Heavy Metal: Things to look for in welding material selection before welding - Part 1

Building with your new welder, tips on getting the best material.

The first time you take the plunge to manufacture or build something new with your welder (whether it’s a stick welder, TIG welder, or MIG welder), you are undoubtedly going to be faced with the chore of selecting the source of the metal that will be used for the task. No doubt price will play a factor in your decisions, but quality should as well, depending upon the application that it will be used for. These days, at metal supply warehouses, quantity and quality of different metal materials will vary from load to load and you can’t always trust your “old” source to provide you with consistent results. One week the material may be coming from Pakistan, the next week the metal may come from Mexico. And the next from the US or Canada. It’s all market driven on pricing. At many warehouses, unless material is special ordered, material in stock may a be lower quality and picked over by larger customers for the choice pieces by the time you get to purchase it. Several things are important to consider when buying metal at the supplier. The first of which is to demand that you get to a chance to inspect and approve the metal stock before you buy (and certainly before, or as it is loaded.) This will help ensure that you are receiving the best product that they have and will prevent wasted money on bent or damaged pieces. Pieces of plate or sheet metal with “dogged ears” (bent corners or edges) are common and many metal suppliers will load the metal as it comes and will not discriminate in loading them unless the buyer in proactive and supervises the loading. But this can also work in the buyer’s favor as well as many times if caught, the metal distributor will offer a discount on damaged material sometimes, a few pennies a pound above the scrap price. If the whole piece is not needed, or a defect in the material not of a critical nature, it may be a wise idea to ask about and inspect any damaged sheets or pieces before you buy to receive a possible discount.

Learn more on our welding forum

Look for part two of this article tomorrow.

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