Stainless steel is a very popular material used for its anti-corrosive properties, durability, and beautiful finish. Its qualities make it perfect for food preparation utensils and appliances, medical equipment and devices, means of transporting substances that would corrode other types of materials, and so on.
If you have a project that involves welding stainless steel, read on and do your research in order to obtain the best result for your task.
What Is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel has the main advantage of not becoming rusty that easily, which is attributed to its chromium content (in between 10% and 30%). This iron-based alloy performs excellently at a wide range of temperatures, both hot and cold, which makes it so good for piping, medical devices, and instruments, lighting products, and at a large scale in buildings and other structures.
Amongst the other great qualities of stainless steel, we would like to mention that it’s easy to form and fabricate and it can be recycled, making it a sustainable material for wide uses.
Tips for Welding Stainless Steel
Stainless steel might not be the easiest metal to weld because of its tendency to warp and the fact that you have to use a lower heat setting than you would with other metals.
- Expectations. For an inexperienced welder, working with stainless steel might be frustrating at times, since it shows any little mistakes you make, affecting the end result. Also, as mentioned, it tends to warp when subjected to high heat, especially if it comes in thin sheets. It might also warp when cooling down.
- Avoid Warping. To avoid the warping of the stainless steel, you can put a piece of copper behind the seam as you weld. This will cool down the area and prevent the weld from burning through on the other side. You can also take your time and weld in short segments, allowing the metal to cool off before moving to the next segment.
- Prepare. Preparing the area and the stainless steel for the welding process also plays a big part in the success of your task, as certain precautions need to be taken first. You need to remember that stainless steel will rust if it’s exposed to particles as fine as dust from carbon steel, so make sure your materials, tools, and working area are completely clean before you start welding.
Types of Welding for Stainless Steel
In order to choose the best method to weld stainless steel, there are several factors to consider: the experience of the welder, the thickness of the stainless steel you are working with, how esthetically pleasing the end result must be, and what your budget and timeframe are.
- Shielded metal arc welding (MIG): Efficient in terms of both time and cost, MIG welding works with stainless steel as long as the final result doesn’t have to look absolutely flawless.
- Gas tungsten arc welding (TIG): This method is better for projects that require a lot of precision, such as ones involving smaller or intricate pieces, or those that will show the welding as part of the esthetic final result. TIG welding is slower and requires more experience, so don’t start before you test your skills first or before you are confident in your welding.
- Stick welding: When choosing your welding rod or wire, make sure you select the same grade material or higher. Use stainless steel rods or, if you need to use another type of material, keep in mind that the weld can rust and protect it with primer or paint.
As you can see, you have several options to choose from, and the three common methods above should already be familiar to you. Go with TIG if you are working with thin sheets. If you are focusing on keeping the costs low, then you should go with spot welding. If you need advice on what would work best for you, ask an expert.
Do You Need Welding Supplies, Training, or Equipment?
There is quite a learning curve to welding stainless steel. As sturdy and flexible as this material is, welding can turn into a nuisance if you are not careful enough.
For all your welding needs, the Vern Lewis Welding Supply team is at your service, providing high-quality welding supplies, classes, and support. If you have a project that involves welding stainless steel, don’t hesitate to contact us and ask for guidance, materials, and tools, as we have the expertise needed for the best result.