Stainless steel contains a minimum of 10.5% chromium which imparts it corrosion resistance by forming an oxide layer on the surface. The most common stainless steel is the austenitic type (300 series) which contains chromium and nickel as alloying elements. Other types include ferritic, martensitic and duplex stainless steels. Most stainless steels are considered to have good weldability characteristics. Most common processes used for welding stainless steel are TIG (GTAW) and MIG (GMAW). But, stick welding (SMAW) is also utilized.
Differences in Properties:
The properties of stainless steel differ from mild steel, and these differences need consideration when welding as below:
- Higher coefficient of expansion, 50% more for austenitic – this results in more distortion
- Lower coefficient of heat transfer – welding requires lower heat input as it is conducted away slowly
- Lower electrical conductivity – using the correct and consistent stick-out distance is more critical when using MIG/TIG, higher wire speed for the same current is required when MIG welding
Why segregated work area?
Welding of stainless steel is carried out in a work area segregated from carbon steels. Moreover, tools dedicated for use with stainless steel must not be used to work on carbon steels. These tools include brushes, hammers, clamps, grinders etc. The segregation of work area and tools safeguard the contamination from carbon steels, which may cause welding defects and corrosion (rust) on stainless steel. You must also wear gloves when working with stainless steel as this will prevent oil from the hands passed onto the stainless steel.
Preparation is key!
With stainless steel, it is important that the joint surfaces are thoroughly cleaned before welding to remove any dirt, grease, oil etc. The filler wire also needs to be completely clean.
Additionally, the joint design including the joint gap must cater to the higher expansion rate of stainless steels.
Filler Material Selection:
Filler materials used generally are the same as the base metal. Special considerations are required to select a filler material if welding dissimilar stainless steels or stainless steels where no identical filler material exists. Furthermore, filler materials are selected to reduce the risk of intergranular corrosion and hot cracking.
It is essential to protect the weld during welding using a mainly inert gas. Additionally, the weld root needs to be purged using a pure inert gas.
When welding austenitic stainless steels, it is important to restrict the heat input to a level which is just sufficient to ensure a good weld. The interpass temperature is limited to 350 F. Preheating is not carried out on austenitic stainless steels. Very low carbon grades (suffixed with L e.g. 304L, 316L) are used to prevent the formation of chromium carbides in the heat affected zones which causes intergranular corrosion.
Martensitic stainless steels are generally used as wear resistant materials in overlaying applications. To avoid cracking, accurate preheat needs to be applied and a minimum interpass temperature maintained.
Ferritic stainless steels are used mostly in automotive applications. The heat input in these steels during welding needs to be limited, and a maximum interpass temperature of 300 F is recommended. This will ensure that the grain growth in the material is controlled and the strength is maintained.
With duplex stainless steels, the heat input also needs to be restricted.
Cleaning and Passivation:
Stainless steel welds must be cleaned and passivated after completion to ensure corrosion resistance and good appearance. This is performed manually by mechanical (brushing, grinding, blasting), chemical (applying pickling agents and other chemicals) or electrochemical means.
Red-D-Arc has a wide range of equipment suitable for stainless steel welding for rent including the following:
Multi process welders capable of stick, TIG, MIG, submerged arc, air carbon arc cutting, flux core, up to 1500 A
MIG welding units up to 750 A
TIG welding units up to 750 A
Stick welding units – up to 625A
Also 4 and 6 Paks of welders available
Orbital welders – suitable for stainless steel pipe/tube welding
Various brands including Miller, Lincoln, Red-D-Arc
Have a look at our complete range of welding products.
Welding small diameter tubing can be difficult. The tight radii often require expert welders to deliver precise torch manipulation with finesse. If the welder is not skilled enough, the out of position areas are at risk of poor quality due to gravity affecting the weld pool and ineffective torch angles. If out of position welds cannot be completed satisfactorily, the part must be rotated. However, some assemblies can’t be rotated because of size constraints or they might rotate off of center. If a mechanized welding solution is desired for small diameter components, look no further than our Axxair Orbital Fusion Closed Welding Head Systems.
Closed-Head Pipe Welders
Axxair Orbital Fusion Closed Welding Systems are comprised of two main parts: the
Axxair Orbital Fusion Closed Welding Head and the Axxair Orbital Inverter Power Supply. The Orbital Fusion Closed Welding Head fully encompasses the assembly being welded. This means that an inert gas environment can be created around the part, preventing it from the risk of oxidation that it might be exposed to during a welding operation that relies solely on a gas nozzle. The Orbital Fusion Closed Welding Head also has a ring drive that enables full 360 degree motion around the weld joint, all the while keeping a consistent torch angle. Furthermore, it is capable of going over 360 degrees for when slope-in and slope-out parameters are needed.
“The Orbital Fusion Closed Welding Head also has a ring drive that enables full 360 degree motion around the weld joint, all the while keeping a consistent torch angle.”
We are pleased to announce the launch of a new product in our weld automation category. Red-D-Arc now offers adjustable pipe stands with a carrying capacity of up to 4 tons, in both low and high profile versions. Combined with our turning rolls and positioners, these stands offer an effective solution for supporting pipes during the welding process for both manual and automated applications.
“Pipe stands with a carrying capacity up to 4 tons… low and high profile versions available.”
Our pipe stands feature polyurethane rollers and have been fully UL and CE tested. All of Red-D-Arc’s weld automation equipment has had its weight capacity UL verified to ensure safety and quality. This is a first in the weld automation industry.
2 Ton Adjustable Height Pipe Stands
4 Ton Adjustable Height Pipe Rollers
The method you select for welding pipe will depend on the location where the welding is taking place, materials and pipe size.
For welding steel pipes in the open (e.g. pipe installation in trenches), manual arc welding (SMAW) is most common. This technique used is downhill using cellulosic electrodes (also basic electrodes are used for higher strength steel applications). A root pass and a hot pass are followed by the fill passes. The weld is finalized by the top pass. Welding units optimised for downhill welding are utilised.
Welding Smaller Pipes
For small diameter and short length pipes which are free to rotate, the pipe is rotated while the welding torch is held stationary. The processes used are MIG (GMAW) and TIG (GTAW). In the case of TIG welding a wire feeder is necessary. A process cell is best for this type of welding.
Welding Large Pipes
In applications involving larger pipe sizes, welding is generally carried out using the orbital process. MIG is usually employed, but TIG with automatic feed of the filler wire can also be used. Orbital process using closed head welding units is also utilized for applications where smaller pipes cannot be rotated.
There are a number of advanced methods of depositing pipe welds currently in use. These include precisely controlled short circuit transfer for root pass (Miller – Regulated Metal Deposition), optimized pulsed welding (Miller – Pro-Pulse) and high frequency waveform control (Lincoln – Surface Tension Transfer) in order to speed up and improve the quality of the pipe welds.
Red-D-Arc has a wide range of pipe welding equipment for rent including the following:
- Closed head orbital welding units for small pipe diameter
- Orbital TIG welding system for larger pipe diameters
- Orbital MIG welding system
- Process pipe cell with oscillating open arc welding
- TIG and MIG welding power sources suitable for above
- Cutting and bevelling saws for up to 12.75” (325mm) pipe diameter
Have a look at our entire selection of pipe welding equipment which includes pipe cutters and bevelers.
“You should give as much consideration to the preparation as you do to the actual welding”
Pipe welding is utilized all around the world in diverse industries. A variety of pipe sizes and material grades are joined to manufacture components of various shapes and lengths – from a few feet to many miles. Even though most pipe welding jobs have custom specifications – there are some fundamental aspects of pipe welding that form a common thread for welders and welding engineers alike in order to achieve high quality welds in pipes.
Selecting The Right Pipe Welding Equipment
Equipment selection is the top requirement for producing good quality pipe welds. The highest priorities when selecting welding equipment for pipeline welding are reliability, consistency, accuracy and process control. It is also critical that the equipment is easy to use and the controls are intuitive. In addition to equipment performance, the work environment also needs to be a key factor for equipment selection. There are pipe welding configurations designed for offshore welding, remote land based pipeline welding, general fabrication shop use and custom configured automated pipe welding systems. Selecting the right one can be a daunting task – it is always good practice to seek expert advice. Be sure to ask about the various options, capabilities and limitations of each system. When welding CRA (Corrosion Resistant Alloy) grades, it is necessary to use weld purging in order to guarantee the corrosion performance of the root run. The importance of this should not be underestimated.