How to weld stainless steel will have a lot to do with the thickness of the metal and its finish, not to mention the use of the finished product. There are several welding methods to choose from, however, the three most commonly used processes for this particular material include MIG, resistance, and TIG. Because it’s so strong, stainless steel is a great material for the beginner to practice on, and it’s definitely much more forgiving than other metals, such as aluminum. For the beginner, learning how to weld different types of metals will always present new challenges. However, stainless steel is said to be much more forgiving than thinner metals.
How to weld stainless steel will depend on the process you use, the thinness of the metal, and the intended use. One thing is for sure when you weld stainless steel it’s important that you begin with a low heat setting in order to avoid warping the metal. Because stainless steel is so durable, it’s a great choice for beginners who need to practice different welding techniques. It’s also easier to weld and a more affordable option than other types of metals.
Read on to learn about the different welding processes you can choose from and check out important stainless steel welding tips that will ensure you achieve a solid weld.
What is the Most Commonly Used Process for Stainless Steel?
TIG is often the welding process of choice for stainless steel since it can provide a tougher weld. This process creates a lower heat input, so it’s also a good choice when you’re working with thinner material. When you TIG weld, you’ll use argon gas mixed with other gasses. However, this can be dependent on a specific project. Gas options include nitrogen, hydrogen, and helium. In order to increase the resistance to corrosion and to prevent oxidation, a single-sided process should be used to create inert gas protection between the exterior and interior welds.
MIG Welding Stainless Steel
MIG is another popular option for welding stainless steel because it allows the user to utilize a pulsed current supply. This makes it much easier to weld complex stainless steel projects or hard to reach spots. Gas mixtures used include carbon dioxide, oxygen, and helium. These gases will help to improve the weld quality and stabilize the arc.
The Best Process for the Job
Choosing the appropriate welding process for your stainless steel project will depend on the qualities you’re looking for. Spot welding may be a better option if you’re looking for a more affordable welding process. However, if you’re working with really thin stainless steel then TIG welding might be the best choice. But for beginners, this process can be quite challenging. MIG is often the go-to process for the beginner, however, if you want the best quality welds, we recommend practicing TIG welding techniques.
Stainless Steel Welding Tips
When you’re welding stainless steel, there are some things you can do to make the job easier.
- First of all, make sure you have thoroughly cleaned the steel before you begin welding. Because of its high chromium content, stainless steel should always be cleaned. A wire brush is a perfect tool for the task. Cleaning the steel will remove dirt, paint, oils, grease, and chromium buildup. You must ensure that the steel is completely free of any dirt and debris in order to weld it properly.
- When welding stainless steel, always use low heat. Stainless steel usually comes in very thin sheets. If you turn up the heat too high, then you’ll risk warping it. Begin with cool settings and gradually add heat if you need better penetration or a stronger weld. A sheet of stainless steel needs to be tack welded. The steel should be tack welded in several different places and then filled in later. Doing so helps to minimize the chances of warping, allowing you to easily ensure that the welds are aligned properly. You can also weld in shorter bursts in order to avoid warping. These short bursts should be done in short three to five second periods. Between bursts, you will need to allow the steel to cool off before welding again.
- On stainless steel, if you use a stick welder, only use stainless rods. If you’re planning on using regular MIG rods or wire, then you must remember that any portions that are welded will end up rusting. To help prevent corrosion you can add clear paint or primer.
What is the Most Beginner-Friendly Welding Process?
With the best MIG welder and the right pattern, you can easily achieve a pro-quality, smooth looking weld that’s solid. If you’re shopping for an affordable model, we recommend the Hobart Handler 210 MVP MIG Welder, which features intuitive controls, a solid construction, and a versatile design, which makes it perfect for welders of all skill levels.
How Can I Get Started as a Welder?
These days, there’s no shortage of welding programs available at any local technical school. Many employers will require a variety of certifications for different welding processes, so it’s often a better idea to learn in a structured program and ensure you’re getting a solid education. However, apprenticing under a pro welder with years of experience can also be an option and a more affordable one at that. Learning how to become a welder can be a real challenge in the beginning, but once you get the hang of the most commonly used welding processes such as MIG and TIG, you should have no problem taking care of small and large welding jobs around the home, or qualifying for an entry-level welding position.
How to weld stainless steel is a much easier task than some may initially think. Of course, temperature control can be a challenge for the beginner, but with patience and a gradual increase in heat, you can easily practice even complicated welds using either MIG or TIG welding processes for a smoother, tougher weld that will last year after year.