When it comes to welding it can be difficult to know exactly what welder is best for what metal. Stainless steel, whilst sturdy and hardy, can also be prone to damage and so it is common to have to weld it at times. In this article, we will be exploring whether MIG welding is suitable for it.
Can a MIG welder weld stainless steel?
Yes, a MIG welder can be used to weld stainless steel. It is recommended that you only ever use a MIG welder machine for stainless steel as it is the perfect tool for the job. Other types of welders may not be up to scratch or perform as well. This is because MIG welding is the most accessible option. Whereas Stick welding will not do as good a job, MIG welding can give precise and tidy welds (provided it is done correctly, of course).
Even though MIG welding is recommended for stainless steel, it is still pertinent that you take due care. Stainless steel, despite its hardiness, can still be prone to damage and contamination if it is not properly protected from the high temperature of the welder. As such, you must ensure that you use shielding gas to provide adequate protection for the workpiece.
You should also only use MIG welding with stainless steel welding wire if you are welding a stainless steel surface. This will ensure you have the most reliable weld that will hold well and remain strong through the years. Whilst it is certainly possible to weld stainless steel using other materials such as aluminium and steel (the regular kind), the weld will not be as strong.
So, with all of the above in mind, not only can a MIG welder weld stainless steel, but it is also the only type of welder that should be used. We do not recommend using any other welder for stainless steel.
What do I need to weld stainless steel with a MIG welder?
To weld stainless steel there are several items you will need. First and foremost you need to ensure you have all of your safety equipment, and then the equipment needed for the welding itself (welder, welding wire, etc). We will explore each of the components needed below in far more detail:
Your welding gun and welding machine
First up we have the obvious components needed for welding! Let’s face it, you aren’t going to get far without a welding machine and welding gun, are you? As if you hadn’t guessed by now, a MIG welding machine is the recommended welding machine to use when you are welding stainless steel. Any other one just will not do, especially Stick welding. The MIG welder will ensure the job is precise and produces solid weld.
Of course, a welding gun is likely to have been included with your machine but this is not always the case. Ensure you have a fully working welding gun that will provide accurate results, as well as spare welding gun tips should you need them.
Your welding gun liner
The gun liner may be less vital in this case in the sense that you will not need to switch wires between using as you should only be using stainless steel wire (more on this in the next section). However, it is still pertinent to protect your welding gun so do make sure you have a liner in place before you begin.
The welding wire (stainless steel)
Whenever you weld stainless steel it is super important to ensure you have stainless steel welding wire. Sure, aluminium and normal steel may work but they will not provide as sturdy or accurate a weld.
A wire feeder
Of course, any person who is a welder by trade will know that welding wire is as valuable as gold! It is certainly not essential, especially on small jobs, but if you are welding professionally or dealing with a big job that will take a long time, this stuff is worth its weight in gold as it gives a more accurate feed!
Shielding gas is very important, especially for metals such as stainless steel as it allows you to ensure the material is protected from the high temperatures of the welder. The ideal MIG welding gas for stainless steel will commonly comprise carbon dioxide, argon and helium.
A metal cleaning brush
Lastly, don’t forget a good quality metal cleaning brush. This item is not essential, of course, but it will help you to get a cleaner and more durable weld. Use it to prep your stainless steel surface and keep it free of debris.
When you have all of the tools and components you need, you can start your welding! Just don’t forget to protect your hands, any visible skin, clothes, and importantly, your eyes with all of the required safety gear!