Aluminum is a lightweight, soft, low strength metal which can easily be cast, forged, machined, formed and welded. Unless alloyed with specific elements, it is suitable only in low temperature applications. Aluminum is readily joined by welding, brazing, and soldering. In many instances, aluminum is joined with the conventional equipment and techniques used with other metals. However, specialized equipment or techniques may sometimes be required. The alloy, joint configuration, strength required, appearance, and cost are factors dictating the choice of process. Each process has certain advantages and limitations.
Aluminum Vs. Steel Welding
One reason aluminum is different from steels when welding is that it does not exhibit color as it approaches its melting temperature until it is raised above the melting point, at which time it will glow a dull red. When soldering or brazing aluminum with a torch, flux is used. The flux will melt as the temperature of the base metal approaches the temperature required. The flux dries out first, and melts as the base metal reaches the correct working temperature. When torch welding with oxyacetylene or oxyhydrogen, the surface of the base metal will melt first and assume a characteristic wet and shiny appearance. (This aids in knowing when welding temperatures are reached.) When welding with gas tungsten arc or gas metal arc, color is not as important, because the weld is completed before the adjoining area melts.