Tips for Safe Steel Welding

Steel is one of the most used alloys in the world. A combination of both iron and carbon, it is utilized in most structural engineering due to its high tensile strength and low cost. With a tensile strength of 580 megapascals (Mpa) and a yield strenght of 260 Mpa, steel is a reliable alloy for most all industrial uses. Over 1.6 million tonnes (3.5 billion pounds) of steel were globally produced in just 2016. The U.S. is one of the largest steel suppliers in the world, employing over 142,000 people.

Beyond those producing steel, there are those people that are working with steel on a daily basis. In particular, welders a often working with steel whether for industrial projects, machinery, or automobiles. For anyone working as a welder or welding cold rolled steel or steel sheet pile for the first time, there are some primary tips that can make the process easier, ensuring that the job is done both safely and correctly from the start.

Safety, Safety, Safety

When working with welding steel sheet pile or steel sheet piling, it is important that you are taking all measures of precaution. Because of the caution that comes with welding, there are a few things you want to ensure: wear leather clothing to protect your extremities (shoes, boots, gloves), wear a flame-resistant smock or jacket, remove all flammable materials from the area where you are welding, and, most importantly, wear safety glasses or a skull cap, protecting both your eyes and face from any damage that could be caused by the flame.

Preparation of Steel

Steel sheet piles will not be properly prepped for welding from the start. To ensure that you have a clean, safe surface to work with, you will want to grind/clean the top of the sheet before beginning your work. This is the best means to ensure that all dirt, rust and oil is removed from the surface of the steel sheet pile, ensuring you have clean connections and clean metal.

Preparation of Equipment

Before even beginning to weld, you want to make sure that all of your equipment is in working order and checked for. This is one of the best ways to ensure that you are keeping safety in mind, reducing any and all possibilities for issues. Here are some of the basics you’ll want to check and set: welding cables, gas flow, tension, and welding materials.

Wire and Gas Selection

There are two types of both gas and wires that can be used when working with steel sheet pile, of which will depend upon the type of welding required. The two types of wires for use are the ER70S-3 (all-purpose welding) and ER70S-6 (welding on dirty/rusty steel); gas types go between a 75% argon and 25% CO2 blend (all purpose welding) and 100% CO2 (deeper welding with more abrasion).

Position for Welding

The position for which you’ll be welding your steel sheet pile will depend upon the ease of welding as well as the position that is required (dependent upon the project). The types of positions are as follows: flat, horizontal, vertical and overhead. Each has their own types of techniques required, dependent upon speed, bead size, and more. As with everything else, you should ensure that you are working under the safest conditions and precautions possible, keeping a keen eye on your work and using the necessary protective gear.

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