Dissimilar metal welding processes join two different metal alloys through welding. There are many dissimilar metal welding applications and benefits. Fusing metals allows you to get more out of each metal’s unique properties. For example, while aluminum is light and corrosion-resistant, it is costlier than other metals, like steel.
Since metals have different properties, fusing the right dissimilar metals is essential to avoid corrosion or weak connections. That’s why evaluation of metals and filler material is critical before selecting the welding method. When done right, welding dissimilar metals can improve the overall performance of the metals and lower costs.
Dissimilar Welding Process
There is no simple, standardized approach when it comes to welding dissimilar metals. As such, the welder needs to analyze the situation before selecting a process. For example, the welder may need to add transition materials to the metal surfaces or opt for nonstandard welding methods depending on the application.
What makes welding dissimilar metals difficult is the variation in properties of different metals. There are several things to keep in mind when welding dissimilar metals, including:
Melting Points of the Metals
Many metals melt at different temperatures. For example, aluminum melts at around 1220 °F (660 °C), while steel melts at 2,500°F (1,370 °C). Welding quickly and using high heat can preserve the integrity of the finished weld. So, you may need to adjust your welding technique to ensure metals are melting and combining smoothly.
Coefficients of Thermal Expansion of Both Metals
The coefficient of thermal expansion indicates how the metal’s size changes when exposed to heat. If the coefficient between both metals varies greatly, it creates the risk of internal residual stress in the intermetallic zone after the fusion, impacting the lifespan of your newly welded metal.
Variation in electrochemical properties of metals can cause corrosion in the intermetallic zone. Corrosion levels are often directly proportional to the electrochemical difference. So, you are likely to experience more corrosion as the electrochemical difference increases between the two metals. Minimizing the intermetallic zone can reduce the risk of joint failure on the completed weld.
Solubility of Each
For the welding process to be successful, the two dissimilar metals must have the same solubility. Solubility is the ability of two metals to blend to form a solid solution. Using a third metal that is soluble with both original materials can solve the solubility problem.
Final Use of the Welded Component
Consider the final use when choosing the welding method for dissimilar materials. For example, welded joints that come in contact with electrolyte fluids need a filler material with a higher corrosion resistance than the metals to slow down the rate of galvanic corrosion.
Can Dissimilar Metals be Welded?
Yes, you can weld dissimilar metals, but with conditions. First, you need to understand the materials involved – such as mild steel to copper or steel to stainless steel. You also have to think about the desired welding result, where you’re welding, and the available methods. Lastly, factor in the needed consumables and material preparation. You risk poor bonding, workability issues, and potentially disastrous effects like cracking, thermal fatigue, or component failure if you ignore these aspects.
Benefits of Welding Dissimilar Metals
Welding dissimilar metals presents a range of benefits, including:
- Improved Joint Strength: It controls the phase formation in the joint by restricting the reacting time and the interlayer composition.
- More Combination Options: It is possible to make many combinations by welding dissimilar metals than conventional welding.
- Cost-Effective and Convenient: Welding dissimilar metals allows the opportunity to use cheaper materials, or what is available, and strengthen them by welding them to stronger metals.
Welding Techniques for Dissimilar Metals
Here are the top three welding techniques for dissimilar metals:
- Fusion Welds: Fusion welding uses heat to fuse or join two or more materials by heating them to a melting point. The welding process can be categorized based on heat sources. These include high energy, electrical resistance, electric arc, and gas.
- Low-Dilution Welding: Low-dilution welding uses a pulse arc weld, electron beam, or laser welding dissimilar metals. The amount of base metal melted is small, and fillers are often unnecessary.
- Non-Fusion Joining of Dissimilar Materials: Non-fusion joint method involves diffusion welding, explosion welding, friction welding, and soldering and brazing. It works well when connecting aluminum and steel, stainless steel and nickel alloys, and steel and copper alloy pairs.
Work with G.E. Mathis Company
G.E. Mathis Company is one of the top providers of precision welding services. Our 135,000-square-foot facility in Chicago, IL can handle large weldments and still achieve the tightest tolerances available in the market today.
G.E. Mathis Company provides a range of precision welding services to meet the varying needs of customers. We also provide fully automated and CNC-controlled welding services for high-precision and large-scale projects and handle virtually any customer specification.
G.E. Mathis Company is an industry-leading provider of close tolerance metal fabricated components. We utilize a wide range of materials in our operations to suit different customer needs. Our use of high-strength steels enables us to create parts and products that withstand use in some of the harshest industrial applications and environments.
High-strength steels are manufactured in a manner that enhances their physical and mechanical properties (e.g., strength, durability, fatigue resistance, etc.). These qualities make them ideal for use in highly demanding industries. Our latest eBook provides an overview of high-strength steel materials, discussing their advantages over traditional metal and their typical industrial applications.
Benefits of High-Strength Steel
Compared to conventional steel, high-strength steels offer a number of advantages. For example, they can make your products:
- Lighter and thinner
- More competitive
Applications of High-Strength Steel
These clear advantages make high-strength steels a popular choice for many industrial projects. Typical industries that utilize them include:
- Heavy machinery
- Industrial manufacturing
- Trucks and trailers
G.E. Mathis Company and High-Strength Steel
At G.E. Mathis Company, we understand that high-quality materials are crucial for the production of durable and reliable parts and products. That’s why we have partnered with SSAB, a premier supplier of top-quality, high-strength steels, such as Strenx® performance steel, that enable components to last longer and perform better. Strenx® performance steel is the material of choice for demanding applications, such as those found in the agricultural, heavy machinery, metalworking, mining, and transportation industries.
Learn More About High-Strength Steel From G.E. Mathis Company
If you are in need of a strong, lightweight material for harsh conditions and challenging operations, high-strength steels are the perfect solution. Want to learn more about the properties, advantages, and applications of high-strength steel? The metal fabrication experts at G.E. Mathis Company are here to help.
When fabricating components from metal, there are a number of processes that might be suitable. The best method will vary depending on factors such as the type of metal involved and the application’s unique demands. However, laser cutting offers a number of benefits that make it a popular fabrication technique for many industries. This blog post will discuss how laser cutting works and which industries heavily rely on it.
What Is Laser Cutting?
Laser cutting is the process of cutting through metal materials using a focused, high-powered beam of light. It is a highly precise thermal process often recommended in applications requiring tight tolerances, precise cutouts, or holes that are small in relation to the material thickness. This cutting process is ideally suited for many applications.
Lasers can cut through metals such as aluminum, stainless steel, and other mild steels with only a small kerf (the material width removed by a cutting process), producing no other damage to the material. Stainless steel laser cutting, in particular, is a popular fabrication process due to the many benefits it provides. Some of the most notable laser cutting advantages include:
- Limited to no physical contact during the cutting process
- Increased worker safety over hand-held cutting methods
- Suitable for a broad range of metal types
- A single laser machine cuts through many types of metal
- Significantly higher cutting precision and tighter tolerances than other methods, such as plasma cutting
Industries that Use Laser Cutting
The versatility of the laser cutting process along with the high degree of precision it provides has led it to be a popular fabrication process in a number of industries. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key industries that rely on laser cutting and how the process is used within those applications.
Laser cutting is a critical process for the agricultural industry, where it is used to produce components for many types of machinery. Equipment such as spreaders, chassis, grain movement components, and tractors are all fabricated using laser cut component parts. In agricultural applications, this process is used to produce most two-dimensional shapes and provides extensive shape production abilities.
The versatility of laser cutting makes it essential to the contract manufacturing industry, as it can produce components from many different materials in various shapes. The flexibility of laser cutting has made it integral to quickly produce prototype parts, and the accuracy of the laser lends itself to product consistency through repeatability during production runs.
Components used in military applications must meet unique specifications and follow stringent government regulations due to the challenging environments in which they are used. Laser cutting provides the accuracy and reliability necessary to meet these demands and is used to produce a wide variety of components used throughout all branches of the military.
Laser cutting provides effective, modern solutions for metal part production within construction applications and is transforming the industry. Increasingly, companies are choosing laser cutting fabrication due to its ability to improve production speed and increase operational control and efficiency. Laser cutting is used to produce truck parts, boom tube sections for cranes, and many other components.
G.E. Mathis Company: Reliable Precision Laser Cutting Services
The advantages laser cutting provides over other traditional fabrication techniques have led it to become an essential fabrication method for many industries. For projects involving many types of metal, laser cutting delivers unmatched precision and handles even highly complex designs accurately. In comparison to other metal fabrication techniques, laser cutting reduces lead times and waste materials and can easily accommodate high production volumes.
G.E. Mathis Company specializes in precision laser cutting for demanding industries. Using highly advanced equipment and our 135,000 square-foot production facility, we deliver components tailored to our customers’ exact specifications. To learn more about our laser cutting services, contact us today. When you’re ready to get started on a solution, request a quote.
Metal fabrication refers to the process of cutting, shaping, or molding raw or semi-raw metal materials into an end product. Depending upon the type and grade of metal, as well as the desired end product, metal fabricators may employ a variety of techniques to manufacture cost-effective, high-quality components for a wide range of industrial applications.
Types of Metal Fabrication Processes
Some of the different metalworking methods metal fabricators employ include:
One of the more commonly utilized metal fabrication methods, cutting involves splitting metal into smaller pieces. Since cutting is a requirement for many metal jobs, it may be employed alongside other metal fabrication techniques, such as punching, welding, or bending. There are several few different methods of cutting, including:
- Sawing is the oldest method of producing straight cuts through metal materials.
- Laser cutting employs a high-powered, focused laser beam of light to cut through the metal materials.
- Waterjet cutting operations utilize a high-powered water stream to cut through different materials, including metal.
- Plasma Cutting uses a mixture of swirling gases to cut through metal.
- Shearing uses two large blades to cut through metal like a giant pair of scissors.
- CNC cutting uses a computer-controlled machine to make precise cuts through metal via a variety of metal cutting techniques (e.g., laser cutting, plasma cutting, etc.)
- Die cutting employs steel rule (flatbed die cutting) or cylindrical (rotary die cutting) dies to cut out precise metal shapes.
Unlike cutting, forming (or bending) doesn’t remove material from the metal work-piece. Instead, the process alters the work-piece with a machine such as a press brake, or by a hand-held method such as with a hammer, or punch die to fit the required specifications.
The punching process sandwiches metal between a die and a punch. When pressed downward, the punch shears through the metal, and produces a hole in the work-piece.
Welding is a fabrication process that employs heat and/or pressure to join different metals and materials together. There are many welding methods available, each of which is suited to different work-piece and filler materials, production specifications, and other project parameters. Some of the most common include:
- Submerged arc welding (SAW): This welding method employs a continuous electrode to create an arc between the welding rod and the work-piece. The addition of a thick granular flux forms a shield that protects the weld zone from atmospheric contamination during operations.
- Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW): This welding method—also referred to as stick welding—uses a welding rod coated in flux that carriers a high-power electrical current. The coating breaks down during welding operations, forming a layer of slag and a gas shield that protects the weld as it cools.
- Gas metal arc welding (GMAW): This welding method—also known as MIG welding—relies on an adjustable and continuous solid wire electrode. During operations, the electric arc formed between the work-piece and the electrode heats and melts the base metals to form the weld.
- Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW): This welding method—also called TIG welding—requires the use of a non-consumable tungsten electrode. It produces strong welds without fillers.
- Fluxed core arc welding (FCAW): This welding method is similar to GMAW welding, except it utilizes a tubular wire electrode filled with flux rather than a solid wire electrode. Self-shielded FCAW operations rely only on flux to protect the weld zone, while dual-shielded FCAW operations rely on both flux and an external shielding gas.
Uses a top and bottom die molded into a custom 3-dimensional shape. When the metal is pressed between the two dies, it conforms to the desired shape. This process is used to make many complex metal shapes, such as body panels for the automotive industry.
Uses CNC-controlled machinery with various cutting tools to rapidly produce a custom 3-dimensional metal component by removing unwanted materials.
Advantages and Applications of Metal Fabrication Processes
There are several different types of metal fabrication processes employed by industry professionals to produce metal parts and products. As each process utilizes different techniques and equipment, it offers distinct advantages and best use cases.
Advantages and Applications of Cutting
Perhaps the most ubiquitous of all metal fabrication processes, cutting can be employed alongside other methods. In general, cutting offers several advantages with more modern techniques providing enhanced manufacturing capabilities. Some of the advantages of using cutting to fabricate metal parts include:
- Greater precision
- Higher repeatability
- Faster production speeds
- Better cost-effectiveness
Advantages and Applications of Forming/Bending
Metal fabricators use forming operations—e.g., rolling, indenting, and bending—to produce many metal parts, such as pipes, enclosures, and boxes. The advantages of using these operations include:
- Broader product capabilities
- Greater part design flexibility, including for complex shapes and geometries
Advantages and Applications of Punching
Parts produced through punching operations find application in a wide range of industrial products, including airbags, aircraft, batteries, motors, and medical equipment. By using the punching process to produce these parts, manufacturer benefit from:
- Faster production speeds
- Smaller environmental footprints
- Easier equipment setup
- Lower costs per part
Advantages and Applications of Welding
In general, welding allows for minimal waste production, reduced labor and material costs, and process portability. Each of the individual welding techniques also offers unique benefits. For example:
TIG Welding Benefits
Commonly used for aluminum and aluminum alloys, TIG welding produces a better surface finish than MIG welding and doesn’t require a filler material to produce the weld.
MIG Welding Benefits
Commonly used on steel, MIG welding does require the use of consumable filler material (i.e., the feeding wire). However, compared to TIG welding, it is faster and easier to control.
Sticking Welding Benefits
Commonly used on iron and steel, stick welding is the simplest welding technique. As such, it is used extensively for industrial fabrication applications.
Advantages and Applications of Stamping
Stamped parts are found across a diverse set of industries. The stamping process allows for:
- Higher precision and accuracy
- Faster production speeds
- Lower per-unit production costs (for high-volume runs)
Advantages and Applications of Machining
Machining is a broad industrial term for subtractive manufacturing processes, such as drilling, milling, and turning. While some companies still rely on manual machining units, many companies have adopted the use of computer numerical control (CNC) machining equipment. The latter enables industry professionals to achieve the following:
- Tighter tolerances
- Higher production consistency
- Greater cost-efficiency (for small to medium runs)
Metal Fabrication Solutions From G.E. Mathis Company
At G.E. Mathis Company, we offer industry-leading metal fabrication services to customers across a diverse set of industries. Equipped with a 135,000 square foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and over a century of industry experience, our team provides:
Precision Laser Processing
We offer laser processing capabilities for a variety of materials, from 16 gauge sheets to 1.25 inch thick plates. Our fiber optic and hybrid cutting systems produce up to 8,000 watts of power, and accommodate sheets and plates up to 14 feet wide and 100 feet long. Armed with these systems, we offer some of the tightest tolerances in the industry.
Precision CNC Plasma Cutting
We utilize 4-axis machines capable of high-definition cutting action to provide precision CNC plasma cutting services. The equipment’s 400 amp, straight, dual-head, and contour beveling capabilities help us provide superior results across a wide variety of materials, including carbon, aluminum, stainless steel, and exotic metals.
Precision CNC Punching
Our 40-ton, high-speed precision punch accommodates plates and sheets up to 60-inch wide and 0.5-inch thick. We process materials such as carbon steel, aluminum, and stainless steel with best-in-class industry tolerances.
For our precision forming/bending operations, our team utilizes eight hydraulic press brakes, including two equipped with CNC capabilities. These machines feature 400- to 1,000-ton capacities and accommodate thicknesses up to 2 inches and lengths of 20, 20, 30, 23, 25, 40, and 48 feet.
Some of the formed/bent components we fabricate include:
- Channels and angles
- Bump formed sections
We process a variety of materials in these operations, such as:
- Carbon steel
- Stainless steel
- Hardox® wear plate
Our AWS-certified welders are capable of providing precision arc and MIG welding services using CNC-controlled welding and fully automated processes, including:
- Dual-wire submerged arc welding
- Flux cored arc welding—i.e., FCAW
- Gas metal arc welding—i.e., GMAW
- Gas tungsten arc welding—i.e., GTAW
- Shielded metal arc welding—i.e., SMAW
- Submerged arc welding—i.e., SAW
We weld materials up to 12 feet wide and 50 feet long, including:
- Carbon steel
- Stainless steel
- Hardox® wear plate
Hardox® Wearparts Fabrication
Our team of certified craftsman leverages thermal cutting, laser cutting, and welding to produce wearparts in the following material grades:
- 450–500 Hardox®
- 100–110 Strenx® (Domex®)
- 100–110 Weldox®
These products are available in up to 2-inch thicknesses with industry-leading tolerances to meet even the most demanding application requirements.
At G.E. Mathis Company, we have over a century of experience providing metal fabrication solutions. If you have a metal fabrication project, we can meet your needs. Contact us today for more information about our metal fabrication capabilities or request a quote from one of our experts for your next project.
It’s always a great experience for us to interact with other manufacturers and see what new technologies are trending in the industry. Trade shows and conferences provide us the chance to do just that. This year, G.E. Mathis Company sent a team to attend the FABTECH trade show, which took place in Chicago in November.
At this year’s event, we exhibited, presenting ourselves as a job shop able to fabricate component parts for potential customers. We showcased our various capabilities, which allowed us to show the breadth of work we can handle. It was an exciting show for us, we saw a lot of traffic, and we were able to connect with current customers as well as meet new customers and generate some good leads for future business. We had two of our reps manning the booth at all times, enabling them to answer any questions regarding our capabilities as well as keep a pulse on the industry.
As the show features equipment vendors, fabricators, and businesses that sell services, it is the perfect opportunity for a company like ours to share our capabilities and see what else is happening throughout the industry. For us, it was nice to gain exposure to new people, and we hope to be able to build on the leads we generated. Overall, we thought this year’s show was a success, and we look forward to the industry’s future events. We hope to see you there!
During the initial planning phase of fabrication, there are many things to consider. One of the most important of these considerations is material selection—what’s the absolute best choice for your part?
In industries and applications where the metal will be coming into contact with other hard materials that can wear it out due to abrasion, a good choice is an abrasion resistant (AR) plate. AR plates are designed for use in harsh environments.
Of course, there’s more than one type of AR plate, and we would recommend using Hardox®. Hardox® is chemically engineered to provide abrasion resistance throughout the entire thickness of the material, not just the surface. Many other AR plates only offer the abrasion resistance on the surfaces of the material, becoming softer towards the center of the material. Specific benefits of Hardox® include:
- Hardox® is generally more formable.
- Readily weldable without pre- or post- heating (whereas pre- and post-heat may be necessary to prevent stress fractures in the material and the weld itself when using regular AR plates, no heat treatment is needed for Hardox® up to 2 inches).
- Longer part life as a result of even abrasion resistance throughout the thickness of the plate.
- Hardox® is blasted and primed at the mill, which results in material that better resists rusting and scaling.
While different machining processes and specific environments can affect material choice, as a general rule, when an AR plate is right for the job, Hardox® can be highly advantageous. In mining, construction, and other industries, it’s been known to save time, money, and worry. As an official Hardox® Wear-Parts member, (one of only a handful in the country audited and authorized by SSAB, the maker of Hardox®), G.E. Mathis has a great deal of experience using it, and therefore is well aware of its benefits. When selecting abrasion-resistant material, put your confidence in a fabricator with a proven track record.
You’re a customer in the architectural field, and you’re in need of precision laser cut stainless steel panels for your next project. In order for your project to go off without a hitch, these ¼” thick stainless steel panels must measure 63” in width and 143” in length. Not only do you need a quantity of 91 pieces, but you also need the large metal panels to be laser cut to a tolerance of ±0.015 in. To top it off, your project schedule is under a time crunch, and it is necessary that you receive these parts within the next few weeks. It’s pertinent, then, that you find a metal working company who can meet all of your needs in a quick turnaround time. Where do you go?
For one firm in particular, they came to GE Mathis Company. This customer came to us with an engineered drawing of these exact needs. So how did we fulfill their requirements? We took A240-T304 stainless steel and used our 6,000 watt laser to cut the stainless steel plates precisely to the customer’s specifications. Once the panels were cut, we then ground and de-burred the laser cut edges to ensure that the panels were precise and ready to use. Even better – we were able to do all of this in three weeks! It is important to our entire staff to meet the needs of every customer – whether in the architectural field or other industrial fields.
What do we want to achieve in 2013? As the new year gets off to a good start, all of us here at G.E. Mathis Company have reflected on the year that was and are setting future goals. So what do we have in mind?
2012 was a positive year of growth, not just for us, but for manufacturing as a whole. This past year, we have seen an upward growth and we would certainly like to build on that in 2013. Currently, as we are trending upwards, we are slowly returning to a more comfortable manufacturing level—close to a place we held prior to the recession. Our customers have said they are cautiously optimistic about the growth, and we attribute our current success to our wide range of capabilities.
How do we hope to grow ourselves and contribute to the industry? Currently, we are expanding our capabilities, so that we continuously meet the requirements of our customers. As we continue to see positive signs of improvement in the economy, we hope that our capabilities can contribute to this progress. Recently, we invested in new machinery that provides us with unique welding capabilities. After putting this machine into operation, we hope to service a wide range of applications and industries.
What’s one of our biggest goals for 2013? To help contribute to the growth of the economy and manufacturing, and to see industry reach the height it held before the recession. By advancing our capabilities and services, we have high expectations for our business and that of the manufacturing world!
Manufacturing. It’s all the rage recently, especially during the month of October—it had been named National Manufacturing Month, in fact. According to a recent article, several national manufacturing associations and departments co-produced National Manufacturing Day (held on October 5th) in order to raise more awareness about manufacturing right here in America. Since companies have been so receptive to the idea, it was decided to extend the awareness for a whole month! Here at G.E. Mathis Company, we understand the importance and value of domestic manufacturing, especially since we are a U.S. manufacturer ourselves. Here are some key reasons why we believe American manufacturing is something to celebrate:
- Economic benefits: The more manufacturing we can do domestically, the less we rely on others and the better state our economy is in. It is economically beneficial for us to export more than we import—the more we can manufacture ourselves, the more solid our economy will be.
- Higher employment: Not only does manufacturing in the U.S provide more jobs and livelihoods for workers, but it creates even further demand for jobs. For example, here at G.E. Mathis Company, we produce components and products that our clients use for their products—therefore, our work is in turn spurring more work once ours is completed.
- Higher quality: We are proud not only to be considered “Made in America,” but also to meet the highest quality standards. Not to mention, if you work with a domestic manufacturer, you have the option to check in on the production process and ensure that the products you are receiving meet your specifications.
- Shorter lead times: With manufacturing being done domestically, the turn-around time is cut down dramatically.
To learn more about American manufacturing, join us in celebrating MFG Day!
Diversification. What is diversification, and why is it so pertinent to us, here at G.E. Mathis Company?
To start, diversification is defined (by Merriam Webster) as a balance in industries or classes to a portfolio, or the increase in the variety of products offered. It is a word that has often described our company, due to the fact that we have not limited ourselves to one application, one fabrication process, or the production of one fabricated part. In fact, our long history has given us extensive experience and a vast portfolio.
What are some products we are skilled in fabricating?
Intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) for chemical applications and high quality components for OEMs in the construction, mining, defense, and agricultural industries.
What materials can we work with?
Everything from a wide variety of Duplex SST, to HARDOX® and STRENX, to common grades like A36, Gr-50, Gr-80, A514 (T1) and AR plate.
What fabrication processes are we experts in?
Everything from laser processing, high def plasma cutting with bevel capabilities, press brake forming, and welding.
What has enabled us to have such a diversified company?
There are many factors, including our lead times, ISO quality standards, and our HARDOX® Wear Parts membership. Our capabilities have expanded over the years, primarily because we continue to upgrade our equipment and focus on having the longest and most precise fabrication capabilities (for example, we can fabricate parts from 16 gauges to 2 in. thick!). We have continued to set our sights on improving our business and our capabilities. In other words, whatever it takes to get the job done right.