What’s The Best Way to Weld Copper?

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Does your production or fabrication industry involve the joining of copper parts or materials? This post explores the best way to weld copper. It also highlights some of the challenges of welding copper and how to address them for a perfect weld joint. 

Why Copper Welding?

Unlike copper soldering or brazing, copper welding results in a stronger joint because of the high heating temperature that causes the metals to melt to form a stronger load-bearing joint.

The copper welding process is used to connect heat exchangers and condensers, as well as wiring harnesses and terminals.

Copper Welding Challenges and Steps You Must Take

High Thermal conductivity

Copper is a good conductor of heat. Therefore, during the welding process, the heat that you require for effective welding is dissipated to other parts of the copper material or attached metal parts. Compared to steel, it dissipates heat 5 times more.

Therefore, you will need to set your welding equipment to a higher temperature to compensate for the heat loss through conduction. So, this means your power source will require adequate amperage. 

Further, due to heat dissipation, you also need to take much longer in your welding process

Oxidation of Copper

When copper is exposed to air or oxygen during the welding process, it gets oxidized. This reaction will adversely affect the integrity of your welded joints. Instances of your copper joints developing cracks or leaking are likely to be common. 

To counter this challenge, use a suitable shielding gas to prevent oxidation.

Contamination Challenges

If the copper material you want to weld is contaminated by oil, paint, or other metal oxides, your formed weld will not be of quality. Your weld may develop cracks or become porous. To avoid contamination, brush the surface you need to weld with a bronze wire brush. You then need to clean the surface with a suitable cleaning agent.

When welding, have a suitable bronze or brass brush to clean off the oxides formed on your copper material.

It is also important that your welding station is dedicated to welding copper only to avoid the risk of contamination by other metal oxides.

Best Way to Weld Copper: Welding Techniques.

The best way to weld copper is to start by wearing the best safety gear consisting of a pair of welding gloves, a respirator, a welding helmet, and safety glasses. 

Remember that before you begin welding, your copper surface is to be clean, and all flammable cleaning agents if any, should be kept away from your welding table.

Here are some of the best ways to weld copper:

Best Way to Weld Copper With Tungsten Inert Gas(TIG) 

best way to weld copper

TIG or GTAW  is one of the best ways to weld copper but it requires a special skill or practice to fully master. It uses an electric arc that helps to melt and join your copper.  With TIG, you can weld copper materials of up to 12 mm in thickness and above. 

TIG Welding Tips

You must set up your TIG machine to suit your welding requirements. Always adhere to the guidelines needed for different welding situations.  

Because there are different types of copper, choosing the welding wire that suits your type of copper is necessary.

For instance, in standard copper welding, you can use silicon bronze. However, for a weld with excellent conductivity, use a deoxidized copper wire instead.

During welding, a stream of argon and hilum helps to shield your molten copper from reacting with oxygen.

The thickness of your welding material will determine the ratio of argon or helium you need. If your copper parts are up to 3mm in thickness, use only argon gas as a shield. 

However, when welding thicker copper parts, you need a mixture of argon and helium gas for deep heating.

Best Way to Weld Copper With MIG Technology

best way to weld copper

Another common and best way to weld copper is using Metal Inert Gas (MIG) or Gas Metal Arc Welding(GMAW).

The MIG welding is achieved by using a suitable electrode wire and is a perfect choice for thick copper material or copper alloys. 

Compared to TIG, the MIG technique is easier to master and suitable if your project requires high-speed welding. It also provides you with better control of the welding rod. 

MIG Welding Tips

Before the welding process, you need to set the machine by adjusting the argon helium mixture based on the thickness of your copper parts.

Your welding rod must also suit your type of copper material and its thickness.

Copper Stick Welding

If the parts you need to weld do not allow for the use of TIG or MIG welding, and do not require high welding quality, Stick Welding or Shielded Metal Arc welding (SMAW) can be your best way to weld copper parts.  

This is a manual process where you use a consumable electrode with flux for your copper welding task.

best way to weld copper

SMAW Welding Tips

Because this technique produces a lot of heat, only consider it if you have thick copper parts.

Again, with this welding method, your copper joint will not be high-quality. The weld joint may get porous or develop cracks. 

Best Way to Weld Copper With Ultrasonic Metal Welder

best way to weld copper

Ultrasonic welding or the use of an Ultrasonic Welder is another best way to weld copper. The technique uses ultrasonic vibrations which cause enough heat to weld your copper materials. 

Ultrasonic welding is environmentally friendly,  fast, versatile, and produces a highly strong and reliable weld without compromising the conductivity of your copper material. 

The technique also allows you to measure several parameters of your copper weld. Therefore, it is ideal for sensitive copper parts and allows for the detection of welding errors. 

Apart from using an ultrasonic welder as the best welding process for automotive wiring harnesses, it is also a cost-effective solution for sealing copper tubes as well as for battery pack welding among other areas.

best way to weld copper

Ultrasonic Welding Tips

Since ultrasonic welding is an extremely delicate welding technology, you need to pay more attention to the cleaning of the surface of the copper material before welding.

Use an ultrasonic generator (horn) and anvil designed specifically for copper welding. The tool should have a knurled surface to hold the copper parts in place during soldering.

Make sure the clamps provide adequate support and alignment for the copper parts to prevent material misalignment.

Comparison of the Best Way to Weld Copper

Welding MethodApplicationAdvantagesDisadvantagesTypical Use Cases
TIG (GTAW)Precision welding of thin copper sheets and small components– High-quality, clean welds- Precise control- Suitable for critical joints– Requires high skill level- Slower process- Sensitive to contamination– Electrical components- Plumbing- Artistic metalwork 
MIG (GMAW)Welding thicker copper pieces and high-speed applications– Faster welding speed- Easier to learn- Suitable for thicker materials– Less precise than TIG- Requires shielding gas- Potential for oxidation– Automotive repairs- Structural applications- Interior design elements
Stick (SMAW)General-purpose welding, especially in outdoor or less controlled environments– Versatile- Can weld in various positions- Less sensitive to surface conditions– Lower weld quality- More spatter- Requires frequent electrode changes– Equipment repairs- Construction- Non-critical applications 
Ultrasonic WeldingJoining copper and aluminum, especially in high-precision and high-efficiency applications– High energy efficiency- Strong, clean welds- Minimal heat input– Limited to specific applications- Requires specialized equipment- Not suitable for all metal thicknesses– Automotive wire harnesses- EV battery assembly- Electronics 

Conclusion

While ultrasonic welder has a higher initial cost compared to other copper welding methods, it is no doubt the fastest, most reliable, and environmentally friendly option. 

Because ultrasonic welding does not affect the thermal conductivity of your copper material, it offers the best weld for sensitive copper parts in different industries. More information on the benefits of ultrasonic welding is here.

Finally, only invest in reliable copper welding equipment from a manufacturer you can depend on for support when you need it the most. For the best ultrasonic welding solutions and much more, feel free to contact us.

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