The Challenges of Welding Heavy Plate Steel in Industrial Applications
Industrial heavy steel plate welding is an extremely challenging, highly specialized process that demands a uniquely experienced fabrication company.
As you can probably guess from the name, heavy steel plates are thick, massive, and generally made from exceptionally high-strength metals. That makes heavy steel plating much harder to process when compared to sheet metal welding or thinner-gauge plate steel.
What Exactly Is Heavy Plate Steel? Material Specifications
Essentially, heavy plate steel is just a thick type of metal stock. Technically, pretty much any steel grade could be used for heavy plating. However, for reasons of practical application, there are a number of steel grades more commonly used for heavy plating than others. Extremely strong, sometimes abrasion-resistant metals are often chosen to magnify the high-strength properties of the heavy steel components being manufactured.
Some of the most common types of heavy plate steel include:
- ASTM A36
- ASTM A514
- ASTM A516
- ASTM A588
- ASTM A830
The 4 Biggest Challenges in Heavy Steel Plate Welding for Industrial Fabricators
Managing Heat Concentration – Welding thick steel plates concentrates extreme levels of heat at the weld location, potentially causing issues with the surrounding materials. Proper heat management is critical to prevent warping and distortion of the material, while also minimizing residual stresses within the welded structure.
Proper Joint Preparation – Preparing all joints for welding is critical to ensure quality, consistent welds, even more so in the case of heavy-gauge steel. Proper edge preparation is especially crucial to achieve full weld penetration and a structurally sound joint.
The challenge is that preparing thick steel plates for welding can be both time-consuming and labor-intensive. That’s why the process demands an experienced, quality-focused fabrication company like Alloy following a carefully designed Welding Procedure Specification (WPS).
Controlling Welding Distortion – Welding thick steel plates can cause significant material distortion due to the high levels of concentrated heat and subsequent cooling cycles. Weld distortion affects the dimensional accuracy of the product and may lead to missed tolerances or fitment issues when assembled with adjoining components.
At Alloy Fabrication, our welding technicians employ precise fixturing to achieve absolute rigidity. Additionally, we employ specific welding techniques chosen to minimize distortion in each unique application.
Material Handling and Logistics – In addition to being heavy in weight, heavy steel plate components and assemblies are often large, shaped irregularly, and structurally complex. As a result, these products often require specialized equipment for handling and fixturing, as well as loading and unloading.
The challenge arises not only during the transportation and shipping phases, but also during the actual fabrication of the products. All separate parts and joints must be positioned precisely, and exact alignment must be maintained throughout the entire welding process. Alloy Fabrication’s facility includes an integrated overhead crane system with 10-ton capacity to handle even the heaviest of steel plate assemblies.
Reading, PA’s Leading Provider of Custom Plate Welding and Fabrication Services
Alloy Fabrication provides complete welding services for heavy steel plate projects and many other specialized industrial applications. In addition to the products pictured on this page, check out Our Gallery to see more examples of our quality American welding work. Or get in touch to get the ball rolling on your own unique fabrication project.