Thanks to Brian Del Campo
Welders own the world. But it’s a surprisingly steep learning curve that our contributor, Brian Del Campo, has climbed. And when it comes to aluminum, not all shops can handle it.
Assuming that you want to fly the weld being considered, it’s worth finding a professional that can specifically TIG weld. Unlike wire feed gas, TIG uses a tiny flame and the operator has tremendous control, withzero oxidation. The welds look FANTASTIC.
Quick background. These are all arc-welding types which use electricity to flow through the welding material and work piece. The contact point heats up enough to melt the target metal and welding rod/wire. Ambient air must be kept off the molten pool since the oxygen in it would ignite the weld and ruin it. That’s why each type has some method to keep an inert gas surrounding the weld in progress.
There are several distinct types of arc welders, each with it’s own advantages:
1) Stick is a basic welder. It relies on chemical shielding of a rod to prevent oxidation. Good for heavy work like mending plow blades around the farm. Ferrous metals ONLY!
2) Wire feed Flux core, is thin wire with a chemical to prevent oxidation. Smooth, automatic, but still primitive, it’s really an exotic stick welder. Again, ferrous metals only.
3) MIG (Metal Inert Gas) is an automatic wire feed welder that uses gas out the tip as the shield from atmospheric oxygen, (instead of the conversion too an inert gas, the shield from a solid chemical coating off-gassing while burnt) Superior, the best for the average builder’s shop and factory. This type creates probably 80% of everything made through welding. Different bottled gases can be selected to work with different metals. IE CO2 for ferrous, CO2/argon mix for steel alloys or pure Argon for Aluminum as example. HOWEVER it still is not the berries for really fine work. It can do a decent job with aluminum, especially if the welded material is not too thin (at least 1/16″ thick).
4) And then there is TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas). It’s great for fine work but bad for big jobs. The joints of a most PPG frames are TIG welded. It’s used for places where an ultra smooth, relatively fine, job is to be presented and observed. TIG is also considered the strongest of welds; probably why it’s also used for guns.
To find a good welder, check around the local farmer types that have a sign out front, you will quickly get steered to some good old boy that is set up to do TIG welding. I doubt it will cost too much they charge by the inch and how many inches could you have on a paramotor?
Brian shares this in the hopes that it may help in our continued quest for knowing what’s available. He laments: “I wish more people would do the same for me, I spent years accumulating data on welding a bit at a time, I bought someone else’s stick welder once, still have it its a door stop.”