This is the first in our series on TIG or Gas Tungsten Arc Welding of aluminum. We have chosen to focus on weld quality beneath the surface. On the internet you will find no shortage of photos of gorgeous manual TIG welds. I can appreciate a “stack of dimes” weld bead as much as anyone. Symmetrical, perfectly spaced ripples do indeed showcase the skills of the welder. But sometimes beauty is only skin deep.

This week we have some arc on video made with a Xiris Automation Inc. camera and a few tips. But next week we will demonstrate how to check weld quality, in your shop, without spending much money.

We will show you how to check fillet size and shape with fillet gages. Then perform a fillet break to look for weld discontinuities and complete root fusion. Dave Hebble will teach you what to look for on a macroscopic cross section. Jim Walker CWI (Certified Welding Inspector) will demonstrate liquid penetrant inspection to check for lack of fusion, cracks and porosity. Finally we will run a guided bend test on butt welds.

My experience is that it is easier to make a pretty aluminum TIG weld than it is to make a good one. The fillet break test is much harder to pass than most folks suppose it be. This is particularly true for aluminum. Spoiler Alert: I failed on my first try.

We will inspect some nice looking welds. Some of which are good and some of which are not. And we will talk about what caused the defects and how to avoid them.

Note that at the end of the series there will be a test!

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