Dispelling Common Misconceptions on Weld Cleaning Solutions

Misgivings about weld cleaner solutions come from old misconceptions. TIG Brush clears up these myths to highlight the importance of weld cleaning here.

Cleaning stainless steel with weld cleaning solutions is crucial to creating passivated and durable welds. This is a well-known fact in the industry, a critical piece of knowledge that is now taught even in trade schools. During fabrication, stainless steel surfaces may be contaminated with rust, dirt, and even with other metals (such as carbon steel). The surface of the metal can also be dented or scratched, all of which can lead to corrosion if not properly cleaned and passivated.

Some professionals believe that pickling paste is sufficient for their needs. The up-front cost of an alternative process such as an electrochemical weld cleaning solution may deter some, and others may think the higher quality results such a machine provides will take longer. Often, these misconceptions come from a lack of up-to-date knowledge, and reliance on old practices. Stainless steel weld cleaning has been conducted using a variety of methods, long before the modern electrolytic weld cleaning technology was developed, and old habits die hard as they say.

Ensitech, the inventor of the conductive brush technology and manufacturer of the TIG Brush Stainless Steel Weld Cleaning System, emphasise how crucial it is to find the right weld cleaning solution for your requirements. This can only be done by first dispelling the myths that have built up over the years. 

Common Myths and Misconceptions

Weld cleaning solutions are costly

Some professional welders and welding companies hesitate to change their weld cleaning methods because of the initial cost of investment in a weld cleaning machine. Modern weld cleaning solutions typically cost upwards of $2,000. However, the ROI for an electrolytic weld cleaning system can be as short as four days, or up to 12 months, depending of course on frequency of use.

Smaller operatives may feel it unnecessary to invest in specialist weld cleaning equipment and weld cleaning solutions, especially if they’ve been working a long time without it. But consider the price versus the outcome. Not passivating the weld at all could potentially result in corrosion of the welds over time, shortening the life of the product and leaving the work looking unsightly. Corrosion leads to sharp edges, which may cause injury, and weakens the weld which may compromise the integrity and safety of the finished product.

Electrolytic weld cleaning systems can be used to prepare the surface prior to welding, preparing the way for a superior weld. The result is better products and services for your customers, leading to higher quality, higher margins, and a better customer experience. 

Finally, having a good weld cleaning solution and equipment saves time and money on regulatory compliance especially for food related equipment, and for overall employee and customer health and safety. You are in fact decreasing your risk of incurring safety violations, particularly compared to using pickling paste. This allows your business to keep pace with the ever increasing environmental and OH&S requirements.

They hinder productivity

It might be thought that the extra steps of preparing the surface before welding, then passivating the weld after cleaning may increase the time required to complete the job. Some welders may prefer skipping these steps just to get the job done as quickly as possible. 

But experience teaches that using the proper weld cleaning equipment and solutions actually saves time. Stainless steel weld cleaners significantly reduce downtime by cleaning and passivating simultaneously. This is significantly faster than the two-step pickling paste process. There is no need to dispose of the used paste, and no need to undergo an extensive cleaning-up operation to get rid of the acid. While PPE is always an important consideration, the PPE required for electrochemical weld cleaning is considerably less than the PPE required to safely use pickling paste.

Using an electrolytic weld cleaning machine such as the TIG Brush is simple and fast. After dipping the brush in cleaning fluid and wiping it over the weld, all that is required for clean-up is to rinse with a neutraliser and water. No specialised disposal is required, and there is no fearing a visit from your local environmental officer either.

The machine will produce dangerous fumes

Any machine or equipment used in the welding process requires knowledge and skill to use. In the wrong hands a welding machine may pose a real health risk when not used correctly or without the correct PPE. Another common misconception on weld cleaners is that the weld cleaning solutions used during the electrochemical weld cleaning process may increase danger to the user through exposure to hazardous vapours and fumes.

Full PPE recommended when using pickling paste.

On the contrary: pickling paste has a far higher risk, resulting in great care required in the handling and use of these hazardous products. The weld cleaner must be very aware of the risks of pickling paste and use the recommended PPE when using it to reduce the potential of harm. In contrast electrolytic weld cleaning systems or solutions don’t create this risk. While the equipment may emit fumes during the process, and use of a mask is recommended, most of the fumes are in fact steam vapour in low concentration. High quality weld cleaning solutions use analytical grade ingredients which also increases the safety of any fumes.

Cleaning and Passivating dulls the metal surface

Pickling paste uses a strong acid to dissolve the surface of stainless steel, in order to remove the surface oxides. However, this leaves the surface with a dull matt grey finish. Abrasives also change the appearance of the metal surface by removing material. Often further processes are required to re-create the desired surface look.

One of the benefits of using a high-quality electrolytic weld cleaning system is that the surface finish is not changed. This means that the only operation required to complete the work is to clean and passivate the weld in a single operation.

Unfortunately, there are some cheap machines that tend to “polish” the surface. In many cases it is as difficult to correct a polished surface as it is to correct a matt one.

Professional, authentic weld cleaning systems do not dull or polish the surface. They can leave the surface surgically clean with the same finish that it had before, which is one of the major advantages of using these products.

Change of appearance caused by the use of pickling paste

Trust Distributors of Genuine, Professional-Grade Cleaning Solutions

The best results from weld cleaning systems come from genuine products that have been specially designed for optimal cleaning and passivating. These machines can tackle a variety of welded surfaces and improve the quality of the welds, leading to long-lasting, high-performance results. 

Ensitech supplies stainless steel industry professionals and specialists with weld cleaning supplies and equipment through its trusted brand, TIG Brush. The TIG Brush and its associated consumables are the culmination of years of design, development and technological advances, and together they create a quality finish, and a fast, efficient and safer weld cleaning system.

Learn more about the products we offer or browse our catalogue to discover the weld cleaning solutions available to suit your particular need.

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