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Problems with Aluminum Synchrowave 180SD

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  • Problems with Aluminum Synchrowave 180SD

    I'm trying to weld some aluminum, 1/16" and 1/8" plate to a 1/2" plate.
    I am having no success. I will get an arc going, and after a while (< a minute), the electrode will go "bang", and the welder shows "HLP --1", which relates to the SCR. In this time I have not got any joining between the two pieces, the arc seems very wide and wanders. I am using a 1/16" pure tungsten electrode, about 20 SCFH of argon, and 80-100 amps if that makes a difference.

    I rarely weld aluminum, this is maybe the third time since I bought the welder. I have not had any problems welding steel. The welder has done the same bang thing since I bought it when trying to weld aluminum.

    So, my question is, is something wrong with the welder, is aluminum that much harder to weld than steel, or are my skills just that bad?

    Any advice appreciated.

  • #2
    You need a lot more than 100 amps and a bigger tungsten to weld 1/2" alluminum. How big of a machine do you have?

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    • #3
      Problems with Aluminum Synchrowave 180SD

      For one I wouldn't use pure tungsten for anything and second you are gonna need a lot more than 100 amps for 1/2" aluminum sorry to say I don't think the synchro 180 is gonna get what you want done on its own.

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      • #4
        I'm not trying to penetrate the 1/2" plate, just tack the 1/16 & 1/8" pieces to it with a T joint. But the problem is that it keeps going BANG "HLP --1", it seems to do this everytime I weld AC, 1/2" plate or not.
        Any idea if I'm doing something that is causing this, or if there's a problem with the machine?

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        • #5
          Problems with Aluminum Synchrowave 180SD

          Sounds like the machine is the problem did you get it new or used

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          • #6
            As stated already, for 1/2" material is a bit much for the 180 SD which is going to have to be flat out in order to stand even a chance of starting a puddle. 80-100A definately isn't going to do it and preheating the 1/2" plate is certainly in order.

            1/16" tungsten isn't going to cut the mustard either and I'd be using 1/8" if attempting what you are.

            A "wide and wandering" arc is typically characteristic of improper tungsten preparation and/or too long of an arc. To concentrate the heat I'd use a sharpened thoriated (it's what I use) and not balled pure.

            Although 15-20cfh argon flow would be appropriate for maxed out 180A operation, it's a bit high for only 100A where 10-12cfh would be more appropriate.


            Seeing as it's typically a "re-settable" condition by cycling the power switch, my guess on your HLP-1 error code is due to the sudden loss of arc when the too small tungsten blows up from overheating. But it's just a guess as we have no details of what the specific settings and conditions were for the previous occurances.

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            • #7
              Thanks for the advice. I cranked the amperage up and switched to a bigger electrode, and at least got everything tacked together. The machine (which I bought new) did fault out several times, either when the electrode went pop, or when it was trying to establish the arc - sometimes it would really start to crackle, then stop before a smooth arc developed.
              I didn't know one could use other electrodes for aluminum, I will have to try that next time. Do I need to use a larger diameter to deal with the extra heat from AC?

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              • #8
                The larger tungsten is to handle the higher amperage required for the thicker material and yes, in AC mode the tungsten is (+) half the time (in a 50/50 balanced setting) which adds to heat build up and likely one of the main contributing factors of the inevitable failure of the too small 1/16" electrode.

                When working with aluminum, don't ease into an arc as you would with MS or SS but rather hit it hard to get the puddle started quickly and then back off to the required heat to keep it going and keep pace with adding filler.

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