Stainless steel is without a doubt one of the best materials in terms of durability and strength. You can make great tools and accessories using stainless steel. When you have the opportunity to weld stainless steel, the possibilities can go endless. Just take the welder and start fusing the metal with a filler rod.
However, it’s not that easy to do.
Here, we will tell you
- Why welding stainless steel is difficult to weld and the problems associated with it.
- How you can overcome the problems & How you can weld stainless steel
- 3 common defects in welding stainless steel and how to fix them
- Tig, Mig, Stick & Flux core weld, which one is good for stainless steel
Now, without wasting further time, let’s get going.
Is It hard To Weld Stainless Steel?
The straightforward answer to this is yes. Welding stainless steel is extremely difficult compared to welding other metals. This leads to several issues where you may fail to fix something made of stainless steel simply through welding.
So, what makes it difficult? Let’s find that out.
What is the main problem caused by stainless steel welding, and why is it difficult to weld?
When you opt for welding on stainless steel, there are several issues that you will face.
- The first one is the stainless steel may distort while you are heating it in the welding process. Also, stainless steel can distort afterward in the cooling process of welding.
- Aside from that, you can end up with pretty ugly welds and weld marks on your stainless steel. This will make your build look unattractive.
- Adding to that problem comes the high melting point of stainless steel. When you heat the metal, it takes a lot of heat to reach the melting point. This becomes an issue with the other metals you are trying to join as the heat can completely melt the other metal. Sometimes it becomes impossible to weld with such metal.
Now, the question is, why is it so difficult to weld?
- The reason is simple; it’s because stainless steel can retain heat proficiently. And welding is all about getting high heat to join different pieces of metals. So, as a whole, you can hardly blend these two.
- Another reason is that you can’t make up any welding stainless steel when it comes to welding mistakes. With other metals, your welding mistakes may get hidden, but you will end up having all your welding mistakes exposed with stainless steel. This is why only expert welders can weld stainless steel effortlessly, and for a novice, it isn’t easy to pull that off.
MIG, TIG, Stick or Flux Core Which Procedure Is Suitable For Stainless Steel Welding
While it’s difficult, it’s still possible to weld stainless steel, right? So, which welding process works the best for stainless steel?
Well, that decision depends on several factors. The first one has to be what results you are looking for in stainless-steel welding because different methods will yield different results and quality.
- TIG Welding
If you are going with TIG welding, then you will end up with the highest quality weld. It’s versatile, and the welds you get are durable. This welding process incorporates low heat, making it an excellent choice for thin sheets of stainless steel. There are a number of tig welder for stainless steel that ensure a better welding experience.
However, one drawback is that you will need to be an expert to do TIG welding, as it’s a complicated process of welding for beginners in the first place. Also, the process is slow and is quite expensive compared to the other methods.
- MIG Welding
On the other hand, you can also try MIG welding on stainless steel. You get quick results without having too much expertise in the welding process. It’s also quite cost-effective. And the gears you use on this one are portable, so the job gets much easier for you.
But there are lots of sacrifices you will have to make here. The first one is the appearance, which will not be as good as TIG welding. Also, the weld quality is only decent with MIG welding compared to TIG welding.
- Flux Core Welding
Flux core welding is an excellent option if you want to avoid gas for your welding. You only need stainless flux core wire to weld stainless steel and a welder suitable for steel. Also, it works out great when you have to weld outside in windy conditions. It’s a comparatively easier method of welding which is excellent if you are a beginner.
However, something to be aware of is that you can’t get very clean or strong welds using this method. It’s good for repair work and hobbyists.
- Stick Welding
For beginners, stick welding is the one of the best ways to go for stainless steel welding. It’s a low-cost method and doesn’t require too much equipment to get the job done. All you have to do for a successful stick weld is get the welder and rod for your purposes, 304 stainless steel welding rod will do a great job in this case.
Between these two welding methods, TIG will give you better results, while MIG is a cost-effective solution. Stick welding also works for stainless steel and yields pretty similar results to MIG welding. So, it’s up to you what you want.
How to Weld Stainless Steel Overcoming Those Problems (Methods of Welding Stainless Steel)
Now, let’s know how you can weld stainless steel using the methods discussed above. We won’t dive too deep because the basic process stays the same for all the methods. We will just give you a little introduction to the different methods. So, let’s begin.
MIG welding Stainless Steel
If you plan to do MIG welding on stainless steel, then you have to do the following.
- Firstly, you have to set up your welder correctly like you always do.
- Then, try fitting a Teflon wire liner for feeding the wire better than usual. It also helps to prevent contamination on the wire.
- For stainless steel, we suggest getting a larger torch size so that you get higher amperages.
- You should always use wire brushes or grinding discs made of stainless steel when welding stainless steel.
- To get the best gas for stainless steel mig welding, you should contact your gas supplier, and they can recommend you the ideal gas.
TIG welding Stainless Steel
Follow the below steps when you are going for TIG welding stainless steel-
- Make sure to choose a DC TIG welder and keep track of sufficient power. You will need to have a welder that is capable of welding on stainless steel.
- You have to get a torch or set up your torch, particularly for stainless steel. Make sure it has reached the proper duty cycle that is enough for welding on stainless steel. Don’t try to compromise on the torch.
- Always choose the correct rod for the type of stainless steel you are welding on. There are typically three grades of stainless steel that you will come across. It’s either 316, 308, or 312; make sure the rod matches the grade.
- TIG welding is all about precision and control, so you will have to put in proper time and be patient with the process.
Common Stainless Weld Defects & How To Fix Them
Here are some common stainless steel weld defects you may come across, and you can also fix them.
Hot cracking is when the stainless steel goes at the top of the temperature and starts to cool down; it may have some cracks on the weld. Over time these cracks will grow, and the whole thing can fall apart.
To get rid of hot cracking, you will have to use the proper filler material while welding. You have to preheat your joints and also avoid lower currents. Make sure to have the correct settings on your welder as well.
Porosity is a weld defect where bubbles are trapped inside the weld. This is something you will surely want to avoid in your welds.
To fix that, you have to clean your base metal in preparation properly. Also, please keep track of the joint and make sure it’s dry. Use the proper rod and settings on your welder.
A prevalent issue with stainless steel welding is deformation. Since stainless steel retains heat quite well, it’s always likely to deform after a welding session.
Avoiding this problem is quite easy. All you have to do is weld the metal from both sides to keep the metal away from deformation.
In short, now you know why welding stainless steel is difficult. For beginners, it’s not the best bet to start their welding journey. Only opt for welding stainless steel if you have experience in welding other metals.
As for the method, TIG welding gives you the best results in terms of appearance and weld quality.