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Chief Fast Facts: Welding Aluminum Faster and Better

Posted by Chief Technology on Nov 2, 2018 1:00:00 PM

Efficiency is key to driving revenue and getting the most out of every job. But if you're really going to work faster, you have to work smarter, too. The right tools and techniques keep your techs operating at their best and your customers satisfied with the result.

Here are six Chief Fast Facts for working efficiently when welding aluminum.

1. Know the differences between steel and aluminum.
What works for one metal, causes problems for the other. Aluminum has twice the thermal expansion of steel and it shrinks when it re-solidifies after being welded. If you don't use enough filler material, it can cause cratering, and even cracking in aluminum. It's also softer and conducts heat faster.

2. Get the right tools for the job.
Arm your techs with equipment designed specifically for welding aluminum to avoid costly mistakes. The Chief MultiMig 522 comes with an automatic crater fill function, so you've got a built-in back up when there's not enough filler material. 

3. Use a push-pull torch.
Aluminum wire is softer than steel wire, so it's much more prone to tangle or break mid-weld. With a push-pull torch, your techs won't have to stop and start with every break—the torch itself keeps the aluminum wire flowing smoothly and ready to weld. Our MultiMig 522 and MultiMig 511 come standard with a push-pull torch.

4. Designate a work area for aluminum.
Working efficiently means staying organized. It's easier to do that when you contain all aluminum equipment to one area in the shop. Techs will know exactly where to find the tools they need, plus, welding aluminum creates hazardous fumes, so you can keep a fume extractor close to the welders at all times.

5. Take all safety precautions.
A safe and healthy tech is one who can continue to do what they do best. Working with aluminum naturally creates more risks than working with steel. As mentioned above, aluminum work requires proper protection and ventilation with the help of fume and dust extractors.

6. Work with the latest specs.
Aluminum vehicles require different repair procedures due to their design and structure. Working with the latest vehicle repair data ensures your techs know exactly where to section the repair to prevent damage on another area of the vehicle.

It's hard to sum up everything you need to know about being efficient with aluminum in one post. But with these six tips to start, you'll be well on your way to understanding how Chief equipment can help you streamline your shop. Remember greater efficiency means more revenue, and who doesn't want that?