tig or mig for aluminum
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  1. #1
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    tig or mig for aluminum

    which would you say is easier to learn on aluminum?

  2. #2
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    mig...

  3. #3
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    depends on your level.
    tigging alu isnt that much harder than tigging steel with an inverter and you have more controle as you are welding, but its slow.

    for repairs and small custom fabrication i go for tig.

    to build an alu body for a truck or a trailer id go mig.
    although id probably tig some parts so theyd look good ( might be a tig fan)

    mig is good down to about 1/16" or 16 ga.

    tig is good down to beer cans and beyond.

    tig needs @ 200A for 1/4"

    never got to the upper limit of mig....yet.

    So it sorta depends on whay you are going to be welding.
    G

  4. #4
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    i prefer to tig alum more than mig it. it takes to long sometimes to try and balance the wire feed to temp to the thickness sometimes. mig does have its benifits with welding the thicker alum with good penetration. as for when it comes to tig, it is like an art form and i dont have to guess at it i already know as to what to set it to except when it comes to cast alum. i have found some cast alum ends up cracking after i weld it then i see others welding other cast parts and wonder what i was doing wrong or was it just cheesy cast alum or contaminated alum. as faras my skill goes if its not cast im golden
    dave
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  5. #5
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    I think tig is more forgiving. mig on aluminum just lays down the wire so fast that if you don't have it right, you either have a hole or no fusion. Tig is slow enough that once you get over the whole dipping the tungsten problem, you can control the puddle with the pedal and filler.

  6. #6
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    If you want to get it done quick mig is the way to go. Before welding aluminum, clean all your weld areas with a stainless wire brush/wheel. Push the nozzel using at least 20CFH argon with no wind blowing. Dont want to move too slow or fast,
    I like my tig TA185 for intricate weld jobs where precision is needed.
    I used to weld light Stainless(308/316)aluminum(6061T6-T0 thin tubing.
    I used a syncrowave 351 watercooled tig welder. With time I developed techniques that allowed me to speed the process.
    I really enjoy tig welding more than mig but if you doing it to make money, use the right tool for the right job.
    I like this web site. It is a very informative site to learn all kinds of techniques and ideas.
    I'm amazed how much knowlege most of these guys on here have. Although it can be worst than a soap opera reading through some threads "LOL"
    Good luck!
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  7. #7

    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    Is it possible to Mig aluminum with a 140 amp 110V welder? My little Daytona mig I have had for 20 years now has never let me down on any of the light stuff I needed to do and recently invested in a light 3 in 1 TIG/Plasma/ARC unit that is 200 amps and 50 amps on plasma.

    I will not go into the model of the unit but for what I paid for it the price was a steal as it cuts thick steel wonderful and parts and tips are dirt cheap.

    The only thing it does not do is Tig aluminum as it is a DC only unit. I have the argon for the TIG I can use on the Mig just need wire.

    Any thoughts on using the 140 amp welder for this? I would simply try it out but swapping wire is a major pain and have a large spool on that at current use with the new TIG will last me a couple years or so.

  8. #8
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by Griffon327 View Post
    Is it possible to Mig aluminum with a 140 amp 110V welder? My little Daytona mig I have had for 20 years now has never let me down on any of the light stuff I needed to do.

    The only thing it does not do is Tig aluminum as it is a DC only unit. I have the argon for the TIG I can use on the Mig just need wire.

    Any thoughts on using the 140 amp welder for this? I would simply try it out but swapping wire is a major pain and have a large spool on that at current use with the new TIG will last me a couple years or so.

    You might get lucky, I most recently tried the new HTP Mig 130 (which is a 110 volt machine) and usually I am not the 110 Volt type of guy :-) but that machine impressed me with a really nice and stay able arc, so I put argon gas and 035 4043 aluminum wire in it and tried to weld aluminum - the results - I couldn't believe it! it was doing really well on 3/16 aluminum, I could even weld a small section of 1/4 inch 6061 aluminum. I have pictures too .... I could believe it ....
    now - would this be my tool of choice for aluminum - no, i don't think so but will it do it - yes, pretty well actually.

    So you might be able to weld aluminum with your machine too.

    BTW if swapping wire spools is a major hassle for you, learning how to wire feed aluminum might not be the right thing for you, it can get pretty frustrating with burn backs screwing up your tips and than the soft wire birds nesting and than you have to take half your machine apart and clear everything out, install a new tip and feed the wire through the gun and so on and so on ..... it's not that bad is you have a lot of experience with aluminum wire feed already - but if you want to try it out and you are new to it - it will put your patience to the test.

  9. #9
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    Hey broadhead,
    I think the fellows have provided some varying insight regarding applications & some welding/strength parameters as a guide. I do agree with DesertRider as far as strength. Both processes, if prepped & set up as to material specs., will provide a solid & strong weldment. As far as easier, MIG would be, although, many who have some years with an O/A, can slip into TIG quite nicely as the process is the same....just different heat application.

    I use MIG for all the production items I fabricate/weld, & TIG exclusively for the classic/show car accessories I make. The asethetics of TIG are necessary for high quality applications. Try each.....just be sure you have the equipment that can do aluminum with a strong weld joint. Lastly, your optimium results will be obtained by insuring the aluminum is absolutely clean.....alum. is the most finicky & will test your mettle at times. Personally, I use acetone & a dedicated SS wire brush to prep. It hasn't failed me yet. A good practice is to segregate all your aluminum tools(grinding wheels, wire brushes, sanding discs, etc.) from steel.

    Denny
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  10. #10
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    I used to pulse mig aluminum full time in the manufacturing shop I worked in. Since then, I've mostly tig'd it and only occasionally mig it. I don't do alot of aluminum though now days.

    I mig'd some the other day. It was a cracked aluminum transom for an inflatable pontoon boat. I fixed the crack with tig and welded in some gussets and a reinforcing tube with mig. I didn't want to heat up the aluminum too much during the reinforcement cause there was alot of welding to do on it and the transom was bonded to the rubber/plastic pontoons and I didn't want them melting! So, I used mig cause the heat input is less since the weld happens so fast. It worked great and nothing melted.
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  11. #11
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    Griffon, sorry, you don't have the necessary equipment for mig'ing aluminum there, from your description of it.
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  12. #12
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    It also depends on the strength you are looking for in your weld. TIG done properly, will be a superior weld to even the best MIG, especially on aluminum. Don't believe me? Weld a T-joint, both sides, on some scrap aluminum, one with MIG the other TIG. Put them in a vise and smack them with a BFH. The metal on the MIG piece won't yield far before the weld fails. It is a rather brittle weld. You will see lots of fine porosity in the broken weld. I've beat on a TIG welded plate till the parent metal was bent over 90 degrees and the weld didn't break.

    Now, before I completely stick my foot in my mouth, the MIG I was using was old school, meaning no pulse. The machine was (is) a Trailblazer with an old spoolmatic gun. I'm sure I'll hear about it if I'm missing some new technology that has improved MIG quality where it is similar to TIG.

    MIG is much faster than TIG, and in most applications if the engineering is sufficient, it is plenty strong. (They won't let us MIG aluminum for NASA on any structural or man rated equipment, only TIG.)
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  13. #13
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by bratkid63 View Post
    It also depends on the strength you are looking for in your weld. TIG done properly, will be a superior weld to even the best MIG, especially on aluminum. Don't believe me? Weld a T-joint, both sides, on some scrap aluminum, one with MIG the other TIG. Put them in a vise and smack them with a BFH. The metal on the MIG piece won't yield far before the weld fails. It is a rather brittle weld. You will see lots of fine porosity in the broken weld. I've beat on a TIG welded plate till the parent metal was bent over 90 degrees and the weld didn't break.

    Now, before I completely stick my foot in my mouth, the MIG I was using was old school, meaning no pulse. The machine was (is) a Trailblazer with an old spoolmatic gun. I'm sure I'll hear about it if I'm missing some new technology that has improved MIG quality where it is similar to TIG.

    MIG is much faster than TIG, and in most applications if the engineering is sufficient, it is plenty strong. (They won't let us MIG aluminum for NASA on any structural or man rated equipment, only TIG.)
    Interesting bit of advise here. I would tend to agree with you somewhat but for my own reasons.
    Generally people who mig are looking for speed and effeciency and not "ultimate strength".
    Gererally speaking once again the heat affected zone is smaller with the mig weld whereas when tig welding because it is slower causes the area around the weld to lose much more of it's temper.
    If you make something and it is designed properly, and welded correctly, it is possible to have a superior joint with the mig, due to a smaller HAZ, and when done by a skilled operator can have more filler than a tig weld, which would have needed to be much hotter to introduce that much filler, thus making a much hotter HAZ.
    I think if the mig operator is someone who is a good tig weldor as well, can use the benefits of mig to his advantage when needed.
    So the weld may be prettier, but if you have lost all the temper in the part. you really haven't gained much.
    All that said most production mig welds are pretty darn sad to look at and are done rather poorly.
    If you want to have a fair comparison you would need to aneal the aluminum as much as the tig weld did before you beat on it. T-0 aluminum anything beats over quite nicely.
    In my business I repair many mig welds that the parent metal gave way and plenty of tig welds split right down the middle. All aluminum and properly done.
    I realize I don't weld for NASA and consider that a pretty credible reference, but I somehow doubt NASA is repairing broken parts and stuctures, most of which is my world.
    So in a nutshell I am observing some mfgs using tig in places where mig has failed and vice-versa. I myself generally use tig for most repair and fab. But that is what I enjoy. If I was making widgits by the thousands, I would dang sure be migging them tho
    And having a GMAW-P machine is nice but not a necessity if design is kept in check.
    All this is just my opinion and based on my exerience so your situation may yield completely different results!
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  14. #14
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    Currently the place I work for is building something for NASA and we are mig welding it.

  15. #15
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    Hmm... I dont know... Melting metal is melting metal and adding filler is adding filler, regardless of the process. If the base metals are adequately melted and filler is adequately wet into both base metals and the weld fully penetrates and fills the joint and equal cleanliness is maintained, I don't see where the process type matters to the quality/strength of the weld.

    The problem with mig on aluminum is the start. Unless the machine has hot-start and run-in feed speed circuits, the start is going to be cold, poorly fused and poorly penetrated. Aluminum takes alot of heat to get the weld started and that is the inherent problem with mig. Once the weld is going though, both processes are equally capable of making a proper weld, in my opinion.
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  16. #16
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    k guys. im kinda new to this. i have a hobart gasless mig ive been playing with. building parts for my off road trucks. i have a 01 forx expedition that i need to replace front clip on. i drilled out all the spot welds got old clip out and new one is in place. this is all aluminum. can i mig this in with my gasless hobart 110 mig? and do i need a certain wire? i run .035 wire in it for almost every thing ive done. up to this point no one else has ever touched my truck. and i bought it new. would like to keep it that way. but a little shakey on this weld. any thoughts or advice would be much appreiciated and info could be sent to my phone via yahoo nessenger @ dg13126. or emailed to me at same addy. thanks guys. Dave

  17. #17
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by dgray69 View Post
    k guys. im kinda new to this. i have a hobart gasless mig ive been playing with. building parts for my off road trucks. i have a 01 forx expedition that i need to replace front clip on. i drilled out all the spot welds got old clip out and new one is in place. this is all aluminum. can i mig this in with my gasless hobart 110 mig? and do i need a certain wire? i run .035 wire in it for almost every thing ive done. up to this point no one else has ever touched my truck. and i bought it new. would like to keep it that way. but a little shakey on this weld. any thoughts or advice would be much appreiciated and info could be sent to my phone via yahoo nessenger @ dg13126. or emailed to me at same addy. thanks guys. Dave
    NO.

  18. #18
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    I have a hard time believing the front clip on an '01 Explorer is aluminum. Have you checked this to be sure it is aluminum? A magnet will tell you if it's steel or not...

    If it is aluminum then, no, you don't have the necessary equipment for mig'ing aluminum. You would need a gas mig machine, a bottle of argon, a spool gun and alot of practice to have much success mig'ing aluminum in an application where you actually want the thing you're welding to hold together.
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  19. #19
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    Re: tig or mig for aluminum

    thanks guys, like i said. im new to this, usually just throw bumpers, winch plates and other steel stuff together for off road trucks. never done any thing like this, but wanted to say i have, well looks like i get new welder, and start practicing. will try the mag thing but im pretty sure its aluminum, its an after market clip

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