Can You Weld Aluminum?
Yes, you can weld aluminum. However, aluminum requires different welding techniques, shielding gases, and processing, both before and after welding. For starters, wire brushing or chemically cleaning the aluminum beforehand will help to prevent un-melted aluminum oxide particles from contaminating the weld.
Also, specific aluminum alloys, such as 6061-T6, are artificially aged to boost their strength. The heat from welding negates any benefits derived from aging, so another round of artificial aging after welding could be required to renew the aluminum’s strength.
Top 3 Aluminum Welding Methods
Here are three methods recommended for welding aluminum:
TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) Welding
TIG is arguably the most popular welding method for aluminum. TIG welding is relatively clean, preventing the aluminum from being contaminated by the atmosphere. The process does not require mechanical wire feeding. Instead, the filler material is held by the operator and fed into the weld puddle. The welder must choose a filler material that is as close to the aluminum workpiece as possible.
MIG (Metal Inert Gas) Welding
MIG is another appropriate choice for welding aluminum. This welding method typically has higher deposition rates and faster travel speeds than TIG. However, MIG welding uses a mechanical wire feeding system, and the operator will be feeding the consumable electrode and filler through a spool gun. As with the TIG process, the filler alloy should be similar to the base material, and it is crucial to follow the filler manufacturer’s recommendations on shielding gas.
Stick (Shielded Metal Arc) Welding
Stick welding aluminum is not usually the choice method for large manufacturers, but it works well for smaller fabrications shops and home shop welders. Experienced welders can lay some decent-looking welds and weld thinner aluminum using this process. However, stick welding aluminum is mostly reserved for the jobs in which cosmetics are not the primary concern, such as in structural applications.