April 2012, Issue 21
In This Issue

Metals and money

MetalTech: Belting it out

Relationships. Innovation. Teamwork.

A new approach to thermal spray cooling

What's new

Ask the expert

Meet this issue's metal head

Where to find us

Useful Web links

Contact us


Quotes and Quips
We’ll either find a way, or make one.
– Hannibal

Contact Us
You can request more information or any of the documents referenced in this issue by calling us at 800-654-4567 code 919, or by contacting us online.

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Metals and Money

For accurate forecasting and planning, it helps to understand the movement of key industry indices. Air Products’ economists have compiled the following graphs for you to illustrate three-year trends for utility and metals pricing as well as industrial production. We’ll continue to keep you updated in future issues.

industrial production indexes Industrial Production Indexes
Source: US Federal Reserve Bank Board of Governors
Click here to view the graph.
utility pricing metrics Utility Pricing Metrics
Source: Inside F.E.R.C., Bureau of Labor Statistics
Click here to view the graph.
steel prices Steel Prices
Source: Market Pricing
Click here to view the graph.
key metals prices Key Metals Prices
Source: London Metals Exchange
Click here to view the graph.

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Metal Tech: Belting it out

A new method to humidify the atmosphere can increase belt life by more than a third in sintering furnaces …

Stainless steel wire mesh belts used to convey powder metal parts through continuous sintering furnaces have a relatively short service life due to tough process conditions which result in belt material degradation. Conveyor belts are often taken out of service because of excessive cambering or rupture of spiral loops and cross-rods, with the final deterioration stage being extremely brittle belt material.

Focused on delivering solutions, Air Products has developed a unique humidification system for the furnace atmosphere to overcome this challenge. The novel process maintains a protective oxide scale on the belt surface throughout the sintering process while also creating an environment that is reducing to the sintered metal compact. Extensive evaluation and testing has shown that the new humidified atmosphere can increase belt service life by 34% or more by reducing belt material deterioration.

If your facility could benefit from greater furnace belt life, please read our technical paper, “Service Life Extension of Stainless Steel Wire Mesh Belts for Sintering Furnaces,” for full details and results of this novel process.

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Relationships. Innovation. Teamwork.

Encore Wire Corporation is in a commodity business that serves the construction industry. While this might seem an unlikely place to find wide-open thinking, it is exactly the innovative culture you find at Encore Wire Corporation in McKinney, Texas. “We are always looking for a better, more efficient way,” states Gary Spence, Encore’s VP, Non-Ferrous Metals, and head of the company’s continuous cast rod facility. “And with Air Products, it is phenomenal what we’ve been able to achieve.”

Phenomenal indeed. Encore Wire was looking to increase the amount of recycled copper scrap used in its continuous rod mill, both because it is more environmentally friendly and to continue to lower costs. The use of recycled copper scrap has historically been avoided by the industry because of the vertical design of the shaft furnace and the likelihood of blockages at the tap hole. Such blockages can cascade into events that require weeks of furnace downtime.

Encore knew they needed more fire power to keep the tap hole clear and turned to Air Products’ combustion team. Together they developed a novel, new oxy-fuel tap hole burner that enables Encore Wire to utilize more than 30% recycled copper scrap in its vertical shaft furnace, resulting in significant cost and operating improvements. While many in the industry are under the assumption that recycled copper scrap produces an inferior product, Encore Wire’s evaluations found just the opposite.

Read the full case study to learn more about this success story and Air Products’ unique oxy-fuel tap hole burner. To find out how we can deliver results to your bottom line, contact us.

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A new approach to thermal spray cooling

For many thermal spray coating applications, it’s crucial that parts do not experience temperatures outside of a closely set range. Currently, to maintain specified part temperature, forced air cooling combined with inter-pass breaks are commonly used to let the part cool before restarting the next coating pass. This leads to reduced productivity and wasted powder and process gases. Air Products has a solution that may be more efficient for your operation.

Air Products’ Thermal Spray Cooling Technology uses cryogenic nitrogen vapor (-320°F) for high quality thermal spray coatings—including tungsten carbide cobalt—that can be applied faster and at a lower cost than with traditional cooling methods. Our novel technology can also help improve deposition efficiency of the coating process. Plus, using the system’s patent-pending control algorithm, part temperatures can be maintained within a +/-20° range during your thermal spray coating application, eliminating inter-pass cooling breaks. The result: powder and gas savings and better utilization of thermal spray equipment to lower your costs.

Air Products integrates a thermal imaging camera and infrared sensor inputs with computer-controlled cooling nozzles. This allows the cooling system to automatically maintain the substrate temperatures dialed in by the spray booth operator. Compatible with existing thermal spray systems, our cooling technology offers a variety of system designs for application-specific use.

Visit our website to learn more about our Thermal Spray Cooling Technology. You can watch our short video or download the product data sheet, articles from Industrial Heating, Finishing Today and Spraytime, or our news releases. Or contact us today to speak to a representative.

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What's New

Leveraging over 50 years of application expertise and novel combustion and burner technology, Air Products recently expanded its capabilities with a large-scale, state-of-the-art combustion lab at our headquarters in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Our advanced lab enables our metals customers to test their actual fuels—gaseous, liquid or solid—and demonstrate the advantages of oxy-fuel combustion for various metals applications. This is one of several combustion labs worldwide.

“Our metals customers are now utilizing the lab to more accurately assess the operational efficiency, quality and environmental improvements they can realize with oxy-fuel combustion.” stated Dr. Alex Slavejkov, Director, Combustion Technology, continuing, “and our remote camera networks make real-time trials accessible from anywhere in the world.”

Check out the video of our facility performing oxy-fuel and advanced burner combustion tests for traditional and new market approaches. Or if you want to take advantage of this world-class facility and Air Products’ vast combustion experience, contact us.

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Ask the Expert

Greg Buragino

Greg Buragino
Applications Engineer

Q:What is the purpose of stirring in the steelmaking process?

A:Stirring is used in the steelmaking and other molten metal processes primarily to improve metal yields and product quality by homogenizing both the temperature and the chemistry of the metal prior to casting. Typically, stirring is done in secondary refining vessels such as ladles, through a porous plug refractory, or utilizing a top lance. Both argon and nitrogen are used for stirring, with argon selected for applications where its inert characteristics are a critical factor.

The high cost of raw materials and higher quality requirements are also driving an increase in the use of argon bottom stirring in primary steelmaking vessels like the BOF (basic oxygen furnace) and EAF (electric arc furnace). In these applications, argon can be a valuable process tool because of its ability to improve yields, facilitate better chemistry control and reduce process times.

Contact us to learn how nitrogen or argon stirring can help improve your operation.

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Meet This Issue's Metal Head: Anna Wehr-Aukland

Anna Wehr-Aukland

Born and raised in Warsaw, Poland,
where her parents were both engineers, Anna Wehr-Aukland holds a Ph.D. in materials engineering from the Institute of Electronic Materials Technology and a BS and MS in materials engineering from Warsaw University of Technology. After completing her education, Anna spent several years in industrial R&D in Poland where she developed and launched new electrical contact materials.

A fortuitous meeting in Japan at an industry conference led Anna to accept a post-doctoral appointment at New Mexico State University’s Advanced Interconnection Laboratory where she conducted material studies on electrical interconnections. Dr. Wehr-Aukland then moved on to industry positions in research and manufacturing related to heat treatments, materials selection, testing and evaluation, and failure analysis. As a technical lead, she optimized the metal powder manufacturing process, which yielded significant cost savings.

Since joining Air Products in 2009, Anna utilizes her more than 20 years of metals processing knowledge to develop novel solutions to customers’ challenges, drawing on her background in R&D, manufacturing, and academia. That unique breadth of experience and expertise has also led to her being the author or co-author of 18 research papers published in refereed journals and conferences, and a presenter at international technical conferences.

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Where to Find Us

Our representatives will be at the following event. We hope to see you there to discuss your metals production and processing needs.

  • AISTech 2012
    Booth 117
    Atlanta, Georgia
    May 7-10, 2012

  • PowderMet 2012
    Booth 110
    Nashville, Tennessee
    June 11-13, 2012

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Useful Web Links

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Contact Us

You can request more information or any of the documents referenced in this issue by calling us at 800-654-4567, code 919, or by contacting us online.

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