Argon (Ar) – The shielding gas of choice


Applications of Argon
Argon is used for a variety of applications ranging from light bulbs to the manufacture of silicon crystals for the semiconductor industry, and as a filler in multi-pane glass windows. But it’s most important application is in the metals industry.

Argon is widely used in metals production, processing and fabrication. It plays an important role in welding where, as a shielding gas, it is used to exclude atmospheric air from contact with metals such as chromium, vanadium, titanium, aluminum and magnesium that can react with oxygen and nitrogen. Argon, combined with small amounts of oxygen or carbon dioxide to help to broaden and stabilise the arc and improve bead profile, is the shielding gas of choice for welding alloys such as carbon and stainless steels, where small amounts of dissolved nitrogen can reduce ductility.

Integral throughout a number of metals production processes, argon is also used to prevent oxidation during die-casting of hot light metal alloys, such as aluminum and magnesium alloys for products such as car wheels.

Aside from shielding, argon’s most important metals processing applications are in steel making. Steel producers would find it difficult to carry on without argon as, the molten alloy needs to be stirred during production to ensure the temperature and composition is homogenous throughout the melt. Due to its inert nature, argon is ideal for this purpose.

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