How to blend a weld to match a Stainless Steel 2B finish
Want to know how to blend your weld to match the stainless steel's original 2B finish? Some people say it can't be done, but with the right tools and technique, your fabrication will be looking top notch - keep reading to learn how...
What is a 2B finish?
2B is the most commonly used stainless steel surface finish. It is produced in a mill by first cold rolling the stainless steel through special rolls or dies to create a smoother, less pitted surface. It is then heat treated to soften the metal, before being pickled in an acid solution for maximum corrosion resistance. In the final stage the stainless steel is given another cold press on polished rolls to enhance smoothness. This results in a slightly reflective matte finish.
Matte finishes are more dull in appearance, so a 2B finish is more commonly used for fabrications where appearance is not so important, (industrial equipment, pipes, plumbing fixtures, bakeware, wheel covers etc) or if the product will be polished further after fabrication. Due to its mechanical processing, different batches will vary in appearance, making it difficult to match.
- Highly corrosion resistant - due to the chemical pickling process and smooth surface
- Easily polished to a higher luste
- Different batches may not match in appearance due to mill processing
- Can be difficult to match after fabrication
Can a 2B finish be matched?
Since 2B is the most common stainless steel finish, a lot of fabricators want to refinish a welded area to match its original 2B finish. Being a machine finish, it's difficult to get an exact match, but a pretty close match can be obtained with the right technique...
How to blend a weld to match a 2B finish
With a bit of practice, skill and the right tools it can be done! Here's a step-by-step guide:
What you'll need:
Step 1. Level the weld
Using a Deerfos Bora9 Fibre Disc
, 60 grit+, carefully remove the weld without gauging or distorting the work
Bora9 Fibre Discs use a new generation ceramic grain for aggressive, cool cutting and long life caused by the sharp crystal shaped grain. They also utilise a specialised top coating to reduce clogging, friction and heat build up, maintaining the sharpness of the grain.
2. Setting the grain
Set the grain with ELITE Flap Wheel (available in wooden hub or spindle mount) or a Portable File Belt - 60 grit+
, moving your sander front-to-back, rather than side-to-side. You'll want to stay as close to the welded area as possible to minimise the final blending.
3. Match & Finish
The final step is to blend the final finish to a close match using a Corrugated Buff-Tex Wheel - coarse.
Work with the grain, easing off pressure at each end of the stroke in order to feather the welded area.
Always start with a high strength coarse grade flap wheel, then if the finish does not match, move to a more or less aggressive grade.
If it is still too grainy, use a Flat Bottom Polishing Brush
and cutting compound
to further blend out the gain finish.
For best results:
If the original 2B polished lines are parallel to the weld line - sand with the wheel in the same line as the run of the weld bead so cut lines are kept parallel to the original finish.
- If the original 2B polished lines are NOT parallel to the lines of the weld - conduct final sanding in the direction of the original machine polishing.
Alternative Method: Electro-Polishing
If you are not wanting to remove the weld, it is possible to use an electro-chemical weld cleaning machine to clean a welded area back to a 2B finish.
It is a common misconception is that electro-polishers always provide a high polished finish, however it comes down to technique. Basically, the more you go over the area with the brush, the more polished it will get. So to achieve a 2B finish, you just need to make sure you only give the welded area a very light clean. Click here to watch a video of the Cougartron Electrochemical Weld Cleaner in action.
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