How To MIG Weld Aluminum Without Using Spool Gun

If you are a welder, you must have encountered a situation where you have to weld aluminum. Professionals often suggest having a spool gun to deal with aluminum metal. At the same time, everyone can’t get a spool gun to tackle aluminum metal with a welding machine as it is expensive and tricky to control.

The welding field professionals and hobbyists have discovered various ways to MIG weld aluminum without using a spool gun. But the whole process is quite tricky and tough to understand. We have tried to make it as simple as possible, so you can understand and learn the process of MIG welding aluminum without using a spool gun.

How To MIG Weld Aluminum Without Using Spool Gun?

Maintain your keen interest to ensure you have learned all the tips and tricks to deal with MIG welding aluminum without using a spool gun.

Stable Arc And Right Feeding Of Aluminum

The most important step which helps in getting the perfect aluminum welding is maintaining a stable arc. To get the smooth arc, you need to have smooth and reliable aluminum wire feeding to weld.

You are not bound to go only with a spool gun for the perfection and smoothness of the arc. Alternatively, there are ways to help you maintain reliability, efficiency, and smoothness in feeding aluminum wire in a welding machine to ensure a smooth arc.

Some necessary features and specifications exist to perform MIG welding aluminum without a spool gun. Stay connected with us while maintaining your attention to learn the key features you need to have for dealing with aluminum welding without a spool gun.

Welding Power

Your welding machine should have high power for dealing with aluminum welding procedures. More excellent amperage value goes with aluminum welding if we compare the power needed for aluminum and steel of the same thickness. So focus on having more excellent amperage value, as it is of utmost importance in dealing with aluminum welding.

Also, you need to pay attention to the settings of your welding machine, whether it offers you aluminum welding or not. Check out the manual and settings to confirm what thickness of aluminum your welding machine can handle.

Set the welding machine’s polarity to DC+. This setting will be available by the DC electrode positive, reverse polarity, or DCEP. After getting the desired settings and learning the correct procedure, you can MIG weld aluminum without using a spool gun.

Read Also: Difference Between AC and DC Welding

Friction Reduction

To avoid and minimize the squeezing and the deformation of the soft aluminum wire, you need to minimize the roller pressure. This is because if your aluminum wire is deformed or disturbed, it will cause friction, resulting in unnecessary stoppage and hanging up of the wire.

Remember that your roller pressure should be perfectly and adequately pressurizing, neither very high nor very light. This is because perfectly accurate roller pressure is needed to maintain the smoothness and consistency in the aluminum wire feeding to the welding machine.

Furthermore, it also prevents wire slippage, which, when it happens, can result in the burning of the electrode. Minimizing friction also helps decrease the resistance in the wire feeding, which ultimately provides us with a stable and smooth arc.

Selection of Right Wire Spool

You need to select the right wire to work correctly with aluminum welding without using a spool gun. This selection will predict the stability and smoothness of the aluminum wire feeding.

Select the thick-diameter aluminum wire because thicker aluminum is stiffer and more complicated than thin-diameter. Furthermore, it also pushes better and makes itself tighter with perfection in balancing while feeding.

For recommendation, I suggest you go with standard aluminum MIG wire 4043. This is highly recommended because of its stiffness and hardening, making it perfect for feeding the wire to get a smooth arc.

Some professionals also recommend the 5356 model because of its extra rigidity and strength, which does not allow roughness, deformation, or turning back during functioning in the machine.

Shielding Gas Selection

Gas selection is another crucial factor that plays a vital role in accurately MIG welding aluminum without using a spool gun. The correct type of gas will perform the perfect job.

As we all know, aluminum is not a hard metal; it is soft and delicate. It is also a non-ferrous metal; for such characteristics of a metal, you need to have a shielding gas which should be 100% Argan.

The combination of different gases looks attractive and affordable, but it is not made for aluminum welding because of its delicate nature. Always select the 100% argon gas for your aluminum welding and ensure to set the flow rate of 25 to 30 cubic feet per hour.

This fine selection of the gas will enhance the overall MIG welder functions and help you weld the aluminum metal without using a spool gun.

Selection of Wire Drives

Better wire drives for feeding the wires is necessary to get optimum results. Handling aluminum is different from handling steel or iron. Considering this, you need to deal with aluminum welding with more attention and better accessories.

The welding machine which troubles during steel or iron welding will trouble more and create more havoc in dealing with aluminum. The wire speed variability affects the heating inside the weld, and as we all know, Aluminum is an intense conductor, so it will transmit the heat quickly.

The variability in the wire speed will affect the welding and can burn the wire quickly if it is inaccurate without making you notice it. For accuracy and to maintain the correct speed of the wire, you need to select the better wire drive.

Teflon Liner

The non-metallic liner material is ideal for aluminum welding purposes. This way, you can quickly minimize the resistance produced by the welding machine. These non-metallic liners are readily available as part of an aluminum feed kit; if not, you can get them separately from the tool shops.

Using teflon liner
Non Metalic Teflon Liner

I recommend you use an aluminum feed kit as it contains other vital products. This is entirely my personal experience that nylon liners are better at reducing friction when compared to Teflon liners.

If you are not available with non-metallic liners, then you can choose metallic liners but make sure to use them only for small jobs. Otherwise, if you use non-metallic liners with aluminum welding, this may cause misfeeding of the wire.

Ensure to clean the liner entirely with acetone to avoid any dirt and accumulation of contamination in your welding. With proper cleaning, you are not only removing the dust but also preventing the formation of aluminum oxide. This aluminum oxide will cause issues in feeding as it is highly rigorous.

Contact Tips

Use the oversized contact tips to handle the aluminum welding properly. It is pretty standard that most makers manufacture specific contact tips for aluminum welding.

These are slightly oversized and labeled with an “A” alphabet. They maintain contact with the wire while adjusting the expansion of the heat occurring, both simultaneously.

If you can’t get the specifically made aluminum welding contact tips, you can also get the standard ones. These contact tips should be one size larger than the standard ones you use in correspondence with the wire.

Oversized contact tip
Oversized Contact Tip

One additional tip is to have lots of contact tips in your reach because the burning back of the feed wire is a common struggle you need to face.

Preparing the Metal for Aluminum Welding

Never ignore the material preparation while focusing on needed accessories and features. It would be best if you prepared the workpiece properly to ensure suitable welding.

Here are some tips for you to prepare your workpiece before initiating the welding.

  1. Use a non-hydrocarbon-based degreaser to remove dirt and oil from the workpiece.
  2. Remove any impurities, so they will not penetrate the aluminum metal of the workpiece. For this purpose, you need to use fast-drying acetone as it does not leave any stains.
  3. There may be an oxide layer present on the top of your workpiece. Ensure to remove it first before initiating the welding.
  4. Select the stainless steel brush to remove the oxide layer and ensure it is not used on any other metal.
  5. Brush your workpiece in one direction with light pressure to ensure aluminum oxide does not penetrate the material.
  6. You can also select an etcher if you can’t remove the oxide layer using a brush. Etchers are strongly acidic solutions or alkaline ones.
  7. Finally, remove your workpiece with acetone after applying all the cleaning tips mentioned above. Now you can begin welding confidently.

Tips And Tricks To MIG Weld Aluminum Metal Without Using Spool Gun

  • Make sure to use trimmed electrodes. In this way, the aluminum wire will not curl or make a ball at the end of the electrode, as it is in its nature.
  • Until you have made a perfect arc, maintain the consistent wire speed.
  • Select the oversized contact tips to get accurate feeding of the wire.
  • Make sure to clean the welding machine and workpiece properly to avoid any contamination and havoc.
  • If your workpiece lacks penetrations during cold starts, try preheating your workpiece up to 200 degrees before starting the welding.
  • Smoothly increase the speed as you notice the workpiece is heating up.
  • Continue wiring consistently and quickly to avoid unnecessary curls while welding with steel.
  • Make sure to give brief pauses during welding to avoid and minimize any burn-through.
  • The aluminum will produce a brighter arc, and to avoid any harm to your eyes, make sure to use proper darker shade protective glasses.
  • Aluminum will not change its appearance like steel changes when it gets hot. Keep your hand protected, and use gloves before grabbing.


Why do you need a spool gun in aluminum?

A spool gun is needed in aluminum welding because it allows precise feeding of the softer aluminum wire without tangling resulting in a stable arc.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with steel, aluminum, and other metals is required of a welder, and many professionals often suggest using a spool gun to weld aluminum metal. However, a spool gun is not affordable for many welders and is also tricky and challenging. We often search for alternative suggestions and procedures to minimize complications.

This article helped you learn to weld aluminum without a spool gun. Vital specifications and essential features of the tools and setup you need for aluminum welding are mentioned.

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Dave Walker is a skilled welder and passionate blogger. With years of experience in welding, he has honed his craft and developed a deep understanding of the trade. In his blog, he shares his experiences, insights, and tips on welding, offering a valuable resource for fellow welders and those interested in the field. He is dedicated to promoting the importance of welding and its applications in various industries.