Can a Harbor Freight Welder Weld Aluminum?

There are several techniques that are not suitable for welding aluminum and oftentimes, the welds created by bad techniques end in large amounts of permeability. One can wonder if a harbor freight welder is good for aluminum?

A harbor freight welder can perform high-quality aluminum welding. Their aluminum rods are of superior quality, producing stronger welds than the original aluminum material.

Aluminum can be difficult to weld compared to other metals like steel. Deciding the welding technique suitable for aluminum depends on the welder’s skill and what a particular method demands.

What Type of Welding Can I Use for Aluminum?

Welding aluminum involves the use of many welding techniques, various protective gases, various specifications, and various pre-weld and post-weld processing than what it takes to weld other metals like steel. The welding techniques suitable for aluminum may need modification before they are used. It is easy to weld aluminum, but then you have to follow the right welding process.

Below are welding techniques suitable for aluminum:

Gtaw/Tig: Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), also known as tungsten inert gas (TIG) is a popular welding technique used for aluminum welding. GTAW/TIG is a great method for aluminum because it doesn’t require simulated wire feeding which does create mechanical problems. You can use your hands to pass the filler substance into the puddle. 

Also, the GTAW/TIG technique is spotless and it protects aluminum against environmental contamination. Because this welding process is efficient, it has become widely used in aluminum welding. Aluminum materials need a substantial amount of heat to get the required temperature ( and it can sustain that heat for long). 

For this reason, a welding appliance with electricity control is relevant to protect the aluminum material against overheating, leading to a burn-through. GTAW/TIG welding processes are applicable to both light and heavy aluminum plates. GTAW/TIG welding usually requires its own filler rod so the welder has to select a welding rod with an alloy similar to that of the aluminum workpieces.

Gmaw/Mig: Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), or metal inert gas (MIG) welding is my second preferred option for welding aluminum. Generally, this welding technique has better deposition rates with a great travel speed than GTAW/TIG. However, GMAW makes use of a mechanical wire feeding style. Because of this, a spool or pull-push gun may be required in order to make aluminum wire feeding possible. 

I do not recommend the use of high percentage shielding gases such as: Argon (75%)/carbon dioxide (25%), carbon dioxide ( 100%). These gases can work for steel, but aluminum is not able to handle the impulsive carbon dioxide gas. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the filler metal.

GMAW/ MIG Welding has been successfully applied in welding aluminum. You must decide which to use between the pulse welding and the spray arc welding when choosing a welder. Pulse welding will need an inverter power supply, while stable voltage machines and stable current are applied for spray arc welding.

GMAW/MIG welding method is preferable for aluminum alloys with thinner gauges due to the amount of heat required. For the choice of protective gas, I’ll recommend an absolute argon gas. See to it that the welder selects a welding rod or cable with alloy components like that of the aluminum workpieces to get a more balanced weld.

Electron or Laser Beam Welding: Beam welding techniques often have the capacity to weld aluminum. Also, since the power velocity of the beam welding procedure is consistent, cold starts aren’t usually a bother. But laser welding doesn’t protect against material light reflectivity. 

Also, shielding gas optimization is key to avoid porosity. Electron beam welding generally does not have these problems because it does not use light as an energy medium and it is performed in a vacuum.

Resistance Welding: Resistance welding although not the best, is considered for welding aluminum. But you should know that there are certain difficulties associated with the thermal and electrical conductivity of aluminum. Parameter development time is essential, and also specific tips and resistance welding equipment might be needed to surmount these problems.

Torch Welding: Aluminum welding also works with the help of a gas-fed torch, but this method has a higher difficulty level than GMAW/MIG and GTAW/TIG welding. It is quite challenging to regulate the heat applied to the aluminum workpiece if you’re using the torch technique, and burn-through is likely to occur should you use this method. A skilled welder will perform this job, so they can accurately regulate both the filler rod and the torch.

Why Is Welding Aluminum Difficult?

One of the difficulties experienced in aluminum welding has to do with the filler metal. To begin with, you can’t weld some aluminum alloys without filler materials. A welding process without filler metal will result in solidification cracking in alloys like 6061. So you must choose the right filler material.

Another problem faced with aluminum filler metal is feeding. If you apply mechanical wire feeding procedure, specific drive channels are often required. This is due to the fact that aluminum has little column capacity than steel, and is more prone to tangle and buckle if certain wire drive channels, like a pull/push gun, are not applied. This is so true, particularly in the case of lean aluminum filler metals ( e.g 0.8 mm or 1 mm diameter).

Aluminum also possesses a better thermal conductivity than steel. The heat generated in the process of welding gets distributed more swiftly compared to when welding an iron-based alloy. Therefore, complete penetration might not be achieved until you arrive at a certain level in the process.

In closing, aluminum is prone to crater cracking, therefore, make sure craters are filled up so that the entire process doesn’t fail at the end of the job.

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