Stainless steels are an important class of engineering alloys used in both wrought and cast form for a wide range of applications and in many environments. This article aids in the selection of stainless steels based on weldability and service integrity. Stainless steels are classified by microstructure and are described as ferritic, martensitic, austenitic, or duplex. The article illustrates compositional ranges of the ferritic, martensitic, austenitic, and duplex alloys in the Schaeffler diagram. It describes the metallurgical aspects of welded stainless steels to be considered for particular engineering applications and service conditions. The article discusses the microstructural evolution of the weld metal and the heat-affected zone, susceptibility to defect formation during welding, mechanical and corrosion properties, and weld process tolerance.
Austenitic stainless steels exhibit a single-phase, face-centered cubic structure that is maintained over a wide range of temperatures. This article reviews the compositions of standard and nonstandard austenitic stainless steels. It summarizes the important aspects of solidification behavior and microstructural evolution that dictate weld-metal ferrite content and morphology. The article describes weld defect formation, namely, solidification cracking, heat-affected zone liquation cracking, weld-metal liquation cracking, copper contamination cracking, ductility dip cracking, and weld porosity. It discusses four general types of corrosive attack: intergranular attack, stress-corrosion cracking, pitting and crevice corrosion, and microbiologically influenced corrosion. The article concludes with information on weld thermal treatments such as preheat and interpass heat treatments and postweld heat treatment.