Welding Aluminium With Mig and Tig Welders

When welding aluminum there are two commonly used methods in practice today. These types of aluminum welding are in the form of MIG ( metal inert gas) and TIG ( tungsten inert gas) welding. Both types are as efficient as each other however there are differences when it comes to the finished weld and in the scope of the work being done.


Mig Welding aluminiumMig Welding Aluminium

This method you could call the more industrial of the two styles as it is a quicker way to weld alloys. Generally used in production work such as boat and trailer building. Also effective in mass-produced products such as gates, fences, and security screens, and is well suited to the use of welding robotics.

Mig welders operate using a hand or machine-held MIG gun (in the case of robotics) that dispenses the welding wire as a wire feed through the gun. The main MIG machine carries a spool of welding wire that allows continuous welding for long or short periods.

Setting up a MIG Welder For Aluminium

To get set up to MIG weld alloys the procedure is basically the same for all MIG machines. To begin, after assembly of the machine you will need to set the power leads to negative or positive earth, in this case to weld alloys we set the earth lead to negative. The gas to be used should be 100% Argon gas.

Most machines today will have a digital readout of what power settings your machine needs to be set at depending on the thickness of the material being welded. In older welders, it was common to have a chart printed on the inside cover giving the various power settings for the different material thicknesses. It always is a good idea to have spare welding tips on hand as they do burn out over time. Tips will become worn and tend to have wire jams as they begin to deteriorate.

Cause of sooty Aluminum welds.

You can look at welding aluminum soot as you would your car’s carburetor, in that it’s set to a rich setting, eg to much gas or to little gas. Other factors for sooty welds include not enough shielding from having a leak, holding the gun too far from the work, or too much wire speed causing an inefficient burn. In the video below we cover many of the questions that people ask in relation to MIG welding aluminum.

YouTube video

TIG Welding Aluminium

Tig welding aluminum is a more specialized method of welding alloys than when using a MIG welding machine. tig welding is more of a manual process and is similar to welding steel using the oxy-acetylene method where a filler rod is applied to molten metal in assisting to fuse two components together.

Bike tig weld
Bike tig weld

Welding aluminum with the TIG method is used in applications where a high-quality weld is desired in both strength and finish.

A perfect example here is the welding of a mountain bike frame, the frame is made from tubular materials so the weld needs to be strong, plus the welding on a job such as this needs to have a clean tidy finish where no grinding or polishing is possible due to the nature of construction.

I highly recommend you take the time to learn some of the insights in the TIG welding video below.

YouTube video

Pros and Cons of MIG welding aluminum and TIG welding aluminum.

Pros, Mig welding.

For speedy welds, MIG is the way to go, it has the ability to put down a lot of wire into a weld. Ideal for structural work and light architectural work.  Ideal for general workshop use.

Cons,  Mig machines are heavier due to the wire spool attached to the machine and larger gas cylinders, however, there are many good quality portable MIG welders now on the market.

Tig welding pros,

the lightweight machine allows for great portability. Being able to make very delicate welds and neat welds when finished is a priority.

Cons, not as fast as MIG welding, requires more skill than using a mig.

Is it hard to weld Aluminum?

Welding aluminum can be a challenge for even the most experienced welders. The metal is lightweight and has a high thermal conductivity, which means it can be difficult to control the heat during welding. Additionally, aluminum oxide forms quickly on the surface of the metal, making it necessary to clean the area before welding.

As a result, welding aluminum requires both skill and practice. However, with proper technique, it is possible to produce strong and reliable welds.

Can you weld Aluminum with flux-cored wire?

To date, there is no flux-cored wire available to weld Aluminium or alloys. This is not to say it’s not out there but mainstream welding does not use flux-cored wire for welding aluminum.

Is welding aluminum bad for you?

The short answer is it’s possible. However modern safety equipment makes welding aluminum safer than in the past. The essential safety gear means using a quality welding helmet, good quality gloves, leather welding jacket and pants or apron, steel-capped safety boots, and most importantly protection from welding fumes. This can be by way of a welding respirator mask or forced air respirator. Any welding situation should have good airflow and ventilation. Also important is protection from any electrical sources.