Why is Stainless Steel Machining Difficult?

Does your shop work a great deal with steel or iron? These metals are very strong and not hard to work with. However, some of your parts or components may need enhanced corrosion protection, and the customer does not want electro-coated or galvanized material. When this happens, you may need to work with stainless steel, but it can be a problem. Why is it so hard to machine? Here are some common problems shops may encounter with stainless steel machining.

Cutting Equipment

Stainless steel is very hard, and you need equipment sturdy enough for the job. It takes a lot more horsepower, and some of your equipment may not be up to the task. In fact, you may need to invest in more powerful machines, and this can be expensive.

Cutting Tools

Often times HSS (high speed steel) is not tough or sharp enough for stainless steel machining. You should consider carbide cutting tools, and they must remain sharp. Sharpening carbide is not easy, but it is very important if you want to machine “hard to work with” metals.


Dry machining is almost impossible with some metals. For stainless steel, you may need to invest in a more efficient lubricant and coolant system. For example, when you have to use more coolant, you might want to install a coolant recovery system. This is expensive to install, but over time, it is the most cost-effective solution.

Employee Training

If your workers are unfamiliar with stainless steel machining, they should be properly trained.

The Solution

There is an easier way to deal with stainless steel parts. You can outsource this work to a qualified machine shop. You make no additional investments in machinery, coolants, tools, or training, and your customers get what they want. This frees up more company resources for other matters.


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