Researching and Developing Universal Gas Purging Solutions
Abstract: In the welding of more sensitive metals such as stainless steel, titanium and some specific nickel alloys, the presence and application of a protective gas is essential. Without the use of a nonreactive shielding gas, defects occur in or adjacent to the weld joint, which vary from light discoloration of the weld bead to the direct onset and propagation of cracks. The supply of shielding gas is usually via the welding tool. Unfortunately, when it comes to welding pipes, the problem arises when the root bead comes into contact with the oxygen present within the pipe. Since the shielding gas supplied from the welding tool has no possibility of penetrating into the pipe and protecting the melt from the oxygen, the result consequence will be defects in the weld bead. To prevent this from happening, the pipes are sealed before welding and the oxygen in the pipe is purged and replaced with protective gas. Due to the fact that pipe welding operations concern a vast spectrum of pipe dimensions, complications arise for the welding operator as the solutions available have a low degree of adaptability. Thus, the purpose of this project is to investigate the possibility of designing and developing a new method of supplying root gas protection that can be adapted to several pipe diameters. Field studies at welding companies resulted in the clarification of which diameter spans the root gas protection solution should comply with, the pipe diameter span to cater for was identified as 25-100 mm in diameter. Requests were also made regarding the robustness of the product, with expressed desire for the product to withstand the strenuous working environment often encountered during welding operations. Solution proposals were produced which later developed into six separate concepts. From these six concepts, one was selected as the foremost solution and further developed for construction. The concept was sketched out and reproduced using CAD and a model was made using 3D printers. The model showed a need for modifications as it was not of a sufficiently adaptable nature. A modified model was thus developed and manufactured using a 3D printer, this modified model showed better results of adaptation to different pipe diameters. Furthermore, a flow analysis of the gas as it enters via the root gas plug and into the pipe was conducted, to verify total distribution of the gas within the pipe. The material with which to construct the concept with will be silicone infused with additives to make it more heat resistant and more resistant to wear. However, the exact mixture of silicone and additives in question was not available for this project but is something that is intended for future work. The concept meets the specified requirements of being applicable to multiple pipe diameters, more specifically so meeting the wishes of those active within the industry, covering a pipe span of 25- 100 mm.
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