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Sponsored Tech Feature: November 2018

Tips for TIG Welding Aluminum in Your Shop or Home Garage


By Andy Weyenberg, motorsports marketing manager, Miller Electric Mfg. LLC

Working on projects in your shop or home garage requires the right equipment to tackle any job — and the know-how of the welding processes and materials you want to use.

Some projects may require TIG welding aluminum, which can be more challenging for beginners.

Read on for four basic tips to improve your aluminum TIG welding and to learn about the benefits of choosing a powerful, all-in-one power source that can handle any welding project in your shop.

Step 1: Master torch position

The first step is mastering torch and hand positioning — before you strike an arc on good aluminum.

Hold the torch by bracing it with the base of your hand flat against the table. Use a steady, forward-moving position with a slight backward tilt of 5 to 15 degrees of the torch. Keep a close distance from the tungsten to the workpiece — typically equal to the diameter of the tungsten up to 1/4 inch. If you pull the tungsten too far from the metal, the arc spreads out and overheats the piece, and you lose puddle control.

Working with aluminum is all about puddle control and fighting the fact that the material acts like a heat sink, rapidly transferring heat away from the weld.

Step 2: Coordinate movement and filler deposition

Next, work on the flow of your hand and torch movement without striking an arc. Practice with gloves on as you would in normal welding. Keep light pressure on your hand and a firm grip of the torch, and slide your hand across the welding table in an even, steady motion. Filler metal deposition takes place ahead of the torch as you push forward. The torch and filler rod should roughly be in a 90-degree configuration to each other.

Always push the torch and introduce filler metal on the leading edge of the puddle. The torch hand is smooth and steady as it slides, while the other hand dabs filler metal. Beginner welders may have trouble at first getting their hands to work independently. When you’ve mastered these movements, you’re ready to strike an arc.

Step 3: Forming and controlling the puddle

Once you’ve mastered holding the torch and coordinating hand movements, the next step is establishing the puddle.

Without adding filler metal, establish the puddle and walk it down the piece. Aluminum gets hot very fast. It’s critical to monitor the puddle as you move along to keep puddle width consistent. If it gets too hot, ease up on the foot pedal to maintain a consistent width. Find the balance between speed and heat input. When you get to the edge of the workpiece, there is less aluminum to absorb heat, so the workpiece gets hot quickly and the puddle washes out much faster. Ease up on the pedal to maintain control. However, if you don’t put enough heat into the puddle, it will disappear, and the arc will become erratic.

Lay down a puddle like this without filler metal several times to practice maintaining speed, distance and puddle width.

Step 4: Introduce filler metal

The key to adding filler metal to the puddle is consistency. Start introducing filler metal with a dab and move motion. There is no need for excessive torch movements, as dabbing the filler metal creates the bead profile. Establish the puddle and add filler metal to the puddle edge. When moving the torch becomes more natural, you can establish your rhythm. As long as you maintain a consistent rhythm combined with steady torch movement and puddle control, you’ll lay a proper weld bead on aluminum in no time.

One machine for many processes

While TIG welding aluminum can be an important process for completing many jobs, you likely want the freedom to weld any process — MIG, flux cored, stick and AC/DC TIG — with one machine in your shop.

The new Multimatic® 220 AC/DC from Miller is a multiprocess machine that delivers versatility, ease of use and powerful arc performance, so you can expand your welding capabilities with an all-in-one package. It delivers advanced AC and DC TIG, including AC balance and frequency adjustments, as well as pulsing for DC TIG with high-frequency or lift arc starts. Plus, it lets you MIG, flux-cored and stick weld, too.

Lightweight and portable at 56 pounds, the machine’s Multi-voltage plug (MVP) provides flexibility so you can weld almost anywhere on 120- or 240-volt power. Auto-Set Elite and QuickTech technologies help ensure proper settings to produce quality welds and give you confidence in setting or changing processes. This simple interface design makes choosing the right parameters for any process fast and easy.

The power source automatically switches to the right process and determines polarity, so a MIG gun and TIG torch can stay connected at the same time. Just pull the MIG gun trigger or press the foot control, and the machine automatically adjusts.

With the right multiprocess machine, one machine is all you need for any welding project or job. Look for a powerful, lightweight and easy-to-use solution so you’re equipped to weld any process.


Miller Electric

Get aluminum TIG welding tips, and learn how to tackle any project in your shop or garage with one machine.