Welding Aluminum Extrusion: Techniques and Safety Precautions
Aluminum extrusion is a popular choice for many industries due to its lightweight, durable, and corrosion-resistant properties. However, welding aluminum extrusions can be challenging due to its high thermal conductivity and low melting point. In this article, we’ll explore the various techniques and safety precautions involved in welding aluminum extrusion.
Prepping Aluminum for Welding
Before welding aluminum extrusion, it’s crucial to prep the metal properly. First, remove any oils, paints, or other contaminants using a cleaning solution. A common practice is to use acetone or isopropyl alcohol to clean the surface. Next, use a stainless steel wire brush to remove any oxides on the surface. Ensure the brush is only used on aluminum to avoid contamination from previous use.
Proper Equipment for Welding Aluminum Extrusion
When welding aluminum extrusion, it’s essential to have the right equipment. The two primary welding techniques for aluminum extrusion are Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding and Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding. Both techniques require specialized equipment, including:
1. Tig Welding Equipment:
– TIG welder with AC/DC capabilities
– Tungsten electrode
– Argon gas
– Filler metal
– Torch and collets
– Foot pedal
2. MIG Welding Equipment:
– MIG welder with push-pull feeder
– Aluminum welding wire
– Argon gas
– Torch and nozzle
– Regulator and flow meter
– Spool gun
Filler Metals for Aluminum Extrusion
When welding aluminum extrusion, filler metals are necessary to join two pieces of aluminum together. Filler rods come in various alloys, such as 4043, 5356, and 5554. The alloys’ choice will depend on the application, strength requirements, and the alloy of the base metal. For example, 4043 filler rod is suitable for general-purpose welding and has good corrosion resistance.
Welding Techniques for Aluminum Extrusion
TIG Welding Technique
TIG welding is a popular technique used to weld aluminum extrusion due to its precise and clean welds. To TIG weld, use an AC/DC TIG welder with a tungsten electrode and argon gas. The tungsten electrode is sharpened to a point and inserted into the TIG torch. The argon gas is used to shield the weld from the air, preventing contamination. The foot pedal is used to control the amperage of the weld.
To weld, start by placing the tungsten electrode close to the aluminum extrusion and gently tap it onto the metal. This creates an arc, and the welder returns the torch to the start position. Using the foot pedal, slowly add amperage and guide the tungsten electrode along the path of the weld. Use filler rod as necessary to add material to the joint.
MIG Welding Technique
MIG welding is another popular technique for welding aluminum extrusion because it’s faster and suited for larger projects. To MIG weld, use a MIG welder with a push-pull feeder and a spool gun. The spool gun is used to feed aluminum wire from the spool to the torch. The push-pull feeder is necessary to ensure the wire doesn’t kink or jam in the torch.
To weld, start by inserting the spool gun wire into the torch and securing it with a nozzle. Use the regulator to set the flow of argon gas. Place the nozzle close to the aluminum extrusion and gently tap the trigger to start the arc. The welder returns the nozzle to the start position, and using the trigger, guides the torch along the path of the weld. The spool gun feeds the wire as necessary. Use filler rod as necessary to add material to the joint.
Welding Safety Precautions
Welding aluminum extrusion can produce harmful fumes and UV radiation. It’s crucial to take proper safety precautions, such as:
– Wearing proper protective equipment such as welding gloves, welding helmet, and welding jacket.
– Ensure the workspace is well-ventilated to prevent the buildup of harmful fumes.
– Position the aluminum extrusion in a way that reduces the risk of injury and allows for optimal visibility.
– Always wear eye protection and ensure those around you do as well to prevent eye damage from UV radiation.
Welding aluminum extrusions can be challenging but is necessary for joining two pieces of aluminum together. By prepping the aluminum properly, using the right equipment and filler metals, and employing proper welding techniques and safety precautions, you can create strong and durable welds that will last