Welding aluminum utilizes a non-consumable tungsten electrode to create an electric arc between the electrode and workpiece, which produces heat. In the past, a pointed electrode was used to create this arc; however, it has been discovered that balled tungsten yields superior results.
Balling tungsten for aluminum welding involves a specific process. Although it is not the only method that yields improved welding performance, it is one of the primary methods, along with the welder’s technique, shielding wire, and the inert gas used for aluminum welding.
This blog will teach you how to ball up tungsten for aluminum welding and why it’s sometimes necessary.
What Are the Challenges of Welding Aluminum?
TIG welding aluminum presents several unique challenges, such as reactivity to air, the need for specialized welding techniques and equipment, and the metal’s high thermal conductivity and softness. Despite these difficulties, aluminum welding is necessary for various applications and can be successfully achieved with the proper techniques and equipment.
Due to its excellent conduction of heat, aluminum is incredibly beneficial in various applications. However, this same property can be a significant hindrance when welding.
The cooler parts of the metal draw away the heat from the weld pool, making the weld weaker and less penetrating. To counteract this issue, welders must use much higher temperatures when welding aluminum than when welding steel.
Extra caution and skill must be taken to weld aluminum due to the tendency of hydrogen to form bubbles when the metal starts to solidify. This can lead to porosity issues, which can be reduced by using an argon and helium mixture as shielding gas.
Despite the risk of bubbles, hot cracking can still occur when welding aluminum, so heat control is essential. As a result, welding aluminum requires more concentration, technique, and heat control than other metals.
What Is Tungsten Balling?
Tungsten balling is a process that produces tungsten alloy parts, such as tungsten balls and rods. It involves heating a tungsten alloy to high temperatures and then using a die, hammer, or other tools to shape it into a ball or rod.
Why Is It Necessary to Ball Pure Tungsten?
It was once thought that balled tungsten electrodes were the only way to achieve optimal performance when pure tungsten was used to create electrodes. However, today, it is widely accepted that both pointed and balled tungsten electrodes can be effective and that either may be better depending on the application.
7 Steps to Balling Tungsten for Welding Aluminum
With a few simple steps, it is possible to create a range of shapes and sizes from tungsten, enabling users to craft strong and resilient products.
Wear protective clothing, and don’t worry too much about forming a perfect ball on the tungsten tip; make sure it is rounded.
When choosing tungsten for welding aluminum, use electrodes with 2% thoriated or ceriated coating as the type of tungsten used for welding aluminum can significantly influence the formation of the correct electrode ball.
Step 1: Sharpen the pure-tungsten electrode on one side with a bench grinder until it forms a spiky tip. Then, set the electrode aside for 10 minutes to cool.
Step 2: Sharpen the other end of the electrode to a point as well, just like the other edge, and let it cool.
Step 3: Connect the ground of the TIG welder to a conductive work surface.
Step 4: Place a piece of aluminum on top of the work surface, then insert the tungsten electrode into the TIG torch.
Step 5: Position the electrode 1/8 inch from the scrap aluminum and switch on the welder.
Step 6: Run the welder for two to three minutes until a ball with a diameter 1/3 of the tungsten electrode appears on the tip.
Step 7: Once the electrode has cooled down, it is safe to use it for welding aluminum.
Following the seven steps outlined above, you should have the know-how to ball tungsten for aluminum welding successfully. Always use the correct safety gear and keep the electrode clean and straight to ensure a successful weld. And, if you’re looking for tungsten powders, grits, and rods, we have a wide selection of high-quality industrial products.