How To Weld Stainless Steel

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Stainless steel is quite a popular metal and building material that is very well known for its resistance against corrosion and extraordinary durability. If you want to weld this costly and unique metal, you might face a lot of challenges. You must carefully consider these challenges before applying welding on stainless steel. We’ve gathered the best ways available for welding stainless steel.

What is stainless steel metal?

Stainless steel is an allow which is a combination of different metals like iron and chromium. The quantity of chromium in it varies from 11 to 30%. The rustproofing of the stainless steel is also mainly due to the presence of chromium in it. Stainless steel is a strong metal that shows great resistance against liquid, gases, and chemical corrosion. It can easily withstand extreme cold and hot temperatures. That’s why it is highly recommended for the pipe and oil industry. However, it is an expensive metal with 3 to 5 times costly than mild steel. The welding of the stainless will also be very tricky. Let’s have a look at the stainless steel welding methods.

Gas tungsten arc welding or TIG welding

Owing to its longevity, versatility, and extraordinary quality, TIG is the most common method use for stainless steel welding. TIG welding produces low heat input, which is perfect for thin material like stainless steel. The argon gas is mixed with other gases like hydrogen, helium, and nitrogen for welding stainless steel according to requirement. In this case, a single-sided welding process is preferred using inert gas protection between the exterior and interior welds. It prevents the oxidation process and increases the resistance to corrosion formation. Lastly, you must use the best TIG welding helmet before engaging with this process. Because the harmful rays eliminate during welding might be dangerous for your eyes.

Spot or resistance welding

The most economical type of welding is spot welding. The equipment used in this kind of welding is extremely versatile, which is equally good for small or large project. In this type of welding, the electric current is used to heat the metal edges, and after that, these are fused or seal together. It is an ideal welding process for metals having low melting points. In this welding, you can save the metal from distortion.

Gas metal AC welding or MIG welding

It is a semi-automatic process that offers a strong joining of two pieces of stainless steel. In this process, a solid wire electrode and rich argon gas are used. It is quite a popular technique as it freely allows the welder to use a pulsed current supply. This technique is extremely helpful if you have to weld stainless steel in tough to reach spots. Other gases like helium, carbon dioxide, and oxygen are also mixed with stabilizing the arc and improving the overall quality of welding.

 

Different metal rolled products. Stainless steel profiles and tubes. in warehouse background. 3d illustration

Which one is the best method for welding stainless steel?

It all depends upon what kind of welding you would like to make on stainless steel. All the methods are good enough for the general welding of stainless steel. But if you have to do cheap or affordable welding, spot welding is the best option. But if the material is thin and highly sensitive, then TIG welding will be a more suitable option as this kind of welding is known for its delicacies. 

Overall, if you want to find the best method for welding stainless steel, you also need to look at certain factors like the aesthetic of the finally welded piece, the thickness of metal, skill level of welder, cost, and time- taken by the project. If artistry has paramount importance for you, then TIG welding will be the ideal option for you, but MIG welding will be a much better option if you want speed and efficiency.

Tips for the best welding practices

For preventing warping on stainless steel during welding, you need to clamp a piece of copper or brass behind the seam. This will act as a heat sink and prevent any burn during welding. In this way, you can easily weld the entire seam continuously.

Use the separate tool for prepping or cleaning the metal before welding because the stainless steel is highly sensitive to carbon steel. Even a minor contact of stainless steel with carbon steel will let its traces embedded on the steel and eventually rust the metal. Thus, keep the carbon steel in a separate area while welding stainless steel.

Frequently asked questions

Is welding stainless steel difficult?

Stainless steel is the metal that retains heat, and that’s why it would be quite difficult for the Novice welder to handle it efficiently. When you give excess heat to stainless, it might be wrap up at high temperature and distort on lowering down the temperature. In this way, the aesthetic appearance of the metal will also disturb by the blemish and scratch marks left behind on the metal. You also need to take extra care while welding a metal table as it could scratch easily. Overall, you can say that you cannot even afford a single mistake while welding stainless steel. That’s why a professional welder is always preferred for welding stainless steel-like material.

Can you TIG weld stainless steel?

If you want to do clean and well-controlled welding on less forgiving materials like aluminum and stainless steel alloy, TIG welding is the best option you can avail as it is also known for its high precision. It might be a slow welding process, but only experienced or professional welder could handle this kind of welding. By applying this kind of welding, you can achieve a beautiful and distortion-free weld.

Does welded stainless steel rust?

Under normal conditions, the stainless steel is not corroded. It can easily withstand any corrosion. But in extreme circumstances, there might be rusting on the stainless steel. This usually happens when the chromium oxide layer is removed or destroyed. The chromium oxide is the layer that protects the stainless steel from rusting. During welding, the stainless steel has to face extreme hot or cold temperatures. The chromium oxide layer deteriorates under these conditions. 

Rusting could also occur if you weld stainless steel with TIG welding. That’s why it is important to clean and prep the stainless steel before the start of the welding process. If you weld it after proper cleaning, then the rusting problem would not happen, and the chromium oxide layer remains intact. This thing will also keep the stainless steel safe from permanent marks and discoloration.

Conclusion

The welding of stainless has its own benefit and difficulties but if you follow all the sop’s then the results would also be quite worthy for you. By improving your welding skills on stainless steel, you can save your time and money in future welding projects. Most importantly, you can achieve the most effective, beautiful, and professional results.

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