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How to Ball Tungsten for Aluminum Welding

C.L. Rease

Tungsten inert gas welding aluminum requires a tungsten electrode capable of spreading a welding arc over a wide area. Allowing the end of tungsten electrodes to form a ball distributes the arc over a wider path than a sharp pointed electrode. The wider path provided by the balled electrode clean contamination from the aluminum weld joint while the center of the ball concentrates a partial arc to fuse the weld joint. The type of tungsten used while welding aluminum plays an important role in the formation of a proper electrode ball.

TIG welding aluminum requires a wide arc path.
  1. Sharpen one end of a green banded--pure--tungsten electrode to a sharp point using a bench grinder. Allow the sharpened electrode to cool for 10 minutes. Sharpen the second end of the tungsten electrode to a sharp point.

  2. Secure the sharpened tungsten electrode in a TIG torch.

  3. Place a piece of scrap aluminum on a conductive work surface. Connect the ground of a TIG welder to the conductive work surface.

  4. Set the pointed tip of the sharpened electrode 1/8 inch from the surface of the scrap aluminum. Depress the TIG pedal to start the welder. Allow the welder to run for three to four minutes or until you notice the end of the tungsten electrode forming a ball 1/3 the diameter of the tungsten electrode.

  5. Allow the tungsten to cool for ten minutes before using it to weld an aluminum joint.