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The steel industry is essential for industries all over the world and the health and vitality of human life and nature. Metal fabrication is the process of building machines and structures from raw materials.

Aluminum is a popular material in metal fabrication due to its lightweight design and resistance to corrosion. However, it can be difficult to drill.

Stainless steel, however, is one of the most commonly used materials across this sector. It’s an alloy of iron and chromium, which is most notable for its corrosion resistance, low maintenance, and familiar luster.

Though there are plenty of professionals working in the steel sector who know what they’re doing, there are individuals who don’t have the necessary knowledge when it comes to working with steel.

Making certain mistakes when working with steel can lead to all kinds of costly and potentially dangerous issues. That’s why it’s imperative to understand what common mistakes occur when working with steel and how to avoid them.

Here are some of the mistakes that people make when handling stainless steel.

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Inattention to Safety

No matter the industry you’re in, if you’re working with stainless steel, you need to prioritize safety at all times. Not only is this a common mistake, but it’s also a potentially fatal one.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that over 4,800 workers died on the job in 2015 alone. That number is projected to increase each year as the number of construction and metal fabrication projects expands.

With any stainless steel task, a strict set of safety standards needs to be followed every step of the way. Project managers need to remain diligent and equipment needs to be fully functioning and up to code. Also, each worker needs to be properly trained whenever working with steel.

Neglecting to Clean

Another common mistake steelworkers make is simply rushing through a job and forgoing important cleaning steps. It cannot be overstated: the surface of stainless steel needs to be thoroughly cleaned prior to any work being done — always. Workers often think the heat during welding will burn off any residue on the steel. That’s not always the case.

By not cleaning the steel surface, oils, iron filings, and dust could lead to all sorts of problems. Many of these materials are flammable and could cause the area they are resting on to heat up more than the rest of the steel. This would result in unbalanced metal integrity once it cools.

Additionally, iron filings and other foreign materials leftover would mean the final product is not pure stainless steel. Iron and certain materials add carbon to the weld, which weakens its connection and will jeopardize its durability.

Using High Heat During Welding or Cutting

Heat is essential when working with stainless steel. Yet, too much heat during the welding or cutting process will cause problems. Stainless steel is much thinner than traditional steel. As a result, too much heat during welding/cutting will cause the metal to become even thinner under the strain.

The metal will then warp and eventually bend, forcing workers to either start over from scratch with a new piece of stainless steel or have to spend time straightening the metal back to normal.

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As long as you’re going into each stainless steel project with the proper knowledge and maintaining safety procedures, you should be all set. If you’re unsure, research tips and tricks prior to working with stainless steel, talk to experienced professionals, and be as careful as possible!