Welding and cutting – united with the future
Actively shaping the rapid development in welding and cutting requires more than a high-quality, customised product range. Consequently, Messer maintains particularly close contact to customers in Europe and China and to distinguished research institutes in order to continually develop its processes.
Without the technology of welding and cutting many constructions and consumer items would simply not exist. Cars wouldn’t drive, modern ocean liners wouldn’t sail the seas and airplanes couldn’t take to the skies. To a large extent, all these means of transportation consist of metal parts which have to be assembled using welding technology. The different energy sources applied determine the cost-efficiency and quality of the welding performance; beginning with the open fire some 5000 years ago, the oxyacetylene flame of a century ago and the electric arc through to the modern-day laser and electron beam. Other technologies related to the welding process include cutting, coating, modifying the inherent properties of matter, forming, and with special applications, primary forming. When this variety of processes is combined with different groups of materials, it is easy to explain Messer’s extensive product portfolio in this sector.
“The multifaceted selection of gases ranges from acetylene, oxygen and carbon dioxide, which originally were used exclusively up to nitrogen, argon and helium through to a variety of mixed gases,” explains Mr. Bernd Hildebrandt, Messer’s Head of Technology Management Welding & Cutting. At the same time, the consultancy package extends far beyond the field of gases. “Our customers expect all-round process knowhow, together with advice on quality and costefficiency, and on operational safety, which we also provide,” adds Hildebrandt. Messer also offers a selection of different forms of delivery. The most common “packaging” is the steel cylinder, which is available in the standard volumes of 10, 20, 30 and 50 litres, and consequently offers a high degree of flexibility. Filling pressures of up to 300 bars also provide further scope in capacity. For larger quantities, the cylinders can be combined to form clusters or arrays. Vacuum-insulated tanks are also available for storage in a liquid state.
As an all-round provider, Messer supports the entire range of processes related to welding and cutting technology in which technical gases are, or can be applied in the future. These processes can roughly be divided into joining (e.g. shielding gas welding), separating (e.g. plasma cutting), coating (e.g. thermal spraying) and other processes (heating and straightening).
Fuel gases from A to X
The technology of autogenous welding requires fuel gases and oxygen. Depending on the individual task, however, a number of parameter settings must be selected. For example, flame straightening demands a rapid, pinpoint flame with acetylene and oxygen, in contrast to soldering which uses a slow burning gas, such as propane in combination with air. Accordingly, the spectrum of Messer’s fuel gases range from A for acetylene to X for xenon.
In the field of arc welding technology, shielding gas welding, including its variants WIG (Wolfram Inert Gas), Plasma, MIG (Metal Inert Gas) and MAG (Metal Active Gas) assumes a leading role, with the electric arc providing the heat input. The shielding gas not only protects the highly reactive molten metal from the ambient air, but also systematically impacts upon the arc formation, the chemical reaction with the weld pool and the penetration profile. Depending on the type of material to be processed there are a large number of carefully tailored products available.
Well-conceived product names
“In contrast to many gas suppliers, whose product names furnish scant information about the composition and possible applications of their welding shielding gases, Messer has the right solution and an informative product name for every task,” emphasises Michael Wolters, Project Engineer for Technology Management Welding & Cutting. In detail, the spectrum of shielding gases comprises “Ferromix” for non- and low-alloy steels, “Inoxmix” for high-alloy steels, “Alumix” for aluminium and non-ferrous metals, together with “forming gas”, which offers root protection for high-alloy and some low-alloy steels. Laser-cutting and welding are also finding increasing application, and set particularly high standards in terms of the quality and purity of gases. Developed to meet these exacting requirements, the MEGALAS product range contains gases and gas mixtures for cutting, and welding shielding gases for laser welding and soldering, in addition to operating gases for the CO2 lasers.
As a highly reputable provider, we must continue to operate at the cutting edge of technology and identify new trends promptly in order to remain competitive on the market place over the long term. For this reason Messer nurtures contacts with market partners, including our sister companies, Castolin and Messer Cutting Systems. To keep abreast of the latest developments, we cooperate on a project-related basis with external research institutes. “Whenever new trends emerge which carry implications for the application of our gases, we endeavour to keep one step ahead of the competition,” states Wolters.
Technical training institutes and networks
In order to maintain close contact to customers and to the relevant specialist institutes, Messer runs a number of technical facilities at strategically favourable locations. “Points of support” are located in Budapest (Hungary), Krefeld (Germany), Dällikon (Switzerland) as well as Shanghai (China).
Beyond developing a technical infrastructure, Messer has also fallen into line with modern IT trends and built up an electronic network with colleagues from all our subsidiaries. In addition, Messer stages an annual network conference, which also offers training seminars staged by one of our market partners. And last but not least, Messer collaborates closely with other companies from our sector. “This not only enhances transparency in the market place, but also enables us to participate in discussions on new processes,” explains Hildebrandt. In this way, Messer is able to keep its range of products at the cutting edge of developments.