Most of the time, shielding gas is one of the most expensive things that companies buy for their welding operations. Companies can’t avoid this cost. As shielding gases protect the weld area from air pollution that could weaken the weld joint.
So, to cut down on the cost of shielding gases, it’s important to make sure of quality. That you don’t hurt the quality of the welding process. A small investment in the right gas equipment can save a lot of money. And without even lowering the quality of the welding.
No. 1: Know how much gas you are wasting.
The first step is to look at each type of welding and set benchmarks for each one. Figure out exactly how much gas you’ll need to make a good weld. This is very important if you want to find out where your business is wasting gas. Its is surprising to know how much gas you waste if the flow rate setting is wrong.
Companies that set goals for how much gas they use find that their processes waste too much shielding gas. After figuring out that there is waste in a process, the next step is to find it and get rid of it.
No. 2: Cut down on gas prices.
Every time you pull the trigger on the welding torch, there is a surge. Most shielding gas flow control equipment, whether it comes from a cylinder or a pipeline, works at pressures of about 20 to 30 pounds per square inch gauge (PSIG), while applications that use pure CO2 can work at pressures of up to 50 PSIG. When you pull the trigger on the torch, an upstream pressure of 20, 30, or even 50 PSIG comes out of the welding nozzle, wasting a lot of gas.
Some of the devices that greatly reduce the amount of shielding gas surge when the trigger is pulled are gas guard regulators, point-of-use orifices, low-pressure flowmeters, and surge-reducing hoses. These flow-control accessories reduce or stop high flow rates that make the gas turbulent and pull oxides and nitrides into the weld.
The best way to stop shielding gas surge is to add a device that controls the pressure to the gas system.
If you want to save money on shielding gas, don’t use inline-restricted orifices. If these devices aren’t put in the right place in the gas stream, they won’t work as planned to stop gas surge.
Orifice fittings that are used at the point of use can work well and are usually a low-cost solution. But for the orifice fittings to work right, they must be put right in front of the solenoid valve. If it is put anywhere else in the gas flow, like at the regulator or flowmeter, the surge problem will still be there. A gas-reducing regulator, on the other hand, can be put anywhere in the gas stream and works well by reducing the high pressure upstream to stop the surge. When the solenoid valve opens, there won’t be the high upstream pressure that is usually there. Instead of 50 PSIG, the line pressure is about 10 PSIG.
Zero-compensated shielding gas flowmeters are set at atmospheric pressure (zero PSIG) and let shielding gas flow without any back pressure. When the solenoid opens, the surge is not caused by wasteful back pressure.
Low-pressure-compensated devices work well for new installations or systems with newer welding leads. Older equipment may have kinks or other clogs in the line, and you will need the extra shielding gas pressure to clear out the flaws.
But these devices might not be the best for use on construction sites, in fab shops, or anywhere else where equipment is handled roughly and not kept up well.
No. 3: Blend Gases On-Site
MIG welding has always been done with pure argon or a mixture of argon and CO2 that comes in a cylinder. As welding has changed over time, the techniques have become more specialised. Now, you need a certain mix of argon and CO2 to get the results you want. Keep in mind that different jobs may need a different mixture. You should be able to change the mixture to make it work best for different jobs. With a gas blender, it’s easy to change the way gas is mixed. So, companies don’t have to buy multiple cylinders of gas that have already been mixed. This saves money and makes buying gas easier.
Gas blenders can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, so determining the ROI is important. If you only have a few welding stations, you might be able to blend them with a small investment of around $1,500. For example, the cost may be closer to $7,000 for 28 welding stations.
A trade school or other place where all the welding booths use the same gas blend might not be a good place to buy a pricey gas blender. But it might be best to keep using packaged gas that has already been mixed. Look at your processes, workflow, and supply chain to figure out if you need a gas blender.
No. 4: Set up a constant gas supply to cut down on downtime and boost productivity
More than half of the welding market uses packaged gas. It might be good for these companies to put money into a gas system that never stops.
Every minute of downtime costs a lot of money. If you use packaged gases, you have to change the cylinders yourself. During the time it takes to change a cylinder, you make less money. How long does changing a cylinder take? How much will that cost? Over time, it can add up.
When a primary cylinder reaches a certain level of use, an automatic changeover manifold system smoothly switches to the reserve source. This gives enough time to replace the empty cylinder without stopping the process.
Fully automatic changeover manifold systems are becoming very popular and have proven to be the best solution for high-pressure cylinders, liquid dewars, and bulk systems that need a packaged gas backup. A manifold can be added so that the bulk system is always the main source, but six or twelve high-pressure cylinders can be used as a backup.
New technology is making these automatic changeover manifold systems better.
Companies that make a lot of things can avoid downtime with these kinds of systems. For example, they can now analyze efficiency and usage data in depth. They can send emails or texts when gas levels are low. A mass flowmeter is part of some data systems. It helps in counting how many gas molecules are used during a process. This helps to find the quantity of gas used.
Connected systems keep from wasting gas by keeping an eye on cylinders or cylinder banks to see if they need to be switched to the reserve cylinder and by making it easy for users to programme and change the pressure settings for the changeover. This could help get the most out of the gas. And it keeps you from sending back cylinders that still have gas in them.