TIG Welding Aluminum

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I finally got around to trying out welding! The good news is, I haven’t burned out my retinas yet. The bad news is, it’s harder than I thought.

I’m using a Rebel EMP205 AC/DC welder set up for AC TIG. This machine has high frequency start to punch through the aluminum oxide layer and start the arc for you. That’s nice because I don’t have to learn how to scratch start the arc.

A VERY hot glue gun.

I have the TIG torch plugged into the (-) terminal on the welder and the ground clamp plugged into the (+) terminal. In welder world, this is known as “straight polarity” or DC Electrode Negative (DCEN).

I started out with some 1/16″ scrap that I found in the welding area. I had to chisel some epoxy off of it, and even after I wire brushed it, it was pretty dirty. With the welder set to AC TIG, 100A, 80% duty cycle, I spent 30 minutes zapping craters into my test piece and fouling my tungsten before I realized the gas wasn’t turned on! Once I found the secret regulator valve and turned on about 20 cfm of pure Argon, I was able to start and hold a steady arc with no problems (and fewer blast craters!).

My first welds are pretty awful, but after an hour or so I managed a few that look alright. I’ve since watched a few more youtube videos here and here. Next time around, I’ll spend a lot more time cleaning my parts with the wire brush and some acetone. I’ll also plug the welder into the 220v socket instead of the 120v outlet so that I can bump the current up past 130A. From youtube, I learned how to hold the torch more comfortably and how to extrude filler wire without periodic repositioning, and I can’t wait to try again with these changes to see if I can do any better!

Maybe next time…