Spring 2006, Issue 7
In This Issue

Metals and Money

Metal Tech I—The Flame Game: Optimizing Performance Through Smart Design

Metal Tech II—Juggling Interactive Variables

Good Things Do Come in Small Packages

New Nitrogen–Endo Atmosphere Lowers Costs

Ask the Expert

Where to Find Us

Meet This Quarter's Metal Head: Robert Kelly

Useful Web Links

Contact Us


Quotes and Quips

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
— Andrew Carnegie  

Contact Us
You can request more information or any of the documents referenced in this issue by calling us at 800-654-4567 code 401, or sending us an e-mail.


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Metals and Money

To forecast and plan, you need to know what's happening around you. Air Products' economists have compiled these graphs to illustrate three-year trends for utility and metals pricing as well as industrial production. We hope you find their perspective useful.

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 I -- The Flame Game

Not all flames are created equal. That's logical, because not all burners are identical. Designing combustion equipment involves more than simple pipe and nozzle sizing. A solid understanding of combustion science helps to harness its power safely and efficiently.

Burner design considerations that maximize the heat transfer efficiency include mixing intensity, flame shape, flame momentum, and fuel or oxidant staging arrangements.

Obtain a detailed article about the various burner design configurations and how they could affect your heat transfer.

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Metal Tech II -- Juggling Interactive Variables

In general, heat treating processes are nonlinear and interactive, and include dynamics that are difficult to measure and control. However, advanced multivariable, model-based predictive process control techniques can be used, resulting in savings in energy, capacity, yield and productivity.

The advanced control techniques can apply to any complex industrial process, including furnace brazing, carburizing and sintering. For example, when brazing, fixed operating conditions such as inlet gas flows, furnace temperature set points, and belt speed can use manipulated variables to maintain a reducing atmosphere in the furnace.

To learn more about predictive process control techniques and how they can help your heat treating system, read the full technical article, or contact us via email or telephone (800-654-4567, code 401) for a copy.

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Good Things Do Come in Small Packages

Air Products' microbulk systems provide a simplified, more economical gas delivery method for small to mid-range applications. Microbulk gas delivery includes supply of argon, nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide in a liquid cryogenic state with relatively small storage tanks (230 to 1500 liters) and offers several cost-savings and efficiency benefits:

  • Less waste: microbulk virtually eliminates the expense of residual gas, sometimes up to 20% in a cylinder. You only pay for gas metered off the truck each delivery.
  • Reduced labor costs and improved safety: Eliminate cylinder change-outs.
  • Fewer purchasing and inventory transactions.
  • Reduced contamination potential, a common problem when you source from different tanks.

This summary was condensed from an article first published in the March 2005 issue of Advanced Materials and Processes magazine.

– Get the full article.
– Learn more about our Microbulk Solutions.

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New Nitrogen–Endo Atmosphere Lowers Costs

You don't stay in business for almost 40 years without delivering quality, customer service, and competitive prices. So when Alpha Sintered Metals, Inc. (ASM), a leading manufacturer of sintered metal parts, was examining ways to modernize production and reduce costs, it needed to be sure that its reputation for quality and service would be maintained.

With equipment partner Surface Combustion, Air Products conducted a demonstration program to evaluate the practicality of using a Surface Combustion RX® Endothermic Gas Generator to provide the hydrogen portion of a sintering atmosphere with a less expensive Nitrogen–RX® atmosphere blend from Air Products, which ASM has trusted for its atmosphere supply for more than 20 years.

ASM test-sintered a full array of materials in the production furnace using a nitrogen–endo blend, then compared the dimensional change and physical properties of the parts with its normal nitrogen-hydrogen production atmosphere. In half of ASM's parts, the tolerances and quality met the company's high standards and tight specifications.

As a result, ASM plans to convert four furnaces to an 80% nitrogen-20% RX blend, for a gas cost savings of 20% over the nitrogen–hydrogen atmosphere—without degradation of quality or production time. With progressive thinking like this, another 40 years of success at ASM looks promising indeed.

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Ask the Expert

Don Bowe

Don Bowe
Senior Principal Industry Engineer



Q: I'm experiencing intermittent oxidation in my furnace. Could leaks in the nitrogen houseline be the problem?

A: Yes, leaks in any pressurized high-purity gas line can cause intermittent oxidation. There are several possible causes. One is through retrodiffusion—the movement of impurities from the surrounding air to a high-pressure, low-impurity gas houseline.

To learn how to minimize wasted product and part oxidation, call us for a leak detection or full process audit at 800-654-4567, code 401.

Learn whether you're following best practices in atmosphere supply and other operational areas by assessing your process at www.metalsassessment.com.

As seen in Industrial Heating, past "Ask the Expert" questions can be viewed online.

Send us your questions.
Send it to gigmrktg@airproducts.com. Each quarter we'll select the most challenging question to win a $100 gift certificate. Congratulations to Robert O'Neill, last quarter's winner.

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Where to Find Us

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

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Meet This Quarter's Metal Head
Robert Kelly

Robert Kelly An Englishman in New York?

Well, Allentown actually; however, it could be New York or Paris, London, Moscow, Mexico City or any one of up to 20-plus cities around the world in which principal applications specialist (and U.K. native) Bob Kelly has done business.

Kelly admits that his lifelong hero is James Bond. In fact, he sees a handful of similarities between his role at Air Products and that of the fabled British field agent. While you won't see Kelly tracking down Goldfinger or foiling the evil schemes of Dr. No, you will find him working with customers to help improve their manufacturing performance.

After all, he has more than 20 years of international experience in the field of heating and combustion, in industries including iron and steel, glass, power generation and petrochemical. His black belt is in Six Sigma rather than martial arts, helping him bring a wealth of expertise and quality focus to the heart of customers' plants.

He is particularly proud of a recent project that involves incorporating oxygen into a metals treating process, realizing $3.5 million in annual fuel savings. Like all good field operators, Kelly sees this success as a result of teamwork. "Bond had Q, M and Moneypenny. I have the support of the team at Air Products."

Kelly's devotion to customers extends beyond standard work hours. "I once received a call at 1 a.m. from an oil refinery where we had to dispatch several tons of equipment and be on-site immediately," he says. "The refinery manager was actually waiting and watching us. Every minute of time saved him thousands of dollars.

"Bond reinvents himself constantly-the learning process is ongoing, just like it is in the field," he adds. "Our job is more than just providing a product and an invoice again and again. The difference is service."

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

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© Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. 2006          330-06-031.1-US