Knowing how to weld steel is one thing, and knowing how to MIG weld stainless steel is another. The latter is famous for its corrosion resistance and use in areas where cleanliness is critical and weld distortion happens quickly. In addition, because of its reduced thermal conductivity, heat energy does not dissipate quickly from the welding zone, which aids in welding.
Let’s learn how it works.
Can You MIG Weld Stainless Steel?
MIG welding has uses in various tasks, from simple home repairs to automotive welding. But can you weld stainless steel with a MIG welder?
MIG welding is actually easy to do by yourself, which saves you from spending on a professional!
Necessities for Stainless MIG Welding
Here is the list of equipment needed for learning to MIG weld stainless steel. Everything you need is available online and in physical retail or hardware stores.
- Shielding Gas: Although most experts believe that tri-mix is the best shielding gas to use, alternative options are available. For further details on shielding gas, read until the end of this article.
- Welding Wire: In this project, use only stainless steel welding wire of the appropriate diameter and length.
- MIG Welder: The right MIG welder for your stainless steel welding project must have features such as sample stainless steel wires and an appropriate welding gun.
- Wire Feeder: This equipment is not a necessity; however, if you have numerous projects lined up, consider getting one. It will improve the overall quality of your welds as it allows you greater control over the feed rate.
- Replacement Tips and Welding Gun: A welding gun should come with your MIG welder. However, for more specialized applications, other choices are available. As for welding gun tips, they deteriorate with time, so having a few extras is a smart idea.
- Gun Liner: It provides coverage to the welding gun and enables you to transition quickly between different tasks and metal wires.
Do you have these tools on hand? Then, you are now ready for the following stage.
Steps to MIG Weld Stainless Steel
Constantly feeding a solid electrode wire into the weld pool is necessary when you MIG weld stainless steel. You must also supply a shielding gas to prevent contaminants from messing up the weld. Here are the measures to take when MIG welding.
Configure the Torch
Begin by lighting the torch. This step entails connecting the filler wire from the MIG welder's spool to the tip of the welding flame. At the end of your torch, only 14 inches of welding wire should be visible. Then, turn on the shielding gas to begin the welding operation.
Establish the Correct Angle
Ensure that the flame lands directly on the desired location. You may attain this accuracy by holding the torch at a 30-degree angle from the joint end.
Depending on the task you're performing, make sure you're at a correct travel angle. For example, when you hold your rifle at 90 degrees, a travel angle of 5 to 15 degrees produces the most remarkable results. On the other hand, when working with T-joints and lap joints, greater angles of 45 to 70 degrees are preferable.
Pull the Beads Up
Turn the power on and slowly bring the weld bead toward the end. Keep the power and speed at a minimum to reduce spatters.
The Most Common MIG Stainless Steel Welding Gases and Electrodes
Choosing the appropriate gas in MIG welding stainless steel is critical. For example, you can use argon (pure or blended with other minor gases) and a stainless gas mix like BOC's Stainshield range of helium, carbon dioxide, and argon. These stainless gas mixtures are necessary to weld stainless steel, which has unusual alloys. Hastelloy, Monel alloys, and Inconel are examples of unusual steels.
Stainless steel MIG welding also necessitates the use of a gas with a somewhat greater flow rate. We suggest flow rates of 14–16 liters per minute; however, remember to consult with your gas providers about your gas requirements before beginning any project.
Regarding electrodes, the ER308L electrode is the most widely used electrode for welding stainless steel, and the most common gas type for this electrode is C2 (2.5% carbon dioxide, 7.5% argon, and 90% helium).
It's worth noting that the settings for stainless steel and numerous nickel-based alloys are almost identical. Before purchasing, please inquire with your electrode provider about the varieties of electrodes they have in stock. You may also get an electrode wire and gas selection chart to help you decide on the best option for your welding.
You have to understand a few essential things when MIG welding stainless steel. The most important perhaps is to ensure that you have stainless steel-specific materials, such as the correct shielding gas and welding wire.
As you work on your welding project, don't get frustrated. Remember that it is a skill that develops with time. You'll get it with a bit of patience and practice, and eventually, you'll be MIG welding like a pro.