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"Electrochemical Weld Cleaning on 316L Stainless Steel"

Current question:

September 15, 2021

Q. Hi all, I am a AWS certified welding inspector looking for information on putting together an electrochemical weld cleaning set up for removing heat tint and/or cross contamination of stainless steel pipe welds (316L and 2205 duplex). The set up needs to be portable/110V for carrying around an industrial plant.

I have looked at machines such as the Cougartron and Surfox; however, their cost makes them not an option. I have looked at electroplating/anodizing rectifiers from Volteq in the 30V/150amp range. Could I use this for the electrocleaning I'm trying to do? If so, what else would I need to put the set up together?

Andrew Badgett
- Jacksonville, Florida

September 30, 2021

Yes, it's not uncommon to use essentially any old power source, even a welder unit itself, to provide the current for electropickling.

Beyond that you really just need to assemble an electrode that you can hold, with something wrapped around the end that will hold the electrolyte solution while avoiding metal-to-metal contact. A non-abrasive style Scotchbrite pad or similar tends to work well.

Lots of things can be used for the electrolyte. Phosphoric acid used to be commonly used.

My company has a citric acid solution that works well for this.

ray kremer
Ray Kremer
Stellar Solutions, Inc.
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McHenry, Illinois
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Closely related Q&A's, oldest first:


Q. We are currently using an electric weld cleaner with a weld cleaning acid to take the bluing and burn marks left behind from welding. The metal is being laser cut with a laser film on it to reduce scratched through the fabrication process. We are finding after cleaning and rinsing the acid off of the stainless steel a white hazy or foggy stain is being left behind. We are having a difficult time finding something to remove this white haze from the stainless finish. Has anyone ever run into this problem and if so how may we remove this from the stainless steel finish. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Chris Guilbeau
Job Shop - Lafayette, Louisiana


A. Many, many people have accidentally whitened stainless steel, perhaps most commonly via cleaning with hydrochloric acid. The solution is to avoid doing so. The shine can be restored via heavy duty polishing; either mechanical or electropolishing. It seems you are electroetching rather than electropolishing -- the unspecified acid composition or the unspecified voltage may be wrong.

Ken Vlach [dec]
- Goleta, California

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A. Chris:

The electrolyte you are using is more likely to be acidic, (not hydrochloric) so the simple answer would be to wipe down the weld with a dilute ammonia solution after you applied your cleaner. You can also try a mild detergent.

Joel Levinsohn
Joel Levinsohn
- Sydney, Australia


A. What acid are you using, phosphoric? There are less harsh alternatives that work just fine for electrochemical weld cleaning.

Let us know if we can help.

lee kremer
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Lee Kremer
Stellar Solutions, Inc.
supporting advertiser
McHenry, Illinois

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