Aluminum is one of the most widely used metals for a wide use of industrial, residential, and everyday uses. From aluminum signs used to direct customers to the bathroom or to alert the public of a house for sale, to aerospace, automotive and virtually every other manufacturing industry, aluminum has several desirable qualities that make it an important metal. Not only is it extremely lightweight, but it is also a good conductor of electricity and is resistant to corrosion. Learning how to weld aluminum is an important skill for professionals from a wide range of industries and occupations.
What Types of Welding are used for Aluminum?
As with all metals, certain types of welding are best suited for aluminum because of its inherent properties and characteristics. Shielded metal arc welding, also known as SMAW is one of the most inexpensive welding techniques and works very well with aluminum as long as it is not very thin. While this technique is inexpensive it generally does not necessitate expensive equipment, it does involve a high level of skill, and it might take several years to master the art of SMAW welding of aluminum.
Furthermore, gas metal arc welding, or GMAW, can also be used on aluminum metal. This welding process is very quick and relatively easy to learn. It is best used on aluminum that is at least a minimum thickness. However, you most likely will not want to use this welding technique if you want to avoid the mess that comes with many sparks and smoke.
Lastly, gas tungsten arc welding or GTAW is an option for aluminum welding when you need clean and exact welding done. It generally takes much longer to weld aluminum through GTAW techniques but the precision and purity are unmatched.
A Few Tips for Optimum Aluminum Welding
No matter which technique you choose to use, there are a few tips that should be followed when welding aluminum. Because aluminum is a great conductor of heat and electricity, heat will usually flow away from the area you are welding relatively quickly. This can be a problem for high-precision welding jobs. One way to avoid this problem is through heating up the metal where you are planning to weld. This will increase the level and strength of the fusion of the weld.
Another common problem that occurs frequently with aluminum welding is related to weld porosity. This essentially means that gases get trapped inside the aluminum as the fusions begin to harden. In some cases, this can lead to fissures or even open and hollow cracks in the weld surface. To avoid this problem, it is important for the welder to cleanse the base and filler metals. Solvents used to de-grease the metal are usually the best, quickest, and safest way to clean the areas you are welding. A wire brush can be used after the solvent has been applied to get rid of any rust that might have accumulated on the surface that you are to weld.
Lastly, another common problem with aluminum welding is related to cracking. As any welder knows, cracks in the weld will seriously limit the strength of the piece being weld and will most likely cause the structure to run afoul of code requirements.
Cracks in aluminum welds occur most often during the hardening or solidification of the metal from the molten state to the cooled state. The best way to avoid these cracks, known as shrinkage cracks, is through choosing the appropriate filler metal. Furthermore, by developing skill and expertise in proper joint design, you can also prevent shrinkage cracking from occurring.
While there are challenges that come with aluminum welding, the vast array of uses of this metal make aluminum welding an important skill to be learned.
Jessica is a marketing enthusiast and an influencer in Fashion & FnB verticals. She keeps special interest in the impact of visual branding on business growth. She has been writing for Stuartsignstore, having a specialization on T-shirt printing, for a long time now.