Stainless steel refers to a group of iron-based alloys that contain approximately 11% chromium at minimum. Other alloying elements, such as nickel, are also added in desired proportions to stainless steel to enhance its unique properties, which include high strength and exceptional corrosion resistance in extreme temperature and chemical environments. Stainless steel is widely popular in many industries for a variety of reasons, including its availability in abundance at low costs.
However, the addition of secondary alloy elements can make stainless steel hard to cut. Cutting stainless steel can prove especially challenging for small shops and fabricators that don’t have the proper sawing infrastructure and expertise.
To effectively cut your stainless steel to the dimensions you require, it’s important to understand its unique challenges and characteristics. Below, we detail some of these challenges and provide an efficient solution for overcoming them.
Challenges with Cutting Stainless Steel
Due to the high nickel content, severe plastic deformation can occur when cutting stainless steel alloys. The chips produced are neither easy to break nor bond. As a result, the work hardening layer gets larger and larger with each pass, requiring more cutting force. Under such conditions, the friction between the tool and the workpiece increases, and so does the heat.
Stainless steel alloys also have low thermal conductivity and thus have a poor heat dissipation capacity. The excess heat generated that accumulates between the tool and the metal ultimately deteriorates the machine’s surface and dissipates into the tool, negatively affecting its geometry, hardness, and wear resistance. In some extreme cases, the excess heat can elevate the temperature of the tool tip and melt the tip or contribute to complete tool failure.
Disadvantages of Poor Cutting Quality
One of the obvious disadvantages of poor stainless steel cutting is constantly losing chip quality on every iteration. However, there are other disadvantages as well, some of which are described below.
In the absence of the proper expertise and dedicated machine setup, it is impossible to avoid metal waste for small shops and fabricators. Unless you utilize an efficient scrap metal recycling service, the scraps generated will be a loss. Much of this scrap may also become unusable, which can lead to having to purchase additional materials to meet the project requirements. In this regard, gaining awareness about the metal properties is the best first step towards curbing material waste owing to the poor sawing process.
High Sawing Setup Costs
Cutting stainless steel and other similar hard alloys requires industrial horizontal band saws instead of a manual hacksaw. Horizontal band saws offer precise cutting, achieve faster cuts, and give you ease of use. However, the initial setup cost could be too high for small shops and fabricators that have to work within tight budgets.
Benefits of Outsourcing Stainless Steel Cutting to an Expert
Many industrial metal suppliers and recyclers have dedicated metal sawing setups to offer you numerous cost and time benefits for cutting high-strength stainless steel alloys. These sawing services employ high-end metal saws to quickly cut stainless steel and other nickel alloys to precise dimensions. They also often have more cutting options, such as plasma, oxyfuel, and water jet, that can handle especially challenging alloys. Depending on material properties, the ideal cutting process can be chosen to assure your finished product has smooth edges with no mechanical stress.
By utilizing a reliable metal sawing service provider to cut your stainless steel to size, you can save time for other productive work on the floor. You also won’t have to worry about material waste, which saves valuable floor space and prevents you from having to purchase more material to meet your project requirements.
In this regard, it’s always a wise decision to hire a local metal supplier that can offer you a wide range of metal services.
Precision Stainless Steel Cutting from a Trusted Local Metal Supplier
For more than two decades, Industrial Metal Service has been supplying metals to and recycling metals from fabricators, welders, and machine shops in the San Francisco Bay Area and nationwide. Our inventory includes aluminum, steel, titanium, and exotic metals. We’ve also heavily invested in our metal sawing services, and our state-of-the-art equipment can quickly and accurately cut metals such as stainless steel to the dimensions you require, saving you valuable time and money.