Welding is essentially the process of permanently joining two metals together by applying heat. There are many different techniques, each one differing depending on what metal is being welded.
As a rule, stainless steel has good weldability, as it can be welded using several different processes, including electron and laser beam, arc, friction, brazing and resistance welding. However, just because stainless steel welds well doesn’t mean it’s easy to weld. In fact, it’s one of the more difficult metals to weld, and being able to do so effectively is a sought-after skill in welding circles. Stainless steel isn’t available in flux-cored form, meaning you have to use gas if you’re using a MIG welder or wire feed.
There are some things you can do to make welding stainless steel easier. One of the simplest, but most effective tricks is to thoroughly clean the steel before welding. This removes any chromium build up, as well as any oil, dirt or paint. It’s also always advisable to use a low heat, especially when the stainless steel you’re welding is in thin sheets, to prevent warping. Weld in short bursts of three to four seconds at a time, and then stop to allow the steel to cool down before welding again.
If you’re using a stick welder to weld stainless steel, make sure you only use stainless steel rods. Using regular MIG or flux cored rods or wire will mean the welded portions will rust. To help prevent this, you can use a primer or clear paint over the welded parts.
There are many processes you can use to weld stainless steel, but the most popular of these is gas tungsten arc, or TIG, welding. This is the preferred process as it enables the welder to weld at low current and low heat, making it ideal for thin materials. It also produces a visually appealing finished weld. Pure argon is the most popular gas for TIG welding, although sometimes hydrogen, nitrogen or helium are added for specific jobs.
Steelmor is a leading stockist and manufacturer of stainless steel products in South Africa. We offer a full range of services, and would welcome the opportunity to chat to you about your next project. Contact us today.