If you are a welder, you must have encountered a situation where you have to weld aluminium. And if you are a beginner, you must be dealing with minor aluminium welding customisation in your vehicle or some home-related projects of aluminium metal. Professionals often suggest having a spool gun to deal with aluminium metal. At the same time, everyone can’t get a spool gun to tackle aluminium metal with a welding machine as it is pretty pricey and tricky to control.
The welding field professionals and hobbyists have discovered various ways to MIG weld aluminum without using a spool gun. This is an important discovery in the field of welding. 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 whole process of MIG welding aluminum without using a spool gun.
Mig Welding Aluminium Without Using Spool Gun
Maintain your keen interest to make sure you have learnt all the tips and tricks to deal with MIG welding aluminium without using a spool gun.
Stable Arc And Right Feeding Of Aluminium
The most important step which helps in getting the perfect aluminium welding is maintaining a stable arc. Successful and efficient aluminium welding needs to have a stable arc. To get the smooth arc, you need to have smooth and reliable aluminium wire feeding to weld.
You are not bound to go only with a spool gun for this perfection and smoothness of arc. Alternatively, there are ways to help you maintain reliability, efficiency and smoothness in the feeding of aluminium wire in a welding machine to ensure a smooth arc.
There are some necessary features and specifications to perform MIG welding aluminium without using a spool gun. Stay connected with us while maintaining your attention to learn about what are the key features you need to have for dealing with aluminium welding, that too without a spool gun.
For dealing with aluminium welding procedures, your welding machine should have high power. More excellent amperage value goes with aluminium welding if we compare the power needed for aluminium and steel of the same thickness. So focus on having more excellent amperage value, as it is of utmost importance in dealing with aluminium welding.
Furthermore, you need to pay attention to the settings of your welding machine, whether it offers you aluminium welding or not. Check out the manual and settings to confirm what thickness of aluminium your welding machine can deal with. Set the settings of your welding machine’s polarity to DC+. This setting will be available by the name of DC electrode positive, reverse polarity or DCEP too. After getting the desired settings and learning the correct procedure, you can MIG weld aluminium without using a spool gun.
To avoid and minimise the squeezing and the deformation of the soft aluminium wire, you need to minimise the roller pressure. This is because if your aluminium wire is deformed or disturbed, it will cause friction which results in unnecessary stoppage and hanging up of the wire. Keep in mind your roller pressure should be perfectly and adequately pressurising, neither very high nor very light.
This is because the perfectly accurate roller pressure is needed to maintain the smoothness and consistency in the aluminium wire feeding to the welding machine. Furthermore, it also prevents wire slippage, which, when it happens, can result in the burning of the electrode. Minimising friction also helps decrease the resistance in the feeding of the wire, which ultimately provides us with a stable and smooth arc.
Selection of Right Wire Spool
For working correctly with aluminium welding without using a spool gun, you need to select the right kind of wire. This selection will predict the stability and smoothness of the feeding of aluminium wire. Select the thick diameter aluminium wire because thicker aluminium 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 will suggest you go with standard aluminium 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 aluminium without using a spool gun. The correct type of gas will perform the perfect job. As we all know that Aluminium is not a hard metal; instead, it is soft and delicate. Additionally, 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 aluminium welding because of its delicate nature. Always select the 100% argon gas for your Aluminium 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 welding functions and help you weld the aluminium metal without using a spool gun.
Selection of Wire Drives
Better wire drives for feeding the wires is necessary to get optimum results. Handling Aluminium is different from handling steel or iron. Keeping in mind this fact, you need to deal with aluminium 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 aluminium.
The wire speed variability affects the heating inside the weld, and as we all know that Aluminium 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 not accurate without making you notice it. For the accuracy and maintaining the correct speed of the wire, you need to select the better wire drive.
The non-metallic liner material is ideal for aluminium welding purposes. In this way, you can quickly minimise the resistance produced by the welding machine. These non-metallic liners are readily available as a part of an aluminium feed kit, or if not, you can get them separately from the tool shops.
I will recommend you to go with an aluminium feed kit as they contain other vital products too. This is entirely my personal experience that nylon liners are better in reducing friction when compared to Teflon liners.
In case you are not available with non-metallic liners, then you can go with the selection of metallic liners but make sure to use them only for small jobs. Otherwise, if you use non-metallic liners with aluminium 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 the Aluminium oxide. This Aluminium oxide will cause issues in feeding as it is highly rigorous.
Use the oversized contact tips to handle the aluminium welding properly. It is pretty standard that most makers manufacture specific contact tips for aluminium welding. These are slightly oversized in size and are labelled with an “A” alphabet. They make sure to maintain their contact with the wire while adjusting the expansion of the heat occurring, both simultaneously.
If you can’t get the specifically made aluminium welding contact tips, you can also get the standard contact tips. These contact tips should be one size larger than the standard contact tips you use in correspondence with the wire. 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.
Never ignore the material preparation while focusing mainly on needed accessories and required 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.
- Use a non-hydrocarbon based degreaser to remove dirt and oil from the workpiece.
- Remove any impurities, so they will not penetrate the aluminium metal of the workpiece. For this purpose, you need to use fast-drying acetone as it does not leave any stains.
- There may be an oxide layer present on the top of your workpiece. Ensure to remove it first before initiating the welding.
- To remove the oxide layer, you can select the stainless steel brush and make sure it is not being used on any other metal.
- Brush your workpiece in one direction with a light pressure to ensure aluminium oxide does not penetrate the material.
- If you can’t remove the oxide layer using a brush, you can also select an etcher. Etchers are strongly acidic solutions or alkaline ones.
- Finally, after applying all of the cleaning mentioned above tips, wipe out your workpiece with acetone. Now you can begin welding confidently.
Tips And Tricks To MIG Weld Aluminium Metal Without The Use Of Spool Gun
- Make sure to use trimmed electrodes. In this way, the aluminium 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, make sure to 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 any unnecessary curls as it happens during welding with steel.
- Make sure to give brief pauses during welding to avoid and minimise any burn through.
- The aluminium will produce a brighter arc, and to avoid any harm to your eyes, make sure to use proper darker shade protective glasses.
- Aluminium metal will not change its physical look like steel changes when it gets hot. Keep your hand protected, and use gloves before grabbing.