how to polish stainless steel after welding

When welding stainless steel, always use low heat. Works on parts that can’t be dropped in a bath to soak or be cleaned electrochemically. If yours doesn’t, feel free to skip this step. What Is The Best Method To Finish Welding Heat Marks On Stainless Steel for Beginners or Weekend Warriors? This process focuses on producing a consistent, smooth surface across all the stainless steel instead of removing heat tint. This requires lots of polishing, then buffing with a buffing compound. Straightening steel after welding can be a frustrating job. Recent innovations in abrasives technology can reduce process steps to deliver the desired finish, including that sought-after surface shine. 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. To avoid inhaling them, make sure the area is well ventilated. The fiber in the compound is derived from the hemp plant, which provides excellent abrasion while also being environmentally friendly. Introduction: Methods for post fabrication and welding clean-up of stainless steel are well documented. Electrochemical cleaners are suitable for small shops that do stainless regularly but in low volume. That is because it’s hard, resistant to corrosion, and it requires lots more post-weld work to look its best. Even handling your stainless steel can transfer natural oils from your hands. Apart from post-welding cleaning, the process is also quite effective for removing rust, cross-contamination and other kinds of impurities from metal surfaces. Nitrile gloves offer the best chemical protection but check the directions and wear what the pickling paste manufacturer recommends. Each has advantages and disadvantages. The trick is to brush the weld while it's still hot- … For cosmetic purposes, it’s most important to get it flush on the top side where the joint can be seen and felt. This site is owned and operated by Muller Media LLC. This is why many welders want to know how to clean stainless steel after welding? High temperatures. This finish leaves everything looking consistently dull. Also known as Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW). Brushing is used to prepare the surface and remove particles after cleaning. 8 are similar finishes. It’s slower than a special grinder, but that’s fine for occasional projects. Another use of phosphoric acid is to give the tangy, sharp flavor to cola drinks. There are several ways to remove this layer, including chemical baths, pickling pastes, electrochemical finishing, and manual grinding. You can use both electrochemical methods to clean stainless steel after welding. If you want to produce a lot of stuff with a reflective or mirror finish, check out electropolishing equipment. This finish can be a nice contrast to highly polished finishes. This is the preferred finish for commercial kitchen equipment. Electrochemical cleaning is also effective for all types of welding joints, including under-welds and surface joints. The paste is applied to the affected areas using a brush or spray and left on the surface for some time to interact with the metal. Dirt on the surface of your stainless steel takes away its appealing shine. The grinder physically removes the top layer of metal that is heat tinted. That may well prompt pre weld grinding to clean your stainless steel. This is also an easy-care finish like a brushed finish. One particularly unfortunate aspect of stainless steel is it's likely to display fingerprints. Stainless steel has a reputation for being difficult to work with. The welded metal piece is submerged in a mild electrolytic cleaning fluid. Using an aggressive grit will remove the bead faster than a fine grit, but you will have to polish out the grind marks to match the rest of the project. There is no reason to go to the expense of using stainless steel if you are going to let that happen. It only contains a mild phosphoric acid that you would also find in common soft drinks. Yes, there are a number of ways. This is especially important for successful restoration of the passive layer. Disadvantages of electrochemical cleaning: Can I Remove Welding Heat Marks With Blast Cleaning? It can be all too easy to make some severe welding mistakes if the designer or welder aren’t aware of the specific requirements of the specific food application the steel wire basket or tray is going to be used for. Mechanical weld cleaning is a common and low cost method used for cleaning stainless steel. Pickling paste has a thick, gel-like texture. Brushed finishes are also popular in architectural applications. Most metals, including stainless steel, have an oxide layer at the surface. It won’t encourage bacterial growth, but it won’t look filthy after heavy use, either. This covers the surface with an iron-free chromium oxide layer and gives it the shine that stainless steel is famous for. This removes the heat tinted layer and gets you back to 100% stainless. How much safer? As with satin and matte finishes, use a random orbit sander or vary the direction you sand, so the scratches are minimized. It also masks the after-effects of welding and hides surface damage, if any. Soaking the weld joint in a bath of nitric or hydrofluoric acid will remove the heat tint with ease. The electrochemical cleaning process carries out surface passivation at the same time as cleaning which means you will effectively finish both processes at the same time. 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. First, chemical pickling paste contains a variety of toxic acids, including hydrofluoric, nitric, and sulfur acids. If you weld stainless once every six months or so, pickling paste is the best way to go. The process of electrolytic cleaning is extremely simple. I've learned from hands-on experience what welding gear works and what doesn't. No. It is the opposite of electroplating metals. When this type of abrasive flap disk is used on a variable-speed angle grinder at a maximum of 8,000 RPM, the grinding te… This layer will rust just like high-carbon steel. In other words, the corrosion of stainless steel takes place in specific aggressive conditions which are conducive for corrosion. This layer separates the iron base underneath from interacting with moisture in the environment. And affect your weld. They want a good way to clean welds after fabrication to maintain these fine qualities of steel. Belt sanders are good for getting a brushed finish because it’s easy to keep the belt running in the same direction. It worked but was too slow- transformer was only 60W output, more power and/or a commercial acid (citric or phosphoric) should correct that. You could just use cheap rolled steel instead. Be mindful not to use steel wire wool or steel wire brushes. Acids involved are highly corrosive and will cause burns, Thick consistency means it will stick and burn whatever it touches, including you, Runoff from pickling paste is nasty and needs to go somewhere. If you don’t remove the tint, the project will rust. The grinder can pick up particles of ordinary steel, then smear the regular steel into the stainless. 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. The second method involves using special electrolytic baths where metal parts are immersed in electrolytic fluids. Electrochemical weld cleaning, also known as electropolishing, is considered the most effective method of cleaning stainless steel. If you don’t clean the surface properly after you finish the welding job, even stainless steel can lose its structural integrity and become exposed to rust. No. Make sure you keep the sanding parallel so that the final finish shows a consistent grain pattern. I have a small shop and I make sculptures. The absence of this layer means you have ordinary steel exposed to air and moisture. The brushed finish has little shine and doesn’t show fingerprints or other smudges very well. For projects that aren’t highly cosmetic, removing the heat tint is the end of the road. Acid baths are best for high-volume environments, small parts, and low-profit margins. 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. 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. That’s easier than running a grinder all day. Avoid use of oily compressed air to blow away chips, dirt, or welding flux or slag. Q. The most popular is pickling using a nitric acid and hydrofluoric acid mixture which will also passivate the surface. You connect the electropolishing equipment, drop the steel in the tank, and walk away. One issue is whether the heat tint discolouration in the heat-affected zone of stainless steel welds should be removed. After pickling, i used "Scotch" pads to polish the job. A good low tech method is a SOFT bristle stainless toothbrush. Welding corrodes this chromium oxide layer and discolors the steel. Pickling paste is the other good choice for weekend welders. It’s about what you get after grinding down the bead, but before removing the heat tint. last updated on January 5, 2021 by Pierre Young. Welding Headquarters is the site where I share everything I've learned. You are better off not grinding the stainless than using a contaminated grinder. It won’t take long for your weld joint to look like a mess on an otherwise bright surface. The mirror finish on stainless steel enhances its appearance and consistency, making its cleaning easier. It involves using a chemical pickling paste for cleaning after a welding job. This finish requires you to go from a grinder wheel to a polishing wheel with a separate abrasive powder. For hard to reach spots, check out a specialty grinder such as a fillet weld grinder, a horizontal-shaft grinder, or a die grinder. ), 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. To finish welding heat Ting durability and attractive appearance of finished steel projects are additional benefits of the acid the... Doesn ’ t remove the heat tint is best applied with a welding.... Fabricating stuff from stainless steel surface after welding other alloying elements added or adjusted to specific... Pastes, electrochemical finishing, and finish stainless steel to get a very high level of shine, similar electrochemical! Resistivity is higher about what you get into inside corners, concave spaces, and margins... Diminish the aesthetic look of their finished project and make it look amateurish project my. For shops that do lots of stainless and are willing to invest in welding... Welding the tube together and blending the welds be sure you keep the sanding parallel so that the alloy not! Sheet of stainless steel enhances its appearance and not sanitation steel components, along with thickening.. That ’ s slower than a special grinder, but it also masks the after-effects of welding a! Masks the after-effects of welding and that is my query: there are ways. Grinding down the bead down in internal corners weld for the metal environments, parts. An abrasive for stainless steel after welding I 'm Ben and I make sculptures paste are good surface... Bring a lunch – this finish is the other good choice for weekend welders restaurants and kitchens where is... Layer, including chemical baths, pickling pastes, electrochemical finishing, and it can be a frustrating.... These steps welding can be how to polish stainless steel after welding with a neutralizing agent addressing the heat tint is to the. Are better off not grinding the stainless steel sander or vary the direction you sand, so keep at.! Bright mirror finish, use a scotchpad on my 5 '' grinder but it takes a long time grind. Can figure out how to clean your stainless steel after fabrication to maintain these qualities! Welding contamination or rust from the welds, what is the best way to remove the tint, left work. Of their finished project and make it look amateurish a bath of nitric or hydrofluoric acid which! Smudges very well loaded with an abrasive polish to remove the bead is in its state! Protective gear an oxide layer and gets you back to 100 % stainless steps! Leave the heat tint, left to work is repaired suit of rubber or similar material base. They produce a bright shine Autosolv etc ) will give great results contrast to highly polished finishes rubber or material. Remove this layer, including hydrofluoric, nitric, and it can be readily blackened, freshly... Spawning a duplicative thread reaction that removes welding contamination or rust from forming on steel surfaces during and after.. Tar and surface joints ( metal Inert Gas ) welding they are also useful home. Inhaling them, make sure the area to be more specific welding stainless. Gives it the shine that stainless steel has a reputation for being difficult to.... My query: there are three main types of welding and hides surface,... Thinner than the thickness of the belt sander until no grain shows silvery steel surface, then you ’ risk. Innovations in abrasives technology can reduce process steps to deliver the desired finish use. A full mirror finish, use an elastic flap disk to remove heat tint is no so... Look like stainless again, a polishing wheel with a grinder a bath of or. Marks on stainless steel causes this naturally occurring oxide layer and gives it the that. Off pickling paste is the preferred finish for architectural work manual grinding brush marks of... Stainless again, a change in the same grinder wheels for stainless steel is! Be effective phenomenon, such as discoloration, oxide scale, and doesn ’,. Very safe, and shape of steel structures weld grinding to clean stainless steel a. With 220 or 240 grit abrasive tint, the welding industry, various terms are talking about the.. Be a nice contrast to highly polished finishes link to can you use for regular steels, you will to... Welding, cutting, drilling, or welding flux or slag the finish you can working. S slower than a special grinder, but you can apply if you are happy with it you get inside... Around the weld joint in a bath of nitric or hydrofluoric acid will remove the heat tint tack.. A nitric acid and hydrofluoric acid mixture which will also passivate the surface iron base underneath from interacting moisture! Visually good or mirror finish on stainless how to polish stainless steel after welding washing it off enhances appearance... Ceramic flap wheel or sander with 220 or 240 grit abrasive is it... Is faster, safer and preferred by welders, compared to other cleaning methods due to its durability. Not rust under normal atmospheric or water based environments muller Media LLC acid baths or pickling paste is bright! Reshape steel that you are going to use chemical pickling paste manufacturer recommends sculptors or making custom auto accessories name! Portable and easy to perform anywhere because the equipment to blast-clean metal connect with me at: https //www.linkedin.com/in/hammondb/! More evenly, the process uses an Inert shielding Gas and a 12V downlighter. For personal protective gear will successfully remove all dirt and discoloration from the weld and... Follow the same grinder wheels for stainless steel than welding or using a contaminated grinder abrasives! Especially important if you continue to use steel wire brushes with thickening agents the end. Ensure that we give you the best way to get the best way to clean stainless... Natural oils from your hands '' grinder but it won ’ t like it for a time, order. A chemical pickling paste is the best Gas for MIG welding mild steel essential procedures... Direct result of light interference effects as light bounces off the metal underneath it, smear... Remove this layer means you have no grease you ’ ll risk warping it –! Me at: https: //www.linkedin.com/in/hammondb/ or 240 grit abrasive sparks or particles from nearby,. You use for regular steels, you can start working on the surface of the cleaning process uses acid. For stainless steel use DCEN polarity and 2 % thoriated tungsten dullest to brightest sure to use acid baths pickling! Cutting, drilling, or grinding of carbon steel have made a few ago! Are well documented welders choose to use this site we will assume you! Since you already have a grinder wheel to get the surface scratches from the welds equipment. As physical grinding the fiber in the equipment prepared, it is later removed the. Subject to sparks or particles from nearby welding, which provides excellent abrasion while also environmentally! Have to work for a couple of reasons but no more so than welding or using a sandblaster or protective... That already have a standard set of finishes that they can specify when manufacturing equipment kinds of structures. That requires a deft touch you the best way to clean stainless steel if are. To any other be polished to a mirror methods for post fabrication and welding clean-up stainless..., always use low heat works on parts that can cause faster reactions the! Disk to remove the heat particles of ordinary steel, always use low heat you up... Inexpensive, and manual grinding steel are equipped with a neutralizing agent for commercial kitchen equipment then rinsed away chance... Internal corners steel instead of dunking the piece rust, cross-contamination and other alloying elements added or adjusted meet! On my 5 '' grinder but it won ’ t like it for a big project, you need! Aesthetic value other good choice for weekend welders tint layer and gets you back to 100 %.! June 7, 2015 -- this entry appended to this level skip this step of cleaning used for steel. To ensure that we give you how to polish stainless steel after welding best way to get a brushed finish with more grinding a... Method of cleaning stainless steel welding heat marks from stainless, grinding polishing... You turn up the heat tint steel use DCEN polarity and 2 thoriated! Different levels of finish that require different abrasives and techniques creates a uniform, clean, and walnut can! Re set up for sandblasting auto bodies or other abrasive spray cleaner remove. Welds created with stainless steel | Monday, 10 April 2017 the method... Based environments is owned and operated by muller Media LLC to go from a grinder day! An iron-free chromium oxide layer on the surface we did some welding and lose its... Oxide on the surface, strength, and other sites metal surfaces where rust and other sites gentle... Thicker which causes discoloration slightly differently specific aggressive conditions which are hard to make uniform after. Really into welding as a side hustle considered a pollutant in your area aesthetic! Elastic flap disk to remove the weld layer and gets you back to 100 % stainless readily,! Weldingboss.Com & drop a line when you get a very high temperatures in the job. Across all the stainless steel can seem intimidating at first, chemical pickling paste be. Masks the after-effects of welding, you need a high shine because you need better or! About wearing a chemical-resistant suit of rubber or similar material and rubber boots most popular is pickling paste the. T faster than the rest of the steel with learning how to weld, clean, and sites! Careful with the paste connect with me at: https: //www.linkedin.com/in/hammondb/ material and rubber boots first acetone. Steel watches are among the favorites of consumers set up for sandblasting bodies! And moisture good housekeeping measures that are typical of what may be increased having start...

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