? weld 22 gauge stainless w/TIG

I searched this group for "22 stainless TIG" and didn't find much about my question.
I bought a small 6 x 8 sample of 22 gauge (about 0.03") type 304
stainless sheet and attempted to weld a square butt joint in the flat position. I set a very narrow gap --say 1/32".
I was using a Syncrowave 250, a 1/16 lanthanated tungsten, and about 30A without a pulser. (I actually had it set at 40A but backed off the pedal once the arc got started.) I used 1/16" 316L filler.
It was difficult to get the arc started with "Lift Arc" so I used HF start.
I realize you have to move quicker with stainless and minimize heat input, but boy was this a bee-och. I got terrible warpage of the surrounding metal. Also the stainless just didn't readily "wet", like mild steel, and by the time it did I would just as soon burn thru.
When I failed at the butt joint I tried a lap joint both with and without filler. The problem without filler is that the metal on the upper part of the lap would melt but the lower section wouldn't. The molten upper part just preferred to recede away from the arc, as if it was solder that needed flux.
The lap joint with filler was better. The filler helps with the wetting issue but the warpage was still there and the weld looked like it was done by a special-needs child.
In both cases I expected some sugaring on the reverse side and got it. I didn't bother to dam up some argon there. But the sugaring is the least of my problems.
Do I need go off to a monastery to practice more or is this weld just never attempted? To see someone actually do it would be great. Is there a Youtube video someone could point me at?
--zeb
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I worked at a fab shop that specialized in aluminum and SS fab. $750,000 Trumpf 4 x 10 argon laser cutout table, $400,000 CNC machine, likewise bender, et al. HIGH end stuff. Most commonly was 16 ga. SS. 22 would be thinner, and more difficult.
During my training, I was shown how to weld 16 ga. by some "magicians". I call them that, because their in/out movement of rod and TIG electrode at the same time was just that. I was confined to corner fusion welding, and never ever did get the hang of the in/out coordinated hand movement of really fine seams.
We used 1/16" thoriated tungsten ground to a needle point.
It was an exacting thing, and either one had the talent, or one did not.
I did not.
While watching endless demonstrations, I thought I could do it. I CAN repeat it with 7018 puddling, 6010 "stacked dimes" puddling, and assorted whipping and various motions of coated rods 4x the dimensions of the smaller SS. But, just like playing a guitar, no matter how much I tried, I know I will never play a guitar.
It is a talent. You have it or you don't.
And every man reaches the point where they admit to themself the parameters of their talent. And then, sometimes there are limits on thicknesses that can be successfully welded. Or not.
Reality is nature's way of keeping things straight.
Practice, perseverance, instruction, et al may be able to bring about the final result: one being able to actually do it,
or maybe not.
What did Clint Eastwood say? A man has to admit his limitations?
Steve
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I remember doing a 16-gauge SS fillet at community college welding course a decade ago. Still got sugaring but no warpage and a decent looking weld. It's really not that hard provided you learn how to walk the cup. 22-gauge is half as thick. I always thought welding an aluminum beer can was the ultimate welding challenge. Now I think I have a new one.
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I always thought welding an aluminum beer can was the ultimate welding challenge. Now I think I have a new one.
* * *
An old friend of mine told me that welding a beer can was not difficult, and that among experienced hands, it got no respect, although it sure impressed the newbies because it was so easy to do. The trick was to do it with a stick rod, and to coat the can with soot heavily first. Never saw him do it, tho. Fred was one of those guys who, if he said he could do it, he could do it. He used to do a lot of stuff for the movies. He was a great guy, and one hell of a weldor.
RIP
Steve
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On 4/10/2012 1:21 PM, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Weldability goes dwon as the number goes down in the 300 Stainless family. 316 is pretty easy, 303 is ugly.
The backside argon purge helps more than you might expect. The sugaring prevents the wetting in the joint. Stainless is a pretty poor conductor of heat, so you don't need as much power as you would on mild steel.
Warping is a problem I have not beaten. My best success at it is to tack frequently and then fill in between the tacks.
The newer Syncrowaves have a low energy start setting on the HF. I found it when I was welding some 0.022 Aluminum. If you have trouble blowing holes when the arc is starting, selecting the low energy start helps tremendously. I think you hold the HF select button down when you turn the power on to get to it, but you should look in the manual.
Most of what I have done is thicker 316, so I can't help much more than this.
Good Luck, BobH
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Amperage rules 1 amp per 0.001" of thickness minus 1/3 for stainless steel 0.030" = 30 amps - 10 amps = 20 amps.
If using a pulser the main amperage will go up.
Never use a filler wire thicker than your base metal. 0.030" base metal, = 0.024" or 0.030" filler wire
There is no gap needed on stainless steel sheet metal
try it without filler first. Butt the 2 pieces together. Tack both ends of the joint. Set the machine for 20 amps and get close enough that the puddle forms. Walk the puddle down the seam.
With a lap joint on thin sheet metal you HAVE to use filler. The end of the filler wire sits between the tungsten and the edge of the upper piece. Use the filler to eat the heat so you don't melt away the upper edge.
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Thanks Ernie, I knew you would answer. Is the weld I described a ho-hum everyday weld for you or is it a challenge? Are you saying it can be done without warping? What's the thinnest stainless you've done?
--zeb
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Not butting in, but the one word that comes to my mind is .........................
"fun."
Have fun, and good luck.
"Whether a man thinks he can or he cannot, he is right."
-Henry Ford_
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Stainless steel warps like crazy if given a chance. Terrible heat conductivity means the heat localizes, and the chrome content means high heat expansion. These 2 effects make warpage a constant enemy. You can reduce warpage, by lightly preheating the entire area, using the least amps possible, and physically restricting the parts.
I have welded miles of 22 gage SS, only now I have to wear reading glasses for tiny stuff.
Thin stainless steel is quite easily weldable as long as you follow the rules.
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The thinnest SS I have welded was 0.005". That was a challenge.
TIG welding stainless steel is my "happy place". Like raking sand in my zen rock garden.
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Thanks Ernie for a post about ten years ago. I am planning on doing some thin stainless welding and looked at a bunch of old posts about back purging and using Solar Flux Type B. But read a old post of yours saying to braze it and not worry about back purging. Sounds like a plan. The project is stainless stove pipe using some stainless sheet I got at the scrap yard.
Dan
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TIG brazing is always an option as long as there is no immersion in a dielectric solution, like sea water or beer. Make sure to use Silicon bronze. If the idiots at the welding supply store sell you low fuming bronze the stuff with explode at TIG temps... too much zinc.
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Idiots at the welding store? Most of my welding rods are from the scrap yard. I have some silicon bronze mig wire with a label that says PSNS. They threw it out because it has tarnished. But it works well for tig if I use some sandpaper on it.
Dan
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replying to Ernie Leimkuhler, Ralph Dratman wrote: Great tips, thanks!
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