Shielding gas for MIG welding Aluminum: Welding  -- General Tractor Discussion Forum and Review Shielding gas for MIG welding Aluminum: Welding -- General Tractor Discussion Forum

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 12-22-2003, 13:37 Post: 71938
BillMullens

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 Shielding gas for MIG welding Aluminum

Folks,
As a reward for getting my professional engineer certification, I bought myself a little Lincoln 135 MIG. I'll be using it to build little toolboxes and such from sheet aluminum. The books claim that I need pure argon as a shielding gas, but at least one local shop told me I can use the CO2/Ar mix. Any experience?
Thanks,
Bill






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 12-22-2003, 14:33 Post: 71941
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 Shielding gas for MIG welding Aluminum

Your book is correct. For welding aluminum you should use pure argon. The CO2/Ar mix will produce a very poor quality weld (if it works at all). When welding aluminum, any oxygen in the mix will form aluminum-oxide in the weld and cause porosity and cracking. The CO2/Ar mix is used for carbon steel.






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 12-22-2003, 15:07 Post: 71943
yooperpete
2003-12-22 00:00:00
Post: 71943
 Shielding gas for MIG welding Aluminum

You definitely want to use pure Argon. Aluminum is one of the more difficult materials to weld and you will need the best shielding gas you can get. At our shop we use TIG for thin aluminum stuff. We particularly like TIG for filling corners and seams. You get less splatter and more uniform flow. We use MIG for thicker or none uniform sections. We also pre-heat thicker sections to improve flow.






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 12-22-2003, 15:22 Post: 71944
BillMullens

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 Shielding gas for MIG welding Aluminum

Thanks, guys. What about using argon on thin mild steel (sheet metal)?
Bill






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 12-22-2003, 15:53 Post: 71945
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 Shielding gas for MIG welding Aluminum

You can weld steel with pure argon, however, an Ar-CO2 or Ar-O2 mix is preferred. The oxygen improves bead appearance, wetting and penetration. The percentages in the mix can vary vastly depending on what you are welding and what appearance and penetration you are trying to achieve. There are even triple-mixes with argon, carbon dioxide and oxygen. Helium mixes are also available.






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 12-22-2003, 16:08 Post: 71949
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 Shielding gas for MIG welding Aluminum

Welding thin metals (sheet metal) is easier accomplished by TIG welding. The TIG process provides a more precise arc control, and would allow you to fuse the edges of a box without a lot of filler metal. The tradeoff is that you cannot get the penetration that you would with MIG. But, with sheet metal you really don’t need the penetration (or heat), since it tends to distort the box.






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 12-22-2003, 19:45 Post: 71963
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 Shielding gas for MIG welding Aluminum

Just make it simple,argon for alu. and co2 for steel,if you are going to weld a lot of really thin steel,then you might want to think of some kind of mix,along with a small dia. wire so as to reduce heat input,but if you are just messing around,keep it simple. Richard






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 12-23-2003, 07:52 Post: 71993
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 Shielding gas for MIG welding Aluminum

Actually, pure CO2 shielding works against you on thin metals. CO2 has a much higher thermal conductivity and voltage gradient than an Ar-CO2 mix. What this means is that pure CO2 will produce more heat and deeper penetration, which is not what you want with thin metals. For this reason a mix should be used when welding thin steels. Ar-CO2 mix is just as common as pure CO2, and readily available from any welding supply house. A mix of 75-25 Argon-CO2, or even a 50-50 mix will work best for thin sheet steel, and not adversely affect the welding of thicker steel up to 3/16”. However, pure CO2 would work better for single pass welding of 1/4” and thicker.






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 12-23-2003, 08:02 Post: 71996
AC5ZO

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 Shielding gas for MIG welding Aluminum

I agree with most of the posters about gases. You can get by with pure CO2 for most regular carbon steel. You need pure Ar for Aluminum. You can use pure Ar for steel, but it will make the bead stand up higher than if you had used a mix such as C25 (25% CO2 in Argon).

However, I will add two more cents to this thread. There are several things that are key to MIG welds. Power supply, wire composition, gas mix, clean weld site, and welder skill all play key roles. If you get into anything beyond plain aluminum and carbon steel using short circuit MIG technique, you will find that gas mixes can make a very big difference. I mix my own gases with a four gas mixer that I built. I can dial in the proper amounts of Helium, Argon, C02, and O2 to suit my needs. O2 and CO2 are interchangable for many operations, so sometimes I connect Nitrogen to the fourth port. I never mix over three gases in a single mix.

One last thing is that if you are going to do a lot of aluminum welding, you will want a spool gun or other hand held gun that will pull the aluminum wire through the liner from the roll of wire. You can push aluminum wire through a short torch cable, but bends and long length will make for headaches when the wire stalls and starts bunching up in the feed rollers. Now, before someone gets upset and says that you don't need a spool gun, I will say that you CAN weld aluminum without one, but you have to be careful to keep the welding cable as straight as possible and fully extended from the welder. It will work, but it is not convenient or reliable for regular aluminum welding. If you need to weld aluminum only occasionally, then a spool gun is an expensive addition that you can get by without.






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 12-23-2003, 09:19 Post: 72006
yooperpete
2003-12-23 00:00:00
Post: 72006
 Shielding gas for MIG welding Aluminum

We use TIG for aluminum under 1/8" thick. You will always use 100%Argon on TIG for all metals.

When MIG welding, we use 100% Argon for welding Aluminum. We use a CO2 mix(75% CO2/25% Argon)for welding steel. When welding stainless we use a Tri-gas mix (90%helium/7.5%Argon/2.5%CO2). This burns a little hotter for the stainless applications.

These are industrial applications. For your home shop you may attempt combined uses. Your local gas supplier should be able to give good recommendations based on your needs.

I'd practice a little on metals before attempting aluminum.






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