Put the Pedal to the New Metal
In late 2014, the Ford Motor Company announced that they would be switching to an aluminum frame in some of their models, including the formidable F-150 pickup truck. Since Aluminum is so highly recyclable the automotive giant is hoping to minimize energy use and waste with the switch. The Ford F150 has been Canada’s bestselling truck, by far, for the past 48 consecutive years and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
With the switch comes new expectations in the auto body industry. Most automotive shops aren’t outfitted with the correct tools for servicing and repairing aluminum body vehicles, and since the new F-150 uses 855 pounds of aluminum sheeting for each truck, they need to get on board fast!
The Assured Performance Network, a third party administrator for the Ford Body Shop program that sets the requirements needed by the equipment in order to be certified, has laid out their requirements when it comes to auto body work on the new F150. These specifications are: A minimum 220V power source with Pulsed MIG capabilities, dedicated to aluminum welding and uses .047” (1.22mm) 5554 series aluminum alloy wire.
Most automotive shops aren’t outfitted with the correct tools for servicing and repairing aluminum body vehicles, and since the new F-150 uses 855 pounds of aluminum sheeting for each truck, they need to get on board fast!
So why pulse welding? Aluminum as a metal can lack fusion and penetration when welding. Pulse welding is simply a spray transfer of tiny molten droplets across the arc from the electrode to the base metal, but unlike spray transfer the stream is not continuous. The power source rapidly pulses the output between high peak currents, allowing to break through the surface of the material, while the low background current maintains the arc and allows the puddle to cool for greater fusion.
Pulse welding also allows the use of larger diameter wire on a thinner gauge material. With higher deposition and travel speeds it allows less heat into the material with larger wire. The larger diameter wire also gives us better feedability, allowing the possible use of a push gun with decent results as a less expensive option.
The Millermatic 350P autobody package from Miller is the first single or three phase Millermatic that welds material from 22 gauge to ½” thick in a single pass. Not only is the package qualified for the Assured Performance requirements, but it’s easy set up and use solve your aluminum welding challenges all in one package.
200Amp or larger Millermatic 350P power source
Bernard Q200 12’ (307m) MIG gun with extra Centerfire contact tips. This gun is a shorter version with a plastic liner and has less of an angle to it as to make pushing the aluminum a little easier.
Hobart Maxal MIG 5554 aluminum wire, specifically called out for the F150
.047 in (0.9/1.2 mm) U-Groove drive rolls, a key component in pushing aluminum to assure the wire remains round to avoid feeding issues in both the liner and the contact tip.
10 (3m) work cable with clamp
10’ (3m) Industrial power cord (without plug) for single or three phase
Factory installed gas solenoid
Argon mix regulator/flow meter
Factory-installed, low mounted running gear/cylinder rack