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Aluminum Welding
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Aluminum

Section IX of the ASME


BPVC
ASME P-Numbers
Structural Welding

Aluminum is the most difficult alloy to weld. Aluminum oxide should be


cleaned from the surface prior to welding. Aluminum comes in heat
treatable and nonheat treatable alloys. Heat treatable aluminum
alloys get their strength from a process called ageing. Significant
decrease in tensile strength can occurs when welding aluminum due
to over aging. For more information on aluminum welding processes,
benefits of welding processes, welding discontinuities, or common
welding problems please visit our homepage or any of the links to
your left. Take advantage of our aluminum welding experience in
developing your welding processes.

Welding Aluminum Alloys


Aluminum Alloys can be divided into nine groups.
Designation Major Alloying Element
1xxx

Unalloyed (pure) >99% Al

2xxx

Copper is the principal alloying element, though other


elements (Magnesium) may be specified

3xxx

Manganese is the principal alloying element

4xxx

Silicon is the principal alloying element

5xxx

Magnesium is the principal alloying element

6xxx

Magnesium and Silicon are principal alloying elements

7xxx

Zinc is the principal alloying element, but other


elements such as Copper, Magnesium, Chromium, and
Zirconium may be specified

8xxx

Other elements (including Tin and some Lithium


compositions)

9xxx

Reserved for future use

Aluminum alloys are readily available in various product forms. To


establish a proper welding procedure it is necessary to know the
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material properties of the Aluminum alloy being welded.


Below are some of the factors affecting the welding of Aluminum.
Aluminum Oxide Coating
Thermal Conductivity
Thermal Expansion Coefficient
Melting Characteristics

Wrought Aluminum Alloys


1xxx Series. These grades of aluminum are characterized by
excellent corrosion resistance, high thermal and electrical
conductivities, low mechanical properties, and excellent workability.
Moderate increases in strength may be obtained by strain hardening.
Iron and silicon are the major impurities.
2xxx Series. These alloys require solution heat treatment to obtain
optimum properties; in the solution heat-treated condition, mechanical
properties are similar to, and sometimes exceed, those of low-carbon
steel. In some instances, precipitation heat treatment (aging) is
employed to further increase mechanical properties. This treatment
increases yield strength, with attendant loss in elongation; its effect on
tensile strength is not as great.
The alloys in the 2xxx series do not have as good corrosion
resistance as most other aluminum alloys, and under certain
conditions they may be subject to intergranular corrosion. Alloys in
the 2xxx series are good when some strength at moderate
temperatures is desired. These alloys have limited weldability, but
some alloys in this series have superior machinability.
3xxx Series. These alloys generally are non-heat treatable but have
about 20% more strength than 1xxx series alloys. Because only a
limited percentage of manganese (up to about 1.5%) can be
effectively added to aluminum, manganese is used as a major
element in only a few alloys.
4xxx Series. The major alloying element in 4xxx series alloys is silicon,
which can be added in sufficient quantities (up to 12%) to cause
substantial lowering of the melting range. For this reason, aluminumsilicon alloys are used in welding wire and as brazing alloys for joining
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aluminum, where a lower melting range than that of the base metal is
required. The alloys containing appreciable amounts of silicon
become dark gray to charcoal when anodic oxide finishes are applied
and hence are in demand for architectural applications.
5xxx Series. The major alloying element is Magnesium and when it is
used as a major alloying element or with manganese, the result is a
moderate-to-high-strength work-hardenable alloy. Magnesium is
considerably more effective than manganese as a hardener, about
0.8% Mg being equal to 1.25% Mn, and it can be added in
considerably higher quantities. Alloys in this series possess relatively
good welding characteristics and relatively good resistance to
corrosion in marine atmospheres. However, limitations should be
placed on the amount of cold work and the operating temperatures
permissible for the higher-magnesium alloys to avoid susceptibility to
stress-corrosion cracking.
6xxx Series. Alloys in the 6xxx series contain silicon and magnesium
approximately in the proportions required for formation of magnesium
silicide (Mg2Si), thus making them heat treatable. Although not as
strong as most 2xxx and 7xxx alloys, 6xxx series alloys have relatively
good formability, weldability, machinability, and relatively good
corrosion resistance, with medium strength. Alloys in this heattreatable group are sometimes formed in the T4 temper (solution heat
treated but not precipitation heat treated) and strengthened after
forming to full T6 properties by precipitation heat treatment.
7xxx Series. Zinc, in amounts of 1 to 8% is the major alloying element
in 7xxx series alloys, and when coupled with a smaller percentage of
magnesium results in heat-treatable alloys of moderate to high
strength. Usually other elements, such as copper and chromium, are
also added in small quantities. Some 7xxx series alloys have been
used in airframe structures, and other highly stressed parts. Higher
strength 7xxx alloys exhibit reduced resistance to stress corrosion
cracking and are often utilized in an overaged temper to provide better
combinations of strength, corrosion resistance, and fracture
toughness.

Aluminum Welding Services


Visit our homepage for detailed information on arc welding processes,
welding procedures, weld failure analysis, and expert witness
testimony. AMC can solve your companies aluminum welding
procedure problems. Hire AMC to act as your welding specialist.
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Contact Information
Telephone
407-880-4945 -------- (Consulting is only available for customers)
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AMC
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Suite 1004 - #303
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
Electronic mail
General Information: consulting@WeldingEngineer.com
Customer Support: Support@WeldingEngineer.com
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Or visit www.MaterialsEngineer.com for questions concerning welding


filler alloys or base metal alloys.
For failure analysis of welds or welding processes visit www.FailureAnalysis.com

For Accident Investigation or Failure Analysis please visit


www.ForensicInvestigation.com

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Copyright 1999 American Metallurgical Consultants
Last modified: October 18, 2007

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