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Old 02-21-2012, 01:18 AM   #1
Carlyle
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Whatis everyone using for tungsten when welding aluminum.I've been using Zirconiated (brown) for 25 years because that's what I was taught in college. The local welding shop doesn't carry it because he says I should be using pure tungsten (green) for aluminum. Does anyone have any experience with using pure tungsten for aluminum.



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Old 02-21-2012, 01:51 AM   #2
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I have always used the pure tungsten (green) and "ball" the tip on a copper bar before welding aluminum. I don't have formal welding training but this is how a friend taught me.
Hope this helps.
Steve



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Old 02-21-2012, 02:26 AM   #3
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Green. Also, if you touch the tungsten to the weld, stop and grind it out - at least in my limited experience aluminum is much less forgiving when this happens. You'll end up with a good looking weld that can be porus (i.e. - leaks on a fuel tank).

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Old 02-21-2012, 02:48 AM   #4
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Ceriated or Thoriated 2% works really well for everything including aluminum. Check out the web siteof weldingtipsandtricks.com. Great site for welders and provides a lot of practical info on this kind of stuff.
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Old 02-21-2012, 11:47 AM   #5
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No formal training here. I have used 2%Thoriated for 30 years but recently tried straight (green, 1/16") tungsten. I saw no real benefit. I was taught to use 3/32" and grind it to a point (much like you would with steel), then let the ball form as you heat the part to first form the puddle. The tapered tip will allow the ball to be formed to the size required for the amps you're using. It's kinda' self-regulating. Otherwise you would be changing tungsten sizes to match the thickness you're welding. This works for welding .025" to 1/8" thick aluminum. Sounds lazy, works fine.

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Old 02-21-2012, 01:45 PM   #6
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Talking with the folks at the place where I get my welding stuff;They got me on the 2% Ceriated (EWCe-2) Orange Tip electrodes.They work very well for stainless, chromoly and aluminum.If you havn't tried them, you should.I also found that using a gas lens works very good.Having ground a point onthe tungsten, I then flatten the end a little.I got this little bit of info from the Miller corp.Flattening the end is very good with aluminum and just about everything else.(I never could get a ball formed at the end of the tungsten when working with aluminum...must be doing something wrong!)
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:55 PM   #7
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Just remember, NEVER use that same tungsten with another metal than aluminum (even if you can). If you weld something else, that tungsten will add unwanted particles when use with aluminum.....so keep all your aluminum stuff just for aluminum.

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Old 02-21-2012, 02:08 PM   #8
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This is a typical 2% (red) tungsten used on thin aluminum;



The ball was formed on aluminum, I've never done it any other way.
I do admit to mixing materials with my tungstens sometimes, not great practice but I'm always regrinding them anyway......

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Old 02-21-2012, 02:15 PM   #9
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Bill.What is the ball...Is it melted aluminum?Is it melted tungsten?(If it is aluminum, then wouldn't the tungsten be contaminated or the aluminum substrate be contaminated with tungsten?)(I think it would be difficult to get tungsten to melt?)Trying to understand a little more on this Eric.
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Old 02-21-2012, 02:36 PM   #10
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If you mix tungsten or ceramic, don´t weld gas tank. It is not big deal for non structural part, but never do it for structural or gas tank parts. You can not see those small particles,that will contaminate your weld. That weld might work at some time, until those another metal particles start to react with aluminum....and you might find out that small saving just cost lot of extra work for re-weld that tank again.

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Old 02-21-2012, 03:48 PM   #11
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The ball is tungsten. The current is AC so the tungsten gets hot enough to melt the tip into a ball. Welding steel with DC current directs the heat towards the work, stick welding reverses the current flow and melts the electrode.
If the ball were aluminum you'd know it right away.[img]smileys/smiley1.gif[/img]

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Old 02-22-2012, 09:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwilliamrose
The ball is tungsten. The current is AC so the tungsten gets hot enough to melt the tip into a ball. Welding steel with DC current directs the heat towards the work, stick welding reverses the current flow and melts the electrode.
If the ball were aluminum you'd know it right away.[img]smileys/smiley1.gif[/img]
Thanks for the info.Maybe I am not getting the ball because I flatten the tungsten end a little.Maybe a bit more material thickness there then to resist the heat as if it were a thinly pointed tip.If the ball were aluminum you'd know it right away. Yeh' try as I may to avoid the dreaded contact...I have touched the tip with filler rod, or tip directly into the puddle. It is not a pretty sight.4trade said:"If you mix tungsten or ceramic, don´t weld gas tank."

Yes' I understand that one should not use the same (orange color ident) for both steel and aluminum. Use a dedicated tungsten for the individual substrate material.
My question is; I am trying to understand the ceramic element?

Like most things around me....still a lot to learn.
Thanks.

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Old 02-22-2012, 02:48 PM   #13
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I was meaning "gas lens" ceramic....sorry...i did´t know that you guys (USA) use therm "gas lens" for that.
That gas lens will take small particles of metal, if you weld steel or another metal than aluminum...and if you use that same lens with aluminum, that weld will be contaminated for non aluminum stuff....big trouble with strength and probably some kind of oxidation too.

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Old 02-22-2012, 05:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4trade
I was meaning "gas lens" ceramic....sorry...i did´t know that you guys (USA) use therm "gas lens" for that.
That gas lens will take small particles of metal, if you weld steel or another metal than aluminum...and if you use that same lens with aluminum, that weld will be contaminated for non aluminum stuff....big trouble with strength and probably some kind of oxidation too.
Picture attached. from left to right:Ceramic gas nozzle for gas lens. Gas lens, (also acts as collet body). Collet.---- Ceramic gas nozzle. Collet body. Collet.So the gas lens repaces the regular collet body. Used to provide a softer/more uniformshroud of shielding gas at greater distances.Sorry for the miscommunication there for a while.
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Old 02-22-2012, 07:08 PM   #15
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Right. I strongly recommend keep whole assembly just aluminum use, if welder will make gas tank or structural part. Better yet, if you keep it at some kind of dust free box, until next time needed. There is no benefit to use it only aluminum, if it lays on work table and have some grinder sparks all over.
I have been welding aluminum years ago, when i run small aluminum boat business...and one day some dude walk in with Norton motorcycle tank, that need some repair. He was cut that one with grinder (bad mistake) and contaminated those surfaces with cut off wheel dust, so i need to cut it all over with my small "hand hold" circular saw. There was one place that i miss, just fraction of inch....and i need to struggle a lot to weld it fuel proof. Welding heat will evaporate that cut off wheel dust, what is inside of aluminum.
Clean tools and patience is your friend.

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Old 02-23-2012, 10:20 AM   #16
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Very good suggestions, 4trade.Contamination is not good, doesn't matter what the task.I was in the car paint manufacturing business for years and I found it amazing, the issue of contamination and the distressing results from that.From a bodyshop being too close to a railroad track (diesel exhaust). The bodyshop on the same street corner as a McDonnalds eatery (I won't call it a restaurant!) (frying vapour. When the wind blew in the right direction the spray booth would suck in the smelly stuff that the kitchen was blowing out). To underarm deodorant.A high production bodyshop can waste thousands and thousands of $ in reworks until it finds the culprit of the contaminant.I have seen it where the shop had to send it's paint work out to another shop until an investigation was complete.Usual problem is paint peeling or the dreaded fish eye crater.
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Old 02-23-2012, 11:45 AM   #17
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Aluminum is funny stuff, if contaminated, it may been fine long time until it get wet and start to react.
There is no big deal to weld tool box or similar stuff together with "not so clean" gear, but i always clean everything for gas tank or structural part. Like welding rod. If somebody touch these rod´s with bear hand, it will take grease on your hand and that will add extra carbon on your weld (same effect with 4130 tubing). Same with dirty gloves.
Sometimes, when i "run out" for clean gear, i just weld with very high amps some scrap aluminum, before start to weld boat...but that was boat....not airplane part, that must have airworthy.
If your weld have some pin hole, easiest and best solution is usually drill it out. Like gas tank....just drill out that pinhole and weld again. It might be hard to weld that pin hole over, if there is something that evaporate.

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Old 02-24-2012, 11:30 PM   #18
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Gentlemen this is an excellent discussion and I agree with all that's been said. I teach this stuff for a living, so maybe I can add some clarification. AC welding (aluminum and magnesium) puts more heat into the tungsten than DC negative (steel, stainless and others). The pure tungsten (green band) can take less heat than others that are "doped" with certain elements. The balled tungsten was a requirement when using a pure tungsten and older AC TIG machines. You could form the ball before welding if you chose, but in fact, you could not prevent it from forming during actual welding because the tip of the tungstenmelts. If you're welding with a balled tungsten, best advice is to not let the ball get larger than 1 and 1/2 times the tungsten diameter because it may fall off into the weld as a ball of liquid. The newer square wave machines, and especially the newest inverter machines, will allow aluminim welding with a pointed tungsten, or perhaps one thatforms only a small ball at the very tip. Sharpening to a needle point is not recommended for critical welds because the tungsten can "spit" that fine tip into the weld causing an inclusion (defect). Therefore, after sharpening, it is recommended to grind a very small (1/64") flat on the tip of the tungstem. A pointed tungsten narrows the arc and makes it easier to control. It also produces aweld bead that is not as wide. We use the ceriated tungsten (orange band) to weld steel, stainless and aluminum with very good resusts. The thoriated tungstens (red band) are relatively inexpensive and have very good current carrying capacity, but they are falling out of favor because they are slightly radioactive and there are concerns about breathing the dust from sharpening.
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Old 02-25-2012, 12:01 AM   #19
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Thanks for your advice Ed T.This has helped me better understand the situation.Eric.
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Old 02-25-2012, 11:06 AM   #20
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This has been discussed earlier here at some other topic, if i remember right.....but i want to add it here again. Take little time to find that article again.
Be sure, what kind of stuff you use to clean your gear/ parts before start to weld. Brake cleaner can kill welder....
I hope every welder read this:http://www.brewracingframes.com/id75.htm
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Old 02-25-2012, 01:06 PM   #21
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I also see him spray painting without respirator (Pee-wee Herman picks up new bicycle) article. That is not cool!
But we are getting off topic subject!!!Edited by: taff
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Old 02-25-2012, 01:34 PM   #22
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Years ago I had a neighbor bring me a Honda motor with a cracked crank case to weld up. He had cleaned it up very spotless but unfortunatly he did it with Brakekleen. It litteraly knocked me to my knees. I coughed for hours. It took me a few weeks to get feeling better. I use brakekleen in the shop but never near the welding table. Any residue on the table will stay there for weeks and if you weld on that table you will smell it instantly. It's a odor you will never forget.
The catch all 4043 aluminum rodalso creates phosgene gas. For those of use that have used 4043 it welds very nice and works well for a wide variety of aluminum so if we are not sure what grade of aluminum we have its a good option.I was told in college " don't use it".

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Old 02-25-2012, 01:41 PM   #23
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For those that are using the gas lens instead of the oldcollet type do you see much of an advantage. I've never tried the gas lens. I see that they have the same type of thing available for migs now and have been told they work well.



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Old 02-25-2012, 03:41 PM   #24
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I have tried a gas lens on several occasions and found little benefit but there may be some gain in lowering gas usage. I found it difficult to see around the larger diameter cup sometimes so I always went back to a standard cup.
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Old 02-25-2012, 09:45 PM   #25
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Yes, the gas lens can get in the way because the diameter is larger than the standard collet body and nozzle. The real advantage of a gas lens, however, is you can extend the tungsten further from the nozzle than normal without losing the gas shield. This allows you to reach deeper into the joint when welding tubes or other joints that meet at acute angles. In airplane lingo: the gas lens delivers shielding gas with laminar (vs. turbulent) flow. It also permits lower flow rates for the shielding gas. We use them frequently for school demonstrations because the extra electrode extensions makes it easier forstudents to see the arc and weld puddle.Ed T


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