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Gmaw Aluminum Welding: Tips and Facts You Need to Know

Aluminum is a lightweight, high-strength metal material. Due to its low melting point, high thermal conductivity, and strong oxidizing nature, it is prone to defects such as porosity, welding undercut, and cracking during welding processes. GMAW as an efficient gas shielded welding method, possesses advantages such as fast welding speed, high weld seam quality, and easy operation, making it particularly suitable for aluminum welding. This guide will focus on the application of GMAW in aluminum welding and its related technologies.

Gmaw Aluminum Welding Overview

Gmaw Aluminum Welding

GMAW, short for Gas Metal Arc Welding, is a commonly used metal inert gas welding process, also known as MIG welding. GMAW aluminum welding involves utilizing the GMAW method to weld aluminum materials.

GMAW welding is a semi-automatic or fully automatic welding process where inert gas (typically argon) is used to shield the weld from contamination by the atmosphere. In GMAW aluminum welding, the welding gun feeds filler metal electrode into the arc, forming a molten pool. The shielding gas plays a crucial role in this process, effectively isolating oxygen and nitrogen from the air, preventing oxidation and nitridation of the molten pool, thereby ensuring weld quality. Commonly used shielding gases include argon, helium, and their mixtures, which form a stable protective layer during welding to prevent contamination of the molten pool from external sources.

Gmaw Aluminum Welding Parameters

Table 1:gmaw aluminum welding parameters

Wire Diameter (inches)Current (Amps)Voltage (Volts)Wire Feed Speed (minute)GasWelding Gun Angle
0.030180-22016-20150-300Pure Argon15-30°
0.035200-25018-22200-400Pure Argon15-30°
0.045220-28020-24250-500Pure Argon15-30°
0.052250-30022-26300-600Argon-Helium mixture15-30°
0.062280-35024-28350-700Argon-Helium mixture15-30°

For thicker aluminum materials, using argon gas alone as a shielding gas may not provide sufficient heat and welding quality when the thickness exceeds 1 inch. In this case, it is recommended to consider using a mixture of argon and helium as a protective gas.

Welding Power Supplies and Materials

Direct Current Power Supply: For aluminum welding, it is commonly recommended to use a direct current (DC) power supply, especially with reverse polarity (DCEN), where the electrode is negative and the workpiece is positive. This is because aluminum oxide has high resistance, and with reverse polarity, the droplet transfer is more stable, facilitating a smoother welding process.

Welding Wire: The welding wire serves as the filler material in Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW). For aluminum welding, commonly used wires include pure aluminum wire and aluminum alloy wire. Selecting the appropriate wire composition ensures that the chemical composition and mechanical properties of the weld joint are similar to the base material.In addition to aluminum welding wire, welding wires made of stainless steel welding wire and other materials can also be used for GMAW welding.

Shielding Gas: The shielding gas used in GMAW welding primarily aims to prevent oxidation and contamination during the welding process. For aluminum welding, commonly used shielding gases include pure argon (Ar) or a mixture of argon and helium (He). These gases effectively protect the molten pool, reducing the occurrence of welding defects.

Advantages and Disadvantages of GMAW Aluminum Welding

Its advantages and disadvantages are as follows:

Advantages

  • High Production Efficiency: Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) offers fast welding speeds, easy operation, and enables high-speed, continuous, and stable welding processes, significantly improving production efficiency.
  • High Weld Seam Quality: GMAW aluminum welding, using inert gases such as argon for shielding, effectively prevents oxidation and nitrogen absorption, resulting in high-quality weld seams.
  • Low Welding Costs: Compared to other welding methods, GMAW welding has relatively low equipment and material costs. Additionally, the welding process requires minimal auxiliary materials, reducing production costs.

Disadvantages

  • Welding Spatter: During Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) aluminum welding, excessive welding spatter may occur, which not only affects the aesthetics of the weld seam but also poses a safety threat to the operator.
  • Limited Construction Environments: GMAW aluminum welding requires the use of inert gases for shielding, which may impose certain limitations on construction environments. In environments with high winds or limited space, the effectiveness of the shielding gas may be compromised, thereby affecting welding quality.
  • High Skill Requirements: GMAW aluminum welding demands operators to possess certain welding skills and experience to control welding parameters and ensure welding quality.

Application of GMAW Aluminum Welding

GMAW aluminum welding technology is widely used in many areas, such as automotive manufacturing, aircraft construction, building, electronics, and shipbuilding. It’s popular because it can quickly and effectively weld aluminum materials. For example, aluminum alloy parts like car doors, airplane wings, and even ship structural components can be welded using this technique. These parts require high strength, corrosion resistance, and precision, all of which GMAW aluminum welding can provide. Plus, it’s efficient and produces high-quality welds.

GMAW Aluminum Welding: Tips and Tricks

When performing GMAW aluminum welding, it is necessary to follow a series of professional and technical tips and techniques.

1.Material Selection and Matching

  • Wire Selection: Choose a matching welding wire based on the type of aluminum alloy (e.g., 5xxx series, 6xxx series, etc.). The chemical composition and mechanical properties of the wire should be similar to the base material to ensure weld strength and toughness.
  • Nozzle and Gas: Use a nozzle suitable for aluminum welding and ensure that the gas flow rate and nozzle shape meet the requirements for aluminum welding. Common shielding gases include pure argon or argon-helium mixtures.

2.Pre-weld Preparation

  • Surface Cleaning: Remove oxides, oil, and impurities from the aluminum surface using specialized aluminum cleaners or mechanical methods. For thick aluminum plates, chemical or mechanical methods may be used to remove oxide layers.
  • Edge Preparation: Ensure clean and burr-free weld edges. Grinding or machining may be necessary.

3.Welding Parameter Adjustment

  • Current and Voltage: Adjust welding current and voltage based on the thickness of the aluminum plate and the desired weld quality. Lower currents and voltages are typically used for thin aluminum, while thicker plates require higher settings.
  • Welding Speed: Maintain a steady welding speed to avoid incomplete fusion due to excessive speed or overheating due to slow speed.

4.Welding Techniques

  • Preheating and Post-heating: Consider preheating thick aluminum plates to reduce welding stress. Post-heating may be applied to relieve stress after welding.
  • Joint Layout: Arrange weld joints sensibly to minimize welding in stress concentration areas, reducing the risk of welding distortion and cracking.
  • Push-Pull Welding: Utilize push-pull welding techniques, where the welding torch moves both forward and backward during the welding process, to reduce welding defects.

5.Quality Control

  • Visual Inspection: After welding, visually inspect the weld to ensure there are no cracks or incomplete fusion.
  • Non-destructive Testing: Use methods such as X-ray or ultrasonic testing to internally inspect weld quality and ensure it meets requirements.

Conclusion

The GMAW aluminum welding process can achieve high-quality welding of aluminum and its alloys. In practical applications, it is necessary to choose appropriate process parameters and operating methods based on specific situations to meet different welding needs.

Relying on Boyi to meet welding and cutting needs is the key to ensuring manufacturers and welders receive the highest quality products and support. By providing high-quality metal welding services, Boyi can help customers improve productivity and profitability.

FAQ

what shielding gas is used to weld aluminum with gmaw?

Typically pure argon or a mixture of argon and helium is used as the shielding gas. Argon is the most commonly used shielding gas for welding aluminum due to its excellent inert properties and ability to provide good arc stability. Helium is sometimes added to improve heat penetration and welding speed, especially for thicker aluminum materials.

Which electrode is used for GMAW aluminum?

The electrode wire is fed continuously through the welding gun during the welding process, where it melts and forms the weld bead along with the base metal. The diameter of the electrode wire can vary depending on the welding application, but common sizes for GMAW aluminum welding range from 0.8 mm to 1.2 mm (0.030 inches to 0.045 inches).

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