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Thread: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

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    No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Hello all, I have the opportunity to learn how to weld on my friends millermatic 251. He has it set up for mig spool and uses 0.035 ER4043 as the filler. I have done very limited mig (steel) welding back in the day during highschool. I am trying to weld 1/8 square tubing which I will eventually be welding into a bedframe. After doing some test pieces I realized I was getting very little if any penetration on my welds. I used the chart on the welder to set my parameters (19v, 400 wire speed) and I used a new grinder flat disk to clean the pieces.

    I tried a couple different methods such as uping the voltage (As I thought this correlated with bead depth) and messing around with the wire speed. I also tried preheating the metal with a torch. Nothing seemed to make much of a difference. From watching several videos and reading some articles I have learned that the bead depth is actually related to amperage which in turn is dictated by wire speed. Although I messed around with wire speed a bit I for the most part was focused on voltage. Tomorrow I will have access to the machine again and I plan to keep the voltage constant while adjusting wire speed to see if I can increase penetration.

    Here is a picture of one of my horrible attempts:
    Name:  20220625_165635 (1).jpg
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    Does this appear to be a wire speed issue to you guys? Any additional tips for a new welder? Also I'm assuming in order to test my beads I should be able to bend the square tubing without the weld breaking is that correct? Currently I can break them with a few taps of the hammer which I am sure is too weak...

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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    You really need to get the metal/arc in spray transfer mode. I have a feeling you were still in short-circuit. Look up a few videos so you can familiarize yourself with how spray transfer looks/sounds. It is a very hot, high-energy transfer mode where you have to move relatively fast.
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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Argon left that mess? You sure you're using the right Gas?

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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Make sure you are running pure argon, and ditch the grinder for cleaning. In my opinion any power tool for cleaning aluminum is a no-no, as it tends to drive the contaminants into the metal. Stick with a manual stainless steel brush that has never been used on anything but aluminum. Also make sure you are pushing your welds and not dragging. I would start with 21 volts and 350 ipm
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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchk1303 View Post
    Does this appear to be a wire speed issue to you guys? Any additional tips for a new welder? Also I'm assuming in order to test my beads I should be able to bend the square tubing without the weld breaking is that correct? Currently I can break them with a few taps of the hammer which I am sure is too weak...
    You have several issues here. But firstly you are using 4043 wire and it has inferior strentgh, so no you will not be able to bent the joint without the weld breaking first, ever. Use a stronger filler and maybe.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchk1303 View Post
    Hello all, I have the opportunity to learn how to weld on my friends millermatic 251. He has it set up for mig spool and uses 0.035 ER4043 as the filler. I have done very limited mig (steel) welding back in the day during highschool. I am trying to weld 1/8 square tubing which I will eventually be welding into a bedframe. After doing some test pieces I realized I was getting very little if any penetration on my welds. I used the chart on the welder to set my parameters (19v, 400 wire speed) and I used a new grinder flat disk to clean the pieces.

    I tried a couple different methods such as uping the voltage (As I thought this correlated with bead depth) and messing around with the wire speed. I also tried preheating the metal with a torch. Nothing seemed to make much of a difference. From watching several videos and reading some articles I have learned that the bead depth is actually related to amperage which in turn is dictated by wire speed. Although I messed around with wire speed a bit I for the most part was focused on voltage. Tomorrow I will have access to the machine again and I plan to keep the voltage constant while adjusting wire speed to see if I can increase penetration.


    Does this appear to be a wire speed issue to you guys? Any additional tips for a new welder? Also I'm assuming in order to test my beads I should be able to bend the square tubing without the weld breaking is that correct? Currently I can break them with a few taps of the hammer which I am sure is too weak...
    Just to be certain, you're using a spool gun with 100% Argon, correct? You probably know this, but the wire speed is set on the spool gun (red knob at the base of the handle for a Spoolmatic 15A or 30A) not on the welder.
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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    You really need to get the metal/arc in spray transfer mode. I have a feeling you were still in short-circuit. Look up a few videos so you can familiarize yourself with how spray transfer looks/sounds. It is a very hot, high-energy transfer mode where you have to move relatively fast.
    I think I'm getting closer with the new setting I'm using! It's more of a hiss sound now with less splatter

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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Quote Originally Posted by BaTu View Post
    Argon left that mess? You sure you're using the right Gas?
    Yes I am using 100 percent argon. But I think my settings were way off!

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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Quote Originally Posted by Louie1961 View Post
    Make sure you are running pure argon, and ditch the grinder for cleaning. In my opinion any power tool for cleaning aluminum is a no-no, as it tends to drive the contaminants into the metal. Stick with a manual stainless steel brush that has never been used on anything but aluminum. Also make sure you are pushing your welds and not dragging. I would start with 21 volts and 350 ipm
    I got myself a stainless steel brush! I've been messing around with the wire speed more now (since I know that has a more direct relationship to penetration).

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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelon View Post
    You have several issues here. But firstly you are using 4043 wire and it has inferior strentgh, so no you will not be able to bent the joint without the weld breaking first, ever. Use a stronger filler and maybe.
    What filler would you reccomend for this spool gun?

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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    Just to be certain, you're using a spool gun with 100% Argon, correct? You probably know this, but the wire speed is set on the spool gun (red knob at the base of the handle for a Spoolmatic 15A or 30A) not on the welder.
    I am ashamed to say that being new to welding I did not know the speed was adjusted on the 30a spool gun until yesterday... I am running 100 percent argon

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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Thank you all for the help and tips for a new welder like myself. I have been doing some more test runs today. It seems to me like a combination of 23v and 6 speed on the spool gun gives me good penetration without blowout on my 1/8 pieces. But this seems pretty high compared to what is generally reccomend for this size. Is there any danger to running too hot other then blow out? I was able to take a vice grip and bend my welded piece (weld on just one side) without the weld breaking.

    I took some pictures of two welds but I can't seem to upload them from my phone. I did notice the weld has a white mark right next to it. Is this from doing anything incorrectly

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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Look at the difference between short circuit globular and spray transfer. You are correct amperage is adjusted by wire speed but adding speed inversely affects voltage. So long as the voltage is in range fine-tuning the wire speed will get you to where you can turn up the speed until you get the wire to short circuit then dial back to where you are between globular and spray. Cleaning wth a flap wheel works ok but grinding wheel definitely imbed stuff in the aluminum that make the weld a little dirty.

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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    mitch,
    I'll point out that the joint preparation may be a contribution to the lack of fusion? I use a belt sander on joints like these- after cutting the squared off ends, I hold them to a belt w 80 to 120 grit and bevel the welds areas for the welds, TIG or MIG can get some penetration from the joint's design. This method increases the root face area (the main contribution to joint strength in welds) and allows most MIG beads to be placed with less overall wattage/heat.

    I find that using a belt sander to bevel the sides of rect./square tube will provide a good welding surfaces if the sanding is followed by acetone wipe/spray/cleaning.

    I'd also note that 40 series fillers are alloyed with a large fraction of silicone, to make the weld bead 'flow', but at the cost of strength. I only use 5356 filler for any 6061 or 5086 alloys and only use 40 series fillers when working in cast aluminum repairs. Just personal practice from performing bend/break and flex to failure tests since I began working in welded aluminum in the 1970's.

    a couple of images to help make clear my remarks.


    Here are some typical joints as your photo images shows you're employing. Note the beads actually have to lay on top of the parent metal?


    Again, the bead will have to be pretty hot, compared to a beveled prep, in order to fuse the entire parent metal face of the joint's adjoining parts.


    However, if you spend the few seconds per side to bevel the ends of the extrusions' faces; you'd form a weld groove that will fill and fuse the entire adjoining faces- resulting in a lower wattage weld producing a higher strength joint.


    This image is an attempt to make a root face penetration and weld section comparison between a beveled joint edge prep and a butted square cut end prep.

    Making this small weld prep and then experimenting with your wattage/weld heat and wire feed speeds, combined with your travel speed for the small welds will usually make the result stronger with better penetration.

    Hope this gives you another aspect of joint prep to consider while you learn more about the joints you're proposing for your project?

    Cheers,
    Kevin Morin
    Kenai, AK

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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Quote Originally Posted by Eelspike View Post
    Look at the difference between short circuit globular and spray transfer. You are correct amperage is adjusted by wire speed but adding speed inversely affects voltage. So long as the voltage is in range fine-tuning the wire speed will get you to where you can turn up the speed until you get the wire to short circuit then dial back to where you are between globular and spray. Cleaning wth a flap wheel works ok but grinding wheel definitely imbed stuff in the aluminum that make the weld a little dirty.
    I ran out of filler so I will need to grab some more. But I think maybe my voltage was a little low for spray. I read that 24 to 26v was necessary.

    I know I'm supposed to be around 175 amps for this size filler but I'm not sure how to translate wire speed to amps.

    So you are saying assuming my voltage is in the correct range for spray if my amperage is too high it will actually go to short circuit instead of spray? So basically spray is at a lower amperage then short? I thought it was the other way around?

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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Morin View Post
    mitch,
    I'll point out that the joint preparation may be a contribution to the lack of fusion? I use a belt sander on joints like these- after cutting the squared off ends, I hold them to a belt w 80 to 120 grit and bevel the welds areas for the welds, TIG or MIG can get some penetration from the joint's design. This method increases the root face area (the main contribution to joint strength in welds) and allows most MIG beads to be placed with less overall wattage/heat.

    I find that using a belt sander to bevel the sides of rect./square tube will provide a good welding surfaces if the sanding is followed by acetone wipe/spray/cleaning.

    I'd also note that 40 series fillers are alloyed with a large fraction of silicone, to make the weld bead 'flow', but at the cost of strength. I only use 5356 filler for any 6061 or 5086 alloys and only use 40 series fillers when working in cast aluminum repairs. Just personal practice from performing bend/break and flex to failure tests since I began working in welded aluminum in the 1970's.

    a couple of images to help make clear my remarks.


    Here are some typical joints as your photo images shows you're employing. Note the beads actually have to lay on top of the parent metal?


    Again, the bead will have to be pretty hot, compared to a beveled prep, in order to fuse the entire parent metal face of the joint's adjoining parts.


    However, if you spend the few seconds per side to bevel the ends of the extrusions' faces; you'd form a weld groove that will fill and fuse the entire adjoining faces- resulting in a lower wattage weld producing a higher strength joint.


    This image is an attempt to make a root face penetration and weld section comparison between a beveled joint edge prep and a butted square cut end prep.

    Making this small weld prep and then experimenting with your wattage/weld heat and wire feed speeds, combined with your travel speed for the small welds will usually make the result stronger with better penetration.

    Hope this gives you another aspect of joint prep to consider while you learn more about the joints you're proposing for your project?

    Cheers,
    Kevin Morin
    Kenai, AK
    Thanks for the help! I will definitely work on my material prep!

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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchk1303 View Post
    What filler would you reccomend for this spool gun?
    I prefer 5356 myself. The magnesium content provides exothermic heat during the melting and transfer through the arc. It is much stronger as well and is definitely not dependent on base metal dilution for strength.
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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchk1303 View Post
    I ran out of filler so I will need to grab some more. But I think maybe my voltage was a little low for spray. I read that 24 to 26v was necessary.

    I know I'm supposed to be around 175 amps for this size filler but I'm not sure how to translate wire speed to amps.

    So you are saying assuming my voltage is in the correct range for spray if my amperage is too high it will actually go to short circuit instead of spray? So basically spray is at a lower amperage then short? I thought it was the other way around?
    I think he just worded it a bit awkward. He meant generally speaking, if you increase WFS (and thus amps), you also need to correspondingly increase the voltage, which you already have because now you are getting the "hiss" of spray-transfer. He was just a little late as he pretty much mentioned what I already had and what you already took action on.

    So to answer your question, no there is no way to transition into spray, then in increase WFS and make it go into short-circuit. What happens is most likely an erratic spray pattern that may border on globular. So you have it correct: spray occurs at a much higher WFS/amperage than short circuit.
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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Yes and yes if you are at the mid point between spray and short circuit which globular and you add speed you will go towards short circuit add more speed and you will stub the wire against the metal pushing back the gun the is because the as you increase the amount of filler wire you now don't have enough voltage to melt it. Conversely at you lower the speed you will pass from short circuit to globular to spray and then you can work on finding the sweat spot for what you are welding. The actual voltage at the gun is lower depending on how much welding lead you have to because there is a voltage drop involved.

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    Re: No Aluminum Penetration (New to Welding)

    Think of voltage as a highway for amperage the more volts the wider the highway the more metal you can flow on the highway. The wire in the stick out zone is being preheated if it is not heated enough it will short circuit or stub against the base metal as you get it right it begins to melt off in globs and a little hotter it fans out and sprays the sweat spot can be controlled by adjusting either voltage or speed but within the recommended ranges.
    Last edited by Eelspike; 06-29-2022 at 06:28 AM.

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