welding aluminum

Does anyone know know how to weld aluminum? I went to a tour of the Rocket Center in HSV, AL and they pointed out that the aluminium joints were welded by a special process developed by NASA. Does anyone know how to do this cheaply and at home. I tried, but the heat melted too much and the Al beaded up.
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On 7/1/13 10:49 AM, Deodiaus wrote:

That's why there is a "special" process, and not just any auto body shop can work on aluminum body autos (Jaguar, Aston-Martin etc)
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the right kind of goggles to tell when the aluminum is starting to melt, but not hot enough to run away on you. Not easy.
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Nobody knows how to weld aluminum, especially since there's absolutely no information available on the net, or on Youtube.
Just keep wasting your time posting on Usenet in an attempt to find someone to explain how to do it.
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brazing" can be mastered relatively easily at home - just need the right kind of rod, a high swirl propane torch, and lots of patience - and practice on something that doesn't matter.
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Buy yourself a Metal Inert Gas welder. You will need the aluminium wire and argon gas. And a degreeof practice.
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the aluminium does not burn.
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On Monday, July 1, 2013 10:49:00 AM UTC-4, Deodiaus wrote:

I googled "welding aluminum" and got several YouTube videos on the subject. Here's the scoop from Lincoln Electric:
http://www.lincolnelectric.com/en-us/support/welding-how-to/Pages/guide-aluminum-welding-detail.aspx
They mention shielding gas, a mix of argon and helium; not sure if that's an absolute requirement.
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On Monday, July 1, 2013 10:49:00 AM UTC-4, Deodiaus wrote:

lded by a special process developed by NASA.

These have been around for a while. I have not had occasion to try them bu t they seem to be popular.
http://www.harborfreight.com/8-piece-low-temperature-aluminum-welding-rods- 44810.html
I suspect the results are not super strong and certainly not very heat resi stant but if it's a non-critical application it might be worth a try.
An inert gas wire welder is the proper way but not many diy'ers have one of those at their disposal. I've had fairly decent results going to welding shops. If you have the work ready to weld, any grinding and fitting finish ed, the cost should be reasonable.
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Deodiaus wrote:

I welded aluminum while in the Navy using oxyacetylene. Because aluminum does not get red when heating, you have to find another way to tell when it is ready for welding. Using just the acetylene, paint the area with black soot. Then add the oxygen and heat the sooted area. When the soot disappears, the aluminum is ready. Once the weld is started, continue on as the heat travelsYou have to be quick. You don't have a big window before the aluminum melts away.
--
Bill - Metalsmith 2nd (E5), USN
In Hamptonburgh, NY
  Click to see the full signature.
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On 07/01/2013 07:49 AM, Deodiaus wrote:

TIG, wire, or gas.
Jon
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On Monday, July 1, 2013 9:49:00 AM UTC-5, Deodiaus wrote:

Great suggestions, thanks a lot. I had Googled it, but I did not want to buy any tools as this is a really small job. The reason I asked here is that I was thinking of doing this on the cheap (minimal costs).
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I saw a demonstration of how to weld or braze aluminum with some 'special' rods and a hand held torch. He said the main thing is there is about a 200 degree differance in melting the rod and the aluminum. You have to be very careful with the heat. He made it look easy as he put two aluminum cans together.
Here is a youtube example.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJ42scaWFnw

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On 7/2/2013 10:38 AM, Ralph Mowery wrote:

I would think brazing would be a lot easier - you don't melt the base aluminum.
Steel melts through a range of temperatures. That is because steel is a mixture of carbon and iron and often other metals. You can be melting it and it still has some strength.
I don't think that happens with aluminum. When it melts it can suddenly run or sag. High thermal conductivity may make the problem worse.
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I think those rods are really brazing and not welding. From what I get out of the vidio I don't think the aluminum actually melts in that process. As I mentioned from the demonstration I saw a few years back the guy said there was very little differance in the temperature the rod melted and the aluminum melted so you had to be careful. He was good as he stuck aluminum cans together in 4 places each about 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch long and you could not seperate them by breaking the 'weld'.
I don't know much about welding or brazing. I do a lot of electronic soldering and a little pipe soldering.
As I understand it, there is a differant definition for the three processes. When people that know as little or even less than I do, sometimes the terms are not used correctly.
You are probably correct in the brazing term in this case.
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On Tuesday, July 2, 2013 11:27:24 AM UTC-4, Deodiaus wrote:

So what did you think you were going to weld the aluminum with, if not tool s?
Welding aluminum is not something you can MacGuyver. If it were you would h ave found that information on google.

Cheapest way is to find a mechanical way to join the aluminum. Screws or ri vets. Next cheapest is to take the project to a professional welder. After that you're buying tools.
For a small one-time job even if the professional is egregiously expensive, he'll still be a lot cheaper than buying a MiG welder and a spool gun and wasting weeks learning how to properly weld aluminum. Ask around. You may k now someone who knows someone who is a professional welder that can do it f or you as a favor if it's a really minor job.
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On Wednesday, July 3, 2013 10:14:18 AM UTC-5, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I am repairing an alumninum pool pole. I need a magnesium sparkler, some wet clay, and an Al can cut into a long thin strip. Put the clay on the backside and around the work to serve as a heat sink and also to prevent the melted Al from running away. Light the sparkler. Mg burns at a hot flame and should be sufficient to melt Al. Work as provided on the youtube vid
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJksVs2QT5Q

If this works, please make a $1 PayPal donation to the RedCross on my behalf? ;>>
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On Monday, July 1, 2013 9:49:00 AM UTC-5, Deodiaus wrote:

I worry about eye damage from the Mg flame? Any suggestions for a way to diminsh this? Will UV [sun]glasses shield enough?
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On 7/3/2013 11:45 AM, Deodiaus wrote:

welder's goggles. uv sunglasses will actually be worse.
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