Like all other professionals, welders continuously seek ways to improve their craft, and with each innovation comes a dozen arguments for and against it.
Now, not everyone can see eye-to-eye on a particular welding method, but some techniques have too many benefits for welders to overlook. One of such game-changing techniques is MIG welding aluminum with a spool gun.
Welders who have practiced aluminum welding enough to use the MIG welding process tend to argue about the merits of using a spool gun over the push-pull system. The general argument is that spool guns are expensive and bulky.
However, the fact remains that if you’re out to do some SERIOUS welding, you need to attach a spool gun to your welder. Let’s take a look at why they’re so relevant.
Benefits of Using a Spool Gun for Aluminum Welding
It Improves the Stability of Your Arcs
To successfully weld aluminum, you need to maintain a stable arc. If you’re having trouble steadying your arc, a spool gun could provide you with the stability you need. The gun’s short feed distance means you don’t have to feed too far before you hit the weld puddle. Such an advantage ensures you have a steady and consistent aluminum feed.
You Get to Complete Your Work Faster
Bird nesting is every welder’s nightmare, and if you’ve been welding steel in the past, you will experience this a lot when you switch to aluminum. By using a spool gun instead of a regular feeder, you get to reduce bird nesting to a minimum, and this will save you a boatload of time.
Your Welds are Neater
Tangled or overlapping aluminum wires are the last thing you want to see while welding. With fewer mistakes and greater feed ability, your welding results will come off looking better than they used to. This way, it’s very likely you’ll experience an upward spike in the quality of your aluminum weld.
It Helps You Conserve Resources
Spool guns give welders increased precision with their feed, especially with the more heat-sensitive aluminum metals. When you don’t have to undo your mistakes often, you get to save your energy and put your material resources to better use.
Tips For Using a Spool Gun
Those who are already familiar with MIG welding don’t have much to learn before using a spool gun. However, there are certain procedures you must keep in mind if you want to get the best out of this add-on. Here are a few helpful tips:
Don’t Pull or Drag the Weld, Push It
This error is common with MIG aluminum welders. When you pull, you tend to leave black soot on your weld aluminum, and removing them with a brush will set you back. This tip is also applicable when welding more types of metals with a MIG welder.
Start With a High Feed Rate and Drop it Gradually
It would be best if you began welding by setting your highest feed speed at the beginning. As the temperature becomes warmer, consider reducing the rate at which you feed the aluminum wire.
Cut the Wire Occasionally
Always snip the aluminum wire a few times between the start and finish of your work. This way, you’ll be saving your tips.
Maintain a Stick-Out Length of 3 or 4 Inches
Stick-outs are vital to the aluminum welding process. Not only do they control the amount of current drawn by your machine, but they also affect your final product. You can save some tips by maintaining a stick-out of roughly 3 or 4 inches.
Listen for a Loud Hum
You can tell how high your wire feed is from the sound of your welding. With steel welding, you usually hear a sound similar to that of frying bacon. For aluminum welding with a spool gun, you should adjust your feed until you hear a high-pitched hum.
Start With the Lower Voltage and Watch Out for Burnbacks
If you keep getting burn backs that weld your wire to your tip, it means your voltage is too high. It’s always advisable to commence with the lower voltage and then increase this along the way.
Don’t Overbend the Cable
Bending your spool gun cable too much could ruin your gun liner and affect the quality of your feeding.
Never Forget Your Safety Wear
Welding is a risky and dangerous job, and no matter how good you are at it, you should always take precautionary measures. Always have suitable embroidery wear on when you work to keep you safe in case of accidents.
Selecting the Right Spool Gun for Your Welder
Choosing the right spool gun for your aluminum welding design is a necessity if you want to optimize the quality of your work. Projects differ from person to person, so we have created a list of factors you need to consider before choosing a spool gun for your work.
Type of MIG Welder
Compatibility is a big issue when it comes to spool guns and their intended welding machines. Some welders don’t even allow the use of a spool gun. If your welder is compatible with such add-ons, there’s every chance it would come with a selector switch for spool gun.
Aluminum Wire Diameter
All spool guns have specific allowable wire diameters. Some guns can hold as much as three different wire diameters. Ensure that the one you choose to go with matches your work. Aluminum is a sensitive metal; hence, a small discrepancy could ruin your work or shut down your equipment.
Gun Ratings and Duty Cycle
The duty cycle rating of a gun shows how much arc-on-time the equipment can produce in 10 minutes. All MIG guns have duty cycles of 100, 60, or 30 percent, depending on the manufacturer. The higher the duty cycle, the heavier the projects the gun can withstand. It would help if you also compared the power ratings of the spool gun to that of your welder.
From the information above, you can see why spool guns are relevant to aluminum welders. Following these useful tips will lead to better results in your aluminum welding quality pretty soon.