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Thread: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

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    TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    Hello,

    I'm a hobbyist from just outside Detroit, MI and new to the forum.
    I am hoping for some help with my (pretty frustrating) problem. A part of the issue is that I am not sure if I'm the problem or if I have the wrong machine.

    I own a Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC welder. Even though I'm a beginner my welds on steel look IMHO just fine.
    Running beads on aluminum also works kind of OK, compared to pictures I see online, the beads however look pretty dull and grainy. I tried different balance settings, however without ever getting shiny beads.

    Of course, I spend HOURS practicing, reading through forums and watching videos on Youtube, but still can't find a solution.

    When I tried welding pieces of 0.063" 6061-t6 aluminum together, I however didn't have much success: The edges had a strong tendency to pull away, I had a hard time forming a puddle across both pieces and the 4043 filler didn't really want to flow. I also tried 0.090" material but with not much better results.

    Ultimately, I want to weld a thin walled tank, for which the plans ask to weld 0.025" 6061-t6 aluminum:
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    This is what it is supposed to look like:
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    I know that other builders, who didn't have much / any experience with TIG welding, successfully built the tanks as per the plans. I am however not even remotely able to weld this thin aluminum.

    Sadly, I don't know any experienced welder who could give my machine a try or teach me in case I'm doing something entirely wrong.

    Anyways - does somebody have experience with the Eastwood TIG 200 welder?
    i'd also appreciate a recommendation for a TIG welder that is known to be suitable to weld such thin 6061 aluminum.

    Oliver

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    Used market is where Id go personally. Around a thousand dollars +- Miller SyncroWave, thermal arc/Esab/firepower 185/186/200, htp201, lincoln precision tig, just to name a few. New type budget? Htp221, fronius magic wave, miller dynasty, Lincoln aspect, again just a few. Dynasty arguably best aluminum unit.

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    I have no experience with the machine you have, but dull and grainy sounds like too much heat input and/or too slow travel speed is a possibility. Your machine could very well be a problem but Id want to rule out other factors before spending more $$.


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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    0.025 aluminum in that configuration will be a challenge. Does your Eastwood have balance control? I'd set it to something like 60-70% EN to reduce the heat that goes into the work piece. If it has frequency control I go towards lower frequency. I think you'll find once you can get a puddle going it will run along a lot easier that it is getting it started. Try clamping with steel or stainless or copper blocks on both sides that leave about 1/16 of an inch of the edge you want to weld. (I've seen tin foil welded in your geometry using this method!) It will stop the edges pulling away and provide the tight fit up. Close fit up is essential with anything less than 0.060 inch so where you can't fit the blocks make sure fit up is perfect.

    Link to aluminum foil weld

    I'd also ditch the 4043. I'd probably go with 5356 because I have it but it looks like any 5xxx series filler is going to be superior to 4043 in the two categories I like for tanks, strength and ductility. Print out this chart below and go to the box where 6061 and 6061 match. It's a two page document but it's a big table so it's a lot easier to read printed out.

    Aluminum_Filler_Alloy_Selection_Chart.pdf

    If you decide to get a new welder the I think Lincoln Squarewave TIG200 is a great machine for the money. It has pulse and frequency control and a nice torch and cable. The pulse control is fantastic on DC for anything less than 1/16 gage. The pulsing help the puddle fuse but controls the penetration. I've never used it on AC but I understand the effect is similar. This machine has pulse control on AC as well as DC.

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    You are going to have a very hard time trying to weld that thin of aluminum with the Eastwood tig200, The lowest it will go on AC is 20 amps and starts are higher then that.
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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    I think it is premature to assume the problem is the welding machine and not the level of operator experience (no offense). First welding something that thin is a challenge, and not the best way to start out learning. Second you tell us nothing about your set up really: How you prepared the material, size of the filler, size of the tungsten, cup size and type (gas lens or not), argon flow rate, how many amps you are using, etc.

    Your material is definitely over heating and I have a question if you are getting proper gas coverage. A different machine with adjustable frequency and a pulse feature, may help or it may not. Probably best to solve for all the other potential issues first.
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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Louie1961 View Post
    I think it is premature to assume the problem is the welding machine and not the level of operator experience (no offense). First welding something that thin is a challenge, and not the best way to start out learning. Second you tell us nothing about your set up really: How you prepared the material, size of the filler, size of the tungsten, cup size and type (gas lens or not), argon flow rate, how many amps you are using, etc.

    Your material is definitely over heating and I have a question if you are getting proper gas coverage. A different machine with adjustable frequency and a pulse feature, may help or it may not. Probably best to solve for all the other potential issues first.
    I agree with this, and of course that particular machine would not be optimum for this type of weld, but an experienced aluminum welder might be able to accomplish it, but not without a few train-and-error runs to hone in on the necessary technique and set-up.

    Would a "better" AC/DC TIG make it easier? But are you really gonna go out and spend $2k+ for a newer machine just for this one project? I know what I would try, but maybe you're already trying it, since we dont don't any actual details.
    Last edited by Oscar; 07-21-2019 at 10:43 AM.
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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    Thank you for all your responses, I really appreciate them!

    Right now, I want to weld a small tank, made of 0.090" 6061-T6. Welding 0.025" material is only something I would attempt once I have some experience with thicker material.

    Frankly, I've been struggling with this since early 2018 and eventually gave up welding aluminum and put the welder away. I therefore don't remember the exact settings I tried.
    However, I run docens (probably hundreds) of beads, systematically trying all kinds of AC balance and amp settings. I should also clarify that I have the Digital version of the Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC welder.

    I usually had the gas flow at around 20 cfm and used a #5 nozzle, but also tried other flow rates and nozzles sizes.
    I also eventually upgraded from a nozzle to a gas lens, again in different sizes. Plus, I bought a handheld gas flow meter to verify my settings.

    As for the electrodes, I have blue (2% lanthanated), purple (rare earth), red (2% Thoriated) and probably one or two others. I have them in 1/16" as well as 1/32" diameter, in combination with the proper sizer collets.
    Additionally, I tried 0.04" 2% lanthanated electrodes.

    Everytime I tried joining two pieces of aluminum, either not much would happen (too low amps) or the material would pull away before I could get a nice puddle on both pieces.

    I clean the parts by wiping them down with Acetone, then scrotch brite, followed by a dedicated stainless steel brush and then Acetone again. I also make sure that I don't touch the cleaned areas with my bare hands or the welding gloves before welding.

    Just for reference, this is what my welds on 0.063" 4130 steel look like. There is certainly room for improvement, but at least I have something as a basis and know that it is only a question of practice to improve the results:
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    My expectation would be that I should at least be able to weld two 0.090" 6061-t6 coupons in the same fashion together as the two steel coupons in the first picture (two pieced stacked on top of each other, laying flat on the welding table), but I'm not.

    Right now, all I can do with aluminum is to run beads. This is what they typically look like:

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    Oliver
    Last edited by OliverR; 07-21-2019 at 01:03 PM.

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    Welcome to the forum Oliver

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    You can use 10-11 cfh with that 5 cup and that will cut your gas price in half. That’s the setup I use

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    I should also clarify that I have the Digital version of the Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC welder.
    That actually makes a huge difference and reinforces my initial assumption. The Eastwood Digital TIG 200 has all the bells and whistles you will ever rally need for this project: Adjustable AC frequency to 200 hz, 10-200 amp output range (so it indeed goes low enough), AC balance from 10-50%, pulse up to 800 pulses per second, etc. There may be better welders out there, but honestly, this one has all the features you could possibly need to do this job. Your issue is you are doing edge welds which are not easy, and you don't seem to be backing off the foot pedal when your bead overheats. I think you really just need more seat time.
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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    Quote Originally Posted by motolife313 View Post
    Welcome to the forum Oliver
    Thank you. I really don't know how people got anything done before the internet with YouTube and forums were invented.

    Quote Originally Posted by Louie1961 View Post
    [...] I think you really just need more seat time.
    Funny enough, I just received a text message by a guy who is a welding instructor at a community college, seems like he would be willing to give me some private instruction and also let me try his professional grade welder. He welded some some stuff for a friend, including brackets to a thin walled aluminum radiator. This friend brought us in contact.

    I'll call him later tonight, I'm very excited to hopefully soon solve my issues!

    Oliver

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    No problem. Just takes experience and practice will get you there. Anything new is usually frustrating because your kinda in the dark not really knowing what your doing. Nice little hints definitely help like a nice really sharp tungsten. 120 grit flap wheel on a grinder works with drill to spin the tungsten and get yourself some cheater lenses so you can see the puddle better.i use 3.0. It all looks good so far besides the craters at the end of most of your welds. To eliminate that I either move the torch in little circles on low amps just enough to keep the puddle touch molten but try not to make it a bigger weld, this takes a few seconds sometimes also I’ll just move the torch to the side or combination of both. also a tiny dab is needed a lot of times then do your isolation motion again. There can’t be a crater hole like that because it will crack there on a real part that sees stress.

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    In all reallity, for a flange/edge weld like that, the material is going to melt back at those thicknesses. That's OK so long as you can make it uniform. There are a number of tricks you can do to make the process easier: chill bars/blocks, use a higher AC frequency, use pulse. Jody at weldingtipsandtrick.com had a nice video where he used his "rule off 33's" to build up an edge weld. You might try something like that. I highly doubt that a different welder will make this easier.
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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    So I understand that your new to welding in particular aluminum welding. Learning to weld.is one thing, putting it to practical use is another. I must ask what is it your trying to build out of .025 aluminum and why do you think it needs to be so thin? Not to sound like a smart a$$ but I'm a very experienced welder with over 25 years practical experience and I'd be real leary to take on a aluminum job that's .025 thick. Another thing, just because someone replies to your post don't automatically assume that they can do what your asking about because I'd wager that a extremely small percentage of folks can do it themselves.

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    Good news: I'll meet with the welding instruction the week after next! I've seen some of his work on aluminum that he did for my friend and really liked it. I'm very happy that I got in touch with him.

    I'll let you guys know how it went.


    Quote Originally Posted by Showdog75 View Post
    [...] I must ask what is it your trying to build out of .025 aluminum and why do you think it needs to be so thin? [...
    This is for the wing tanks of a home built aircraft. The manufacturer calls for this material as well as the type of joint on the pictures above.
    The manufacturer also sells the tanks as a finished product, I therefore don't have to make them if I don't feel comfortable.

    My short-term goal is however to be able to weld 0.90" 6061-T6 aluminum, as I want to make a small tank.

    Oliver

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    .09 thick sheet will be easier to start. I do see a lot of craters in your terminations. That tells me you are welding too slow and slamming of the pedal when you want to stop. Really you want to go faster and roll off the pedal while swirling the puddle. I would up your frequency as much as possible to focus the arc, and use that 5356 filler as it is not only stronger, more ductile, but produces a stiffer puddle for control. Remember that alum likes a tight arc. Not enough heat, step on the pedal more. Practice makes perfect.
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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    sharp lanthanated/thoriated tungsten, 70% EN balance, about 120hz frequency, should be able to keep the tungsten relatively sharp without balling too much.

    I have a strong suspicion that your arc length is, and always was, too long. On something like that, you need as short an arc length as possible. Longer arc means you heat up the material without heating the puddle... therefore the curled back edges.

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    OliverR,

    I fixed it for you.

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    OliverR,

    I fixed it for you.
    Haha, thank you.

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    I think faster than I read. Have you said where you are? Somebody near you can coach you through this. It ain't hard if you've done it.

    I'm likely not near. I'd seek to clamp it between two pieces of 1/4 x 1" copper.
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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    With thin edges you just have to turn the machine down to tame the fire. You want machine set for only what you need to melt and start the weld then your pedal will allow you to regulate the heat better and not have enough balls to burn it back suddenly if you mashed a little too hard.

    I fuse thin steel expansion chambers for a living when I was making them but recently having a friend do them as I don't have the time. The only way I could insure the edge didn't get a lump in the weld I had to turn the machine way down.

    They are really thin,

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    Daniel, are those for 2 stroke mini-motos or something?

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B View Post
    I think faster than I read. Have you said where you are? Somebody near you can coach you through this. It ain't hard if you've done it. [...]
    I live in Novi, close to Detroit, MI.

    I'll meet next week with the welding instructor. The good thing is, that I will not only get instruction, but that he will also has a good machine (some Miller, forgot to ask the exact type).
    He will set it up correctly and demonstrate how it's done. That way, I can entirely focus on my actual welding skills and don't have to mess with the settings.


    @danielplace
    Wow, this looks beautiful!
    I am aware that I need to crank the amps down, but was not able to find a setting that worked. Either nothing happend or the material would pull back before forming a shiny puddle.
    Anyways, for now the goal is to lean how to reliably put good quality welds 0.090" 6061-T6. I'll worry about the super-thin stuff later.

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    Re: TIG welder recommendation for 0.025" 6061 aluminum? Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC?

    Not to take anything from Daniels nice work but those thin expansion chambers are steel not aluminum. Different animal

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