Can You Weld Stainless Steel with Normal MIG Wire: Ultimate Guide

Stainless steel is a favorite material for manufacturing items in the construction and engineering industry. It is generally easier to work with than ordinary carbon steel, and it can be made to resist corrosion, making it a popular choice for the construction industry. 

Many industries use stainless steel, from the manufacture of kitchen appliances and other domestic goods to engineering and construction projects.

Welding Stainless Steel is one of the most challenging things a welder will face in their career. Every welder in the world has heard of the MIG wire issue with stainless steel. 

One of the most common questions is, “Can you weld stainless steel with normal MIG wire”. This blog should hopefully answer all these questions.

So, Can You Weld Stainless Steel with Normal MIG Wire?

Yes, it is possible. Welding Stainless Steel is generally not advised and most often requires the use of a different filler wire such as ER4043 or ER308L. 

The reason is that the higher nickel content in stainless steel can actually dissolve the silicon carbide in the wire, reducing the abrasive quality of the flux core wire. 

There is an exception to this, however, and that is if you have a DCEN (Direct Current Electrode Negative) wire feeder. DCEN means that there are no leads for the wire; instead, the wire is fed directly from the machine, and the arc is negative. 

That way, it does not matter which side of the wire is touching the metal. It is always negative. With a DCEN wire feeder, you can use a normal MIG wire. 

It is not advised, but it is plausible. The downside to using normal MIG wire is that you will have a very hard time making a gas-tight weld. 

The arc will not be able to create a plasma shield, and the small amount of gas that is produced will leak out and oxidize the weld puddle. 

Use normal MIG wire only if you have a DCEN wire feeder and then only if you have access to ER4043 or ER308L filler wire.

The right Shielding Gas to Weld Stainless Steel with normal MIG Wire

Ok, so Tri-Mix is the best shielding gas for stainless steel. It’s not that hard to get. A local welding supply shop can get it for you. Or you can get it online. You can also try the other gases, but they don’t offer much improvement. 

For example, you may find the gas composition for a proper sound (90% helium, 7.5% argon, and 2.5% carbon dioxide) hard to achieve without having to spend a lot of time and money on getting it.

Shielding gas is used to protect the weld during cooling and is blown away so that you can see your work.

Moreover, Shielding gas is what you use to keep that puddle from oxidizing.

The first thing to remember is that you want to use the minimum amount of shielding gas needed to protect the weld. 

Too much shielding gas creates a higher-expense-and-higher-maintenance job. Next, the four most common shielding gases are argon, helium, carbon dioxide, and mixtures of argon and carbon dioxide. 

First, remember that pure argon is not used for MIG because it leaves a very lean, oxidizing flame behind the hot wire. 

If you’re looking for a gas with a high argon mix, try 98% argon and 2% oxygen. A 3 – 5% mixture of oxygen in your argon gas will help you weld successfully. You can weld almost anything with a mixture of 98% argon and 2% carbon dioxide.

Next, you should know that helium is the best gas to use if you have pure helium available. This rich gas produces a very hot, blue flame that makes it easy to see the weld puddle. 

But pure helium is expensive, and it’s not widely available. You can find it in some welding supply houses or by special order through your welding supply or equipment dealer.

The best welding mixture has a lot of argon and a little bit of oxygen. 

A welding mix of 98% argon and 2% oxygen is ideal when beginning a welding project.

If you add too much oxygen to the mix, then there is a greater chance the weld will give up on you. 

However, more experienced welders can begin their projects with as little as 3–5% oxygen in their argon mix and still have success. 

Alternatively, you may be able to find success using 98% argon and 2% carbon dioxide.

There isn’t enough gas in this kind of mix to sustain the heat required for an arc or spark hot enough to fuse metal together like two pieces of wire that were cut during construction as they were being used as conduit wiring later on. 

It also produces weak bonds that fracture easily because there is not enough energy released when the electrons are used to weld like with carbon dioxide instead. 

However, if you use a higher amount of carbon dioxide, it’s possible you could get away with using more oxygen than 98% if it’s necessary for your specific application. 

Using these gases also results in low-cost mixtures since they are so cheap.

Things to Remember While Weld Stainless Steel with Normal MIG Wire

Forget normal mig wire; when you’re welding stainless steel, you should know that there’s no such thing as normal.

But if you’re looking for safety precautions when welding with stainless steel, then you’ve come to the right place.

First and foremost, keep it clean. Stainless steel can be very difficult to clean, so your best bet is to choose a high-quality stainless steel product that comes pre-cleaned. 

Secondly, always keep other metals away from the welded areas. 

You don’t want to accidentally get any carbon into the weld, which can cause it to crack or break apart. 

Another easy way to prevent cracks and breaks is by using a protective coating on your stainless steel product—a simple, clear coat of paint or lacquer could be enough. 

Finally, make sure you’re using the right kind of metal wire for your product: some metals are better suited than others when it comes time to weld them together. 

For example, copper wire is much more flexible than aluminum wire, but it’s also much less conductive.

So if you’re working with copper wires and need something that’s more flexible than aluminum, then it might not be the best choice!

Safety Precautions While Weld Stainless Steel with Normal MIG Wire

When you’re a self-made man (or woman), you don’t have time to waste. You need to get the job done, and you need to do it fast. And if you’re going to weld stainless steel with mild steel wire, then that’s what you should do.

But if you’ve been studying welding for the past three years, then maybe you shouldn’t do that—because it’s not safe. Stainless steel has a much lower melting point than mild steel, so if they’re combined, there are a lot of dangers involved.

First of all, stainless steel gives off toxic fumes when heated. These fumes can cause lung irritation or respiratory problems like asthma and emphysema. 

Mild steel doesn’t give off these fumes at all, but when it’s combined with stainless steel, the fumes become even more toxic.

Stainless steel is also very brittle and will crack easily under pressure. If you use mild steel wire while welding stainless steel, the pressure from the mild steel will cause cracks in the stainless. 

The result? Your weld won’t hold up as well as it could have; your structure will be weaker and prone to failure.

Final Thought

As you can see, it is possible to weld stainless steel using normal MIG wire. Just make sure to keep the arc at a low temperature, use a stainless steel filler wire, and let the weld cool off slowly after it sets. 

Experiment with your settings until you get a feel for how the metal responds when you’re welding it.

Weld Stainless steel with MIG wire is possible. Though not recommended to do so, you can weld Stainless steel with MIG wire. 

Both Electrode and Shielding Gas must be made up of high-quality materials in order to create a strong weld that will last for multiple cycles.

Stainless steel is extremely difficult to weld, but it can be done.

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