Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Aluminum Welds

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How to Clean Aluminum Welds

According to most welding solution specialists, cleaning is the most important part of aluminum welding. Welding aluminum is a steep task, especially when it is contaminated with a dirty base and filler metal. In addition to that, the natural oxide layer on the aluminum makes welding an even tougher job. To ease the challenge of this industrial process, cleaning the weld is essential.

Methods of Cleaning Aluminum Welds

There are two ways in which the joint can be prepared for welding. The first step involves the mechanical removal of the oxide layer to make it more controllable. For your information, the oxide layer’s melting point is greater than that of the base metal. The second step to cleaning aluminum weld deals with the elimination of oil, grease, air borne dust or moisture that hampers the usefulness of the weld.

Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Aluminum Welds

Cleaning aluminum welds is a procedure that requires extra care and attention. A faulty method of cleaning the weld can lead to a defective aluminum product. There are a number of rules to be followed for cleaning aluminum welds. Each step in the cleaning process must be performed meticulously. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts for cleaning aluminum welds.

1) Cutting methods that leave a ground or smeared surfaced should not be used under any circumstance. For instance, band-sawed surface can cause smearing. A high speed circular saw should be used for cutting aluminum. In similar fashion, grinders should be kept away to acquire a clean aluminum weld. Coarse grinders can be used with a wheel grinder if absolutely necessary. The whole point of cutting is to be sharp and fast without resulting in any smudging or smearing. Before the aluminum is welded, the smudges on the surface must be cleaned to avoid a lack of fusion.

2) Use of oxy-fuel gas cutting, carbon arc cutting, gauging processes or oxy-fuel flames for pre heating should be avoided. These cause damage to the heat affected regions and facilitate the growth and hydration of the oxide film present on the surface. Plasma arc cutting and gouging are more conducive for cleaner aluminum welds. This is because these processes don’t usually allow hydrogen and moisture to mix with the oxide layer.

3) Lubricants should never be used in aluminum welding applications. Petroleum based lubricants comprise of hydrocarbons, that disintegrate during the welding process and consequently allow hydrogen to be mixed to the joint. This causes porosity and cracking, two processes which takes the quality of the finished aluminum product below par.

4) Oil and grease comes attached to the aluminum from the factory. The joint should be cleaned before assembly. This can be done using degreasing solvents. Once that is applied, a cheesecloth or paper towel can be used to clean and dry the welding point. Cheesecloth and paper towels provide effective cleaning because they are porous, and hence absorb more oils and moisture. The opposite side of the joint has to be wiped clean as well to prevent impurities from being pulled through the aluminum and into the weld puddle.

5) Shop rags should never be used to clean the welding joint. Oil and dirt can be transferred from these rags into the welding surface.

6) A wire brush can be used to clean the joint only after solvent cleaning is complete, otherwise hydrocarbons and other contaminants will be implanted on the surface of the welding joint.

7) Never blow off the joint with compressed air. Moisture and oil contaminants are often present in compressed air.

Cougartron ProPlus for Cleaning Aluminum Welds

If you are looking for an efficient cleaning solution for aluminum welds, then look no further than the Cougartron ProPlus. This product from Cougartron is the first electrochemical machine in the market that cleans aluminum welds. It uses the latest technology in cleaning to provide you with a neat, clean, and picture perfect aluminum weld.

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