Aluminum welding has become one of the most popular forms of welding in the industry today, with a special interest being in the automotive sector. Understanding how to successfully weld aluminum becomes the tricky part, as it is not the easiest material to work with. The process as a whole has its challenges, from preparation and correct welding techniques to specific equipment that should be used to help your operation run smoothly.
For this reason, aluminum requires specific consumables to ensure your welding jobs are completed with minimal issues and ease. In this blog, we will break down the necessary consumables needed to properly weld aluminum.Contact Tips
Contact tips determine the overall performance of your operation. Choosing the correct contact tip is crucial to avoiding the many problems that can occur like burnback, overheating, and friction. This may seem like a small part of your large operation, but your contact tip is the key to producing a high-quality weld.
When welding aluminum, a contact tip with a larger bore is a necessity. Standard tips used for steel welding typically have a small hole size, which will not adequately fit this application type. One of the distinct characteristics of aluminum is that it expands as it is heated. This is one of the main reasons a contact tip with a larger hole is required.
In the case that you do not have a larger bore contact tip, you are more likely to experience wire that burns back into the tip and ultimately welds itself into the tip.
Aluminum has a higher melting point and causes many issues because of how soft the material is. With that being said, drive rolls play a major role in the success of your operation. Aluminum must be pushed because of this factor, which results in needing special equipment.
In most cases, welders use a spool or push-pull gun to ensure proper wire feed occurs. Within this equipment lies drive-rolls that help push the wire along. Due to the soft nature of aluminum, U-groove drive rolls are preferred over typical V-groove or knurled drive rolls. V-groove drive rolls chew up aluminum, leaving shavings within the wire feed equipment.
Friction against aluminum tears down the aluminum wire into small pieces until you are left with shavings inside the wire. This micro-arcing will clog the liner, leaving you with a more serious issue. U-groove drive rolls are good because they do not have sharp edges that can cut off the sides of the aluminum wire.
Our newest FreedomDrive™ Push-Pull system can help eliminate some of these pain points as it allows for a standard MIG gun to be used, while the drive rolls and push-pull components are setback six feet from the gun in a housing on the cable. The FreedomDrive™ provides consistent, steady wire feeding, meaning the deformation of the wire is unlucky.
Similarly, to the issue caused by using the wrong drive-rolls, an incorrect liner can lead to shaving of the aluminum wire. Teflon or Nylon liners are recommended for aluminum welding to ensure stable wire feeding with a clean and smooth process.
Coiled steel liners will cause shavings inside the liner leaving the clogging issue to occur. Aluminum is extremely soft and needs the added protection to feed properly.
Other consumables, such as the gas diffuser and nozzles, do not need to be specific to aluminum welding. As long as you are mindful of your choice in contact tips, drive rolls, and liners, you will see less issues arise and more productivity coming out of your operation. Remaining mindful of the unique characteristics of aluminum is of the utmost importance when it comes to this application type. Each part, whether minor or major, plays a significant role in your aluminum welding success.
Interested in learning more about the FreedomDrive™ Push-Pull System? Click this link for more information or contact your local ABICOR BINZEL Representative today.