Any one weld with aluminum in there mig welder?

lx450landcruiser

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i have a mig welder a 175 miller runs off 210 my question is i know you can buy aluminum wire for it but how diff is it to weld aluminum then steel? how hot to run it? how think can i weld it? Is it strong? if i wanted to weld a roof rack out of aluminum something that i could put say 400 pounds on would the welds hold?

thanks mike
 
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I've got the "kit" for welding alum. with my Linc. 175. Basically consists of a new roller drive, new liner for the wire hose and an argon gas tank. I haven't welded alum with it for about four years. If I remember correctly, I had to practice for a while on some scrap but it worked pretty well. I built a hoop setup for a ski boat. I see it from time to time on the lake so it must be holding up pretty well. I think I had to run hotter than I would on mild steel. Sorry I am not of much help. Call your local welding supply house and ask thier tech guy. I believe they make a spool gun attachment that makes welding alum and stainless a whole lot easier.
 
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woody,
not sure what series of aluminum you are planning to work with but I know from experience that 5056 series wire will feed a lot better than 4043. the 50 series has a harder sheath than the 40 and therefore feeds a bit better. the drive wheels you want should be u shaped, do not used knurled drive wheels as they mar the jacket on the jacket for the wire. trent is correct on the amperage and you will want to push the wire do not try to drag the wire. the argon flow will work better for you in a push. other than that trie to use heavier aluminum than you would steel as it makes it easier at high wire speeds. give yourself some time to practice and have fun with it. report back and say how it goes.
Dave
 
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I have the same welder as trent does and ~10 yrs ago built a rack out of some thick wall square aluminum tubing. I got some extra pieces and did a fair amout of practicing...as it is tricky. I agree with all Trent and dave suggestions and would just add the following...pic up a bunch of those little copper screw in 030 tips...and don't dwell/burn in the puddle too long....keep it moving.

Here is a pic of the one I made and I've had well over a thousand pounds up there....
 
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The spool gun to use with the MM175 is the Miller 3035. I've used that setup for 4043 and it is hard to get good penetration without burnthrough - also keep in mind the cleaning process. The spool gun is preferred to use over a liner because it's so difficult to drive the aluminum through for that length.

You can practice and get to the point where your skill may be sufficient for the project, but be prepared (based on the lack of practice time working with aluminum) to trash a lot of work.

The preferred method for working with aluminum is tig, but it takes a long time to perfect, is an expensive process, and can take a long time to do correctly.

Keep in mind this is only a thought, but if you don't feel up to burning a ton of aluminum, you may want to consider laying everything out, labeling everything precisely, then taking all the bits to someone that does a lot of work with aluminum. This way they could mig it up real quick, you'd likely get it the same day, and you may even hang out to make sure everything ends up the way you want. The key thing would be to use a lot of clamps to make sure everything fits well together before you take it over.
 
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Welding with the standard 110 volt or 220 volt wire feed machine works ok at best. I agree with the others that a Cobra style gun works the best. Do go to your local welding shop and let them know what alloy of Aluminum you are welding and the thickness. Matching the right wire diameter, alloy and gas are very important. Especially where safety is involved. Bevel the pieces that you are welding. You may have to pre heat the parts depending on thickness. As you weld and heat up the metal you will have to adjust your wire speed and temp.

The last thing, a step that most people that try welding aluminum miss is to clean the Aluminum. Dirt will make your welds week.

It is a challange, but just think of what else you could build after you get a handle on it.


You should give it a try. Call up your local metal shops and get some scrap to practice on.
 

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