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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Norman, OK
    Posts
    5

    Default Problem with 350P aluminum welding

    Done MIG for years with steel. Just purchased a new 350P w/ aluminum Pro package for an extensive sculpture project I'm working on. Welding 3/8" round 6061 alloy with .035 4043 wire, 100% Argon-- new metal--prepping with SS wire brush. Suggested pulse-mig setting at wire speed of 650/arch length 50/arc control 25 just melts the **** out of the base metal and I can't control the weld even though I'm practically tack welding. I also keep getting black oxide residue. My current settings of 380 wire speed/ arch length 18 /arch control 40 is giving me better weld control but I still have problems. 1. getting splatter, 2. still getting black oxide, 3. welding wire to contact tip (ruined 2 tips today), 4. randomly arc/wire literally cuts into the base metal and melts sections of the base metal? I'm starting with a 1 second pre-flow and wire about 1/4" lead at the start of the weld. I've TIG welded aluminum fine in the past. This MIG process is kicking my butt. Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I could post images of welds if that would help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    702

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by steeler View Post
    Done MIG for years with steel. Just purchased a new 350P w/ aluminum Pro package for an extensive sculpture project I'm working on. Welding 3/8" round 6061 alloy with .035 4043 wire, 100% Argon-- new metal--prepping with SS wire brush. Suggested pulse-mig setting at wire speed of 650/arch length 50/arc control 25 just melts the **** out of the base metal and I can't control the weld even though I'm practically tack welding. I also keep getting black oxide residue. My current settings of 380 wire speed/ arch length 18 /arch control 40 is giving me better weld control but I still have problems. 1. getting splatter, 2. still getting black oxide, 3. welding wire to contact tip (ruined 2 tips today), 4. randomly arc/wire literally cuts into the base metal and melts sections of the base metal? I'm starting with a 1 second pre-flow and wire about 1/4" lead at the start of the weld. I've TIG welded aluminum fine in the past. This MIG process is kicking my butt. Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I could post images of welds if that would help.
    Dragging the gun will cause the black "oxide" (I assume you are referring to black soot). You need to push the gun.

    On your other issues I cannot help.

    Pictures will help us help you.

    Griff

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    southern California
    Posts
    1,783

    Default

    On the arc length control, you'll have to play with it to strike a balance between a faster freezing puddle and no spatter. Too short (low number) and it goes out of spray into a short circuit like transfer and spatters too much. Too long and the puddle is too wet and harder to control, especially out of position.

    The sharp arc is the arc width control, which has less affect on the puddle than the arc length but still you'll have to play with it to strike a balance. The higher the number, the wider the arc cone and the harder to control the puddle out of position.

    The black soot has to do with cleanliness and gas coverage. If the metal is dirty or oxidated on the surface, or if the gas coverage is not good enough, or if you drag rather than push the torch, or if there is a breaze messing with the gas, or if there is oil on the metal, or if the wire is dirty or oxidated, or if the torch is too far from the weld, you will have the soot. Sometimes, you will have the soot even if all those things are ok. It's just a sooty process, compared to tig. The soot does wipe off easily though so no big deal.
    Millermatic350P/Python, MillermaticReach/Q300
    Millermatic175
    MillermaticPassport/Q300
    HTP MIG200
    PowCon 300SM, MK Cobramatic
    ThermalArc 185ACDC, Dynaflux Tig'r, CK-20
    DialarcHF, Radiator-1
    Hypertherm PowerMax 380
    Purox oxy/ace
    Jackson EQC
    -F350 CrewCab 4x4
    -LoadNGo utility bed
    -Bobcat 250NT
    -PassportPlus/Q300
    -XMT304/Optima/Spoolmatic15A
    -Suitcase8RC/Q400
    -Suitcase12RC/Q300
    -Smith oxy/propane
    -Jackson EQC

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    707

    Default

    I have a older spoolmatic 30A hooked to mine (different nozzle). I've only been using it on aluminum for a couple of months and only gotten good at it very recently.

    This is what happens at the wrong gun angle:


    1) Gun position. Of course you have to use push angle, but I would recommend as little push as possible. - like 10-15 degrees. On my old style nozzles I also need to run 35 cfh. There was a suggesting on this board to use 25 put the soot noticibly increased (and that's on a flat, butt joint). When I looked at my spatter pattern I could tell I was leaning the gun toward me (spatter away from me). I corrected for that, and ran the gun almost verticle and so big improvement. Bottom line, look at the spatter pattern 1st and adjust the gun angle to compensate.

    2) As for the settings. The Miller defaults aren't bad - its just us operators are used to short circuit welding. So my first thing was to decrease the arc length - I currently keep it at 35-40. The more experience I get, the higher the number. It take a bit of faith that the aluminum is going to go were you intend. As for sharp arc, I too liked to run it a bit on the high side. I made passes at 40, 35, 25 and 20 to get a feel for the difference. As best I can tell Sharp arc adjusts the frequency of pulses (different sound) and maybe a few other related parameters. I've actually settled in to 20-30 depending on the position. 20 on outside corners - 30 on the inside. The higher the number the more focused the cone.

    3) Play with the auto dark helmet settings. On 1/4" stuff, I find 11 gives me a better picture of the arc.

    4) Note the hot start and run in. It takes about 2 seconds for the hot start to kick out and the normal run parameters to kick in. If you are just tacking, you are pretty much running on the hot start settings. I actually have found the hot start settings to be a bit to cold (bead a bit too high). On a long straight bead, you can actually see the arc/cone form in a about 2-3 seconds. I have not figured out hot start yet. So I'm leaving it at default.

    5) The built in settings seem to work best on room temperature metal. As the aluminum heats, the settings run too hot. For me, that second pass, or second bead is always washed out (ripples have smoothed over). The 3rd or 4th pass is pretty much melting through. So... 550 on the first pass, 500 on second, and if I'm not patient, 450 on the 3rd (1/4")

    6) If you are trying to weld a 3/8 solid rod to some base, I would recommend you look at the base material to figure out your settings. That 3/8 rod will not take as much heat as say a 3/8 plate.

    Couple of other things.
    Place the work clamp directly on the material you are welding. Clamping down to a welding table doesn't seem to be good enough. You mention ruining tips. My first attempt at playing around with hotstart resulted in 2 tips lost due to burn back. Then I played with crater fill and tossed out 2 more... Burn back happens when you have too much volts and not enough wirespeed. On my spool gun it was kind enough to actually eject the tip (melted on to the wire) and not bird nest in the gun. Again, I went back to the default settings, and returned my wire feed. Made sure the wire feed had enough tension and it was pointed right at the gun liner.
    Con Fuse!
    Miller Dynasty 350
    Millermatic 350P
    -Spoolmatic 30A

    Hypertherm PowerMax 1000G3
    Miller Multimatic 200 - awesome portable MIG (and stick and TIG)
    Miller Maxstar 200DX - portable TIG and stick

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    West Bloomfield, Michigan
    Posts
    44

    Default with my optima...

    Now I have an optima pendant paired with my XMT 350 cc/cv. I weld 1/2" T6061 rod braces onto 1/8" 3003 sheet. I use .035 4043 wire and have the Arc Length or "trim" at "6" and the wire feed speed at 290 ipm with good clean results. If I ramped up to the settings in the first post, my arc length would be too long and my gas coverage would be insufficient because I would have to stay too far away to avoid the arc going right back into the tip... and I only use the big 3/4" nozzles on aluminum. Forget the 5/8" or 1/2" nozzles entirely.

    In fact, I will only take my arc length / trim as high as "10" with .035 4043 wire. Up around "18" like in the first post and I would only feel comfortable with .045 4043 wire. I wish I had "arc control" like you guys with the pulse specific machines do. There are some instances where I would like a more convex fillet weld that my optima/xmt combo just won't do.

    My rig is not the same animal... but I hope this helps.
    XMT 350 w/ S-75 DXA Feeder
    and a Bernard 300 gun
    Optima Pulsing Pendant
    XR-W wire feeder + Coolmate 4
    with an XR-W Edge Gun

    Passport Plus w/Spool Gun
    Regular Passport

    Dynasty 200DX
    Trailblazer 301G w/Freak Box &
    S-32P volt sensing wire feeder

    Spectrum 1000 Plasma
    Spectrum 375 Xtreme Plasma
    Regular Spectrum 375 Plasma

    Victor H315FC torch & accessories
    Victor 100FC torch & accessories
    Meco torch & accessories by Kent White

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Norman, OK
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Thanks for all your input. I really appreciate it. I have been playing around with the settings and I think I'll just have to live with the soot situation as I can't seem to get that to not happen welding these rods as I have to. Still having issues with burnback on the tips, but it's getting better. This thing is like trying to drive a Ferrari when you've just driven an old Dodge all your life!

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