Some aluminum wire machines will work better if the base metal is preheated. There are better machines that don't need the base metal preheated. Many years aboard ship we had a Westinghouse power unit that powered a spool gun. The super structure was all aluminum. We could take that spool gun and weld 1/4 inch material to the bulkhead without preheating anything, the welds washed in nice. The bulkheads could have been 3/8" aluminum not sure. Some of the machines I have seen today don't work like that old Westinghouse. Most of our work was Tig. On occasion we would take a Trail blazer miller with a push/pull wire attachment out in the building to weld a piece that was too big or took too much time to take down and bring into the shop. That was welded without preheating.
What I have found when Tig butt welding aluminum, even 1/8" if the aluminum is not hot enough and you are not adding filler rod a crack will start behind the weld. On fillet welds that was not a problem, you add filler rod as you go, or I do.
I have never seen anyone start an arc with a tig machine on aluminum and immediately start applying filler rod, it is always preheated some. It welds better when the aluminum is hot.
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