MIG Welding

Trouble-Shooting Aluminum MIG Welding Problems

Trouble-Shooting Aluminum MIG Welding Problems

There’s nothing worse than setting up for a welding project and then struggling to keep the puddle moving or fighting off chunks of spatter. Aluminum is one metal that can be particularly troublesome for welders since there are so many different things that can go wrong while welding aluminum. Even if you pick up a spool gun that makes it easy to feed the wire into your torch, here are some things that could go wrong while MIG welding aluminum and how to fix them:

Properly Clean Your Metal for Aluminum MIG Welding

If your weld is a mess or you can’t create a steady puddle as you move along your work piece, you may have dirty aluminum on your hands. As it turns out, there are many wrong ways you can clean aluminum.

Sand or grind off the thin oxidized top layer first and then clean it with acetone. Some welders prefer to use a wire brush first. Either way, only use cleaning products for aluminum. If you use your brush or sandpaper on steel or another material, you’ll only make things worse on your aluminum work surface.

Using Enough Power for Aluminum MIG Welding

If you have a MIG welder that offers 120V and 220V power, you may want to try using the 220V option to ensure that you have enough power. Without enough power, you won’t be able to melt the aluminum evenly enough to create a steady puddle.

Grounding for Aluminum MIG Welding

If you have an erratic arc or lots of spatter, you may have a poor ground. You can usually fix this problem by either grinding the clamp location in order to remove the oxidation on the aluminum (though welders are not in agreement on how effective this may be, it’s worth a shot) or using a clamp with better contact points.

Correct Wire Speed for Aluminum MIG Welding

If you can’t create a steady puddle while MIG welding aluminum, consider testing out different wire speeds. While you don’t want to add too much metal to the weld puddle, the right wire speed will help you create a smooth, steady weld rather than causing you to struggle inch after inch with the size of your weld puddle.

Shielding Gas for Aluminum MIG Welding

MIG welding uses Argon gas to shield the weld puddle as you work, and therefore a sloppy weld could result if your bottle isn’t dispensing gas properly or if the gas itself has been contaminated—which could be possible if the bottle has been sitting around in your garage for a long time.

MIG welding aluminum doesn’t need to be a struggle, but if a project doesn’t work out, there are some simple things you can test out to get yourself back on course.

Ed

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