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Preweld cleaning requires two operations: oil/grease removal and oxide removal. As below, remove oils and greases first, then remove the oxide. Don’t reverse this order.
Take the following steps before welding aluminum:
- Remove oil, grease, and water vapor using an organic solvent such as acetone or a mild alkaline solution like a strong soap. You may also use citrus-based degreasers, but be sure to rinse and dry the part before welding.
- Remove surface oxides with a stainless steel wire brush (used only for aluminum) or strong alkaline or acid. Many welding suppliers sell oxide-removal solutions in spray or squeeze bottles for local application. Exercise extreme care when handling these solutions, and again, rinse and dry the part before welding.
- Assemble the joint. If it won't be welded immediately, cover the joint with brown Kraft paper to prevent dirt and grit in the air from getting into the joint.
- Keep the aluminum dry and at room temperature.
- Weld within a few days. Clean the joint again if it isn't welded within that time.
Published with permission from Practical Welding Today Magazine, Sept/Oct 2004 Edition
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