What color tungsten for aluminum welding is one of the most common questions I’m asked. I get it, there’s a lot to learn.
The color of the tungsten indicates the specific mixture of elements used in its composition and can have a significant impact on the quality of your welds and the lifespan of the tungsten.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the different colors of tungsten and which one is best for aluminum projects.
Blue Tungsten For Aluminum Welding
Blue tungsten has 2% lanthanum oxide (La2O3) added to the tungsten. It has very similar qualities the gold tungsten but the extra added lanthanum oxide increases its positive arc starting abilities and stability.
I personally recommend this tungsten for welding aluminum as well as all DC welding applications.
Blue tungsten can form a ball that is stable when welding aluminum at higher AC balance levels compared to the other color tungsten mentioned in this article. Below is a video of me using a blue tungsten to weld aluminum cans together.
- Lanthanated Tungstens are commonly used for welding applications that require AC, such as aluminum welding.
- They offer excellent arc stability and a longer lifespan than pure tungsten electrodes.
- These electrodes create a sharp, focused arc that can penetrate the oxide layer on aluminum, resulting in high-quality welds with minimal contamination.
- Blue Tungsten electrodes are versatile and can handle a wide range of welding currents, making them suitable for both low-current and high-current aluminum welding applications.
- Lanthanated Tungsten electrodes can have a tendency to crack in welding applications.
- These electrodes are typically more expensive than other types of tungsten electrodes, which can be a downside
Purple Tungsten For Aluminum Welding
Purple tungsten or Rare-earth tungsten electrodes contains varying mixtures of oxides, which can differ depending on the brand or source. The hybrid mix gives them all the heat-carrying capabilities of the red tungsten while having the benefit of the excellent properties of the blue 2% Lanthanated tungsten.
Tungsten electrodes can be alloyed with zirconium (0.08%), lanthanum (1.5%), and yttrium (0.08%) and are highly effective when used for AC welding of aluminum.
Pros Of Welding Aluminum With Purple Tungstens
- Consistent arc starts
- A very stable arc, balls well or maintains a finer point in AC
- Minimal burn rate, with less re-grinding needed than usual
- reduced spitting when welding aluminum
- Can handle high amperage for tungsten size compared to other colors
Cons Of Purple Tungsten For TIG Welding Aluminum
- Not all Purple Tungstens have the same ratio of ingredients
- Not well-known in heavy industry welding procedures are limited
Green Pure Tungsten
Pure Tungsten (Green) electrodes have been a popular choice for AC welding aluminum with a sine wave welder. They are known for their superior arc stability and clean balled tips, making them ideal for welding aluminum.
But the welding industry has made inverter-type AC/DC TIG welders a lot more affordable. This opens up a lot more versatile colored tungsten for welding aluminum
White Zirconiated Tungsten for Welding Aluminum
I might be dating myself here but these were the new thing on the market when I was attending welding college over 20 years ago.
Zirconiated Tungsten Electrodes are made from tungsten and zirconium oxide (ZrO2). They have a white color code, which indicates a zirconium oxide content of 1.5% to 2.2%. This composition makes them highly stable and resistant to tungsten spitting, which is a common problem with green electrodes.
Stability and Resistance to Tungsten Spitting
Zirconiated Tungsten Electrodes are known for their high stability and resistance to tungsten spitting, which occurs due to the buildup of tungsten contamination.
This contamination can cause the vaporized metal to collect in the air, which can condense on the electrode and contaminate it. Zirconiated tungsten resists this contamination This contamination can lead to weld defects and reduced weld quality.
Zirconiated Tungsten Electrodes minimize weld contamination, generate less spit, and provide better performance for higher amperage welding than Green (pure tungsten)
- White Zirconiated Tungsten Electrodes are ideal for AC welding aluminum alloys.
- Resistant to tungsten spitting, which leads to reduced weld quality.
- Zirconiated Tungsten Electrodes have lower current-carrying capability to other tungsten electrodes.
- Zirconiated Tungsten Electrodes are not recommended for DC welding.
- When compared to other commonly used tungsten electrode types, excluding pure tungsten, its current capacity is lower.
- The tungsten electrode has a notably short useful working lifespan.
- Achieving and sustaining an arc with zirconiated tungsten can be challenging.
Gold Tungsten for Aluminum Welding
1.5% Lanthanated electrodes, which are tungsten electrode identified by its gold color code. These electrodes are commonly used in welding applications that require AC, such as aluminum welding.
One of the most significant advantages of Lanthanated Tungsten electrodes is their stable arc and longer lifespan compared to pure tungsten electrodes. They create a sharp, focused arc that effectively penetrates the oxide layer on aluminum, resulting in a high-quality weld with minimal contamination. I find this feature particularly useful when working on projects that require precise and accurate welds.
Another advantage of Lanthanated Tungsten electrodes is their ability to handle a wide range of welding currents, making them suitable for use in both low-current and high-current welding applications. This versatility makes them a go-to choice for aluminum welding.
However, there are some disadvantages to using Lanthanated Tungsten electrodes. They have a tendency to crack in welding applications or when shortening them. Leading to reduced weld quality and increased downtime for tungsten sharpening or replacement. Additionally, they are typically more expensive than other types of tungsten electrodes, which can be a downside for those on a budget.
- Lanthanated tungsten is a tungsten electrode alloyed with lanthanum oxide and identified by its gold color code.
- Welding applications that require AC, such as aluminum welding.
- Advantages of lanthanated tungsten electrodes include stable arc and a longer lifespan than pure tungsten electrodes.
- Lanthanated tungstens create a sharp, focused arc that effectively penetrates the oxide layer on aluminum, resulting in a high-quality weld with minimal contamination.
- Lanthanated tungsten electrodes can handle a wide range of welding currents, making them suitable for use in both low-current and high-current welding applications.
- Disadvantages of lanthanated tungsten electrodes include their tendency to crack in welding applications and their higher cost compared to other types of tungsten electrodes.
- Not as versatile as blue tungstens
Characteristics of Pure Tungsten (Green) Electrodes
Pure Tungsten (Green) electrodes have a green color code to indicate their purity level of 99.5% plus. They are highly affordable, making them an excellent choice for those on a budget. These electrodes have a higher consumption rate than alloyed electrodes, meaning they wear down faster. However, they provide excellent weld quality, making them worth the higher consumption rate.
Pros Of Green Tungsten For Welding Aluminum
- Pure Tungsten (Green) electrodes have superior arc stability and clean balled tips, making them ideal for welding aluminum.
- They have a purity level of 99.5% plus, indicating a high level of purity.
- They are highly affordable, making them an excellent choice for those on a budget.
- They provide excellent weld quality, making them worth the higher consumption rate.
Cons Of Green Tungsten For Welding Aluminum
- Pure Tungsten (Green) electrodes have a higher consumption rate than alloyed electrodes, meaning they wear down faster.
- They are not recommended for DC welding due to poor arc starts.
- The welding industry has made inverter-type AC/DC TIG welders more affordable, which opens up more versatile colored tungsten for welding aluminum.
What Color Tungsten Is Best For Aluminum Summary
Well, We have covered a lot. I have laid out all the pros and cons of each of the top 5 electrode choices.
Each of the above tungstens do come in a variety of sizes and can handle the AC frequency of the modern inverter TIG welders like the YesWelder 250P.
My two pics are the blue 2% Lanthanated and the purple rare-earth tungsten. Not only for the aluminum capability but they are a multi-use electrode.