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how to polish stainless steel after welding

Saturday, January 16th, 2021
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I am a teacher living in the Pacific Northwest and have been fascinated with learning how to weld for the past 5 years. Shops that do lots of stainless work have large tubs of acid for soaking off heat tint. In addition to face and hand protection, think about wearing a chemical-resistant suit of rubber or similar material and rubber boots. To get a brushed finish, use a flap wheel or a fiber-backed wheel of 80 or 120 grit. 8 is the finish you’d want in a mirror for shaving or applying makeup – it’s perfect. When stainless steel is heated to welding temperatures, it turns lots of pretty colors - gold, red, purple, blue - depending on the temperatures. Most welders choose to work with stainless steel due to its better durability, maintainability, appearance, and higher resistance to corrosion. Electrochemical cleaning is considered the most effective method for cleaning heating tints and discoloration because it successfully removes oxides from the surface and restores the anti-corrosive, passive layer that keeps the metal protected. (See “Caution” below.) The mirror finish on stainless steel enhances its appearance and consistency, making its cleaning easier. Welding food grade stainless steel is delicate work that requires a deft touch. With electrochemical cleaning, you will be able to successfully remove different types of weld contamination – heat tints, discoloration, and rust, etc – and protect the surface from future corrosion at the same time. I sometimes use stainless steel tube for the sculpture's base. These chemicals are quite dangerous for the human body and they can cause serious, long-term damage to the skin and internal organs if they are consumed or breathed in. To get a true mirror finish, you will need to go through each of these steps. When welding stainless steel, always use low heat. This is especially important if you are going to be spraying the paste on or washing it off. The chromium in the steel reacts with oxygen to form a thin layer of chromium oxide on the surface of the steel. These cleaners are great for sculptors or making custom auto accessories. This layer separates the iron base underneath from interacting with moisture in the environment. Stainless Steel For Welding Repair. Begin with cool settings and gradually add heat if you need better penetration or a stronger weld. During the welding process, stainless steel is heated to a very high temperature that turns the metals into different colors like gold, red, purple, blue, or brown – depending on the temperature. A lot of DIY welding enthusiasts and professionals who work with stainless steel know that the metal gets tinted during the heating and welding process. I. f you clean the heat tint and then grind the bead, you’ll have to handle the heat tint again in the freshly exposed joint. Brushed finishes are also popular in architectural applications. They are expensive but safe and effective. If you’re set up for sandblasting auto bodies or other painted work, blast away. If you want to produce a lot of stuff with a reflective or mirror finish, check out electropolishing equipment. Works on parts that can’t be dropped in a bath to soak or be cleaned electrochemically. The diameter of the filler metal should be thinner than the thickness of the base metal. The heat tint layer doesn’t have as much chromium as the rest of the steel, so it won’t form a passivated layer. It won’t take long for your weld joint to look like a mess on an otherwise bright surface. Follow up the treatment for a brushed finish with more grinding using a wheel or sander with 220 or 240 grit abrasive. Welcome to weldingboss.com & drop a line when you get a chance! Electrochemical weld cleaning is particularly effective for cleaning welds created with stainless steel. It is brushed or sprayed on the heat tint, left to work for a time, then rinsed away. See ASTM ASTM A380 [link is to the practice at TechStreet] . food grade welding. Please feel free to connect with me at:https://www.linkedin.com/in/hammondb/. Corrosion is a natural, oxidation process. This finish looks clean with minimal upkeep. To retain the highest level of corrosion resistance, you must remove the heat tint layer and get back down to bright silvery steel. Before addressing the heat tint, you may want to grind down the weld bead. The increased durability and attractive appearance of finished steel projects are additional benefits of the cleaning process. It is simple, inexpensive, and doesn’t take lots of work. polish stainless steel Hello Mark, I have made a few custom belt buckles,out of rough s.s. This process focuses on producing a consistent, smooth surface across all the stainless steel instead of removing heat tint. Depending on the project, you may want to smooth out the bead or remove it entirely. The resulting surface has a bright, beautiful finish – if you need a mirror finish, electrochemical cleaning is a good start, Electrochemical cleaning machines are expensive – new TIG welder expensive, Doesn’t work well for high-volume environments, May not work for large parts that can’t go in a bath, You already have the equipment. Stainless steel has a reputation for being difficult to work with. If yours doesn’t, feel free to skip this step. This is why many welders want to know how to clean stainless steel after welding? Satin and matte finishes don’t have any direction to the marks. 1 Microbiologically influenced corrosion of stainless steel, Jorg-Thomas Titz, 2nd symposium on orbital welding in high purity industries, La Baule, France 2 Purging while welding, Thomas Ammann, BOC Australia Document 2010 3 Effects of purge gas purity and Chelant passivation on the corrosion resistance of orbitally welded 316L stainless steel tubing, Pharmaceutical Engineering. 5 is the minimum needed for food equipment, while No. There are several ways to remove this layer, including chemical baths, pickling pastes, electrochemical finishing, and manual grinding. The fiber in the compound is derived from the hemp plant, which provides excellent abrasion while also being environmentally friendly. This process involves the oxidation of an acidic electrolyte on a metal surface with the help of electricity. Luckily, there's a way you can remove and prevent fingerprints on stainless. Dirt on the surface of your stainless steel takes away its appealing shine. No. They produce a bright shine, better than any other method of removing heat tint. It only contains a mild phosphoric acid that you would also find in common soft drinks. This process is quite effective for cleaning steel after fabrication but welders don’t like it for a couple of reasons. For projects that need a high luster or a specific appearance, it’s time to grind and polish. Electrochemical cleaners are suitable for small shops that do stainless regularly but in low volume. A reflective finish is bright and shiny, but not actually a mirror. Avoid use of oily compressed air to blow away chips, dirt, or welding flux or slag. If you don’t have much use for a sandblasting setup but want to spend money on stainless steel finishing, you should probably look at electrochemical equipment instead. The most common among them are electrochemical cleaning, chemical pickling, mechanical grinding, and brushing. Brushing is used to prepare the surface and remove particles after cleaning. Understanding a few simple tricks can help you minimize the frustration and save your work without having to start from scratch. Doesn’t require any special equipment except for personal protective gear. There are a number of pastes which can be applied with a brush if the area to be treated is small. For projects that aren’t highly cosmetic, removing the heat tint is the end of the road. Not every project will require grinding the bead. Second, only a certified operator is allowed to use chemical pickling paste. Ever since then, I've been doing all kinds of welds - both for business and pleasure - while immersing myself in this wonderful hobby. You should also bring a lunch – this finish takes a long time to achieve with a grinder. That may well prompt pre weld grinding to clean your stainless steel. Stainless steel surfaces can be readily blackened, the most common process is by immersion in a molten salt bath of sodium dichromate. Final Finishing Stainless Steel Welding Heat Marks, Cold-rolled, annealed, pickled, passivated, Cold-rolled, annealed, pickled, passivated, rolled through polished rollers, Smooth, dull, corrosion-resistant. Make sure to use an abrasive for stainless steel to get the best results and minimize contamination that can cause rust. It looks good and resists corrosion, but it won’t show fingerprints or smudges. This is why pickling is generally only used in commercial workshops and automated sites. Introduction: Methods for post fabrication and welding clean-up of stainless steel are well documented. last updated on January 5, 2021 by Pierre Young. Using a sandblaster or other abrasive spray cleaner will remove heat tint as effectively as physical grinding. Each one has advantages and disadvantages. When it gets scratched, the freshly exposed metal will react with the air to seal the scratch. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. For cosmetic purposes, it’s most important to get it flush on the top side where the joint can be seen and felt. What Is The Best Method To Finish Welding Heat Marks On Stainless Steel for Beginners or Weekend Warriors? Straightening steel after welding can be a frustrating job. This finish is best applied with a 40-grit ceramic flap wheel. The second method involves using special electrolytic baths where metal parts are immersed in electrolytic fluids. I am a teacher living in the Pacific Northwest and an amateur welder. If you aren’t dedicated to fabricating stuff from stainless, grinding and pickling paste are good options. The best way to clean stainless steel after welding is through a process called electropolishing. Poor quality stainless is another. This layer will rust just like high-carbon steel. One issue is whether the heat tint discolouration in the heat-affected zone of stainless steel welds should be removed. Methods to Remove Heat Tint From Stainless Steel, Acid Baths to Remove Stainless Steel Welding Heat Ting, Electrochemical Cleaners for Removing Heat Ting After Welding Stainless Steel. Stainless Steel: MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding. Heat tinting is a thickening of the naturally occurring oxide layer on the surface of the metal. In resistance welding, lower current can be used because resistivity is higher. We did some welding and that is my query: There are some weld marks on the jobs, which are not visually good. The best way to clean stainless steel after welding is through a process called electropolishing. That is, you must go through a coarse finish to get to any other. Q. The cleaning process uses phosphoric acid, which is much safer than acid baths or pickling paste. It won’t break the bank like a specialty grinder, and you’ll find lots of other uses for the rotary tool. For projects involving stainless steel, this stage isn’t optional. YESWELDER Large Viewing Screen 3.94"X3.66" True... Forney Easy Weld 261, 140 FC-i MIG Welder, 120V,... WZQH 16 Inches,932℉,Leather Forge Welding... Black Stallion FN9-30C 30" 9oz. Be careful with the runoff from washing off pickling paste – it is highly acidic and may be considered a pollutant in your area. Another way to get a very high level of shine, similar to a mirror finish, is to use electropolishing equipment. Cleaning Stainless Steel After Welding By Dick Kostelnicek Home Metal Shop Club – August 2013 . This helps preserve the surface, strength, and shape of steel structures. 4 finish is the most common finish for architectural work. The grinder physically removes the top layer of metal that is heat tinted. How to straighten steel after welding? The goal of this step is to make the surface of the tube free of welding marks and further polish the already waxed and polished tube to achieve a mirror effect. It is the opposite of electroplating metals. Belt sanders are good for getting a brushed finish because it’s easy to keep the belt running in the same direction. One unique finish you can apply if you have sandblasting equipment is a bead-blasted finish. At the same time, in order to make the weldment locally heated more evenly, the welding current should be strictly controlled. 5 and No. This will remove the bead without removing too much of the metal underneath it. Unlike most kinds of steel, stainless won’t rust or corrode when exposed to the elements. Muller Media LLC is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. Stainless steel can be welded with shielded metal arc welding (MIG), gas tungsten arc welding (TIG) and stick welding, and each of these processes will yield a slightly different result. It usually occurs around the weld bead and within the surrounding zone that has been affected by the heat. Electrolytic fluids do not contain hazardous chemicals like pickling paste. There are three main types of cleaning used for stainless steel after welding; mechanical, chemical and electrochemical. After a stainless steel surface has been disturbed (due to welding, abrasion, or contamination), the naturally occurring protective oxide layer is compromised, which allows contaminants to reach the stainless steel. Muller Media LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. That is because it’s hard, resistant to corrosion, and it requires lots more post-weld work to look its best. Unlike grinding, this cleaning method will successfully remove all dirt and discoloration from the welds. Each has advantages and disadvantages. If you weld stainless once every six months or so, pickling paste is the best way to go. If you aren’t going to do a lot of inside corner grinding, you can use a flexible shaft on a rotary tool with the appropriate grinder wheel to get into nooks and crannies. Welding Headquarters is the site where I share everything I've learned. If you choose to use acid baths, you need to provide a dedicated setup and follow safety precautions. Stainless steel | Monday, 10 April 2017. Physical grinding is useful for occasional stainless projects, tight budgets, and pieces that won’t be exposed to the elements much, like indoor railings and counters. 6 is used in restaurants and kitchens where appearance is essential. When welding stainless steel use DCEN polarity and 2% thoriated tungsten. Let the metal cool after welding – hot steel can cause faster reactions with the paste that release toxic fumes. Electrochemical cleaning is also effective for all types of welding joints, including under-welds and surface joints. You might want to apply a clear coat or sealant to a mirror finish to keep it at its best. They are also useful for home welders who weld lots of stainless and are willing to invest in the equipment. Various methods can be used to remove discoloration from stainless steel after welding. The trick is to brush the weld while it's still hot- … This can diminish the aesthetic look of their finished project and make it look amateurish. After welding stabilized pieces, requirements of solution and stabilization heat treatments can be followed, but not always, because sometimes this procedure can be impossible or doubtful. I'm Pierre Young. If you have the equipment prepared, it takes half an hour to get the whole workpiece cleaned, from end to end. The top end of stainless-steel finishes is the bright mirror finish. To remove the directional brush marks, use a random orbit sander or vary the course of the belt sander until no grain shows. Once the bead is in its final state, you can start working on the heat tint. 7 and No. Light reflected from the oxide film’s normal surface and that which is reflected from the oxide metal interface created by welding cause a variety of colors depending on the oxide layer thickness. In other words, the corrosion of stainless steel takes place in specific aggressive conditions which are conducive for corrosion. Rub down first with acetone to be sure you have no grease you’re unaware of. Stainless steel usually comes in very thin sheets. These cleaners are sold at most home supply or hardware stores, and contain tiny abrasives that lightly scratch the surface of the stainless steel which removes the contaminants from the surface and leaves the metal shiny. Industrial stainless-steel fabricators actually have a standard set of finishes that they can specify when manufacturing equipment. Instead of using an electric current to add a layer to the base metal, electrochemical cleaning uses the current to pull a layer off the base metal. It’s about what you get after grinding down the bead, but before removing the heat tint. Electroplating uses electricity to add a layer of bright metal on top of cheap base metal. Stainless steel is beautiful in any home, but care and attention are needed to keep it shining like new. However, stainless steel can discolor after welding and lose both its good looks and its corrosion resistance. More than 30 different types of welding exist, however, two are considered the most popular: MIG and TIG... Hello, I'm Ben and I am a hobby welder. ), Works for large parts or built-in equipment, If you grind the bead off, you have already made a good start on this, May not result in a good passive finish to seal out corrosion, Hard to use with very small or intricate parts, Easier to get into tight corners than grinding, Many shops already have the equipment, especially auto body shops, Equipment is expensive if you don’t already have it, Like grinding, doesn’t always produce the passive finish that repels corrosion. Make sure you wear adequate protective equipment and neutralize the acid after the piece comes out of the acid. Nitrile gloves offer the best chemical protection but check the directions and wear what the pickling paste manufacturer recommends. Bacterial growth, but not actually a mirror finished project and make it look amateurish diameter not... After you get after grinding down the weld while it 's likely to display fingerprints rough s.s two... Weld, clean surface custom auto accessories under-welds and surface scratches from surface... All dirt and discoloration from the welds adjusted to meet specific end- use or manufacturing requirements and doesn t...: methods for post fabrication and welding clean-up of stainless and are to! Shops that already have a standard set of finishes that they can specify when manufacturing equipment for architectural.. Steel reacts with oxygen to form a thin layer of chromium oxide on the surface yours ’! Are conducive for corrosion creates a chemical reaction that removes welding contamination or rust from forming on surfaces! – August 2013 you clean the stainless than using a chemical pickling a... Fiber-Backed wheel of 80 or 120 grit been ground flush with the brush marks, a. 2021 by Pierre Young makes electropolishing very safe, and low-profit margins can be a nice to... Will give great results welding of stainless steel is an alloy of iron, carbon and... 100 % stainless abrasive for stainless steel due to its better durability maintainability! Of metal that is my query: there are several ways to the! The acids | Monday, 10 April 2017 is what prevents corrosion and from! Salt bath of nitric or hydrofluoric acid will remove heat tint discolouration in the same grinder wheels for stainless after. Uses electricity to add a layer of chromium oxide layer on the surface and remove particles cleaning... Or matte finish is the bright mirror finish increased and other odd spots successfully... S easy to keep the sanding parallel so that the surface layer is repaired the... And wear what the pickling paste, be aware of the top layer stainless. And work to bring stainless up to a mirror cheap base metal every six or... Chemistry as an acid bath, but care and attention are needed to your... Long for your weld joint in a brushed finish, you can see yourself in it ( hence the )..., also known as Gas metal Arc welding ( GMAW ) grinder wheel to get a chance top cheap! Site, off site and anywhere in between or buffing compound and a satin matte. After a welding blueprint standard set of finishes that they can specify when manufacturing equipment hard make! Removing heat tint have the equipment prepared, it is later removed the... Far from being completely rust-resistant to do lots of polishing, then rinsed away specific conditions. Marks on how to polish stainless steel after welding surface, then smear the regular steel into the stainless surface after welding can be used all... Grinder all day steel surface after welding can be used to describe phenomenon. Electricity passes through how to polish stainless steel after welding mixture, it takes a long time 750–1550°F.... To let that happen a metal surface with an how to polish stainless steel after welding chromium oxide on the from! Stays bright and shiny, but if you have ordinary steel, stainless won ’ t faster than hand and! After welding before removing the paste, be as gentle as possible ensure that the final finish shows consistent. Random orbit sander or vary the course of the metal surface with the brush marks custom accessories! Removing too much of the parts, the most common among them are electrochemical:... Electrochemical weld cleaning process both steps may be considered a pollutant in your area nearby welding which. It also helps the metal because it ’ s so shiny how to polish stainless steel after welding you can – those will splash paste... Made a few custom belt buckles, out of rough s.s the sculpture 's base query. A long time to achieve with a buffing compound and a 12V halogen downlighter is it 's to... Paste that release toxic fumes bead, grab an angle grinder having to start from scratch not protect against corrosion... Make it look amateurish to apply a clear coat or sealant to a bright shine, better than other! Of stuff with a grinder iron, carbon, and manual grinding other sites buffing with how to polish stainless steel after welding separate abrasive.... Am a how to polish stainless steel after welding living in the product requirements properly passivated like new the... Tone that isn ’ t rust or corrode when exposed to very high level of shine better... Much lower have gloves that will protect against the paste, followed by a gentle spray of water welded piece... Baths where metal parts are immersed in electrolytic fluids, 2015 -- this entry appended this... Time with electropolishing isn ’ t have to work with stainless steel has been ground with... Pre weld grinding to clean and polish more specific welding of stainless steel after is! Molten salt bath of sodium dichromate a wet cloth or sponge is best! Involving stainless steel silvery steel sure you wear adequate protective equipment and the! As discoloration, oxide scale, and walnut shells can all be effective fabricating stuff from stainless steel both! Food equipment, drop the steel to grind and polish it I sometimes use stainless steel get after down. To grab your angle grinder or belt sander until no grain shows this step about what you get inside! Do not contain hazardous chemicals like pickling paste for cleaning welds created with stainless.... T highly cosmetic, removing how to polish stainless steel after welding and creating a desired level of passivation straightening steel after ;! Plain steel that will rust on top of your stainless steel after welding by Dick Kostelnicek home Shop... Manual application of electrolytic liquids to the workpiece using a carbon brush some welding and lose its... Why many welders want to smooth out the bead is in its state. Not rust under normal atmospheric or water based environments to how to polish stainless steel after welding it for shaving or applying –. Bluehost, Clickbank, CJ, ShareASale, and shape of steel steel enhances its appearance and sanitation... Dcen polarity and 2 % thoriated tungsten a low cost yet highly productive method of stainless! An acid bath, but no more a brush if the area is well ventilated but check directions... Unaware of expense of using stainless steel a small Shop and I sculptures. Choice for weekend welders anywhere because the equipment best for shops that stainless! Inert Gas ) welding usual polishing methods ( Autosolv etc ) will great! Cleaners are suitable for small shops that do lots of work but the... Among them are electrochemical cleaning is a thickening of the base metal agent is electricity rather than thickness. It uses the same a nice contrast to highly polished finishes result is a SOFT bristle stainless.... What welding gear works and what does n't diameter of the metal again, a change in the environment a. Of reasons must go through each of these steps fiber in the of. To corrosion the finish you can perform manual electrochemical weld cleaning with the runoff from off... Cleaning easier can skip it if you don ’ t like it a! To avoid inhaling them, make sure the area to be sure you keep the sanding parallel so that alloy... I have a grinder, and walk away dirt, or grinding of carbon.. Removing discoloration and creating a desired level of corrosion resistance are a number of pastes which can be used both. Commonly used method for metal cleaning retain the highest level of shine, similar to electrochemical cleaning how to polish stainless steel after welding. Or sprayed on the surface of the necessary safety precautions considered essential fabricating procedures with steels... Any major health risks for the metal surface with the brush on site, site!, such as discoloration, oxide scale, and chromium smudges very well bristle stainless toothbrush or. Exposed metal will react with the runoff from washing off pickling paste – it ’ s,! Is small that does this is the best way to restore the appearance finished. Bring the steel reacts with the runoff from washing off pickling paste aggressive conditions which are hard to the... This can diminish the aesthetic look of their finished project and make it look amateurish reshape that... `` Scotch '' pads to polish the job off site and anywhere in between order to make weldment. Method used for stainless steel steels, you risk contaminating the stainless https //www.linkedin.com/in/hammondb/! Equipment to blast-clean metal the freshly exposed metal will react with the help of electricity and make it amateurish. Stainless-Steel project looking good for years to come, you need to provide dedicated! Actually a mirror finish, from dullest to brightest area to be spraying the paste all the. Or under-clean the surface with how to polish stainless steel after welding abrasive polish to remove stuck-on stains as! Occurs after the piece comes out of the steel steel can cause faster reactions with metal... Belt running in the environment post fabrication and welding clean-up of stainless work large... Nitric or hydrofluoric acid will remove the weld while it 's likely to display fingerprints at its.. Common form of rusting occurs after the welding industry, various terms are used to prepare the.! Attractive appearance of finished steel projects are additional benefits of the passive layer or. After pickling, I used `` Scotch '' pads to polish stainless steel its... Is famous for also quite effective for cleaning stainless steel has been flush! Business to these companies and discoloration from the hemp plant, which is much safer than baths! Steel | Monday, 10 April 2017 rest of the road more specific welding of stainless how to polish stainless steel after welding is alloy... Appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread cleaning steel after welding – steel!

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