Aluminum Welder


JW Portable Welding & Repair, aluminum welder capabilities, aluminum cast welding, aluminum handrail welding

JW Portable Welding & Repairs, aluminum welder in London, Ontario offers mobile aluminum welder’s service for welding of railings, cast and frames. We offer aluminum welder service in 3 basic setups in Southern Ontario:

  1. mobile welding
  2. portable welding
  3. in shop welding

Generally speaking, we have 3 choices of technologies for aluminum welding:  stick welding, GTAW (Tig)  welding and Mig welding. Certainly, each technology has its advantages and disadvantages and not all technologies are available in mobile aluminum welder setup. Or if they are available, they face severe restrictions.

There are basically four detrimental factors affecting aluminum welding:

  1. Thickness of material
  2. Alloy specification
  3. Wind
  4. Welding machine parameters

And, each detrimental factor could restrain the welding setup. Moreover, combination of factors could do the same. Additionally, judging from experience, separate detrimental factors affect also specific welding technology used in particular setup.

The mobile setup for aluminum welder.

Most mobile welding projects take place in open air. They take place  outside of welding shop and outside of warehouse or production facilities. The open air environment could be challenging due to variety of reasons. Good aluminum welds require gas shield therefore windy conditions prohibit use of Tig or Mig technologies to weld aluminum.

Use of welding tent or umbrella

Definitely, mobile welder can utilize welding tents or welding umbrella to improve the welding conditions.  And, shield the welding spot from wind. Unfortunately, the use of tent or umbrella is not often possible due to severity of wind and access restrain to the welding spot. Since budgetary constraints play a major role in mobile welding, spending time on auxiliary activities could be difficult to justify.

Welding stick (S.M.A.W) aluminum on bridge in very windy conditions. London Ontario 2017
JW Portable Welding & Repairs, welding stick (S.M.A.W) aluminum on bridge in very windy Conditions. London, Ontario 2017

For instance, welding aluminum handrail on bridges is extremely difficult due to windy conditions. We have tried using umbrellas but the wind have damaged them in the first day. Then, we have tried our welding tent but even with the tent setup we have faced difficulties. We have stabilized  the tent with rocks but still it almost got blown out of bridge a few times. Moreover, we had to relocate often to reach another spot in the long handrail. Therefore, the tent setup was taking too long to relocate. Finely, we have stabilized our tent by two helpers holding it. In meantime, the welder has performed the repairs.

Stick (S.M.A.W.), a most preferred for mobile aluminum welder

In such windy conditions only aluminum welding with stick (S.M.A.W) was possible. Although this stick technology is the best for windy conditions but unfortunately weld quality is not as good as with other two technologies. Moreover, the quality of aluminum stick rods varies significantly in North America and these quality differences affect welder’s performance and quality of weld. Among 9 tested aluminum rods from different manufacturers, only one has met our demands.

Other consideration for stick welding

A mobile aluminum welder has to also consider rod’s diameter since the rod below 1/8 inch easily bends. Obviously, it is difficult to strike an arc with bent rod.

In addition, stick rods are very sensitive to position changes which severely affect quality of welding in vertical and overhead positions.

A few words about detrimental factors

In reality, mobile welder’s projects usually relate up to 1/8 inch thick aluminum used in construction, trailers frames, railing and handrails and in general maintenance.

The role of adjusting your welding consumable to the welding alloy is diminished due to lack of different varieties of aluminum rods. Practically only two kinds of aluminum rods are available 3xxx and 4xxx. The ordinary welding machines with DC and/or AC are suitable for these stick aluminum rods and therefore old self-propelled welding machines will work just fine.

Technological progress for mobile welder

With the technological progress mobile welder has a choice of attachments to the self-propelled welding machine as long as this machine is able to provide connection or is able to provide alternative current. Unfortunately, in my opinion due to budgetary constrains of mobile welding, I do not think the use of Tig or Mig technologies provides valuable options.

The Mig attachment is rather expensive and has thickness limitation of 3/8 inch for aluminum plates. The Tig technology would provide a valuable option for mobile welder as long as the self-propelled welding machine generates alternative current, but unfortunately most older models do not have the AC option. Additionally, lack of water cooling will force use of large Tig guns with large diameter tungsten that could complicate the welding of rather thin elements.

Portable setup for aluminum welder

Many welding professionals consider portable welding as part of mobile welding. In my opinion, however, portable welding forms a completely different technological and setup operation. Portable welder’s welding machines connect to client’s power source and they have to be light enough for a one person to unload them quickly from the trailer. The trailer provides the mobility to portable welders.

As mentioned above the portable welding machine has to be connected to the client’s power source and since clients have multiple different receptacles for different currents, sometimes we face problems. Therefore the portable welder must have adapters to the client’s receptacles. Additionally, portable welder must make sure that client’s current meets the welding machine manufacturer’s recommendation.

Tig and Mig technologies in portable welding

In portable welder’s setup Tig and Mig technologies rule the game for aluminum welder. The welding process takes place in shop, warehouse, or production plant. Therefore, portable welder is able to implement all shielded gas technologies. The option to use a shielded gas in aluminum welding increases the quality of weld in aluminum.

Mig portable welder for aluminum

The Mig portable welder with push-pull gun or preferably with a spool gun becomes the preferable setup. Traditionally, wire’s alloy 4043 or 5356 are most popular in the industry. However, if necessary, most complicated alloys are available in wire forms to fit the welded material better.  These specialty wires are very useful to weld casts or molds since their properties match the welding material’s properties.

JW Portable Welding & Repair setup of portable Mig welding machine for welding aluminum with a spool gun. London, Ontario,2020
JW Portable Welding & Repair setup of portable Mig welding machine for welding aluminum with 25 feet lead spool gun. The machine  connects to client’s power outlet. we have isolated the workplace from the public by tarps. London, Ontario, 2020

The advantage of 25feet or 50feet lead to the spool gun provides the distance advantage over the 12.5 feet lead of push-pull gun. Aluminum projects are usually rather large and spacious therefore a longer lead makes a huge difference.

The Mig technology with a spool gun is our preferred technology for repair of aluminum molds and welding spacious projects from aluminum.

Tig portable welder for aluminum

Although Tig technology is available in portable form, the water-cooling aspect makes it heavier. As explained above due to physical properties of aluminum the water cooling is rather important. Moreover, very thick aluminum requires powerful (500 A) welding machines which are very heavy therefore these heavy machines would rather suite the welding shop operation.

The medium size Tig water cooling machines provide sufficient support for specific needs of portable welder welding aluminum up to probably ½ inch. The quality of weld is excellent and the setup adjust very well to different shapes and sizes of aluminum cast. The presence of pedal in the welding machine allows to adjust the heat during welding which is paramount for welding aluminum.

I highly recommend using temp. guns to monitor the temperature of welding materials. The control of welding temperature allows also adjustments of welding machine setup. The Tig welding is our preferred technology for repair of aluminum casts.

In – shop setup for aluminum

Generally speaking, the in-shop setup of aluminum welder is similar to portable setup but involves stationary heavy machines. These machines are not only heavier and more powerful but also more sophisticated. They are also much, much more expensive
For instance the Mig appears in form of attachment on top of power source and the spool has a form of a drum and is positioned at the back of the welding machine.