Summer 2007, Issue 12
In This Issue













Quotes and Quips

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
— Helen Keller  

Contact Us
You can request more information or any of the documents referenced in this issue by calling us at 800-654-4567 code 517, or sending us an e-mail.


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Metals and Money

We know that accurate forecasting and planning requires an understanding of the movement of indices that are key for your industry. Air Products' team of economists has compiled the graphs below to illustrate 3-year trends for utility and metals pricing as well as industrial production. We'll continue to keep you updated with this important information each quarter.

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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MetalTech: Air Products' Rapid GasQuench (RGQ) Gas Mixture

Quenching, the cooling and hardening of steel parts, is an essential step in the heat treating of the parts. Common quenching media are typically liquids or gases whose purpose is to control the rate of heat transfer from the surface of the quenched parts.

While gas quenchants are environmentally friendly, produce cleaner products and eliminate the need for part washing or the disposal of liquid quenching fluids, they have historically had a lower heat transfer coefficient than that of liquid quenchants. Air Products' newly developed RGQ helium-argon gas mixture addresses this challenge, having been proven to provide a 10% greater cooling capacity than even pure helium.

To find out how your vacuum heat treating operation can capitalize on the benefits of gas quenching, including increased production and furnace flexibility, reduced operating costs, and improved metallurgical properties, by using Air Products' RGQ gas mixture, contact us or view the full technical article online.

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MISSION: ACCOMPLISHED

Air Products' Process Management System Enhances Sintering Operation

When your mission is to deliver highly engineered, complex, high-quality powder metal products, the answer is in the details. The employee-owners at ASCO Sintering in Commerce, California enlisted the knowledge and capabilities of Air Products when looking to record those details and refine their quality control system. ASCO leveraged Air Products' extensive understanding of furnace operations and customized systems implementation to gain a firmer comprehension of their continuous sintering furnaces and integral quench and draw furnaces further downstream.

Working closely together, Air Products put a process management system in place that allows ASCO to better understand their operation and the impact temperature has on rejects and rework by continuously measuring and recording zone temperatures in the furnaces. "This level of understanding has enabled us to focus our corrective action efforts, saving both time and money. In fact, we are looking to expand the process management system to include dew point and oxygen analysis," states ASCO's senior metallurgist Mark Opoku-Adusei, Ph.D.

Contact us to learn how Air Products' customized process management system can help you trace and organize your operation's data—and convert it into usable and useful information. Also, you can view the full version of our case study online.

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To Grind or Turn?

Evaluating the Best Machining Option for Tungsten Carbide and Hard Facing Materials

For tungsten carbide dies with nickel (Ni) or cobalt (Co) binder content, grinding is often the best option because of the significant heat generation and tool wear of other techniques. However, the grinding process is often slow, with extremely long cycle times.

To address this challenge, Air Products has introduced its ICEFLY® machining technology. Using liquid nitrogen (LIN) to replace conventional coolants, the system significantly reduces heat transfer at the tool, allowing higher cutting speeds. Additionally, the cryogenic nature of LIN increases the tool hardness and toughness, resulting in minimal thermal deformation and higher fracture toughness. Air Products' ICEFLY technology has also been shown to improve surface finish and productivity in hard face (thermal spray and weld overlay) coatings. Contact us to learn how Air Products' ICEFLY technology can help you realize the advantages of cryomachining in your operation. View our online ICEFLY technology video.

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Electricity Costs Going Up Nationwide

Since the late nineties, the price for electricity in many parts of the country has increased two- and threefold. Today, many power consumers are experiencing increases rivaling what they are seeing at the gas pump. And with the current widespread belief that global warming is caused by the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity, there appears to be no relief in sight. So what's causing these increases?

First, the underlying costs of the fuels to generate electricity have increased substantially. Natural gas, in particular, is up 300 percent from the early nineties, and even coal has doubled over the past five years. Plus, oil continues to fluctuate between $60–$70/barrel compared to $30 just four years ago!

Secondly, due to increasing power costs in the nineties, legislators and regulators introduced various "deregulation" schemes on a state-by-state basis to reduce costs to consumers. Many states began to deregulate immediately; others entered transition periods to ease consumers into "shopping" for their power. However, following the price "blowout" in California in 2000 and the Enron debacle, the trend toward deregulation came to a halt—California actually reversed its decisions and re-regulated.

The reasons for the failure of deregulation to lower consumer costs are actively being debated. In general, the basis for electricity prices is moving from embedded "average" cost of generation to marginal cost, which in many instances is based on natural gas prices. At the same time, problems in the power industry during the past eight years have caused many potential new generating facilities to be delayed or canceled, resulting in reduced resources to meet the growing power load.

Other issues that will impact future power costs include tighter environmental controls and higher costs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On the positive side, these higher costs are leading to more efficient use of electricity and "load shifting" to off-peak periods to reduce demand on the grid.

To lessen the impact of these rising rates, Air Products continues to seek ways to reduce power costs, including such innovative techniques as interruptible time-of-day and real-time electricity pricing. We are constantly balancing the need to run our plants in the most efficient manner with our requirement to meet the increasingly high product demands of our customers.

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PM Kudos

What's New -- PM Kudos
Edul Daver, President of MPIF, presenting the MPIF Distinguished Service to Powder Metallurgy Award to Tom Philips.
Based upon his long-term contributions to the powder metallurgy industry, Tom Philips, principal applications engineer at Air Products, was recognized at the PowderMet 2007 show in Denver in May. At an industry recognition luncheon, the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF) awarded Tom the Distinguished Service to Powder Metallurgy Award for his outstanding achievements. Air Products congratulates Tom on this exceptional award and is proud to have such a recognized leader in the powder metal industry on our team.

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Ask the Expert

Greg Buragino

Greg Buragino
Senior Principal Applications Engineer – Steel



Q: How can I lower the carbon monoxide levels in my steelmaking furnace off-gas?

A: Measuring and reducing the carbon monoxide (CO) levels in your off-gas is very important. High CO levels in your ductwork indicate incomplete combustion in your furnace—literally that valuable energy is going up in smoke!

See how you can capture this usable energy by putting Air Products' expertise to work for you.

View past "Ask the Expert" questions, answers and videos.

Have a question for us? Send it to gigmrktg@airproducts.com.

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Where to Find Us

Our representatives hope to see you at these events to discuss your metals processing needs.

  • Heat Treating Atmosphere & Quench Systems—Best Practices Seminar
    Presenters: Air Products, Surface Combustion,
    Houghton and Dan Herring the Heat Treat Doctor
    Organized by: Industrial Heating Magazine
    – August 28, 2007, South Bend, Indiana
    – November 13, 2007, Long Beach, California
    Call 888-530-6714 to reserve your seat or for more details
  • ASM Heat Treating Society Conference and Expo
    (Booth 1105)
    Fast Track: Helium and argon recycle systems
    Technical presentations:
    – Liquid Nitrogen Rolling
    – Heat Treating Atmosphere Activation
    September 17–19, 2007
    Detroit, Michigan
  • FABTECH (Booth 1122)
    Paper: Air Products thermal spray and welding cooling technologies
    November 11–14, 2007
    Chicago, Illinois

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Meet This Quarter's Metal Head
Rob Hostinak

Rob Hostinak

Like father, like son. For Rob Hostinak, that means following in the thermal spray footprints of his Dad. After graduating from Texas A&M, Rob quickly learned that sitting behind a desk was not how he wanted to use his engineering degree. Following the advice of his father (with a 30+ year career in the thermal spray industry), Rob found his niche. "I enjoy being involved in the process and working with customers to implement technology and overcome challenges," Rob states.

Recently joining Air Products, Rob brings nearly 15 years of thermal spray expertise with a specialty in aerospace applications. "I had the opportunity to be at the preview and launch of United Airlines' first Boeing 777," Rob recalls, continuing, "and I knew I had chosen the right career direction. The magnitude and complexity of the aircraft enthralled me."

Rob brings this passion to his new position, where his experience in both thermal spray equipment and the applications of those technologies enables him to understand all sides of the process. Based in Washington State, Rob travels extensively on the West Coast, serving the metals industry including, of course, the one that captivated him many years ago—aerospace.

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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 517, or by sending an email to gigmrktg@airproducts.com.

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© Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. 2007 330-07-084.2-US

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