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Thread: Aluminum TIG Help

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    Aluminum TIG Help

    Hi,
    Havenít welded aluminum in quite sometime and I started a new project. All of a sudden I canít weld. Getting a lot of porosity and soot. I am practicing on a piece of 5052 1/8Ē plate. Amps set on 135 max. Using 5356 filler 100% argon. 3/32Ē pure tungsten. Using auto clean. Tried everything from 17cfh to 30cfh. Even switched out the gas lens cause it looked like the screen might be clogged. Just to be sure it wasnít the gas I ran a bead with no filler. As soon as I put in filler the porosity happens. Tried 4043 and it was worse. Here is a no filler bead and a filler bead. UGH. Any thoughts?
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Wipe down the filler rods and try to keep the tip of the filler in the argon shielded area between dips. Watch torch angle too, I tend to drop too far from vertical. Not sure what the AC balance is at the auto setting, but your etched area next to weld looks reasonable to me. A little more cleaning action wouldn't hurt but I don't think it's the main problem.

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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    What size cup are you using? 17CFH is pretty high for anything smaller than maybe a 7/8 cup which can cause turbulence and poor gas coverage. Whatever the cup size times two should be perfect, and with a gas lens you can get away with being on the low side more often than not.

    The pic with filler doesn't look to have enough cleaning...which will cause black soot. I would try manual AC balance and see what happens. I'd start at 30% positive then go up and down a bit to see what happens. The auto balance is simply going off amperage, nothing else, so they probably used something like 6061 to set the parameters, and 5052 won't be quite the same.
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Fab54, if the entry of filler is the key event in your surface contaminants? Then paying most attention to filler related causes seems in order?

    First, are you, have you used fine ScotchBrite (tm) pads to wipe the rod ? Next have you then followed on with a clean rag/wipe/paper towel w acetone? Both treatments will help long stored rod to have a cleaner lower level of oxides and other contaminants on the surface when introduced into the molten puddle. Is your feed hand glove super clean? Are you handling the rod with bare, oily hands before using the rod w/o further cleaning?

    If you did those steps with the rods, and still have same problems; then did you hold exactly the same torch distances, angles, in both instances? ( is the rod entering the puddle without any changes to your torch distances, angles, coverage or arc length)?

    By the looks your gas and coverage are fine w/o rod? so what's in/on/related to the rod that's bringing so much change? All likely mentioned before, but worth repeating IMO.

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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Thanks everyone. I wiped the filler rods with acetone. I did not use scotchbrite. The fillers were in a capped PVC tube. Do gas lenses ever plug up? What would happen if the gas cylinder was filled with CO2/Argon by mistake? Is that even possible. Yes it seems as soon as I put the filler in it goes black. No oily hands. Gloves not squeaky clean but not different than any other time. So frustrating...

    Cup size 8.

    I tried some 6061 which is what I really need to weld and it seemed to get worse. Oh well.
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    The fact that you get a clean bead when filler is not present tells me it's got to be an issue in the way the filler is introduced. #8 cup and your gas flow seem fine. I get the black sooty stuff when I dip, it happens too if I dab the tip of the tungsten instead of the weld pool.

    What's your stick out distance, distance from tungsten to workpiece and torch angle?

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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Quote Originally Posted by sand_man_red View Post
    The fact that you get a clean bead when filler is not present tells me it's got to be an issue in the way the filler is introduced. #8 cup and your gas flow seem fine. I get the black sooty stuff when I dip, it happens too if I dab the tip of the tungsten instead of the weld pool.

    What's your stick out distance, distance from tungsten to workpiece and torch angle?

    Stick out is about 5mm. Tungsten to work piece about 1/8Ē. Hard to keep it there though. Torch angle as vertical as possible. I switched to a 1/8Ē 2% ceriated tungsten and the tungsten seemed to hold up better.
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    5mm stick sounds okay. I'd try to hold a bit shorter arc but if you are 1/8 inch I think that's okay. I shoot for about a 75-80 degree torch angle (if 90 is vertical) so that's one thing to maybe try, that will also push argon shielding out where you're holding the filler. I'd try to keep the filler in the shielded area once I'm making a bead. I have to get the puddle going before I bring the filler into the shielded area or it falls off in blobs from getting too hot, I also get blobs of filler if I let my torch angle go too low.

    The other thing I can think of is maybe try establishing a puddle first and then moving the torch before you dip, that helps me keep the arc length short but reduces the chances of me stabbing the filler into the tungsten.

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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Clean both the base metal and the filler rod better and your aesthetics will improve. Wipe with acetone, brush in one direction with a fine-bristle brush, wipe again with acetone. On the rod, wipe with acetone, run it through scotch brite pad to get it dull-looking, then wipe with acetone again. #8 gas lens 15-20CFH should be enough, more for longer stickouts.
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    So I went back to the drawing board this morning. Did everything Iím supposed to do and got the same result. I used the same piece of practice stock. Same filler. Same amperage. Same tungsten. Endless cleaning. The only variable that is different here is that I have a new tank of argon. And when I say new I mean really new. Aero ran out of tanks and got a new batch in. This was the first time this tank was filled with gas. Pulling my hair out.
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    The good beads have a nice, distinct cleaning etch line where the bad beads don't.....in some spots there is no line at all, others it's almost touching the bead, etc.

    I have gotten a bad new bottle in the past...they didn't draw it down properly before filling it and it gave me sooty, ugly beads on aluminum. That's part of why I keep multiple bottles. Any time I swap bottles I immediately test the new one, then set it aside for when the other bottle needs to be swapped. I don't have to worry about coming home with a bad bottle and being stuck.

    I guess it's also possible you've a leak or gas flow issue...couldn't hurt to carefully check from torch to tank.
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    The good beads have a nice, distinct cleaning etch line where the bad beads don't.....in some spots there is no line at all, others it's almost touching the bead, etc.

    I have gotten a bad new bottle in the past...they didn't draw it down properly before filling it and it gave me sooty, ugly beads on aluminum. That's part of why I keep multiple bottles. Any time I swap bottles I immediately test the new one, then set it aside for when the other bottle needs to be swapped. I don't have to worry about coming home with a bad bottle and being stuck.

    I guess it's also possible you've a leak or gas flow issue...couldn't hurt to carefully check from torch to tank.
    I've actually tried about ten different cleaning settings from auto, max clean, max penetration, and everything in between. Was so frustrated yesterday I set up my MIG with the argon bottle and aluminum wire to do a test. I don't have a spool gun but I have welded aluminum MIG for an emergency repair in the past prior to owning a TIG machine. My MIG test weld yesterday had tons of black soot. I could be wrong but I have myself convinced that my argon is contaminated for some reason.
    Last edited by Fab54; 04-25-2021 at 12:36 PM.
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Quote Originally Posted by Fab54 View Post
    I've actually tried about ten different cleaning settings from auto, max clean, max penetration, and everything in between. Was so frustrated yesterday I set up my MIG with the argon bottle and aluminum wire to do a test. I don't have a spool gun but I have welded aluminum MIG for an emergency repair in the past prior to owning a TIG machine. My MIG test weld yesterday had tons of black soot. I could be wrong but I have myself convinced that my argon is contaminated for some reason.
    What result do you get when welding steel? If the steel is pretty good, but aluminum is sooty, then the Argon most likely has water in it. Also, what is the pressure on the tank? Water vapor contamination becomes evident under 500 psi.

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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Quote Originally Posted by Weldordie View Post
    What result do you get when welding steel? If the steel is pretty good, but aluminum is sooty, then the Argon most likely has water in it. Also, what is the pressure on the tank? Water vapor contamination becomes evident under 500 psi.
    I did a very small weld on steel when I first got the tank. The weld was ok but not up to par. I just thought it was me being rusty. Now it's starting to make sense. The tank was full so 2000psi. I am going to verify the gas flow rate and try a different regulator this week. If everything checks out I will be taking the tank back later this week.
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Quote Originally Posted by Fab54 View Post
    I did a very small weld on steel when I first got the tank. The weld was ok but not up to par. I just thought it was me being rusty. Now it's starting to make sense. The tank was full so 2000psi. I am going to verify the gas flow rate and try a different regulator this week. If everything checks out I will be taking the tank back later this week.
    That's almost exactly what happened the last time I got a bad tank. I was testing a welder I had just bought and it was a model I hadn't used before. I tried it on steel and got okay results, but not great. When I tried it on aluminum I got sooty welds with a bit of porosity...I knew that couldn't be right so I hooked up my known good tank and the difference was night and day.

    I think you have it figured out. At least it's not a machine issue!
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    That's almost exactly what happened the last time I got a bad tank. I was testing a welder I had just bought and it was a model I hadn't used before. I tried it on steel and got okay results, but not great. When I tried it on aluminum I got sooty welds with a bit of porosity...I knew that couldn't be right so I hooked up my known good tank and the difference was night and day.

    I think you have it figured out. At least it's not a machine issue!
    Yeah I'm so sure I already pulled the tank. Called Aero All-gas and they won't have any of my size cylinders until tomorrow. Apparently they are having trouble getting their hands on more cylinders. This is the second time this has happened. So another day of waiting.
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Dunno.

    Today I bent up a "shortbread pan" finished size is 16" square, 1" tall sides tight folded hem to outside. Welding was limited to four corners 1" tall. Material was brushed before bending. The brake wasn't very clean, but lots of stainless brushing & acetone wiping. It was to be welded inside & out to facilitate radiuses so cleaning is easier.

    I began with 1/16" lanthanated tungsten, 4943 1/16" filler to weld 16 gauge 6061. balance was 75% EN, 160 amps Advanced square wave with pedal. 15, 17, & 21 cfh argon I couldn't weld it to save my soul! lots of black specks, it just wouldn't weld.

    I switched to 3/32" filler & tungsten, the problem was resolved. There is no explanation for this.
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Name:  6B32F868-DBB7-4DB0-99BE-1C8363919E88.jpg
Views: 242
Size:  77.1 KBbead on the left was my cousins and mine was the right bead. Could be torch angle and rod and and long arcing it like here in my pic or just bad gas. You really just need a guy who knows what heís doing to determine the fastest and most accurate. He tried to start at the far right. Didnít clean that dirty piece of metal either and it welded fine for me

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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Quote Originally Posted by motolife313 View Post
    bead on the left was my cousins and mine was the right bead. Could be torch angle and rod and and long arcing it like here in my pic or just bad gas. You really just need a guy who knows what heís doing to determine the fastest and most accurate. He tried to start at the far right. Didnít clean that dirty piece of metal either and it welded fine for me
    OH, that had to be a discouraging experience for him!

    (I hope you were nice...)

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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    So the saga is over but technically not resolved. Took the tank back and the manager insisted there was no way possible that the gas is bad. Their gas is 99.9999999% pure or some other ridiculous number. The porosity was caused by a gas leak. So I explained that the tank was new and maybe there was moisture in the tank from the manufacturer. He insisted that the manufacturer is required to certify the tanks are compliant and have no moisture. He suggested there could have been a small piece of something on one of the connections or a gas solenoid leak. But he said it’s no problem I’ll give you another tank and he did. I also bought a small bottle of leak checker. Even though I spent 16 hours over the weekend trouble shooting this mess, he had me second guessing myself.

    I just put the new tank in and without checking for any leaks I ran a 15 second weld. It was perfect. No porosity. The photo is attached. Old tank welds on top. New tank weld on the bottom.

    I am convinced that the gas was contaminated. There were no leaks. There are no leaks. If people tell you gas can’t be contaminated or wrong, don’t believe them.

    Thanks to everyone who tried to help. Such a colossal waste of everyone’s time and money.
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    Last edited by Fab54; 04-27-2021 at 09:42 PM.
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Quote Originally Posted by Fab54 View Post
    So the saga is over but technically not resolved. Took the tank back and the manager insisted there was no way possible that the gas is bad. Their gas is 99.9999999% pure or some other ridiculous number. The porosity was caused by a gas leak. So I explained that the tank was new and maybe there was moisture in the tank from the manufacturer. He insisted that the manufacturer is required to certify the tanks are compliant and have no moisture. He suggested there could have been a small piece of something on one of the connections or a gas solenoid leak. But he said it’s no problem I’ll give you another tank and he did. I also bought a small bottle of leak checker. Even though I spent 16 hours over the weekend trouble shooting this mess, he had me second guessing myself.

    I just put the new tank in and without checking for any leaks I ran a 15 second weld. It was perfect. No porosity. The photo is attached. Old tank welds on top. New tank weld on the bottom.

    I am convinced that the gas was contaminated. There were no leaks. There are no leaks. If people tell you gas can’t be contaminated or wrong, don’t believe them.

    Thanks to everyone who tried to help. Such a colossal waste of everyone’s time and money.
    Glad you got it sorted out! The gas they added to the tank was probably perfect, but if the tank wasn't sucked down properly all bets are off...and that's almost certainly what happened. New tanks, and tanks being switched from some kind of blend to pure argon seem to be the ones most likely to have issues. I'm friends with the owner of the local welding shop and they always have a handful of bottles grouped together with tape on them that says "bad gas" so I know it's pretty common...
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  24. #22
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    I wonder if the first bottle was contaminated with maybe 25% CO2.... as in wrong label on the cylinder
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Quote Originally Posted by frieed View Post
    I wonder if the first bottle was contaminated with maybe 25% CO2.... as in wrong label on the cylinder
    I had a bad tank once- and to make it worse , it was when I was first learning to TIG alooominum.

    frustrating to say the least :0
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Quote Originally Posted by frieed View Post
    I wonder if the first bottle was contaminated with maybe 25% CO2.... as in wrong label on the cylinder
    One of the later posts he said it was a brand new tank that had never been filled before. That probably points to the tank not being sucked down fully before it got filled....they might have thought it didn't need it being brand new.
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    Re: Aluminum TIG Help

    Quote Originally Posted by Fab54 View Post
    Do gas lenses ever plug up? What would happen if the gas cylinder was filled with CO2/Argon by mistake? Is that even possible. Yes it seems as soon as I put the filler in it goes black. No oily hands. Gloves not squeaky clean but not different than any other time. So frustrating...

    Cup size 8.

    I tried some 6061 which is what I really need to weld and it seemed to get worse. Oh well.
    If you got a CO2 mix then you would have next to 0 control. While I am not great or even good at AL, I got one mixed up on my end when I was just starting out. Disaster ensued and lets just agree that the photos that were not taken will stay that way. The arc jumped everywhere and there was zero puddle control.
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