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The Best Metals for Welding

The science behind welding combines aspects from metallurgy, electricity, oxidation, and other complex processes to form bonds and shape metal for a wide variety of purposes. Because of the complexity, there are many complications that can occur that you should be aware of. One way to avoid welding failure is to select metals for welding that are easily manipulated and don’t require extra work before or after welding to achieve your goal. Some of the best metals for welding include:

  • Low Carbon/Mild Steel

  • Stainless Steel

  • Aluminum

We’ll be looking at these metals and a few more with less across-the-board utility in today’s blog. If you’d like to learn more about welding, or would like to start a career as a welder, contact Missouri Welding Institute (located in Nevada, Missouri) to learn how joining our program can set you up for success.


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What Type of Metal Should You Use for Welding?

The type of metal you should use for your welding project depends on your budget, design, skill, and the process you intend to use. Practically any metal can be welded — it’s just that some are far easier to use. Metals such as steel and aluminum, for example, are easier than others to use for creating high-quality, defect-free welds.


Be aware that some types of metal require special equipment to weld properly, equipment such as gas chambers or vacuums. They may also require specific levels of heat exposure, as well as pre- and post-welding heat treatment. Choosing the right filler material for the type of metal being used is very important, as your welding situation is going to ultimately depend on the chemical makeup of whatever metal you’re using.


Low Carbon/Mild Steel

Low carbon steel, also known as mild steel, is exactly what it sounds like it is: steel with only a small amount of carbon in it (less than 0.3%). It also has about 0.4% of manganese in it. Due to the low carbon content in this steel, it has high ductility, which means it’s highly weldable and less likely to break when subjected to heat. Due to the fact that it can be welded with almost all types of welding equipment, this is one of the most effective metals to use for welding. Low carbon/mild steel is historically both abundant and in high demand, which has led scientists and engineers to develop a wide variety of ways to weld it.


Stainless Steel

Depending on the grade of stainless steel being used, it can be quite weldable as well. Both ferritic and austenitic stainless steels weld well, while martensitic types of stainless steel are likely to crack when used. Be aware that stainless steel can warp when subjected to high heats, which can impact the strength and shape of the final workpiece. Welding with stainless steel can also cause the chromium in the metal to combine with the carbon, leading to the piece being more likely to rust. This can be avoided by following the temperature guidelines for that workpiece, or by using a low-carbon stainless steel. Another way to prevent corrosion when welding with stainless steel is to use a grade of steel that has been stabilized with titanium or niobium.


Aluminum

Though it is more challenging to work with than low carbon steel, aluminum can be welded relatively easily, as long as you know the correct methods for doing so. For starters, it’s important to select a grade of aluminum that is suitable for welding. Some grades require extra operations to prevent cracks, while others are not weldable at all.


With aluminum, you should also be aware of the material strength. Certainty aluminum alloys can suffer from reduced strength when welded and require artificial aging to be suitable for a heat treatment process. Equipment with a higher welding current may be necessary for working with aluminum. Be aware that, as it cools, aluminum shrinks more than steel does, so special care is needed to prevent cracking. Lastly, you should be aware that the aluminum oxide coating of the metal can add contaminants when welding, so removing it before the process begins is necessary.


Other Types of Metals Suitable For Welding

Other common, though more difficult, types of metals to use for welding include:

  • Cast iron

  • Copper/brass

  • Titanium

  • Magnesium alloys

With all of these, the welding process becomes more complicated than with the aluminum, stainless steel, and low carbon steel. Welding with titanium, for example, requires extra shielding to prevent oxidation. Some alloys can only be welded in a vacuum. Whatever metal you use, you should research it on an individual basis to ensure that the best welding practices are followed to achieve the desired results.


Learn More

To learn how to weld with all different types of metal and make welding your profession, training is necessary. Get the help you need by joining the Missouri Welding Institute. We are based in Nevada, Missouri, and offer programs in areas such as pipe welding and fitting, structural welding and fitting, and more.


Apply Today!


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