Process stability, reduced maintenance downtime and less post weld labour are pivotal to improved MIG/ MAG welding productivity, quality and cost efficiencies, according the ESAB Sub-Saharan Africa Marketing Director Kim Brightwell.
“The quality of welding wires used within the process significantly impacts these three critical performance areas, particularly in mechanised and robotics processes, where the performance of individual welding wires can have an enormous effect on welding costs,” Brightwell says.
This is a problem that is keenly perceived in South Africa, where higher-than-inflation cost input increases are forcing fabricators to consider all aspects of welding costs. Brightwell observes, however, that many users are learning through their own experience in the workshop that there are considerable quality differences between welding wires provided by different suppliers.
“High-quality wire must have a very stable arc, low spatter and excellent feeding properties. Without these, the user experiences stoppages that need to be cleared or cleaned, ironically pushing up the labour cost component of the welding process which is the largest input cost,” he says.
Although coppercoated welding wires have been a standard for MIG/MAG welding for decades, feeding is a weakness with many of the products currently available, particularly those low-cost wires that are sourced from the East. During welding with copper-coated wires, copper particles break free from the wire surface due to the action of the wire feeder rollers and friction on the liner. These accumulate and lead to feeding irregularities and downtime when the wire feeding system is not cleaned regularly. The adhesion of the copper layer to the surface of the wire is, therefore, the primary feature that determines the quality of a coppercoated wire.
“As a means to negate the problem, during the 1980s and 1990s, many welding wire producers introduced copperfree welding wires,” Brightwell says. “These wires never gained acceptance in the market because of other drawbacks such as increased sensitivity to corrosion and high contact tip wear particularly at high wire feed speeds.”
ESAB did not, however, abandon the bare wire concept and a long-term commitment to research and development enabled us to introduce the OK AristoRod product range, which has excellent welding characteristics without the need for a copper wire coating, particularly for mechanised and robotic applications.
The ESAB innovation has been labelled Advanced Surface Characteristics (ASC) which affords the user access to several advances in wire technology when making use of the OK AristoRod range:
- Very stable current transfer from tip to wire. The result is a stable arc with a very regular droplet transfer and an extremely low level of spatter in short arc and spray arc and also at high welding currents.
- Reduced friction in the feeding system. This results in consistent, trouble-free feeding with no clogging of loaders or guns.
- Excellent arc ignition. Reduced postweld cleaning.
- Higher current operability. Improved productivity.
- No accumulation of copper in the feeding system. Reduced time for cleaning.
- Wire surface protected against corrosion.
- Low fume emission. Cleaner work environment. OK AristoRod wires with ASC technology will increase the duty cycle of MIG/MAG welding installations and reduce the need for spatter removal after welding resulting in lower welding costs. They are suitable for manual, mechanised and robotic welding applications.
“Their advantages become even more readily apparent at higher wire feeding speeds where the accumulation of copper in the feeding system increases with coppercoated wires and leads to greater sensitivity to feeding problems,” Brightwell says.