Colin West, Air Products South Africa Manager of Welding and Cutting Gases offered gasworld his insight into the growing need for industrial gas solutions to welding.

West began by explaining argon’s application in welding. He said, “Our customers require a gas that will produce a quality weld for stainless steel applications every time. We have products that meet these requirements in terms of precision and quality. Argon is ideal for tungsten arc welding (TIG) welding as it shrouds the weld from atmospheric contamination when welding at high temperatures. Argon’s constricted arc is fundamental for high-quality TIG welding as it provides a focused arc. The fine arc ensures high precision welding on all types of metal, especially stainless steel.”

However, it’s not just argon alone that's required to handle welding demands. Indeed, other gases such as carbon dioxide are often used in combination to lend more specific attributes to the weld.

Particular welding, such as metal arc welding (MAG) welding, requires the addition of oxygen and carbon dioxide to profile and shape the weld. West described how argon’s focused arc column is limiting in instances such as MAG, where it causes undercutting and poor fusion. Instead, additional gases like carbon dioxide blends offer increased heat in the arc. In the case of carbon dioxide, this is thanks to its oxidising capacity. West specified, “The available heat increases penetration, adding width to the weld, improving side-wall fusion.”

But just how significant is MAG welding?
According to West, MAG welding constitutes around 70% of the fabrication sector. “The abilities of MAG welding are vast, as it can be adapted to any application such as stainless steel, the automotive sector and heavy fabrication.” maintained West. It’s a sector that Air Products SA serves through its Coogar gas mixtures – blended from carbon dioxide, oxygen and argon.

But, as West articulated, Air Products SA are ever-evolving and regularly on the look-out for the next sector solutions. Moreover, the company's argon activity is not just limited to welding processes.

“Air Products is constantly seeking, testing and providing new ways to apply our wide range of industrial gases in a variety of applications and industries,$quot; added West.

He concluded, $quot;Throughout our history we have been instrumental in delivering cost-effective solutions in the supply of gases and services to the South African industry, including that of the stainless steel sector. Furthermore, major corporations in paper manufacturing, polymer, plastics and rubber processing, metal processing, semiconductors and food production rely on our expertise in their fields as well as our world class standards of gas purity and quality.”