Does Aluminum Warp When Welding?

Welding is a skill that can take a while to learn due to the emphasis that is necessary to focus on different types of metals and the safety aspect of welding. While you can take classes and receive certifications, a lot of welding is trial and error, especially if you are doing custom work. 

Welding aluminum can be difficult because it’s prone to warping and breaking due to the heat it is exposed to. Since aluminum has high thermal conductivity, the entire piece can get too hot to keep its shape and strength. To properly weld aluminum, you have to understand how to control thermal conductivity. 

Welding is a fantastic tool that can be used in a variety of careers, usually being a skill that is sought after quite fervently. However, not understanding why welding works and how to overcome the issues that can happen can be the difference between a good welding job and something that isn’t usable. 

Welding Aluminum Correctly

When trying to weld aluminum or any metal with high thermal conductivity, you need to understand how to control it to weld it properly. While you can’t actually control how the metal distributes the heat, you can control how hot it gets, which will help control the warping issue. 

You can do a few tricks that allow the metal to heat and cool effectively so that the metal welds correctly but doesn’t damage anything to the point of making the joints weaker. 

Don’t Overdo It

Once your pieces are welded together, don’t weld them anymore. While this may seem pretty self-explanatory, a lot of people second guess themselves that the joint isn’t welded correctly, and they continue to weld past the necessary point. 

Suppose you weld past what the metal needs or what is necessary for the joint, the metal can get too hot and shrink past the point of being an effective joint. Once you see that the joint is done well, stop welding and go with your expertise.  

If you think you’re welding too much, you probably are. 

Intermittent Welding

If you continuously weld through the joint the entire time, your heat will slowly spread all over the metal and has the chance to affect the entire piece and the joint. However, if you weld in short passes and allow the joint to cool off intermittently, you can usually reduce the need to weld by almost 80%. 

Allowing the metal to cool off between passes strengthens the already welded metal so that the joint is stronger than it usually is. This also stops the surrounding metal from getting too hot and changing shape; or warping. 

Plan Your Weld

The best thing you can do to ensure the aluminum welds correctly and doesn’t warp is to plan how you are going to weld your joint. There are many different welding techniques, and if you don’t plan on what you are going to use, you may end up causing more damage to the joint than necessary. 

You need to plan your technique from beginning to end, taking into account the heat expansion and what that can do to the joint. Once you have planned the whole process, you can begin to weld the joint with little to no issues. 

Don’t Use The Highest Setting

Suppose you have a machine that allows you to adjust the settings, using the highest setting or the highest temperature, while it may seem more efficient. In that case, it can actually cause issues with the joint not welding correctly. 

If your metal gets too hot, it will warp and shrink to the point of losing strength and shape, so you end up making it worse by using the highest setting. Using the mid setting or any lower temperature can help the metal weld correctly due to the ability of the metal to cool off in between passes. 

Proper Welding PPE

When welding, knowing the safe way to do it and how to keep yourself safe is not just important; it is necessary. A lack of PPE and precautions can cause blindness, extreme burns, and cancer. 

Avoiding these risks is easy, as long as you follow through with safety procedures and regularly keep up your PPE. 

Welding Gloves

When welding, the sparks from the heat and metal can splash back onto your hands and arms, causing burns. Sometimes, these burns can be as bad as 2nd degree and can lead to cancer later in life due to repeated injuries and cell regrowth issues. 

You want welding gloves that cover a decent portion of your lower arm. While you will also need to wear a long-sleeve shirt made for welding, you want to double cover the portion of your arm and hand that will be affected the most. 

Welding Helmet

The ultraviolet light that comes from welding can harm your eyes to the point of blindness. The light can burn your corneas to the point of them no longer working. To safely weld, you need a helmet that blocks the light. 

Since every different welding machine emits different levels of ultraviolet light, you would do best to purchase a helmet that can block all the different levels of ultraviolet light. Purchasing this type of helmet ensures you are safe from every welding machine, no matter what level they emit. 

Some welding helmets automatically change the darkness and block different levels of ultraviolet lights. This helps block the maximum amount of light from getting to your eyes, keeping you safe. 

Final Thoughts

Welding is an amazing skill that will have you highly sought after from various different occupational settings. However, if you aren’t aware of how to avoid problems like warping and shrinking, you won’t be doing many jobs for anyone. 

If you want your joints to stay strong while also keeping the integrity of the entire piece, ensure you know the correct processes to avoid warping and shrinking.

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