Does stainless steel rust and how could it be prevented?

Stainless steel is constructed with built-in corrosion resistance but in certain conditions it can and will rust, although it won’t be as fast or severe as standard steels. Stainless steels will typically corrode when they are exposed to harmful chemicals, saline, moisture, grease, or heat for extended periods of time. 

The level of protection stainless steel has against corrosion is mostly dependent on how much chromium there is. If there isn’t enough chromium near the surface of the stainless steel, a new chromium oxide layer can’t form when the top layer is scratched off. This leaves the material at risk to multiple different types of corrosion. 

The basics of stainless steel 

To get a better insight into why steel is rust-resistant, and how this resistance can be broken down, it is beneficial to first know how these alloys are different from other steels. 

At the very minimum, stainless steel contains 10.5% of chromium. The chromium quickly reacts with the oxygen that surrounds it and creates a thin oxide layer on the steel’s surface. Unlike iron oxide, which is typically formed in a flaky and corrosive rust, the chromium oxide attaches to the steel. This makes it a better protective barrier. 

Chromium oxide is commonly known as a passive film that covers the iron in the alloy, protecting it from the air and water in the natural environment. It is this film that gives stainless steel its rust-resistance quality. 

Stainless steel is well-known for being low maintenance, and its resistance to oxidation and staining makes it the perfect material for a wide range of applications. 

What types of stainless steel corrosion is there? 

There are four main types of stainless steel corrosion. Each of them presents a different challenge and needs a different approach to effectively deal with it. 

General corrosion 

This is considered to be the safest form of corrosion because it is predictable, manageable, and in most cases, preventable. You will be able to tell it is general corrosion when there is a uniform loss of metal over the entire surface. Stainless steel that has a pH value of less than one is more prone to general corrosion. 

Galvanic corrosion 

Galvanic corrosion mostly affects metal alloys. It usually refers to a situation in which one metal has come into contact with another, resulting in one or both reacting with each other and corroding. 

Pitting corrosion 

This is a localised type of corrosion which leaves holes or cavities. It often occurs when stainless steel is exposed to environments that contain chlorides. 

Crevice corrosion 

Another localised corrosion which forms at the crevice between two joining surfaces. It can happen between two metals or between a metal and a non-metal. 

How to prevent rusting in stainless steel 

When stainless steel begins to rust it can be concerning and not look great either. It is a metal that is specifically designed to resist corrosion so most users will start to worry when they spot stains and rusting on the metal. Fortunately, there are several methods to prevent rusting and improve corrosion resistance at different stages of the stainless steel fabrication process. 

Design 

Taking a proactive stance with stainless steel fabrication design pays off in the long term. Detailed planning in the design phase of stainless steel applications will minimise the risk of water being able to penetrate the material and reduce surface damage potential. In cases where contact with water is unavoidable, drainage holes should be added. The design should allow free air circulation to prevent damage to the alloy. 

Fabrication 

During any stainless steel fabrication work it is important to prevent stainless steel from coming into contact with iron or ordinary steel. This means being extremely careful with work tables, tools, storage units, chains, and steel turning rolls. 

If any cross-contamination occurs with carbon steel dust particles settling onto the stainless steel during the fabrication process, the potential for rust formation increases significantly. Also, any cleaning or grinding tools that have been used with carbon or a low alloy steel should be kept separate from stainless steels. 

Maintenance 

Regular maintenance is an essential part of stainless steel rust prevention, as well as restricting further progression of existing rust. It is important to get rid of any rust that has formed using mechanical or chemical methods. The grime left over can be cleaned using warm water and soap. After the steel has been cleaned, a rust-resistant coating should be added. 

 

Contact us today to find out more about our stainless steel fabrication services and how we can help you

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What is TIG welding?

TIG welding (Tungsten inert gas welding) is a sub-type of gas metal arc welding (GMAW). It is a process that uses electricity to both melt and join pieces of metal. This welding method was first invented in the 1940s to tackle the difficulty of welding magnesium and aluminium within the Californian aerospace industry. 

Since then, its popularity has taken off massively and not just in the aerospace industry. This is mostly due to its versatility, cleanliness, minimal finishing requirement, and how efficient it is to use when you want to weld a broad range of different metals. Despite equipment details evolving and adapting from its initial invention, the basic principles of TIG welding remain the same.

How does TIG welding work? 

TIG welding uses electricity to generate an arc (short circuit) between a non-consumable tungsten electrode (positive anode) and the metal being welded (negative cathode). The arc is protected by a stream of inert gas, usually argon. 

A non-consumable tungsten electrode 

Compared to the consumable electrode wire in MIG welding, TIG welding tungsten electrodes have a much higher melting point (c. 6192 degrees Fahrenheit or 3422 degrees Celsius) which means they won’t melt during welding. Instead, the arc that runs between the electrode and the work melts the parent metal. At the same time (unless it is an autogenous weld, like a temporary tack weld), the arc also melts a separate welding rod of filler metal to create the weld bead. 

Inert shielding gas 

The molten weld pool is also covered by an inert shielding gas. Normally, this is argon on its own or an argon mixture, although more experienced TIG welders might opt for helium as it can make for faster welding under specific circumstances. 

The shielding gas is pushed along a supply pipeline from the welding machine to the TIG torch that is holding the tungsten electrode. Like with other types of electric arc welding, when the heat is taken away, the weld pool cools down, solidifies, and creates a new piece of fused metal.  

As a result of this, when you are using a TIG welder for your metal fabrication, you need to co-ordinate the interaction of a hand-held TIG torch with a filler rod on top of varying the electrical current. Ensuring the electrode is the right distance from the weld, holding the filler rod tip in place, keeping both in the shielding gas, and altering the current all contribute to the complexity of TIG welding. 

The versatility of TIG welding 

It is that same complexity that makes the TIG welding process extremely versatile for welding a wide variety of metals. Stainless steel, mild steel, aluminium, copper alloys, magnesium, gold, and titanium can all be welded using the TIG approach. Even metals that are dissimilar can be TIG welded, and all with hardly any mess to clean up at the end. 

Ever since its creation at California’s Northrop Aircraft Corporation, TIG welding has been the top choice amongst welders because of its versatility. In addition to its ability to handle more difficult welds like ‘S’ shapes, corners, and curves. 

What are the benefits of TIG welding? 

  • TIG welding can be used for various metal thicknesses. It is even suitable for particularly thin materials that are challenging (or impossible) to join with other welding techniques. 
  • Good arc and weld pool control will help you get clean, attractive welds when appearances are important. Due to heat input (decided by the electrical current) normally being controlled with a foot pedal, TIG welding enables you to heat or cool the weld pool for precise control of the weld bead. This makes TIG welding perfect for cosmetic welds on sculptures, automotive work, or architectural features. 
  • TIG welding can be done in any position whether it is vertical, horizontal, or overhead. 
  • It’s easy to see your whilst welding as there is minimal smoke and the shielding gas is colourless. 
  • TIG welding only needs minimal cleaning and finishing which will save you time, effort, and money. This is because it creates less spatter, sparks, smoke, and fumes than other welding processes. 
  • TIG welds are much stronger and more resistant to corrosion than other welds. 
  • The best TIG welding machines allow you to do traditional stick welding too. 

Are there any disadvantages to TIG welding? 

  • TIG welding can be quite slow, especially at the beginning. Even when it is carried out by skilled welders the process is typically slower than other welding methods. 
  • Because of how complex it is, TIG welding comes with a steeper learning curve than other types of welding. The rewards you will get when you master it are worth it, but if you’re learning to do it yourself you need time and patience to effectively develop your skills. 
  • TIG welding can be quite dangerous outside the controlled environment of a workshop. This is due to the importance of being able to keep a consistent flow of gas over the weld pool. 

 

As you can see, the benefits of TIG welding far outweigh the drawbacks. 

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If you need help with metal fabrication you should contact an experienced fabrication engineer like our team at FEM. Get in touch to discuss your requirements. 

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Benefits of Stainless Steel

What Is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is an alloy of several different types of metal that, when combined, are more resistant to corrosion than any of the metals used individually. This makes it an ideal choice for a wide range of applications, from cladding to commercial kitchens.

Stainless steel is an alloy of iron with a minimum of 10.5% chromium. This forms a thin passive layer on the surface which protects the metal from corrosion and oxidation. It is this passive layer that gives stainless steel its name, as it is truly resistant to staining and corrosion.

There are a number of grades of stainless steel, each with different properties, but all with the common denominator of high resistance to rusting and staining. This makes stainless steel an ideal choice for a wide range of applications where hygiene is paramount, such as in the food and beverage industry, healthcare or pharmaceuticals. It is also often used in more corrosive environments such as marine engineering or chemical processing.

As well as being highly resistant to corrosion, stainless steel has a number of other advantages which make it an ideal choice for many applications. It is a very strong metal, making it perfect for fabricating into products which need to withstand high levels of wear and tear. It is also very easy to clean, as it is non-porous, meaning that bacteria and dirt cannot penetrate the surface.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of stainless steel:

Strong and Durable

Stainless steel is a very strong metal, making it ideal for fabricating products which need to withstand high levels of wear and tear. It is also very difficult to break or bend, making it perfect for products which need to be strong and durable.

Long Lifespan

Stainless steel is a very long-lasting material, meaning that products made from it will have a long lifespan. This makes it perfect for items which need to be used on a daily basis, such as cutlery or sinks.

Corrosion Resistance

One of the most important benefits of stainless steel is its resistance to corrosion. This makes it an ideal material for use in many different environments, including outdoor and marine applications.

The chromium in the stainless steel reacts with oxygen in the air to form a thin layer of chromium oxide on the surface of the metal. This layer protects the metal from further oxidation and corrosion.

Ease of Maintenance

Another benefit of stainless steel is that it is very easy to keep clean and maintain. This is due to its resistance to corrosion and ability to be cleaned easily.

Stainless steel can be cleaned with a variety of different methods, including using detergents, soap, and water. It is also possible to use specialised cleaning products which are designed for use on stainless steel.

Hygienic Properties

The hygienic properties of stainless steel make it an ideal material for use in many different applications, such as commercial kitchens and hospitals.

This is because stainless steel is non-porous and does not absorb liquids or dirt. This means that it is very easy to clean and disinfect, making it ideal for use in environments where hygiene is of paramount importance.

Applications

The many benefits of stainless steel make it an ideal material for use in a wide range of applications. These include:

  • Cladding – Stainless steel cladding is often used on buildings to provide a modern and stylish finish. It is also very easy to clean and maintain, making it an ideal choice for use in commercial and public buildings.
  • Fabrication – Stainless steel is often used in the fabrication of products which need to be strong and durable. It is also very easy to work with, making it ideal for use in a wide range of applications.
  • Food and Beverage Industry – The food and beverage industry often uses stainless steel due to its resistance to corrosion and easy maintenance.
  • Marine – Stainless steel is often used in marine applications due to its resistance to corrosion.
  • Kitchens – Stainless steel is often used in the fabrication of commercial kitchens due to its resistance to corrosion and ability to be easily cleaned.
  • Hospitals – The hygienic properties of stainless steel make it an ideal choice for use in hospitals and other healthcare environments.

About Us

FEM Fabrication is a leading provider of high-quality stainless steel fabrication services. We specialise in the manufacture, installation, and maintenance of a wide range of stainless steel products.

If you would like to find out more about our services, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We would be more than happy to discuss your requirements with you and provide you with a free quotation.

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Advantages of MIG Welding

MIG Welding is a process that is an effective alternative compared to MMA. This guide explores everything that you need to know about the process, including the key benefits.  

MIG welding or Metal Inert Gas Welding refers to an arc welding process. It uses a solid continuous wire electrode which is heated and fed directly into the weld pool. Two base materials are then melted together to ensure a join is formed. Along with the electrode, a shielding gas is also fed into the pool. This ensures that it is protected from any contaminants which may be airborne.  

Originally, this process was developed in 1949 and used specifically to weld aluminium. Helium gas was used to protect the weld pool as it was easily accessible. After 1952, this process began to increase in popularity across the UK. Argon was used as a shielding gas and the process was utilised to weld various carbon steels.  

Advantages Of MIG Welding 

 There are various advantages of using MIG welding. For instance, MIG welding is commonly viewed as a better alternative compared to MMA welding. Part of the right for this is that it provides a higher level of productivity as well as a high deposition rate. The process is more productive because a considerable amount of time is saved as welders do not need to repeatedly brush the weld or constantly change over the rods.  

 MIG welding is also considered to be a semi-automatic process, reducing the labour required. Part of the reason for this is that the wire feed rate, as well as the arc length, are controlled by a power source. However, the wire position and travel speed must both be controlled manually. If no manual intervention is required using a mechanised system, then the process is considered to be totally automatic.  

 Simple And Easy To Learn 

 MIG welding will also provide a high level of pool visibility. This ensures that it is easier to create a high quality weld. It also means that MIG welding is simple to learn. Generally speaking, it is possible to learn the process of MIG welding in just a few hours. Some instructors state that they can offer complete training in just 20 minutes. The majority of the time here is spent on learning how to clean the weld. In contrast, tig welding takes a lot more time. This is why MIG welding is often referred to as a “point and shoot” job.  

 Highly Versatile  

 Another key advantage of MIG welding is that it is a versatile solution. It can be used with a range of different metals and alloys through semi-automatic as well as automatic processes. Indeed, it can be used to weld various metals including: 

  • Aluminium 
  • Stainless steel 
  • Mild steel 
  • Magnesium  
  • Nickel 
  • Iron

It can also be used for countless alloys of these metals too.  

Eco-Friendly And Efficient 

 MIG welding is considered to be an efficient and clean process. The shielding gas ensures that there is limited loss of alloying elements when the metal is transferred across the arc. There is also no slag created that needs to be removed and very minor levels of splatter. A quick clean-up ensures that welders can immediately get back to work and continue with this process.  

 Since the process uses a continuously fed wire, this also ensures that welding speed is dramatically increased. This can occur without any impact on the quality of the product that is created.  

Uses Of MIG Welding 

 MIG welding is a process that can be used in a variety of different ways. This is a process that will be useful for a variety of home welding projects. However, it may also be utilised in an industrial setting as well.  

 A key advantage of MIG welding is that it will provide a strong weld for incredible thin metals. This is why it is commonly used to either repair or assemble the body or the interior of vehicles.  

 Indeed, MIG welding is used today in virtually every welding industry. It can be used for medium-sized industrial companies for the construction of ships, pipelines and pressurised vessels.  

 The process is also commonly used in sheet metal factories including body shops. You can even get a MIG welding machine that is perfect for home use.  

 We hope this helps you understand some of the key advantages of the MIG welding process and why it is commonly used across the welding industry today. Clean, efficient and guaranteed to provide high-quality results, there are countless reasons to rely on this process.  

If you would like to know more about our bespoke fabrication services, contact our team who will be happy to help.

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A quick guide to steel ladder fabrication

Our steel ladders are meticulously fabricated to provide safe access to services inside and outside your building. Safety is key here, which is why ladders, staircases and platforms are subject to so many industry-specific regulations, and why you should always use a professional steel fabricator to undertake the work.

Structural steel ladders – an introduction

Steel ladders – fixed or portable – provide a strong and durable way of scaling a height. Mild steel and stainless steel are both weatherproof for use outside, and tough enough to withstand many years of harsh industrial conditions.

At FEM, we can fabricate steel ladders, steps, and staircases using your design or one of our own. We can also add in extra safety features, such as a handrail, an access platform, or a step-over.

For exterior use, cat ladders or vertical ladders are a popular solution. They’re usually fixed to a wall or roof and fitted with a protective cradle, offering a way to safely access hard-to-reach areas.

The consequences of something going wrong while an employee is working at height are likely to be life-altering for everyone involved. Always make sure your chosen provider is following all of the necessary regulations for ladder fabrication.

Why choose FEM for your steel ladders

If you’re looking for steel fabrication services in Great Britain, then where better to find a provider than in the steel city itself – Sheffield. We’re a family-owned business, driven by a determination to offer our clients the very best this renowned city has to offer.

We’re also proud to say that we meet the standards for ISO9001 accreditation. When you choose to work with us, you can expect to receive a consistently high standard of work. Our reputation is everything, and we can confidently say that our approach to handling projects, from start to finish, has earned us loyalty among our clients.

To find out more about our fabrication services or to discuss steel ladder fabrication, call our team, email us, or use our contact form online.

What are fabricated stainless steel letters?

Stainless Steel letter fabrication is a very popular fabrication service. Many business will use fabricated letters when opening a business to create a high quality, professional high end look. They also may be used for residential properties for house numbers. Stainless Steel Letters can be flat cut or built up depending on the desired look or impact you want to create.

Stainless steel is often the leading metal material used for steel letters due to it being fire and heat resistance, sustainable and corrosion resistant. it is a versatile material and typical inexpensive material which can create a big impact for your business. It is also an easy material to clean and maintain.

What can stainless steel letters be used for?

Fabricated metal letters can be used for internal and external use. You may often see them being used for:

  • Name Plaques
  • Building Names and Numbers
  • Schools and Universities
  • Shop signs
  • Front Door numbers
  • Boats
  • Hotels

How are stainless steel letters fabricated?

Stainless steel is a highly popular material and heat resistant materials. It is the perfect material to use for metal letters and logos due to the durability and corrosion resistance elements of the material. Using your design, letters are created using CNC tools and machining to create the shape and specifications of the letters from stainless steel sheets.

The fabrication processes used during the creation of letters may involve cutting, forming, shearing, welding, and machining. Once the letters have been fabricated the letters will be buffed and painted if required. Stainless Steel is an ideal material if it needs to be painted.

Painting stainless steel is important as it helps to protect the material and can incorporate your desired colours. After the letters have been welded, the material will be cleaned and degreased. The metal will then be primed and painting the colour you desire. The paint will create a clean and smooth finished to the letters.

Once finished, the letters may have brackets on the inside as a mounting option. The letters will be installed and be set securely in place. Fabricated letters also have the option of having LED lighting behind the letters to illuminate the sign.

If you would like to know more about our stainless-steel fabrication process, you can find more about our services here or you can contact us using the contact form for a bespoke fabrication projects.

What are the different types of Fabrication?

In the fabrication industry there is a wide range of different types of fabrication. Cutting, folding, casting, forging, machining, shearing, punching, stamping, and welding are the most common types of fabrication that are performed during the manufacturing process.

Types of Fabrication Processes

Cutting

Cutting involves splitting or cutting the metal material down into smaller sections. When creating large scale fabrication cutting may be used to create the desired sections. Large sheets of metal will be cut down into either halves or thirds before being shaped however, pre shaped metals may also use the cutting process. This can be done through advancements in technology and cutting tools including water jet cutting, laser cutting, CNC (computer numerical computer) cutting machines.

Forming

Forming is a common metal fabrication process to create a shape or a fold in the metal material. The process involves manipulating the piece of metal forming a bend that is usually done at a 90-degree angle. Forming requires high tech equipment to form shapes in the metal such as CNC press brakes or rolling machines.

Punching

Punching is the process of creating holes in metal workpieces by punching them in using specific machinery. Using metal sheets, the punching device will cut and punch desired shapes or holes on the flat surface of the metal. This can be done using CNC Turret Punch Machines for large scale fabrication. Smaller hand powered punching devices may be used for small scale fabrication.

Shearing

Shearing is a similar process to cutting. It involves removing unwanted material or excess metal material by trimming it in one long cut. One long straight cut is achieved by having two blades: One above the piece of metal and one below the metal. It is the perfect tool for cutting smaller lengths or different shape materials as the as the blades are able to be mounted at angles.

Stamping

Another fabrication process that is common and similar to punching. Unlike punching, Stamping will create an indentation as opposed to punching a hole in the metal. Stamping is done to create letters, shapes or images into a sheet of metal. Stamping machines are often used for coining and four slide forming.

Welding

Welding is probably the most popular fabrication procedure used. Welding involves joining multiple pieces metal together through heat and pressure. The welding process can be used for different types of metal to create any shapes and sizes. The most popular types of welding are MIG and TIG welding, stick or arc welding and spot and stud welding.

MIG (Metal Inert Gas) Welding and TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) Welding are two of the most common welding procedures we use at FEM for many of our fabrication projects for all industry needs including the construction industry.

Machining

Machining is the process of removing unwanted material from the metal by shaping it. This is commonly done using CNC Machining to ensure the measurements are precise.

Find out more about or machining service and process offered at FEM.

 

Types of Fabrication of Steel Structures

The structural steel fabrication process begins with the ideation stage. Before the physical labour of fabrication begins, our skilled fabricators will design the structure using specialist software. The design process involves factoring in the requirements, measurements and regulations and compliances needed for the fabrication.

Once the design is finalised the steel metal will involve:

  • Cutting
  • Forming
  • Welding

Once the fabrication processes have been performed the steel structure can be assembled and become operational.

If you would like to know about the structure steel fabrication process, you can find out more here.

If you would like to find out more information regarding a fabrication project or a bespoke fabrication project, you can contact us where are team will be happy to help.