Consumables Corner: Role of Welding Consumables in the construction industry
Welding is a fabrication process. It involves joining metals and thermoplastics by means of coalescence. Flux and filler metals together are known as welding consumables. The flux serves as a deoxidizer to prevent metal oxidation whereas the filler metals aid in fixing the joints in the objects. The raw materials used in the production of these consumables include steel, low alloy steel, copper, aluminum, nickel, and rutile.
Welding plays a crucial role in building infrastructure across societies. Rapid urbanisation has led to an increased demand for improved infrastructure across the country, which in turn is driving the demand for welding consumables in India.
The welding consumables market in India was valued at the US $ 1022.10 Million in 2021. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.4 % in the next 5 years.
Types of welding consumables: -
Stick electrodes – These electrodes are most commonly used for field welding repair. They have three different types of coating for different purposes.
The cellulose-based coating which uses a protective gas layer to protect the weld region. Cellulose ensures that a significant amount of material is molten during welding and higher penetration is achieved
The second type of coating contains minerals that produce slag.
The third kind of coating contains a combination of minerals and cellulose.
Solid wires – These electrodes are used in metal inert gas welding. They require a shielding gas that protects the molten weld pool from atmospheric contaminants. Solid wires are the best consumables when working on thin materials like sheet metal.
Flux cored wires – There are two types of flux cored wires – gas shielded and self-shielded. Gas shielded wires require external shielding gas and the slag is easy to remove. On the other hand, self-shielded flux cored wires do not require external shielding gas because the weld pool is protected by gas generated when flux from the wire is burned. As a result, self-shielded flux cored wire is more portable because it does not require an external gas tank.
SAW wires – Saw wires are used in combination with flux which results in excellent productivity. Following extended post weld heat treatment, SAW wires are designed to keep up the good mechanical properties
The construction industry is responsible for the creation of all kinds of structures varying in size, complexity, and uses. Ranging from small, simple structures like individual homes to large complex constructions like dams, bridges, and plants, structural durability is imperative. This is why the construction industry employs a large number of metals, especially steel, which is where welding plays a crucial role.
Welding technologies are extensively used in the construction industry, mostly for the fabrication of metal frameworks by fusing various metal components and to create and maintain non-structural components. Welding for construction can either be prefabricated in a shop environment or done entirely on-site.
Application of Welding consumables in the Construction Industry
The construction sector is very broad and can be divided into three major categories which differ based on the kind of structures they create.
Building construction is creating infrastructure for people to reside or work (residential or commercial). This sector usually employs welding in the creation of structural frameworks from metal components. Welding is used for connecting steel beams, trusses, and columns to support the walls, roof, and floor. Structural welding is not as widely used in small buildings as it is in high-rise buildings that require a lot of metal joints. Welding in building construction is also used for the fabrication of components like firewalls, stairs, and handrails.
Industrial construction enfolds all structures that are utilized industrially. These structures generally don’t stand alone but are a large part of systems of numerous systems that work together for specific purposes. These systems include manufacturing plants, refineries, mills, power generation stations, etc. Industrial construction is the most diverse across all sectors as it cuts across numerous industries. TIG welders are used for the maintenance and fabrication of structural frameworks, industrial equipment, pipelines, and support structures for large components.
Infrastructure construction covers structures like bridges, dams, stadiums, highways, wastewater management systems, and railways. Welding application in infrastructure construction is mainly structural. That is because most of the structures in this sector are massive in terms of size and scale that completely rely on a metal framework created through welding. Certain infrastructures like bridges can be made entirely out of metal, while others like dams and water systems require a lot of pipe welding.
How to choose welding consumables
While considering the choice of consumables to use for a specific welding task, the composition of the consumables must be similar to that of the parent materials used. This will help you achieve a homogenous weld.
However, in some cases, for instance, when welding brittle cast irons, a filler with properties different from parent materials can be used. The weld thus created is a heterogeneous weld and the joint created is called a weldment.
Hence, when welding materials have different tensile strengths, the consumable chosen should match the material with the lower tensile strength, while the preheat temperature used should match what is required for the material with the higher tensile strength.
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