Your browser is not supported

You are using a browser we do not support any longer. To continue visiting our website, please choose one of the following supported browsers.

Our global presence

Please select a business area and your country and language.


Not quite sure about what you are looking for?

Use the links below to jump directly to the most searched topics

How to overcome 3 common challenges associated with working with stainless steel

October 12, 2020

Expert Corner

expert article - 3 challenges stainless steel - reference image

Stainless steel has long been crucial for many applications where strength, durability, and resistance to corrosion are essential. That is why it is often chosen for process equipment used in harsh environments such as chemical and petrochemical plants, refineries, and power stations. Unluckily, from a metalworking perspective, the same qualities that make it perfect for heavy industries also mean that it can be a challenge to work with. Here we look at three issues stainless steel presents to material removal applications and share tips on how to overcome them. 

1. Stainless steel overheats

Compared to steel and other iron-based materials, stainless steel has a significantly lower heat conductivity. This means that it gets hotter locally when worked on, making many material-removal tasks, such as weld seam removal, difficult. 

How to minimize the risk of overheating when working with stainless steel?

The most effective way to minimize the risk of overheating is to select a low-speed tool. Tools running at less than 4000 rpm are a good choice, as the relatively low speed will not allow the material to heat up, enabling the work to continue undisturbed as long as needed. It is also important to pay attention to how the tool is handled and avoid pushing it against the metal too hard, as it can contribute to overheating and, in the worst case, melt the metal onto the abrasive.

2. Progress is slow

The parts being worked on are often very thin, and the material removal tasks run a high risk of damaging the product. To avoid this, the work needs to be carried out extremely carefully, which is time-consuming, and some tasks, like grinding, can slow down the entire production flow. 

How to speed up the proces when working with stainless steel?

First of all, it is crucial to accept that with stainless steel, some tasks will take longer and take this into account when planning the work schedule. Selecting the right abrasive can also help speed up the process and contribute towards the best possible finish.

3. Achieving a quality finish is difficult

As stainless steel can be a demanding material to work with, achieving a good quality finish for painting is often a challenge, especially in an operating environment where other materials are being worked on simultaneously.

How to achieve a quality finish when working with stainless steel?

There are no shortcuts to a quality finish, and that is why it is essential to use the correct tools and inserts and eliminate any risk of damage from cross-contamination. The abrasive must be changed between using it on carbon steel and stainless steel, or the remains of the carbon steel will ultimately damage the stainless steel product. It is also useful to compare the options available and select the best possible insert for each task, as their features – and results – differ. For example, flap discs with finer grit can deliver a better finish in softer operations but make the process inefficient in other applications.

Pol-Dunoyer expert head-zoom

Aluminum’s thermal connectivity is around four and half times higher than stainless steel, and it is also cheaper. However, stainless steel tends to be the favored material for heat exchangers, because it is strong, durable, corrosion-resistant, and, ultimately, better value in the long run.

Pol Dunoyer , Global Business Development Manager at Chicago Pneumatic
mock-up cover

For more advice on how to overcome the challenges associated with materials including steel, aluminum, and composites, download our white paper

Trends in materials within heavy-duty industries and their impact on metalworking applications and tools.

Click here to download our white paper