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Considerations for Welding Stainless Steel

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Welder With Torch Welding varies in methodology and requirements for each material. For stainless steel, the temperature control and filler material must be modified from the parameters used to weld other metals, such as carbon steel, to ensure a strong and effective weld. 

For more than a century, G.E. Mathis Company has been a reputable name in the metalworking industry. Our extensive selection of metal fabrication services includes specialized stainless steel welding for industries ranging from chemical manufacturing and food service to construction and defense.

Welding Process Overview

Stainless steel welding operates under the same basic welding principles as all metals. Just like other welding techniques, heat and sometimes pressure are applied to the base material at the point where you are joining two or more pieces of metal. Depending on the specific project and process, filler material may be melted along the joint and then allowed to cool.

The resultant material is a hard metal bonded to the surface material of each piece that holds them together in a solid joint. In order to prevent weak joints, the filler material must have a level of strength and hardness equal to the component pieces. The strength provided by the joining material is what ultimately provides a stronger bond when compared to other techniques, such as soldering or brazing.

Stainless Steel Welding Methods

Stainless steel welding typically involves some form of arc welding combined with specialized workholding solutions known as fixtures. Fixture welding uses a specialized tool to hold the stainless steel pieces in place. This ensures straight, clean welded seams without inconsistencies. To facilitate numerous clamp and brace configurations, a fixture table is constructed with numerous holes and openings. 

This allows the welder to weld a wide range of sizes and shapes from numerous angles without worrying about unwanted movement or shifting. Fixture welding is particularly useful for stainless steel, as it allows a high degree of control over the position of the welding equipment and the component parts. 

For the actual welding process, arc welding stainless steel offers the highest level of temperature control, which helps to ensure strong and accurate welds. In addition, a variety of filler materials can be used to improve weld strength when combined with the stainless steel material. The two most common arc welding techniques used with stainless steel include tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding and metal inert gas (MIG) welding. Each method uses a different approach to achieve the desired results. 

Tungsten Inert Gas Welding

Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding is a form of arc welding that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to create an arc of electrical current. The arc is shielded by an inert gas such as helium or argon and used to heat the filler material to weld multiple pieces together. TIG welding is highly valued for use in stainless steel welding because the level of heat can be easily controlled remotely with a foot pedal or fingertip controls. 

Metal Inert Gas Welding

Metal inert gas (MIG) welding uses an electrical current from a consumable or non-consumable electrode. The heat generated by the electrical current is used to melt filler materials to join two or more metal pieces together. This form of arc welding can be automated or performed manually, and the filler material can double as the electrode. 

G.E. Mathis Company Welding Solutions

At G.E. Mathis Company, we provide precision MIG welding services using the latest manufacturing technology. We are pleased to serve a broad variety of industries, including the agricultural, aerospace, construction, and defense sectors. Our state-of-the-art facilities allow us to weld an extensive range of metals and specialty alloys, including stainless steel, carbon steel, Hardox®, and Strenx® (formerly Domex®). Our equipment includes Bluco fixture tables, precision tooling equipment, and other varied fixtures to ensure that we can handle weldments of nearly any shape and size.

 

G.E. Mathis Company is dedicated to providing the highest levels of quality, integrity, and craftsmanship in the industry. We help our customers reach their goals by providing a combination of expertise, rigorous quality assurance, and personalized service. To learn more about G.E. Mathis Company’s stainless steel welding and other metalworking capabilities, contact us or request a quote today. 

How Does Laser Cutting Work?

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Lasers come in a wide array of types and strengths, producing extremely accurate cuts that facilitate the creation of intricate shapes. This thermal cutting process is favored for a variety of applications and particularly useful with soft and mild metals that are prone to excess damage from more traditional cutting tools. Lasers can cut through mild steel, stainless steels and aluminum with only a small kerf without otherwise damaging the remaining material.

This article will describe the laser cutting process and how it works.

What is a Laser?

Though the full term is rarely used anymore, the word “LASER” is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. This form of light doesn’t exist in nature and was artificially created to harness the unique properties of light in a controllable device. Lasers vary in light type, intensity, and diameter to facilitate uses across a wide variety of recreational, commercial, and industrial applications.

Each laser beam is a collection of light beams with identical or nearly identical wavelengths. The waves are in phase, which means they travel uniformly with the peaks of each wave occurring in sync. This manipulation of the light waves gives a laser its signature brightness and narrow focus. This focus produces very uniform light that will travel long distances. Laser beams also concentrate energy, or power, into a small surface area.

The Laser Cutting Process

Concentrated energy is the core premise of laser cutting. Laser cutting machines generate a ¾-inch wide laser beam. This beam is pushed through a nozzle, which contains compressed oxygen, nitrogen, or another gas, and potentially through beam bender mirrors.

Laser cutting machines use precise setups to focus the beam within the laser cutting head. First, a curved mirror or lens concentrates the light into a single point. At this point, the light is concentrated, small, and produces significant heat. The laser cutting head’s focus concentrates the laser beam until it’s strong enough to melt through metal. It heats, melts, and vaporizes the material along its cut path.

The process may differ depending on the type of metal being cut:

  • Mild steel cutting uses pure oxygen in the nozzle bore. The laser’s heat triggers an oxy-fuel burn with pure oxygen.
  • Aluminum or stainless steel cutting uses pure nitrogen in the nozzle bore. The laser handles all the burning and cutting, while the nitrogen blows the kerf free of molten metal remains.

Laser cutters carefully orient the laser cutting head to facilitate the melting and cutting action. If the focal point is even slightly too low or too high, it can alter the quality of the cut. Precision aiming is facilitated using a capacitive height control system. The cutting head follows programmed instructions to create specific cuts and holes according to design specifications.

Materials for Laser Cutting

Lasers can etch and cut through many different materials. At G.E. Mathis Company, we work with the following materials:

  • Abrasion-resistant steel
  • Aluminum
  • Carbon steel
  • High-strength steel
  • Stainless steel

G.E. Mathis Company Precision Laser Cutting

G.E. Mathis Company specializes in high-quality laser cutting and etching for prototype, low-volume, and high-volume orders. Our advanced equipment and skilled laser technicians can handle a broad range of materials, product dimensions, material thicknesses, and order volumes. Our standard thickness capabilities range from 16-gauge sheet metal to steel plates 1-1/4 inches thick.

To see how our laser cutting capabilities can serve your project, please contact us or request a quote.