Aluminum Welding

Even for the most experienced welders, welding aluminum can be challenging. Aluminum welding requires different techniques and processes than welding steel, and it’s critical to know these differences in order to complete successful welds and work on a variety of different projects.

While welding aluminum can be difficult, it’s a skill that can be developed with the right knowledge and practice. Keep reading to learn all about how to weld aluminum—from the different types of welding you can use to general tips for success.

Aluminum is a common type of metal used in fabrication. It’s non-corrosive, lightweight and pleasing to the eye, making it an ideal choice of material for a wide variety of welds. However, the same traits that make aluminum desirable can also make it tricky to work with.

So why is aluminum so difficult to weld? This material is soft, highly sensitive and is insulated by a tough oxidized layer. While in its molten state, aluminum is susceptible to impurities, which can lead to porous, weak welds.

Aluminum and its alloys have a great affinity for oxygen. Pure aluminum melts at 1,200°F (650°C), and the oxide that protects the metal melts at 3,700°F (2,037°C). Because the oxide melts at a temperature approximately 2,500°F (1,370°C) higher than the aluminum itself, the oxide must be cleaned from the metal before welding can begin.

Since aluminum has a higher thermal conductivity and low melting point, it has a smaller window of workability than other metals and can easily lead to burnthrough. This, in combination with it being harder to indicate weld progress and quality, can make aluminum a difficult material to work with.

Here are some of the most common factors that make aluminum challenging to weld:

Oxidation: On top of aluminum sits an aluminum oxide layer, which melts at a significantly higher temperature than aluminum. Melting through this layer requires high heat, however, the welder must be careful to not burn holes in the aluminum underneath.

Porousness: In its molten state, aluminum absorbs hydrogen quicker the more it heats up. This hydrogen separates out as the metal returns to a solid form, which can leave behind bubbles in the material, causing the metal to become porous and weak.

Impurities: As aluminum is very sensitive, there are several ways it can become contaminated by dirt, air and water during the welding process. Aluminum can become contaminated by air that reaches the weld because of poor shielding or excessively long arcs. Oxygen can reduce aluminum’s strength, ductility and cause an oxide formation on aluminum welds, which affects its appearance and complicates multipass welding. Hydrogen can come from many sources, such as moisture in electrode fluxes, humid air, damp weld joints and more. For all of these reasons, it’s important to clean aluminum thoroughly and store it correctly prior to welding.

Thickness: Welding aluminum involves working with different material thicknesses. Welders must know how to avoid burning through thinner material while also penetrating thick material enough to create a strong weld.

While there are certainly challenges that come with welding aluminum, it’s not impossible to learn. Luckily, there are tools and techniques designed to help when working with aluminum’s unique properties.

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Andrew Stidham
Andrew Stidham
2023-09-09
Wish I could give higher than a five star! Brian was quick, responsive and even met me on the weekend to get it all done. I would definitely recommend to anyone needing great work with fair pricing!
Jason Fond
Jason Fond
2023-09-03
Excellent service and cost. They were able to handle and important small job for me very quickly!
Ulysses Deltoro
Ulysses Deltoro
2023-08-21
Extremely friendly and professional. I had some traction bars that needed to be shortened up a bit and weld some new tube inserts. I am extremely satisfied, beautiful strong welds. Will recommend highly.
Ted Hitchcock
Ted Hitchcock
2023-08-14
Great guys and a super fast turn around, especially on smaller projects. I use them for all of my turbo stuff.
larry mcfarland
larry mcfarland
2023-08-12
Brian responded quickly to my text message, and said he could look at my work in the shop today. I brought the parts, he said he could work it into the schedule while I waited, and quoted me a very reasonable price. He turned around the work quickly, and the results were excellent. All of the welds on the very small tubing with -6AN fittings were excellent and if you can call melted metal "pretty", that's what they are. See the pics. Excellent work, quick turnaround, reasonable prices. That's what you want from every business, and I highly recommend this one.
Jessica Zook
Jessica Zook
2023-07-29
They were awesome. Very knowledgeable and a quick turn around.
Mike P
Mike P
2023-07-21
Brian is an awesome fabricator. He custom made some intercooler piping with weld on quick disconnect couplers for my 1500hp Dodge Viper. Went above and beyond for a very fair price. Everything looks and fits perfect. Highly recommend for custom fabrication!
Brandon Lewis
Brandon Lewis
2023-07-07
I have used Brian for multiple things and he always gets me fixed up! Crazy quick turnaround times and great prices for his quality of work!!
Trevor Busby
Trevor Busby
2023-07-06
Amazing work on my blow off valve flange. Ricky was fast and provided friendly service. Will definitely be returning for all my welding needs. Thanks guys!
PAT WILLIAMS
PAT WILLIAMS
2023-06-17
Clean shop, people who take pride in their craft, made my bike trailer much safer and looks like it came from the factory that way. Happy customer!