As an apprentice welder looking to get into the metal fabrication trade, it is essential to learn how to weld stainless steel properly. However, trainee welders often think that attaining the perfect weld on stainless steel is something they can learn in a few lessons. If that is your thinking, then you are in for a rude shock. For the most part, stainless steel is not the easiest of metals to work with when welding. That said, your goal should be the attainment of a clean weld because too much heat takes away the stainless properties of steel and exposes the metal to rust. This article highlights apprentice tips for welding stainless steel properly.
Start with Low Heat -- When working with stainless steel, you will mostly be using thin panels of metal sheets. Therefore, you must be extra careful because stainless steel metal sheets are prone to warping during welding, which can affect your project negatively. It is recommended that you start with cool settings and increase heat levels as you go along, depending on your specific temperature requirements. If you are not sure about your ability to regulate the amount of heat, you can tack weld the stainless steel sheets and then fill the gaps later. Tack welding reduces the chances of metal warping due to excess heat.
Maintain Fast Travel Speeds -- Irrespective of the amount of heat you set on a welding machine, slower travels speeds work against stainless steel metal sheets since they allow the buildup of heat. When heat increases, the welded part will not attach as required, since temperature buildup will melt welding beads. Also, moving a welding torch at a slow pace will leave you with unsightly distortions on welded joints. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a fast but constant speed along a joint during welding.
Weld in the Right Direction -- When working with square joints, it is vital to understand the direction of orientation of the joint. Notably, since stainless steel expands when heated and shrinks when cooled, welding in the wrong direction will compromise the squareness of a joint. For example, starting your welds from the outside corners will cause a square joint to shrink in the direction of the weld; consequently, it will affect the squareness of the joint once you are done. The best approach is to start the welding process from the inside corners toward the outside so that as the joint shrinks, the square shape is maintained.