steel or copper. Even though you are an experienced welder, the approach is still further depending on the type of material. For aluminum, it is a tedious process as it is a unique material.
- Do not forget to prepare. You should prepare the material, the machine, and yourself before you weld. The material should be clean and kept in the right storage, and the welder should be checked and maintained for optimal functioning. Lastly, you should prepare yourself by studying the type of material and its process.
- Do not be impatient. It’s okay if your first time in welding does not give you the best results. After all, it takes time to study and master all its processes. As you practice and study, you will soon learn how to weld properly and seamlessly.
Best TIG Welder for Aluminum
You can find a lot of TIG welders for aluminum in the market today. Check out here the best perks, features, and benefits of these highly recommended TIG welders for you.
Alpha-TIG200X Aluminum TIG Welder
For a low price, the Alpha TIG Welder gives you beautiful welding results with ease. Powered by modern inverter technology, this machine can weld aluminum and steel. Aside from creating the best results, it runs all welding processes smoothly.
This product has advanced insulated-gate bipolar transistor technology, which allows the machine to convert power to high voltage. The welding machine has easy operational controls to adjust the settings.
Its 28-lb weight makes the machine portable, which is why it is convenient to have. Moreover, the handle is easy to move and control as you do your welding tasks.
Miller Electric Maxstar
If you’re looking for the best TIG welder, Miller Electric Maxstar is one of the top choices in the market. With its incredible 30% duty cycle at 150 amps and 35% for 100 amps, it has proven itself to be an efficient TIG welding machine. Expect this welder to produce superior arc starts and weld puddle control.
Another great feature is its Multi-Voltage Plug with 115- and 230-volt dual-input voltage settings. You won’t see that in other welders, which makes this machine a must-have. It’s also not as bulky as other TIG welders because it already has a built-in gas solenoid.
This machine is remarkably lightweight, weighing 13.7 lb. You will be comfortable using and carrying it anywhere.
Lincoln Electric K5126-1
Without question, the Lincoln brand produces high-quality welding products that have proven durability and efficiency at work. The K5126-1 is one of the great examples of Lincoln Electric’s high-quality products because it has excellent features for your welding needs.
Versatility is one of the assets of this machine. You can use it for both small and large aluminum welding tasks. It is also easy to operate and set up as long as you follow the manual that comes with it. Though it’s pretty huge, it’s still relatively lightweight, and its efficiency and extensive features make it a good deal for a welding machine.
Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG Welder
The Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG Welder is a straightforward welding machine. That’s why if you are a beginner, you will surely enjoy using this machine. At 60 lb, it’s not super lightweight compared to other TIG welders, but its carrying handle makes this machine portable enough.
This welding machine is easy to operate because you can control it with just one switch and one dial. Each button comes with a label that beginners will quickly understand. For example, if you want to adjust the amperage, you may just use the machine’s foot control.
Also, you will surely love its strat feature and non-contact arc start, which help prevent contamination. Its price is relatively high compared to other machines on the list. Still, you can save money by using this machine for power supply as it uses inverter power.
Weldpro Digital TIG AC DC
The most advanced digital TIG welder for aluminum on this list is the Weldpro Digital TIG ACDC machine. It can fully operate with the DC and AC output options. On AC power, it has a 40% duty cycle at 200 amps, while the DC setting gives you a 60% duty cycle at 200 amps.
This machine features the amperage control settings on its front-facing console. With this, you can change the amperage level without using the foot pedal.
Weldpro Digital TIG AC DC comes with a 5-year warranty. You can have the parts that are not performing well replaced in the first year of use.
There might be several ways to weld aluminum. Still, TIG is the most effective way of welding aluminum. Just always ensure to prioritize your safety and the weld’s quality while doing the welding process.