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WELDING OF ALUMINIUM

AND ITS ALLOYS


BY
PREM S NAUTIYAL

Non-Ferrous Metals and


their alloys.
Non-ferrous metals are those which do not
contain iron.
In general they have excellent resistance to
corrosion.
A non-ferrous metal, aluminium, has only
featured in engineering terms in the last 75
years.

Common non-ferrous metals


All metals and alloys in which iron is not the major
component are termed non-ferrous

Typical applications for some non-ferrous metals

Aluminium
Aluminium is one of the most versatile of metals.
Next to steel it is the most used metal in the
world. Yet the production of aluminium is only 6%
that of steel.
Aluminium has a wide range of uses, from
cooking foil to aircraft. Its properties make it
suitable for many applications. It is light does not
corrode, is a good conductor of electricity and
heat and is cheaper than copper.
Aluminium can be cast, extruded, rolled, forged,
drawn,etc., to give us the numerous shapes of
the aluminium objects that we see everyday.

Mining
Aluminium is the most abundant metal on the
earths crust. About 8% of the earths crust is
made up of aluminium.
So why is it not the most abundant metal in use?
There is great difficulty and cost attached to
refining aluminium. It does not exist as a pure
metal in nature, but is combined with other
elements. The Ore of aluminium is called
Bauxite,[hydrated aluminium oxide].
Bauxite is mined in many countries, France,
Australia, Guinea, Brazil, Russia and china being
the more common.

A Two-stage process.
Purification;Before aluminium can be made the ore has to be purified.
After being mixed with caustic soda solution the bauxite is
sent to heated pressure vessels where the alumina
hydrated aluminium oxide dissolves in the caustic soda.
The impurities are removed as red mud. As the alumina
cools alumina hydrate forms crystals. It is then roasted or
calcined. In the Bayer process. This process is what is
carried out in Aughinis in the Shannon Estuary outside
Limerick.
Reduction of Alumina to Aluminium;Electrolysis is used to convert alumina to aluminium.
Alumina has a melting point of 2000oC. To reduce the
temperature at which conversion takes place cryolite is
added and hence reduces the amount of energy required
to convert the alumina to aluminium.
It takes about 2 tonnes of alumina , 15000 units of

Recycling of Aluminium
Recycling accounts for about 25% of the total world
production of aluminium.
As the amount of bauxite is limited, it makes good
sense to recycle the metal. The cost of recycling a
tonne of aluminium is 5.3% the cost of its initial
production.
Aluminium and its uses;
Aluminium is often used in transmission cables for high
tension systems in place of copper because of cost
factors. It is also better in national grid transmission
because of the reduction of weight.
Aluminium is often alloyed with other metals such as8
copper, magnesium, nickel and zinc to produce metals

General consideration for Fusion


Welding
High
thermal
conductivity
(as
compared to steel) necessitates a
high rate of heat input
Aluminium and its alloys rapidly
developed a tenacious refractory
oxide film which should be removed
during welding
Cracks

The low density is the most


important property of Aluminium
Metal

Density
lb/ft3

kg/m3

Steel

489

7.83

Aluminum

173

2.77

WELDING OF ALUMINIUM

Important Properties of
Pure Al. - Low strength
:70-90 MPa.
Aluminium
Al. Alloys - Mod. Strength

: 90-500 MPa.

Light weight

: D 2.7 g/cc.

High strength to weight ratio.


Good corrosion resistance (forms oxide protecting layer on
it when exposed to the atmospheric conditions preventing
corrosion even in salt water).
Ductile and Good formability.
Melting point at 650 degrees celcius.
Low temperature toughness.
High electrical and thermal conductivity.
High reflectivity to heat, light and electromagnetic waves.

Applications
Transportation

automobile,
railway, marine

Aerospace & Defence


Building & Architecture

Aircraft, launch vehicles


for space & missiles,
naval ships, speedboats

Packaging, Containers, Cryo-vessels


Electrical cables & Bus-bars
Household & consumer durables
Machinery

World Consumption of Aluminum,(1992)


miscellaneous
12%

Machinery
6%

Container & Packaging


21%

Consumer
Durables 5%

Transport
24%

Electricals
9%

Building &
Construction 23%

Consumption of Aluminium in India,(1992)


Container &
Packaging 8%

Transport 17%

Miscellaneous
5%

Machinery 10%

Bidg. & Cons.6%

Consumer
Durables 15%

Consumption of Aluminium

Electricals
39%

Application in Industry
Aluminium
Vessels

Aluminium in
road transport

Application in Industry

Aluminium in
transport
industry

Application in Industry

Application in Aerospace Industry.

Aluminium Alloy Classification


Non-Heat treatable alloys (strength due to
composition and work hardening)

1XXX series alloys (99% Al)

3XXX series alloys (Al-Mn)

4XXX series alloys (Al-Si)

5XXX series alloys (Al-Mg)


Heat Treatable Alloys (strength due to heat treatment )

2XXX (Al-Cu)

6XXX (Al-Mg-Si)

7XXX (Al-Zn)

8XXX (New Alloys)

Non Heat treatable alloys (1,3,5) have better weldability than heat
treatable alloys (2,6,7)

Aluminium Alloy Classification


AA Series

IS Series

1XXX series (99% Al)

:1060

19800

2XXX (Al-Cu)

:2219

24345 (HT)

3XXX (Al-Mn)

:3003

31000

4XXX (Al-Si)

:4043

43000

5XXX (Al-Mg)

:5083

54300

6XXX (Al-Mg-Si)

:6061

65032 (HT)

7XXX (Al-Zn)

:7005

74530 (HT)

8XXX (New Alloys)

:8090

(HT)

Alloying Elements
Primary elements: Cu, Si, Mn, Mg, Zn
Cu: High strength
Si: Lowers MP and provides fluidity
Mn: Increase in moderate strength with
excellent ductility
Mg: In combination with Si produces
good strength and extrudability
Zn: In combination with Mg and Cu
high strengths

APPLICATIONS

1XXX (99% Al) : Electrical & Chemical Industries

2XXX (Al-Cu) : High strength Aerospace industry

3XXX (Al-Mn) : Heat treatable, moderate strength, used for


beverage cans and refrigeration tubing.

4XXX (Al-Si) : Non Heat treatable (most alloys in these series are

either
welding or brazing filler materials)

5XXX (Al-Mg) : Marine applications, all 5000 series alloys are


weldable.

6XXX (Al-Mg-Si) : Effective strength and corrosion resistance. All 6000

series alloys are weldable but can be crack sensitive. Never try to weld these
alloys without using filler metal.

Aluminium Alloy Temper


FDesignations
As fabricated
O

As annealed

Hxx

Strain-hardened with combinations of


annealing, stabilisation, hard,
hard, hard, full hard etc.

Solution heat-treated

Thermally treated to produce stable


tempers other than F, O, or H

T1-T10 Different combinations of thermal


treatment with or without cold work,
stabilisation, ageing etc.

Problems in Welding Aluminium


1. High affinity for oxygen formation of oxide layers.
2. Readily absorbs moisture -- porosity
2. High thermal conductivity -- @ 4times greater than
steel, risk of fusion defects and gas inclusions.
3. Thermal coefficient of expansion is twice than steel,
risk of warpage, high internal stresses.
4. Softening in HAZ of age hardened alloys.
5. Susceptibility to cracking.

Problems in Welding Aluminium


1. High affinity for oxygen results in quick
formation of Tenacious Al. Oxide skin.

Melting temp.of Al. oxide is high (2050C)


3 times of Aluminium ( 650C)

Al Oxide is hardest material after diamond and used for grits in


grinding wheel.

Al. Oxide promotes lack of bonding, fusion defects, pore


formation.

In-process cleaning of oxide is achieved by

cathodic cleaning

in TIG and MIG welding.

(Meticulous cleaning of groove before welding required)

Al. oxide skin


Mp.2050C

Aluminium
Mp.650C

Aluminium metal melts.


Aluminium oxide skin
remains unmelted.

Aluminium oxide in
weld-pool impedes
bonding

Problems in Welding Aluminium


Cracking in Aluminium
alloys
Basically Hot Cracks :
Solidification cracks in weld.
Liquation cracks in weld & HAZ (PMZ).

Cracking in Aluminium Alloys


1.

Select an weldable alloy, which is


less susceptible to cracking.

2.

Select a filler alloy to avoid crack


sensitive weld metal composition.
Filler alloy should have a lower
freezing range than base metal.
(Composition and freezing range are
important factors).

3.

Use less heat-input.

4.

Avoid rigid clamping / fixtures.

6061 pipe welding (Root run )

(A) Without filler addition

(B) With filler addition

Crack Sensitivity of base alloy / filler alloy combinations

Weld w ith
extrem e
care
Weld
w ith care
Com m ercial
ly w elded
Easy to
w eld
Very easy
to w eld

Crack sensititvity in %

100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

Base alloy / filler alloy


Fig.5. Crack sensitivity of some base metal / filler metal combinations. Source : ASM Metals Handbook, Ref.1.

Selection of filler metal for lesser


risk of cracking.

Filler Metals for Welding of


Aluminium
Some important
filler metals:
Similar
classification
as Base
Metals

ER1100.
ER2319.
ER4043 (Al-5%Si), 4047, 4045.
ER5356(Al-5%Mg), 5183, 5556.

Available in spools of wire,


dia 1.2mm and 1.6mm(MIG, Mech. TIG).
Dia 2.0mm, 2.4mm, 3.2mm, 4.0mm in straight
lengths for TIG welding.

Chemical Composition of Wrought Aluminium Filler Metals


Filler
Alloy

Elements, wt%
Si

1100

Fe

Cu

5183

Note b Note b 0.05 0.20


0.20
0.03
5.8 6.8
4.5 0.80
0.30
6.0
11.0 - 0.80
0.30
13.0
9.3 0.80
3.3 10.70
4.7
0.40
0.40
0.10

5356

0.25

0.40

0.10

5554

0.25

0.40

0.10

5556

0.25

0.40

0.10

5654

Note g Note g 0.05

2319
4043
4047
4145

Mn

Mg

Cr

Zn

Ti

Other
Elements
Each Total

0.05

---

---

0.10

---

0.05

0.15

0.200.40
0.05

0.02

---

0.10

0.05

0.15

0.05

---

0.10

0.10 0.20
0.20

99.0
min
Rem

0.05

0.15

Rem

0.15

0.10

---

0.20

---

0.05

0.15

Rem

0.15

0.15

0.15

0.20

---

0.05

0.15

Rem

0.50 1.0
0.05 0.20
0.50 1.0
0.50 1.0
0.01

4.3 5.2
4.5 5.5
2.4 3.0
4.7 5.5
3.1 3.9

0.05 0.25
0.05 0.20
0.05 0.20
0.05 0.20
0.15 0.35

0.25

0.15

0.05

0.15

Rem

0.10

0.06 0.20
0.05 0.20
0.05 0.20
0.05 0.15

0.05

0.15

Rem

0.05

0.15

Rem

0.05

0.15

Rem

0.05

0.15

Rem

0.25
0.25
0.20

Al

Criteria for Filler Selection


1. Base metal composition.
2. Ease of welding: This rating is based on the probability of producing a crack
sensitive filler alloy / base alloy combination.
3. Strength of the weld: This rating is based on the ability of the filler alloy to meet or
exceed the strength of the as welded joint.
4. Weld ductility
5. Service temperature: When considering service at temperatures above 150 deg F,
we must consider the use of filler alloys that can operate at these
temperatures without any undesirable effects to the welded joint. Aluminium /
Magnesium alloys of over 3% Mg that are exposed to elevated temperature,
can produce segregation of magnesium at the grain boundaries of the
material. This is an undesirable situation which can result in premature failure
of a welded component. Consequently both base alloys and filler alloys with
less than 3% Mg have been developed for high temperature applications.

Criteria for Filler Selection


4. Corrosion resistance.
5. Colour match between weld and base metal after anodising: The color of
an Aluminium alloy when anodised depends on its composition. Silicon in
Aluminium causes a darkening of the alloy when chemically treated during
the anodizing process. If 5% silicon alloy 4043 filler is used to weld
6061,and the welded assembly is anodized, the weld becomes black and is
very apparent. A similar weld in 6061 with 5356 filler does not darken during
anodizing, so a good color match is obtained.
6. Post Weld Heat Treatment: Typically the common heat treatable base
alloys like 6061-T6, lose a substantial proportion of their mechanical
strength after welding. Inorder to return the base material to its original
strength it may be an option to perform PWHT.

Welding Processes for Aluminium


Most widely used processes :
AC TIG
MIG (conventional)
Other Special processes :
DCSP TIG
Pulsed MIG
Plasma Arc Welding (key hole mode)
Electron Beam Welding

AC TIG Welding of Aluminium

Most widely used method to weld Al.

Good oxide cleaning by the arc.

Average penetration.

Suitable for manual welding in all positions


and mechanised welding.

Use pure or zirconiated tungsten


electrodes with hemispherical tip.

Oxide cleaning in electrode +ve half cycle


Penetration in electrode --ve half cycles
in AC TIG welding.

AC Freq.50 Hz.
EN/EP 50/50

Sine Wave In AC TIG Welding

Wave balance (EN/EP ) & AC frequency Variables


In Square Wave AC TIG Welding

MIG Welding of Aluminium


MIG Welding of Aluminium requires
Spray type of metal transfer.
Process Options :
Conventional MIG (Un-pulsed)

Pulsed MIG.

Spray type of metal transfer


Has a typical fine arc
column with pointed wire tip.
Very small drops are formed
and detached at rate of
hundreds per sec.
Drops are accelerated
axially across the arc gap.
(helps in overhead welding).

PROBLEMS IN CONVENTIONAL
MIG WELDING
High current required for spray transfer.
1.6mm dia.wire :180 amperes
1.2mm dia.wire :135 amperes
Resultant high arc force cuts thro thin
metal.
High wire feed rate leads to high deposition
and weld pool flooding.

Pulsed MIG Welding


Welding current is pulsed between a
high peak current (in the spray region)
and a low background current (below
spray region) in a given pulsing
frequency. Average current remains
below spray region, but with spray
transfer.

Pulsed MIG Welding


Parameters in Pulsed MIG Welding:
1. Peak Current, Ip (metal transfer)
2. Background Current, Ib (No metal transfer)
3. Time at Peak Current, Tp
4. Time at Background Current, Tb
5. Wire Feed Rate.
Transfer rate of ONE drop per pulse is ideal.

Pulsed MIG Wave form

Conv. MIG

Pulsed MIG

AC TIG

Bead Appearance in Butt Joints


AA 5083 alloy, 3.15mm thick.

Welding of Aluminium
Shielding Gases for TIG & MIG welding:

Argon (AC TIG, MIG).

Helium (DC TIG, MIG).

Argon-Helium mixture.
(80/20 AC TIG), (50/50 - MIG)

Control of impurity important for high


quality welds.

Moisture, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrocarbons are impurities.

Welding of Aluminium
Welding Techniques:
1. Fore Hand.
2.
3.

Vertical up.
6O clock to 12O clock in 5G
positional welding.

4.

Stringer bead preferred. Avoid


wide weaving.

5.

Use min. or no preheat.


Preheat <120C.

Direction of welding

Always Forehand
and Vertical up in
Welding Aluminium

Joint design in
Aluminium welding

Joint design for welding pipe from outside

Joint geometries for arc welding aluminium in horizontal position.

Welding Aluminium
Defects in Aluminium welds :
1. Pores
2. Lack of fusion/bonding.
Remedy: Adjust parameter (heat input),
Improve cleanliness.
3. Cracks
Remedy: Reduce heat input,
Select proper B.M
& filler metal combination.

Defects in Aluminium welds


Pores :

Caused by dissolution of
hydrogen in weld metal.

Causes : Impurity from gas,


filler metal, base metal
and environment.
Remedy:
Keep B.M., F.M. clean.
Use argon with high purity
(Controlled moisture content).