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Expand your capabilities: Start welding aluminum

Publication date: 
March 2010
Kent Henry, Former EASA Technical Support Specialist
Type of media: 

Tips and techniques on how to become an expert with this material Editor's Note: Part 1 of this two-part series was published March 2010. Part 2 was published April 2010. Suppose two motors came in for an emergency repair. One of the motors is a steel frame and the other is an aluminum frame. Both have broken feet that need to be welded back on to frame. Which motor would you prefer to weld? I believe that most would choose steel over aluminum. But that doesn't have to be the case. Welding aluminum requires a different approach. A unique and intimidating aspect of heating aluminum is the lack of visual feedback. If a torch is used to heat a steel or cast iron fan, the metal gradually changes color. Eventually it will begin to glow red from an increase in temperature as it nears the melting point. If the same process were repeated on an aluminum fan cover, it would not change color from the increase in temperature. It may appear to darken slightly just prior to suddenly melting. The same is true while welding thin aluminum materials; there is no visual indication of the intense heat applied. The welding arc is the only clue. The comfort level in working with a metal that displays little if any visual feedback and such a sudden change of state can be unnerving.

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