Stainless steel is an important metal in many industries today. It offers unique anticorrosion properties and a sterile environment for food and beverage processing. However, stainless steel fabricators have to exercise caution when working with this metal, to make sure it retains its properties. Here are some helpful tips for working with stainless steel, for the best results.
The Effects of Work Hardening
Stainless steel may be stronger than carbon steel, but it work hardens faster, so you can’t use common methods when machining or welding. Cutting methods are basically the same as carbon steel, except you need specialized cutting tools.
Stainless steel fabricators rarely attempt dry machining. In fact, it’s important to use coolants and lubricants to limit heat buildup. Also, light cutting is preferred over deep cuts. Vibration can cause major problems with the machining process, so consider using tools that limit vibration and watch out for the possibility of chip buildup.
You need sharp cutting edges at all times. In fact, you may need to check for sharpness on a regular basis. Tungsten carbide tipped tools are best because they keep their edges longer and offer a harder cutting surface.
Most stainless steel fabricators do not weld ferritic steel materials because they are difficult to work with. Martensitic steel is often welded. However, it’s important to heat the metal before and after the welding process. This helps to eliminate cracking.
Except for 303, austenitic stainless steel is the most common choice for welding. For thick metal welding, 347 or 316L grades are the best metals to use. However, just about every type of stainless steel is weldable if you use the right materials and take precautions.
Press brake bending is recommended. Stainless steel fabricators work quickly when bending. This limits the chances of work hardening.