TIG Welding Aluminum for Beginners: Steps 1 & 2

Step 1: Key to Puddle Control: Hand & Torch Placement

Beginning TIG welders unintentionally make a lot scrap. For example, you may feel a need to strike an arc on a piece of aluminum before ever practicing basic hand placement and control. Don’t, as this is a waste of good aluminum. The first step to working with aluminum is to master positioning of the torch and hand.

Hold the torch by bracing it with the base of your hand (from your wrist to the tip of your pinky finger) fla t against the table. Keep it in a steady, forward-moving position with a slight (5- to 15 -degree) backard tilt to the torch. (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Keep the torch in a forward-moving position with a slight 5- to 15-degree backward tilt.


Keep a close distance from the tungsten to the workpiece (typically equal to the diameter of the tungsten up to about ¼”). If you pull the tungsten too far away from the workpiece, the arc spreads out too wide and overheats the piece and you lose puddle control (more specifics on this topic to come in Step 3). Working with aluminum is all about puddle control and fighting the fact that it acts like a huge heat sink and rapidly transfers heat away from the weld area ( this is why steel is much more forgiving: the heat stays more localized, which in turn makes it easier to control the puddle).

Step 2: Coordinating Movement and Filler Deposition

Without striking an arc, work on the flow of your hand and torch movement. Practice with gloves on as you would in a normal welding situation. Keep light pressure on your hand, a firm grip of the welding torch and slide your hand across the welding table in an even, steady motion. If you don’t move your hand and you just move your fingers, you’ve become a one- or two-inch welder, and there aren’t many applications where that is useful. This practice helps you “calibrate” hand/torch movement and the distance of the tungsten to the workpiece without creating any scrap.

Filler metal deposition takes place ahead of the TIG torch as you push forward. The torch and the filler rod should roughly be in a 90-degree configuration to each other (Figure 2). Always push a torch—never drag it­—and always introduce the filler metal on the leading edge of the puddle. One hand is smooth and steady as it slides, while the other hand dabs the filler metal. Practice this without striking an arc.


Figure 2: The torch and the filler rod should roughly be in a 90-degree configuration to each other.

Most beginners have issues, at first, getting their hands working independently.  They usually end up moving both hands at the same time: As they attempt to dab the filler metal, the tungsten dips too, which usually results in touching the filler metal to the tungsten and contaminating. Disconnect your hands and brain so that each hand performs its task independently. When you’ve mastered these movements, you’re ready to strike an arc.

(by by Andy Weyenberg, Miller’s motorsports marketing manager, published at www.millerwelds.com)


Space smells awful or awesome, depending where you’re floating

space smell

(* 🙂 Just read this article on CBS website. It is a pleasure to read. Therefore, I decided to share with you guys. Happy Weekend! 🙂 *)

We’ve yet to make contact with E.T., but human space exploration has given us at least a few surprising revelations, like the fact that the smells of space range from delicious to downright nasty.

Last year, the Rosetta mission taught us that the perfume of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is a wretch-inducing bouquet of ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and other nasty gases that would smell like an unholy merger of an outhouse and rotten eggs.

But as the video below from Chemical & Engineering News sums up with an unabashedly geeky flair, not every aroma in space will destroy your appetite. In fact, astronauts returning to the International Space Station after a spacewalk reported smelling bacon and other whiffs of meat. And Apollo astronauts reported a scent on the moon like gun powder. Other astronauts have also described space scents similar to a spent fireplace, welding or burning ozone.

Sounds to me like the vacuum of space is just like gathering around one massive campfire, which is sort of what the sun is, when you think about it.

So what’s to keep astronauts in orbit from constantly craving a barbecue bacon cheeseburger? Fortunately, NASA has the means to keep the ISS smelling fresh, although it did take a few hours to filter out the fishy smell of seafood gumbo once.

What’s being missed here is the obvious opportunity for NASA to save a little cash on shipping breakfast meats to space. If you actually fried up some bacon in the already seared-pork-scented vacuum of space, you might be able to trick astronauts’ noses and palates into believing they got double the serving of bacon. Let’s keep this little secret just between you, me and the American taxpayers though, NASA. The astronauts don’t need to know…