Aluminium Alloys - Repairing Aluminium Alloy Vehicles

Topics Covered

Background

Aluminium Welding Procedures

Aluminium Welding Processes

Safety measures

Choice of alloy

Preparation

Selection of Welding Process

Welding Tips

Background

As they are intensively used, commercial vehicles can accidentally be damaged, and need to be repaired. This usually includes a welding operation, which is today as easy for aluminium vehicles than it is for others, thanks to ever increasing performance and efficiency of aluminium welding equipment.

Aluminium Welding Procedures

Like other metals, aluminium should be welded according to a strict procedure, in a properly equipped workshop, by a qualified operator, and when required, under the supervision of an official body.

Aluminium Welding Processes

Main welding processes used to repair aluminium vehicles are TIG and MIG arc welding. Other techniques like laser welding and resistance welding are also in progress, but they should, in first instance, penetrate the manufacturers market.

The following section describes the typical weld repairs operations.

Safety measures

Nothing should be done before knowing the type of goods that the vehicle has transported!

Once determined, appropriate precautions should be taken (e.g. degassing, dust removal, etc…).

Choice of alloy

The alloy of the semi-finished product (e.g. patch) used for the repair must be the same or compatible with the original alloys (see manufacturer’s manual).

This comment is also valid for the filler wire that might be used during welding.

Preparation

         For cutting out, cutting wheel in carbide is preferred, rather than high-speed steel (HSS) or abrasive wheels that might introduce inclusions into the weld seam.

         Grind the area to be welded to remove all traces of paints and other residues.

         Degrease the surface prior to welding (using baltane or equivalent solvent).

Selection of Welding Process

As it allows better penetration, TIG is usually preferred for minor repairs where access from behind is not possible.

When fast welding is required (e.g. to control deformation, or because of long welds), preference should be given to MIG.

The choice will also depend on the thickness of the parts to be welded.

Welding Tips

         Change the path of welds in order to avoid going over an original weld

         For minor repairs, the patch must match to the shape of the breach, but, to avoid cracking, it should be slightly enlarged by hammering to compensate for contraction following welding.

 

Source: The European Aluminium Association.

 

For more information on this source please visit The European Aluminium Association.

 

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