How to setup for aluminum on the Thermal Arc 185tsw

I know that there is probably every bit of information that I am looking for somewhere within all the posts but I am trying to get an initial setup that is tried and true with the Thermal Arc 185TSW machine on aluminum!

I have not ever TIG welded before! So I have no idea where to set all the settings for 1/8" aluminum flat stock. I just want to practice running some beads on a complete proven setup for the TA 185TSW.

Pulse (Yes or No)

AC - I am sure this is Yes

Pre Flow = Hot Start= Initial Current= Up Slope= Peak Current= Base= Pulse Width= Pulse Freq.= Crater Current= AC Freq= Wave Balance= Stick, HF, Lift= Probably HF Std, Slope, Repeat, Spot= Spot Time=

Tungston Type= Filler Type= Filler Size=

Argon Flow (CFH)=

Anything else that might make my day easier=

To any that respond, yes I have talked to Ernie and he has given me great advise, I just want someone that has a complete setup for this situation with this specific machine. So thank you all and whoever responds...thank you in advance.

Dan Tucker New Owner of Thermal Arc 185TSW Sisters, Oregon

Reply to
Dan Tucker
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Start just using the foot pedal to control amperage. Don't worry about pulsing or using the slope function. These will become useful as you get better at it, but will introduce too many variables right now.


Yes AC.

1-2 seconds

Skip the next paramneters.

Try 60 Hz although this can be varied to change how the puddle behaves.

Try 50% but this also can be varied depending on how clean or thin the aluminum is

You want HF mode.

You want Std.

3/32" or 1/8" lanthanated. pure tungsten or zirconated if you can't find lanthanated

depends on your base metal aluminum alloy common fillers are 4043 and 5356 4043 works fine on 6063 aluminum


15-20 cfh

Amperage = 125 - 140 Amps Post Flow = 10 seconds

Lots of practice

Check this link out (all one one line of course):

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I'm sure you'll get more advice, but this will get you started.

By the way, most of this is in the manual on page 36. If you don't have one, you can find it on the TA site as a .PDF download.

Have fun!

Jeff Dantzler

Reply to
Jeff Dantzler

For now: NO


Skip all of the above for now. They are part of the sequencer which CANNOT be accessed with a foot pedal controller. You need a separate hand controller to access the sequencer.

Those are your pulser settings. Skip them for now. Later on you can try them out with these starter settings

Background current 40% - 50% Pulse Width 40% - 50% Pulse Frequency 1 - 1.5 PPS (Pulses Per Second)

100-150 hz


HF Continuous

Zirconiated or Lanthanated ground to a point

4043 or 5356

for 1/16" to 1/8" base metal 1/16" filler for 1/8" to 1/4" base metal 3/32" filler

Standard Collet Body 20-25 cfh Gas Lens Collet Body 10-12 cfh

Take a TIG class at a local community college.

Watch out for that Ernie guy. Real cocky, and a bit arrogant about TIG stuff. I suppose he can be useful, but you knowthose know-it-all types...

Oh wait....that's me. Never mind.

Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

Quoth Ernie:

"Zirconiated or Lanthanated ground to a point"

I've only played with aluminum a couple times (and hope to be picking up this very welder for that capability), but I thought you wanted to ball (please refrain from the obvious) the tip of the tungsten for aluminum?

Reply to

Wow, this seems pretty long, can you explain why this should be this long? I'm brand new to al TIG and have a new 185STW too, and only run my post flow till most of the red glow is gone, like 4-5 seconds max. (just trying to conserve gas I guess since I danced thru my first cylinder in record time, and handed up having to go to bigger cylinders)


Reply to
Mr Wizzard

I think he's right - with a very pointed tip, it balls up real nice in the first coulpla seconds on A/C. I use the Lanthanated tungsten now after reading all about the dangers of 2% Thoriated stuff - seems people should mention some standard disclaimer on the dangers whenever a newbie mentions using thoriated tungsten, and tungsten grinding (and its dust etc.)

Reply to
Mr Wizzard

This number stuck in my head from class and is what I use for mild steel. I think you want to let the tungsten cool a bit past the not-glowing-red stage. Also--keep the torch on the work to shield the weld as it cools.

Higher amperages and DCEP may require even longer post flow times.

The gas lense noticably helps reduce gas consumption. I sucked up and bought a 249 cu ft bottle just because I hate lugging them around more often than I have to.

Jeff Dantzler

Reply to
Jeff Dantzler

Inverters are very different .

With a transformer machine your tungsten will ball up automatically on AC, whether you like it or not. I recommend forming that ball over a block of copper using DCEP, then switch to AC for the welding. This way you will get a more spherical ball.

With an inverter, if you increase the output AC wave frequency, you can weld aluminum with a pointed tungsten.

The Thermal Arc 185TSW maxes out at 150hz on the output AC wave frequency. I think the Miller Dynasty 200DX goes up to 200hz.

The higher the frequency, the easier it is on your tungsten tip.

Also the higher the frequency the narrower your arc is. This is especially good for fillet welds on aluminum.

Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

Via Ernie:

"With an inverter, if you increase the output AC wave frequency, you can weld aluminum with a pointed tungsten."



Me again:

So do you keep a long taper for the point, or is it better to have a shorter taper? Or does it matter at all?

Reply to

Normal taper.

2.5 - 3.0 x the diameter of the tungsten


About the same taper as a pencil point.

Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

I have read some recent Miller inverter TIG info that said to grind small flat at end of tungsten. Is this any better than pointed tip? Why?

Reply to
R. Duncan

The lower the amperage you are welding at , the pointier your tungsten should be.

go to

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and read up about tungsten geometry.

Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

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