TIG Welding Aluminum with Alternating current
Characteristics of TIG Welding Aluminum with Alternating Current (AC) Process
Welding aluminum by the gas tungsten-arc welding process using alternating current produces an oxide cleaning action. Argon shielding gas is used. Better results are obtained when welding aluminum with alternating current by using equipment designed to produce a balanced wave or equal current in both directions. Unbalance will result in loss of power and a reduction in the cleaning action of the arc. Characteristics of a stable arc are the absence of snapping or cracking, smooth arc starting, and attraction of added filler metal to the weld puddle rather than a tendency to repulsion. A stable arc results in fewer tungsten inclusions.
TIG Welding Aluminum with Alternating Current (AC) Technique
For manual TIG welding of aluminum with alternating current, the electrode holder is held in one hand and filler rod, if used, in the other. An initial arc is struck on a starting block to heat the electrode. The arc is then broken and reignited in the joint. This technique reduces the tendency for tungsten inclusions at the start of the weld. The arc is held at the starting point until the metal liquefies and a weld pool is established. The establishment and maintenance of a suitable weld pool is important, and welding must not proceed ahead of the puddle. If filler metal is required, it may be added to the front or leading edge of the pool but to one side of the center line. Both hands are moved in unison with a slight backward and forward motion along the joint. The tungsten electrode should not touch the filler rod. The hot end of the filler rod should not be withdrawn from the argon shield. A short arc length must be maintained to obtain sufficient penetration and avoid undercutting, excessive width of the weld bead, and consequent loss of penetration control and weld contour. One rule is to use an arc length approximately equal to the diameter of the tungsten electrode. When the arc is broken, shrinkage cracks may occur in the weld crater, resulting in a defective weld. This defect can be prevented by gradually lengthening the arc while adding filler metal to the crater. Then, quickly break and restrike the arc several times while adding additional filler metal to the crater, or use a foot control to reduce the current at the end of the weld. Tacking before welding is helpful in controlling distortion. Tack welds should be of ample size and strength and should be chipped out or tapered at the ends before welding over.