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May 2012

How To Weld Copper

 Whilst copper and copper-nickel alloys are highly useful metals that have a range of applications around our homes, they can be a little difficult to weld, especially for someone who is new the process. Most people prefer to use the manual metal arc process (which involves the use of a stick electrode that has been coated with flux), but it is far faster to use the metal inert gas (MIG) method or the tungsten inert gas (TIG) method if you want to create strong welds.

You should begin by removing any trace of elements that could cause cracking in your copper, such as lead, phosphorus and sulfur. These can be found in cutting fluids, grease, oil and paints, so all of these contaminants should be removed from your copper well in advance of welding.

 If you are welding a copper-nickel alloy that is less than 3 millimetres thick, you should use a square butt preparation, but if the metal is thicker than this, you should use a beveled preparation.

When welding copper-nickel alloys, it is important to ensure that the weld metal is stronger than the base metal, as this will also prevent cracking and other welding issues. For example, use a 70-30 copper-nickel filler for alloys that contain at least 70 percent copper.

Once you actually start welding your copper, you should do so hand-down if this is at all possible. This will actually allow for a greater deposition rate and generally requires less skill on the behalf of the welder (making it great for beginners). If you are welding a large copper structure, you should take it apart for welding (if possible) to avoid having to do so in an uncomfortable position.