Welding galvanised steel has gotten a bad reputation over the years (rightfully so) as the fumes produced during welding can be incredibly dangerous to the welder’s health. While it is typically a good idea to complete any welding or fabrication before galvanising the steel (which will result in a more corrosion resistant finished product), under some circumstances steel must be welded after it is galvanised. As always, it is also important to perform your own research prior to welding to ensure the health of the welding personnel is protected, and a satisfactory weld is made. To help, here are some tips for welding galvanised steel safely and effectively.
Personal Protection for Welding Galvanised Steel
First and foremost, proper welding personal protective equipment should be used when welding galvanised steel. This may include welding helmets, gloves, leather jackets, and steel toe boots, depending on what welding process is being used. However, unlike other welding applications, welding galvanised steel will typically require one extra piece of personal protective equipment; a respirator.
When welding galvanised steel, a respirator is required so that the zinc oxide fumes from the galvanising are not inhaled. Inhalation of zinc oxide fumes can cause metal fume fever. This acute overexposure to zinc oxide through the respiratory system causes flu like symptoms that can be severe. Chronic overexposure to zinc oxide can result in death. It is also wise to weld in a well ventilated area, even when using a respirator.
Quality Welds for Welding Galvanised Steel
Welding galvanised steel can pose problems other than just health risks. The zinc coating found on galvanised steels can compromise the weld. The coating makes penetration more difficult and can cause a weld to have inclusions and porosity. Lack of fusion at the toes of the weld is also common. Proper welding technique and processes must be used to mitigate these risks. If at all possible, remove the zinc coating around the weld area prior to welding. Otherwise, select a filler material that is made to be used on zinc coated materials.
Another factor that will help to make quality welds is the type of galvanising process that was used to coat the steel. Different types of galvanising methods will leave different thicknesses of zinc on the steel surface. Hot dipped galvanised steel and zinc thermal sprayed steel will typically have a thicker coating than zinc electroplated steel. Selecting a zinc electroplated steel can result in a better weld than thicker-coated hot dipped or zinc thermal sprayed steel. Zinc electroplated steel will also have a far more uniform coating which is important when welding automation is being considered.
Preventing Corrosion when Welding Galvanised Steel
Another hurdle when welding galvanised steel is maintaining corrosion resistance after welding. When galvanised steel is welded, the zinc coating at and around the weld burns away, leaving the area uncoated and unprotected. As a result, the unprotected bare weld could suffer from expedient weld failure. If corrosion resistance is still required after welding, a post-weld process must be used, such as painting the material or re-galvanising.
Welding galvanised steel can be done safely and effectively, though there are important measures that must be taken. To weld galvanised steel in a safe manner, safety codes must be read and analyzed and proper personal protective equipment must be used to protect welders from hazards such as toxic fumes. It is also important to know all of the application specifics such as the type of galvanising method used, the environment the weldment will be put into, the welding process being used, and the criteria to which the weld will be evaluated. When all of this is taken into consideration, welding galvanised steel can be very possible and hazard-free.
Metal Supermarkets is the world’s largest small-quantity metal supplier with over 85 brick-and-mortar stores across the US, Canada, and United Kingdom. We are metal experts and have been providing quality customer service and products since 1985.
At Metal Supermarkets, we supply a wide range of metals for a variety of applications. Our stock includes: stainless steel, tool steel, galvanised steel, engineering steel, aluminium, brass, bronze and copper.
Our steel is available in a wide range of shapes including: bars, tubes, sheets and plates. We can cut metal to your exact specifications.
Visit one of our 6 locations in the United Kingdom today.
Information contained in this blog post is presented for general educational and information purposes and to increase overall safety awareness. It is not intended to be legal, medical or other expert advice or services, and should not be used in place of consultation with appropriate professionals. The information contained in this blog post should not be considered exhaustive and the user should seek the advice of appropriate professionals.
Metal Supermarkets UK – Stainless Steel, Aluminium, Bright, Black, Engineering, Bronze, Copper, Brass, Tool, Galvanized
6 locations in the United Kingdom offering instant access to a wide variety of metal types, shapes, sizes and grades.Find your closest store