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3 tips to help you improve efficiency when working with steel and steel alloys

August 24, 2020

Impact Wrenches Tools Safety Metalworking Expert Corner

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Thanks to its relatively low cost and robust composition, steel continues to rival alternative materials in applications where cost-efficiency is more important than achieving the lowest possible weight. However, with a density of 7.85 g/cm3, it presents metalworkers with several challenges when it comes to grinding and drilling. Here we look at three common problems experienced when working with steel and steel alloys and share tips to overcome them.

1. Material removal tasks are time-consuming

One of the main challenges when working with steel and steel alloys is that material removal tasks can be very slow to perform, which quickly translates to reduced efficiency and higher costs. The material is very tough, which is one of its key benefits but slows down the material removal process.

Our tip:

Before starting the job, compare different material removal methods to ensure that the one you choose is the most efficient. For example, in some cases, cutting tools can produce results noticeably quicker, improving productivity. If grinding is the most appropriate method, choose the abrasive carefully. Hard-wearing abrasives, such as zirconium oxide, can improve the material removal rate, delivering excellent performance over a longer lifetime.

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2. Steel corrodes and gets rusty

Despite its many benefits, steel is inherently prone to corrosion, and it can be difficult to try to protect it from rust. Achieving and maintaining a good surface finish for painting can also be a challenge.

Our tip:

Our tip: Avoiding cross-contamination between different materials, such as galvanized carbon steel and stainless steel, is crucial for minimizing corrosion. In practice, it means that you should never use the same angle grinder disk on two different materials. Additionally, if different materials are present where the work is taking place, remember to cover them to make sure they don't come into contact with splatter from the angle grinder. These steps will help reduce the risk of rust, helping you achieve the best possible surface finish for painting. 

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3. Workers get fatigued

Thanks to its durability, steel is often used in the most challenging applications. However, the tools used are often heavy, and, as mentioned above, removal work can take a long time. Some applications can put workers at risk of fatigue and injuries, and sometimes it can be difficult even to find skilled workers for the most demanding tasks.

Our tip:

Ensure your workers have access to the right tools and pay attention to any features that can help improve safety and productivity, such as the power to weight ratio. Focus on the ergonomics of the tool: will the worker be able to handle them over long periods? Some tools can weigh over 5 kilos, increasing the physical strain on the worker. It is also worth looking at additional features that can help minimize the factors that contribute to fatigue. Autobalancers, for example, help stabilize the tool and significantly reduce vibration, which makes the tool safer to use for hours at a time.

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For more advice on how to overcome the challenges associated with materials including steel, aluminum, and composites, download our white paper

Trends in materials within heavy-duty industries and their impact on metalworking applications and tools.

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Pol-Dunoyer expert head-zoom

Did you know that on top of being durable, steel is also UV-resistant and 100 percent recyclable? There are currently more than 3,500 steel grades in use. Interestingly, over 75 percent of those have been developed in the past 20 years, and new generations still continue to be designed.

Pol Dunoyer , Global Business Development Manager