Welding aluminum with MM250
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  1. #1
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    Welding aluminum with MM250

    Hello all,

    I have this MM250 that I was able to resurrect from the dead last month thanks to help from members on this list.

    I am putting together a proposal for an aluminum project that calls for welding relatively heavy wall aluminum channel and I-beam into load stands for a trucking outfit. The problem is that my aluminum capabilities hardware wise are TIG and light spool gun (millermate 185) which I also need to adapt to the MM250.

    I have always welded aluminum with one of these two methods. However this project will require heaver aluminum MIG capabilities than this. TIG is too slow anyway for this project.

    Questions:

    Can I push aluminum wire through the MIG gun (It is a 12 or 15 footer)? I have always used 4043 wire when welding aluminum TIG or MIG spoolgun. What size wire should I go for to weld 3/16" structural shapes? The part also calls for welding 1/2" aluminum plate gussets to the structure. Can my MM250 handle this job?

    Attached are pictures. Any help is appreciated and goes towards a good cause (keeping a roof over my head and food in the fridge).

    Finally, notice in one of the pictures a special extruded shape is used for the end posts. Is this a special order item or would a metal supply house have this stuff? What do you think?

    Thanks,

    Tony
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  2. #2
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    Re: Welding aluminum with MM250

    T:
    That thing is going to act like a GIANT heatsink. I think I remember Miller rating a MM252 with a spoolgun up to 3/8" thick. (I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong). In my opinion, you're going to have to apply a lot of preheat to get a decent penetration using your MM250 and spoolgun on the parts where you are welding the 1/2". I don't think you'll have a problem with the 3/16" parts. Those extrusions I have never seen before and I imagine they are custom fabs. If your job is as big as it appears to be in the photos, using just the regular gun and running the aluminum down the liner will probably get old real fast, especially using the flimsy 4043. Buy a spoolgun and save the aggravation.
    Doug
    Miller Syncrowave 350
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  3. #3
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    Re: Welding aluminum with MM250

    I was going to say, those are some awful big welds on aluminum. Use the 5356 .045 wire and keep your lead as straight as possible. It might work that way.

    Otherwise, you will have less headaches spending the money on a spool gun for the MM 250.
    Mark
    I haven't always been a nurse........
    Craftsman 12"x36" Lathe
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  4. #4
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    Re: Welding aluminum with MM250

    Hello Doug,

    thanks for your thoughts. I have that Spoolmate 185 that I have yet to adapt to the MM250. Will this do the job? I picked it up used several months ago and haven't used it yet. I thought I could adapt it to a gas drive CC machine, but it turns out it needs to be mated to a CV machine such as the MM250.

    I also have an old Airco spoolgun (AEH200) which I used to use with a gas drive but the controller stopped working. I have an extra contactor for it, think I could match it to the MM250? It is a beefier spoolgun than the spoomate 185.

    Finally, what if I went with a different wire type like 5056? I read somewhere that it is a stiffer wire than 4043 and more suitable for feeding through a mig gun.

    Thanks,

    Tony

  5. #5
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    Re: Welding aluminum with MM250

    Hello all,

    I want to add to this thread by introducing the fact that I also have an old Airco AH20-e spoolgun. Here is the post I put on Miller's forum to see if they had some thoughts on this.

    Hi all,

    I have a Millermatic 250. I also have a spoolmate 185 and an old Airco AH20-E spoolgun (same as the Spoolmatic I). The Airco is currently setup to run off of a gas drive CC welder with a Wc-3 controller and contactor box.

    I have a relatively heavy aluminum project in the works and I need to set up my equipment to handle it. Up until now I relied on my TIG setup to do aluminum work as most of it has been small projects. This one is different.

    I lean towards using the Airco unit as it is a heavy duty spoolgun whereas the Spoolmate 185 using an SGA 100 controller (which I would have to buy) is rated at only 150amps and 60% duty cycle. I would like more beef than that.

    Can it be done? What equipment would I need? The MM250 has an optional spoolgun module (which mine doesn't have) however I don't know if they are still available as this machine is almost 15 years old.

    The pictures show the original spoolmatic 1 and a clone of the Airco AH20-e made by Profax. It is identical to the Airco unit with minor differences.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    Please advise,


    Thanks,

    Tony
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  6. #6
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    Re: Welding aluminum with MM250

    Wow Tony! You certainly haven't made it very easy for yourself on this one.

    Your MM250 doesn't have the necessary circuitry for the Spoolmatic-1, Profax and Spoolmate 185 guns. The SM-1 would need a WC-1 and the Profax would need a WC-2 or 3. The Spoolmate 185 with its 150amp rating wouldn't fair too well on the thicker material you'd be working with. The Spoolmatic 15A/30A are meant for connecting to the MM250 using the 10-Pin adapter module #043084 ($227.20 from Miller4less.com).

    As MarkBall suggested, you could try the stiffer 5356 wire in the larger size and keep the gun lead as straight as possible and hope it doesn't birdnest on you on a regular basis. Be sure to install a new liner of the proper size first. You might be able to get away with .045" 'V groove' rollers but knurled ones may be needed for reliable feeding.

    Those are my thoughts on it.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Welding aluminum with MM250

    I'd be lookin at a 30A and the module. We had that setup on a 250 at work and I don't recall any problems. I have a MM251 with a 30A at home and haven't had any trouble. The 30A has something like a 100% at 200amps duty cycle IIRC.
    My name's not Jim....

    Syncrowave 200
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  8. #8
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    Re: Welding aluminum with MM250

    I would rent an XMT 304 CC/CV power supply and hook up a Spoolmatic 30A and WC24 to it. That combination will weld the large thick sections you want to weld, no problem. You'll want to use 3/64" (.047) 4043 wire with .052 tips.
    MM350P/Python/Q300
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  9. #9
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    Re: Welding aluminum with MM250

    Wow,

    this is good feedback. There is only one problem. I don't have the money to invest in newer equipment. I am in the process of figuring out cost for building these "load stands". I may not get the job. However I may get a chance to make a couple as part of the bidding process (or may even get the job if my price is right). In which case I have to have my equipment ready to follow through. I rented a gas drive welder once in San Francisco when I had to repair my truck after an accident while visiting family years ago. I have no idea what it would cost to rent the right equipment for a week or two? Anyone?

    If I rent the equipment, won't it suck a good chunk of my earnings?

    I have the Airco spoolgun hooked to a WC-3 controller. Could this setup be rigged to work with the MM250? The WC-3 is a stand alone unit that provides contactor and voltage sensing to the spoolgun.

    I would have to have a way to interface with the controller board in the MM250 so that the current would turn on.

    Any thoughts on feasibility of this? Would Miller tech support be able to answer some of these questions or is this considered an "unsupported" configuration?

    I agree that the Spoolmate 185 is too light duty to consider.

    Thanks,


    Tony

  10. #10
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    Re: Welding aluminum with MM250

    If you want to rent an engine drive, a Trailblazer 302 will do the job fine with a Spoolmatic 30A and WC24. Should be cheaper to rent an XMT than a Trailblazer though, if you have power to connect the XMT to.

    For pricing, call your local rental outfit and figure that cost into the job bid. There are many, many structural fabricators that rent equipment to do jobs, from welding machines to feeders to lifting equipment, earth moving equipment and much more.
    Last edited by DesertRider33; 11-28-2009 at 12:48 AM.
    MM350P/Python/Q300
    MM175/Q300
    DialarcHF

    HTP MIG200
    PowCon300SM

    Hypertherm380
    ThermalArc185
    Purox oa
    F350CrewCab4x4
    LoadNGo utilitybed
    Bobcat250
    XMT304/Optima/Spoolmatic
    Suitcase12RC/Q300
    Suitcase8RC/Q400
    Passport/Q300

    Smith op

  11. #11
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    Re: Welding aluminum with MM250

    Quote Originally Posted by therrera View Post
    I don't have the money to invest in newer equipment.
    If I rent the equipment, won't it suck a good chunk of my earnings?
    Yes renting equipment costs money. Try figuring that into your bid. If you don't want to give up a little to rent or buy then you aren't equiped for the job and should not take it on.

    When I have a possible job that would require equipment I don't have, then I figure out what the job is going to earn me. If it will pay for the equipment or damn close, I'll take it and get the equipment. Even if that means my profit for the job is zero. Why? Because at the end of the job I get to keep the equipment. That means I can make more profit on the next job. I have aquired all my equipment this way and it works.
    My name's not Jim....

    Syncrowave 200
    Millermatic 251 w/bottle mod
    Spoolmatic 30A
    Cutmaster 81
    Jet JTM-1 mill
    Jet GH-1340-W3 lathe
    Ellis 1600

  12. #12
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    Re: Welding aluminum with MM250

    Thanks everyone for your feedback and ideas. I have called Profax tech (now called Weldmart.com) support as they have reproduced the spoolmatic I (their model AEC-200). They are looking into how this might be done.

    I notice on their web site about the AEC-200 (http://www.weldmart.com/AEC-200%20ADATIVE%20PAGE%20.htm ) , they can rig it with a 10 pin connector and it also has a list of tested welders this gun was adapted to and the MM250 is among them. While I am waiting for their reply, I wonder it the solution is as simple as ordering the MM250 optional spoolgun (10 pin) module and getting Weldmart.com's pin out to adapt to a 10 pin connector.

    Their AEC-200 is an exact duplicate (with improvements) and the electrical pin out is identical, meaning that if they can adapt their gun to the MM250, then my old Airco AH20-E should work as well.

    Just me speculating. I also contacted Miller support and they are looking into a possible solution although their tech's initial response was that if I get the optional module then it will only work with the 15A or 30A spoolgun. So he is looking at how I might adapt my WC-3 controller to the MM250.

    I will report on the results.

    Thanks,

    Tony

  13. #13
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    Re: Welding aluminum with MM250

    I have had some success with preheating with a torch, with some gas heat help the 250 class machine will weld that stuff, I have done a fair amount of it over the years. Kind of a juggle the penetration and contour will be controlled by the preheat. It will be hot when you finish.
    past work toys; lathes,mills, drills, saws, robots, lasers ironworker, shears, brake, press, grinders, tensile tester, torches, tigs, migs, sticks, platten table, positioner, plasmas , gleeble and spot. Retired June 30, 2009.

  14. #14
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    Re: Welding aluminum with MM250

    Quote Originally Posted by therrera View Post
    Thanks everyone for your feedback and ideas. I have called Profax tech (now called Weldmart.com) support as they have reproduced the spoolmatic I (their model AEC-200).
    FYI, the AEC-200 is a clone of the Spoolmatic 2 not the SM-1.
    MM200 w/Spoolmatic 1
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