How to weld aluminum with MIG welder

Mig welding inaluminum has never been easy compared to other materials. the reason behind this statement is its softness that requires some experience and larger wire. Therefore, if you are in love with welding metals like steel using MIG welder, you should be ready for slight changes. 

This article will equip you with essential knowledge on how to weld aluminum with a MIG welder. Aluminum is a good heat conductor that needs a lot of attention on the electrode feeding rate and power supply. Therefore, follow this step to weld aluminum with mig welder successfully.

Step by step on how to weld aluminum with MIG welder 

  • Choosing materials and equipment

Before kicking off the welding process, you need to consider the thickness of the aluminum material that you want to use. This thickness will determine the type of MIG welder you will employ. 

This implies that you can use a 115-volt machine to work on aluminum material with a thickness of 3mm and a 230-volt welder to weld aluminum with 6 mm thickness.

Therefore, if you regularly plan to weld aluminum choose a machinewith above 200 amps.It would help if you also considered your well-being; enhance safety measures like wearing welding jackets, gloves, boots, etc.

  • Cleaning the aluminum material

Before MIG welding, make sure that you clean the material by removing all lubricants. Here, you may use a wire brush (cup or hand wire brush) to remove oxides. If you decide to use an electric wire brush, then remember to minimize the pressure and RPMs to prevent your material’s surface smearing.

The smeared surface may attract impurities and oxides. However, sometimes you may use cleaning solutions like acetone. Remember to use a wire brush specifically meant for aluminum to avoid contamination.

  • Choosing the appropriate gas

Under this stage, you should understand that aluminum is always non-ferrous material. Therefore, it would be wise if you use 100% argon gas for shielding. When welding aluminum material with a MIG welder,there is no need to use new hoses. However, sometimes you may replace CO2 regulators. 

  • Using aluminum electrodes

The thickness of electrodes is vital, especially with aluminum material. Therefore, there is a need to be much keen. You should know that thinner wires are always more challenging to feed than thicker ones. On the other hand, thicker wires needa more significant current for melting.

  • Feeding aluminum kit with electrodes

What feeding system are you planning to use? Aluminum feeding is always of two different methods, i.e.,push-pull and spool gun system. Spool guns consistently improve soft wires feeding by locating a small wire pool on your pistol-grip like a gun.

Furthermore, spool guns reduce the chances of birdnestingthe very wire feeds some inches. 

When feeding wires, understand thataluminum feeders use drives rolls which doesn’t shave the aluminum wire.The outlet and inlet guides for the feeders should not shave your soft aluminum wire. You can also apply Non-metallic liners that reducefriction from thewire.

  • Welding

Welding aluminum with a MIG welder will be more convenientwith the spool gun. What you need to do is to hold the tip of your machine at about an angle of 10-15 degrees; this means that you will have the gun cable straight to enhance proper wire feeding. 

When welding, hold your gun’s tip, wire, and nozzle, directing and moving them in your welding direction.Doing so will ensure maximum coverage of shielding gas to a weld pool.

Frequently asked questions

How can I choose an appropriate aluminum material for welding with a MIG welder?

You need to consider the thickness of the aluminum material that you want to use. The thickness determines the type of MIG welder you will employ.  This means that you can use a 115-volt machine to work on aluminum material with a thickness of 3mm and a 230-volt welder to weld aluminum with 6 mm thickness.

What are the common types of aluminum feeding?

There are always two different methods offeeding aluminum,i.e., push-pull and spool gun system. Spool guns continuously improve soft wires feeding by locating a small wire pool on your pistol-grip like a gun. A push-pull system is suitable when you are welding some few feet away from the source of power.

Conclusion

Sometimes it is dangerous when using an argon gas for welding aluminum material. It would help if you were careful with the hose connections; fix it properly in the machine to get an incredible gas feeding. 

Weldingaluminum with a MIG welder can be challenging to beginners, especially when handling overhead or vertical welding. It needs some experience, but you can use the above guide to carry out the task successfully.