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A basic guide to the selection of weld finish for sheet metal fabrication parts


After dealing with the quality of finishes of metal sheets in sheet metal fabrication, we need to also check weld finishes.

Again, the materials most commonly used in sheet metal fabrication are steel, stainless steel and aluminum.

It has no corrosion resistance, so most parts will be powder coated or finished with orbital sanding; so they usually don't require a premium weld finish; a second-class is the most commonly used.

Stainless steel
You can achieve any level of quality for stainless steel welds, being the first-class particularly impressive. This is an ideal choice for external parts or parts that require a cosmetic finish.

Considering coloration is crucial when selecting a weld finish. If necessary, the discoloration can be significantly reduced by upgrading a stainless steel part from a third-class finish to a second-class finish.

When it comes to weld finishes, aluminum is a versatile option that works well for all three classes. Aluminum is a choice of preference for welding due to its flexibility. It can be polished and grained to create a first-class weld finish; or just smooth it out a bit for a second-class finish; you can also leave it as is for a third-class finish with a raised appearance.

Moreover, you can anodize aluminum to achieve a smooth-looking finish. However, keep in mind that when it comes to aesthetics, stainless steel weld finishes generally produce more visually appealing results.

How to Determine the Best Weld Finish for Your Part
If you are unsure of the best weld finish for your sheet metal fabrication part, consider the following aspects:

Is the part internal? If so, a third-class weld finish will be ok.
Are you on a tight budget or schedule? A second- or third-class weld finish may be sufficient, as long as you don't need a refined, superior finish.
Will other finishing treatments such as anodizing, powder coating or orbital sanding be applied? Then, perhaps you do not need a first-class weld finish.
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