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Thread: newbie - TIG aluminum

  1. #1
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    newbie - TIG aluminum

    I am new to TIG welding, currently working with aluminum. For the most part I am primarily practicing with 3/16" aluminum, fairly small pieces of angle and flat stock - around 2"-4" length angle and approx 4"x"4" flat stock. The welds are solid, strong, I feel I am doing well - better than expected at this early stage. As soon as I moved to larger pieces (still 3/16" thickness) for my production work the welding is much more difficult. I can't seem to get a puddle going, having to "sit" on the spot for quite a while. The welds are horrible, and the large flat pieces of aluminum become unusable. All settings are the same between my smaller practice pieces and the larger work: around 130 amps and -3 balance.

    Is this a heat-sink issue?
    A pre-heat issue?


    All work is performed over a flat piece of 3/8" steel. I did try boosting the amps a bit on the larger aluminum, but just does not seem to do the trick.


    Any input would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    First off, welcome!

    As far as the issue, 130A just isn't enough for 3/16" aluminum. You're getting away with it on the small pieces because they heat up quickly because the heat can't travel. Set the machine to something like 200A and see if you can get a puddle in 1-2 seconds. The general rule is 1 amp per thousandth of an inch of thickness so 3/16 is in the 187A range, but it's better to err on the high side with aluminum. Waiting and waiting and waiting on aluminum only gets the work really hot and even if you get a puddle started makes it harder to freeze the puddle when adding filler so you won't get smooth, shiny beads. Crank it up, get the puddle started quick, start adding filler and move a quickly as you can!
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  4. #3
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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    What machine? Are you using a pedal?

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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    200 amps and pedal to the metal.

    You say #3 balance. Have no clue where that is in the welding universe.

    5356 filler wire has exothermic properties when added to the puddle. Heat is added from small amounts of the magnesium burning under the arc.
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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    Ok, this is quite helpful. I was hesitant to crank up the amps, as I was afraid I'd blow through the aluminum. I maxed out the machine at just over 200 amps - this worked better, but still a long way to making a solid weld. I am now able to get the initial puddle much quicker (maybe 4-5 seconds...still too slow), but moving along w/ the weld is pretty clunky. And still getting somewhat minor "dimples" on the other side of the aluminum plate.

    I am running 110v. Would you recommend moving up to 220v?

    Thanks very much.

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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    Using an Eastwood machine, TIG 200 AC/DC

    Yes, using a pedal.

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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by lpm View Post
    I am running 110v. Would you recommend moving up to 220v?
    Thanks very much.
    I'd bet that's what you need to do now...

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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by lpm View Post
    Ok, this is quite helpful. I was hesitant to crank up the amps, as I was afraid I'd blow through the aluminum. I maxed out the machine at just over 200 amps - this worked better, but still a long way to making a solid weld. I am now able to get the initial puddle much quicker (maybe 4-5 seconds...still too slow), but moving along w/ the weld is pretty clunky. And still getting somewhat minor "dimples" on the other side of the aluminum plate.

    I am running 110v. Would you recommend moving up to 220v?

    Thanks very much.
    Your machine only puts out 145A on a 110V input so you're not even close to what you need. They should do a better job of explaining that in the manual, but it's there if you look closely at the duty cycle chart.
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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by lpm View Post
    Using an Eastwood machine, TIG 200 AC/DC

    Yes, using a pedal.
    Use 240 volts, and learn to use the pedal, not as an "off and on" switch, but as a method to develop and control the puddle. I disagree that the puddle should be developed by "pedal to the metal" when you're not familiar with what it takes for puddle control. I suggest that you take the time by using scrap aluminum to learn to pulsate that pedal under your foot, while watching the puddle develop and shrink, until you feel comfortable with puddle control. Then, instead of flooring the pedal to start, you pulse on and off, while seeing what the puddle is doing, until it's time to add filler. Pulsing on and off, until you see a puddle, provides a method to pre-heat without over-heating and blowing metal away. I know most of the folks will say to floor the pedal, but using pedal finesse will work on all thicknesses of base metal. I have yet to see any instructors suggest to use pedal pulsing, instead of flooring, but pulsing works so much better.

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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    This is an Eastwood machine - the "clearance effect" (pos-to-neg setting) is also sometimes referred to as balance, at least in the Eastwood universe.

    Thanks for the tip on the 5356 filler wire.

    Another poster let me know the Eastwood machine maxes out at ~145 amps at 110v, so I think this may be my issue. Now looking into running it on 220v.

    I appreciated the tips...!

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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    Wow, I was not aware of this. Very helpful info, much appreciated. I am now looking at getting a 220v service set up.

    thanks much for this important tip!

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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    Ok, this makes sense. I appreciate the helpful suggestions. On my way to the workshop now to give it a shot...

    Another poster alerted me to the fact that Eastwood only outputs 145a running on 110v. Very helpful to know.

    Very glad I posted my issues here - you guys saved me a bunch of time and $. Thank you.

  14. #13
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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    Wow, I am happy to read this valuable information about aluminum welding. I appreciate your efforts and tips that you have provide.

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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by lpm View Post
    This is an Eastwood machine - the "clearance effect" (pos-to-neg setting) is also sometimes referred to as balance, at least in the Eastwood universe.

    Thanks for the tip on the 5356 filler wire.

    Another poster let me know the Eastwood machine maxes out at ~145 amps at 110v, so I think this may be my issue. Now looking into running it on 220v.

    I appreciated the tips...!
    So #3 is 30%? 30% EN or EP?
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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    Re: newbie - TIG aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelon View Post
    So #3 is 30%? 30% EN or EP?
    it's not #3 it is Minus 3 , -3. I assume this means Negative 3 30/70 on the balance ??

    "2. Clearance Effect This step can be omitted if welding in DC. If welding in AC this will need to be set. The more negative the value will result in greater penetration and less cleaning and the more positive the value will result in less penetration but greater cleaning. For suggested settings refer to the data chart on the welder."


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