Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) is a wire-fed process like gas metal arc welding (GMAW/MIG). However, what makes FCAW a unique process is the filler metal. FCAW uses a tubular wire that generates slag during welding. While removing the slag after welding can be inconvenient, the slag is critical for the process to achieve good weld quality and provide unique benefits compared to MIG and other welding processes.
When it is time to select a flux-cored wire for your application, you may find that there is an extensive list of wires to choose from. Selecting the best wire—one that is easy-to-use and produces a high-quality weld deposit with suitable mechanical and chemical properties—requires a basic understanding of the basic wire types and capabilities.
Primary FCAW Wire Types: Self-Shielded and Gas-Shielded
In addition to producing a slag during welding that helps to remove base metal impurities, flux-cored wires generate gases that serve to displace the atmosphere around the molten weld metal. This displacement protects the weld metal from atmospheric gases such as oxygen and nitrogen that can lead to porosity or harm mechanical properties.
Self-Shielded Flux Cored Welding (FCAW-S)
Self-shielded flux-cored wires produce sufficient gaseous shielding, so no assistance (external shielding gas) is required. Self-shielded wires are suitable even in breezy conditions, such as outdoor construction and repairs. Remember that using these wires indoors can be challenging from an environmental health and safety perspective, even when strong ventilation is used.
Some self-shielded wires offer sufficient weld toughness—an ability to absorb energy before fracture—that makes them well-suited for structural fabrication in seismic areas and demand-critical welds on bridges and similar structures.
Of course, flux-cored wires also exist for “light-duty” applications around the house, garage, or farm and ranch. While these wires may not be as tough, they often provide more-than-adequate mechanical properties and are easier to use and available in diameters that complement commercial and light-industrial equipment. In addition to the local welding supply, it is often possible to find these wires at hardware and farm supply stores.
Gas-Shielded Flux Cored (FCAW-G)
Not all flux-cored wires are self-shielded, meaning that an external shielding gas (supplied in cylinders similar to those used when MIG welding) is required to achieve acceptable weld quality; these gas-shielded wires are not capable of providing sufficient atmospheric displacement on their own. The process using these wires is often abbreviated as FCAW-G (for gas-shielded).
The trade-off to needed external shielding gas is that the gas-shielded wires are often much more user friendly than the self-shielded wires while still providing improved tolerance to poor base metal conditions—rust, weldable primer, and mill scale—than MIG welding. FCAW-G is especially popular in the railcar, shipbuilding, and heavy equipment fabrication industries.
Common shielding gases for gas-shielded include 100% carbon dioxide and 75% argon/25% carbon dioxide. 100% carbon dioxide is a lower-cost option that typically offers improved base metal penetration, while the argon/carbon dioxide shielding gases usually provide a smoother arc and reduced weld spatter.
In-Position & All-Position Flux Cored Wires
In certain applications, it is possible to position the work (by hand, sometimes using equipment) so that the weld joint is roughly parallel with the ground. This is known as welding “in position.” Since the effect of gravity is not as detrimental, it is often possible to weld at higher amperages. This translates to improved deposition rates, welding travel speeds, and in many cases, improved welding productivity.
Some flux-cored wires are limited to welding in position only. The slag of these wires tends to freeze slower than those wires that are capable of welding in the flat, horizontal, vertical, and overhead positions, but a slow freezing slag often provides a very smooth weld bead contour and good penetration. Typically, these “flat and horizontal only” wires are available in larger diameters to allow the use of very high currents. A 3/32” wire, for example, is typically used between 350 and 500 amps!
If work cannot be positioned, resulting in weld joints in the vertical and overhead positions, an “all-position” flux cored wire must be used. Here, the slag is designed to freeze quickly to support the molten metal and prevent it from dripping or sagging when reasonable welding parameters are used.
Weld Deposit Composition: So Many FCAW Wires!
Some flux-cored wires are suitable for welding lower-strength carbon steels. In contrast, others are designed for welding higher-strength low alloy (HSLA) steels that derive strength and toughness from elements such as nickel, chromium, and molybdenum, among others. Specialty wire manufacturers even make flux-cored wires designed for welding stainless steels, exotic nickel-based alloys, and tool steel compositions.
Some available alloys are even designed for surfacing instead of joining so that exposed areas of base metals are more abrasion or impact resistant.
Flux-cored arc welding is an expansive process with many wire types: gas-shielded, self-shielded, all-position, in-position, carbon steel, HSLA steel, stainless steel, and more. If you ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of flux-cored wires in the welding marketplace, consider turning to AWS or CWB filler metal specifications. Often, these technical documents have electrode classification systems that help you compare products and descriptions of the intended uses of certain wire classifications.
If you’d prefer to save the reading for another time, don’t hesitate to contact Red-D-Arc. We are a knowledgeable team who can rent you the best equipment and advise on the optimal consumables—such as flux-cored wire—you will need for your flux-cored welding application.
The welding equipment used in pipeline welding is highly varied, as different types of pipelines require different welding techniques. Due to the specific challenges posed by this type of welding and its crucial role in global infrastructure and economy, pipeline welding is considered a distinct profession within the welding industry. Consequently, it necessitates the use of a wide range of specialized tools and equipment to facilitate the safe and efficient joining and repair of pipelines.
Pipeline Welding Challenges
Pipelines are like the veins of our planet, and each region has its own pipeline structures transporting natural gas, oil, water, and other vital infrastructure. Like veins in our bodies, pipelines are scattered everywhere. And very often, they are laid in uninhabited terrain with harsh environments, which makes a pipeline welder’s job a challenge on its own.
Any pipeline failure can lead to dramatic economic and environmental consequences. So, weld quality is crucial for pipeline integrity and environmental safety. Pipe welding is sometimes done manually but often employs automated welding equipment to improve weld quality.
Unlike horizontal plate welding, pipe welding requires making circumferential welds around the joint line. The welding process is far more challenging because you must keep the torch/electrode angle consistent as you travel along the joint. In addition, operators must reposition themselves as they travel around the pipe, which takes time and can put welders in uncomfortable welding positions out in the field. Welder fatigue, harsh environmental conditions, the challenge of maintaining the same arc travel angle, keeping an even joint gap, and many other challenges make pipe welding a complex job that requires specialized welding equipment.
Different Types Of Pipelines
The oil and gas industry primarily relies on pipelines for gathering, processing, and distribution. However, many different pipeline types are involved in these processes, and they all have unique challenges during their production.
There are five main types of pipelines:
- Gathering Pipelines
- Transmission Pipelines
- Distribution Pipelines
- Feeder Pipelines
These pipelines vary in size, primary material, internal pressures, and the types of chemicals and aggressive agents the inside and outside of the pipes are exposed to. As a result, there are varying welding needs depending on the pipeline type you are working with. For example, joining a service distribution pipeline made of copper with a pressure of 6 psi has completely different welding equipment requirements than joining a carbon steel transmission pipeline of up to 42-in diameter with pressures up to 1,200 psi.
Pipeline Welding Equipment
Pipeline welding equipment is highly diverse and specialized for welding pipes of various materials and diameters. In addition, many advanced automated pipe welding solutions exist for different pipe materials and sizes. While manual pipe welding plays a significant role in the pipeline industry, automated equipment provides consistent arc manipulation patterns, speed, voltage, amperage, and work angles.
Besides the welding equipment, joining pipes also requires external and internal clamps, pipe stands, pipe lifting devices, pipe bending equipment, weld testing machines, and various auxiliary equipment. The need for these additional tools depends on the pipeline types and the location where the pipes are joined.
Welders also need to use personal protective equipment (PPE). Besides welding apparel, pipe welders use pancake-style welding helmets to prevent backlight exposure and ensure maximum eye protection from arc radiation, sparks, and spatter. In addition, pancake-style welding helmets are lighter than standard flip-up welding hoods, which reduces fatigue during days with extended hours under the hood.
Welding Power Sources
While a lot of the manual pipe welding is done with the well known E6010 and E7018 stick welding electrodes, the TIG, MIG, and Flux-cored welding processes are also often applied, depending on the pipeline type, material, pipe diameter, and other variables.
Joining pipelines in remote locations is not only challenging for your welding crew but for your equipment as well. Besides exceptional arc stability and built-in features, your welding power source must be made to perform in harsh environments.
For example, the diesel-powered Big Blue Air Pak from Miller is designed for heavy industrial applications and built to be one of the most reliable high-output welders in the world. This powerful unit can output 500A at 100% duty cycle or 600A at 60% duty cycle, allowing your welders to join the thickest of pipes efficiently and with little to no downtime. Its “Arc-Drive” automatically enhances stick welding, especially when welding pipe, by improving arc stability and preventing it from going out. Besides excellent stick welding capabilities, the Big Blue Air Pak includes MIG, FCAW, DC TIG, and submerged arc welding processes. As a result, you can join pipes in the most optimal way for your current job.
Another option is to use dual-output diesel-powered welders like the Dual Maverick 200/200X from Lincoln Electric. This workhorse of a welder can output up to 450A in a single mode or up to 225A in dual mode — it combines two welding machines into one, allowing your pipe welders to work simultaneously on the same pipe. Besides its support for MIG, DC TIG, and stick welding, it also supports arc gouging at up to 450A, allowing you to gouge bad welds quickly. In addition, its Downhill Pipe (CC) mode allows your operators to weld the pipes “downhill” with a more forceful digging arc during the root and hot passes and a softer arc when “stacking the iron” during the fill and cap passes.
Pipe Bevelers and Cutters
Cutting and beveling the pipe remains one of the most challenging aspects of pipe preparation. No matter how skilled your operators are, achieving a consistent bevel angle on the pipe is nearly impossible when manually severing with the torch. On the other hand, pipe fit-up and cut precision must be almost perfect for maximum joint quality and for the weld to pass the inspection.
Pipe bevelers and cutters allow you to accurately prepare the pipe joint quickly and consistently. Depending on the system, they are mounted inside or outside the pipe. An operator can easily position the beveler or a cutter in about five minutes or less and achieve clean cuts and bevel angles, making pipe welding far easier and with a lower chance of weld failure.
Pipe Heating Equipment
Preheating and post-welding heat treatment are often crucial to establishing a sound weld. Pipes made from various high-strength steel grades and alloys have specific preheating temperatures and often must undergo a process of stress relieving through post-welding heat treatment. In addition, the interpass temperature between each consecutive weld is usually provided in the welding specification sheet.
If the pipe joint is not appropriately preheated or the interpass temperature is incorrect, there are higher chances of weld cracking due to brittleness and hydrogen diffusion. Therefore, pipe heating equipment is vital for successful pipe joining.
There are various pipe heating technologies on the market, but most of them are based on induction heating, open flame heating, and ceramic resistance pads. High-quality systems not only provide sufficient pipe heating, but can also log the data and offer very accurate and uniform pipe heating. Unlike traditional open flame heating systems, induction heating systems like the Miller ProHeat 35 don’t cause water vapor condensation and won’t contribute to additional hydrogen buildup in the weld.
Rent Or Lease Pipe Welding Equipment From Red-D-Arc
Pipeline welding is a very diverse field and depending on the types of pipes you need to join, your equipment selection can vary significantly. For example, if you are a fabricator who joins pipes in the shop for your client, you may require completely different equipment than a contractor working on large transmission pipelines in the open and across the states.
Red-D-Arc has a massive fleet of pipeline welding equipment at your disposal. You can rent the necessary tools and avoid purchasing, storage, and maintenance costs. Investing in heavy-duty pipe welding equipment is costly and often doesn’t make financial sense. Many contractors move from job to job. So, it’s more cost-effective to rent and scale in and out with your equipment on an “as-needed basis.”
Contact us today, and our experienced team will help you determine the needed equipment based on the job at hand. Red-D-Arc has over 60,000 units of high-end equipment strategically placed across North America, and we can provide our tools to your job site, regardless of the location and equipment requirements.
Welding is a complex and varied practice, with everything from hobby-level art welding to industrial welding, shipbuilding, and even underwater welding available to skilled tradespeople.
The welding method uses high heat and electric currents, produces spatters of molten metal, and can even cause open flames. While proper welding procedures can minimize many of these risks, there’s always the potential for danger, so adequate safety equipment is essential.
A welding blanket is one piece of safety equipment that can be essential to keep on hand. What is a welding blanket, what is it used for, and what considerations should you give to your selection? Read on to learn more.
What Is a Welding Blanket?
A welding blanket is a large sheet of material the size, shape, and flexibility of a blanket you might put on your bed at home. Unlike a traditional blanket, however, a welding blanket is thick, heavy, and made of heat-resistant, flame-resistant materials, such as fiberglass.
When welding or performing related tasks like plasma cutting, grinding or sandblasting, your work can spray gobbets of hot metal away from a weld pool or cutting surface. These drops of hot metal can be anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 degrees, capable of lighting other materials on fire, burning the operator, and causing all kinds of damage.
The operator will typically be protected by safety equipment such as heavy-duty gloves, a face shield, and a thick jacket that resists burns.
What about the rest of the environment? What if you’re welding in an area with flammable floor surfaces, furniture nearby, a hazardous materials cabinet, or other items nearby that can’t easily be moved but need protection from fire?
A welding blanket protects the environment around the welding operation from the spatter and heat of welding. The blanket can be laid on the floor to protect it from contact with spatter, draped over items like furniture, gas tanks, or other items that need to be protected, or hung up like a curtain to segment off the welding area from the rest of a workshop.
What’s the Difference Between a Welding Blanket and a Fire Blanket?
You may have heard of a fire blanket and even consider it roughly the same.
After all, a welding blanket and a fire blanket are thick and fire-resistant; are they the same?
A welding blanket is a protective screen that stops sparks and spattered molten metal from burning or igniting other surfaces.
A fire blanket is similar and can be used for the same purpose. However, a fire blanket is often used as an emergency tool to smother and extinguish fires that ignite in a disaster. Cutting off a supply of oxygen to a fire douses itself because it cannot continue to burn; this is especially relevant in cases where fires of many different types can occur, and specific fire extinguishers might not be able to extinguish every kind of fire. Fire blankets are suitable for small-scale fires, often in the home, but can also be used as part of an emergency kit in a workshop.
So: a fire blanket can be used as a preventative or a reactive item; a welding blanket is generally only used as a preventive item.
Can you use a welding blanket as a fire blanket or vice versa? Truthfully, only in one direction. Fire blankets are meant to be single-use blankets to extinguish a fire and be discarded. Welding blankets can serve this purpose. Conversely, a fire blanket is not generally heat-resistant enough to be used as a welding blanket.
What Are Welding Blankets Made Of?
One of the most significant considerations when looking into welding blankets is the materials it is made out of; different materials have different levels of durability, fire resistance, material properties, and safety.
For example, one of the best materials for a welding blanket was highly fire-resistant, soft and supple enough to be woven into the fabric, and extremely easy to work with.
However, over time, it was discovered that the material shed extremely cancerous fibers; it is asbestos, and it has since been banned in virtually every situation. Old welding blankets
may still use asbestos and can be floating around in older shops, so be careful to examine any safety equipment you use and eliminate the ones that can cause health issues.
Other materials that can be used to make a welding blanket include:
- Leather. Leather is safe for softer materials (like wood and human skin), can be fire-resistant, and can be very protective against certain kinds of damage. However, leather is also very expensive, quite heavy, deforms under stress, and can be damaged by oils, solvents, and other chemicals.
- Carbon Felt. Felt is a fiber shredded, carbonized, and pressed into a dense material. The resulting material is resistant to temperatures up to around 1,800 degrees, is mostly safe for skin contact, and can easily be cut to size for various purposes. However, it could be more durable and must be replaced frequently.
- Fiberglass. Also known as glass wool, fiberglass has been melted and extruded into thin, flexible strands to be woven into fibers and textiles. It’s commonly used as insulation due to its heat resistance and insulative properties. However, fiberglass can irritate the skin (the glass strands can break, and tiny sharp shards embed in the skin for a pervasive itching rash), so most fiberglass is coated in something like plastic or silicone to help make it safer for the touch.
- Silica. Similar to glass, silica fabric is safer than fiberglass and has a very high level of resistance to heat shrinkage and damage. However, it’s also quite expensive, so it tends only to be used in industrial settings.
- Ceramic. Ceramics are among the most heat-resistant materials known to man while also being very lightweight and safe for humans. Making a ceramic blanket can be difficult, however, and the resulting blankets are quite expensive. As such, ceramic welding blankets are typically only seen in industrial settings where heavy-duty protection is necessary.
- Vermiculite. Vermiculite is a very useful material that expands when heated to form something with a lot of beneficial properties used in everything from gardening to industrial machinery. It’s very heat-resistant for short periods, so it is most often used for welding curtains and other vertical protection where a spark or spatter will hit, bounce off, and fall away rather than settle on the surface. Welding blankets made of vermiculite are usually made of another material that contains vermiculite woven into it.
- Other materials. Acrylics, black slag, and even aluminum fiberglass can all be used as welding blanket materials and can be found for various niche purposes.
Welding blankets may also have an external coating that helps provide further heat-resistant properties. Coatings can include silicone, neoprene, acrylics, ceramics, and graphite.
Different coatings are suitable for different purposes, some better for horizontal usage and others for vertical curtains.
Five Categories of Welding Blankets
Welding blankets can be divided into five categories based on their intended purpose.
The first category is light-duty blankets. These are meant for relatively low-temperature spatter, heat exposure, and temporary exposure for moments. They’re most useful to drape over items that need protection or hang as curtains for temporary protection around a project. However, they aren’t durable against high heat spatter and prolonged exposure, so a flying gobbet of slag can burn through them or fuse to them. They are usually meant to be used a couple of times and then replaced, as well.
The second, among the more common welding blankets, are the medium-duty blankets.
These are usually coated with a more heat-resistant material like graphite and are usually made of fiberglass.
They’ll resist temperatures up to 1,000 degrees and can resist spatter and typical heat exposure. They are, however, still mostly used in the vertical position to segment off a welding project and protect the rest of a shop or environment and are not suitable for horizontal use.
The third is the heavy-duty blankets. These are often made of vermiculite coated in other materials or woven into fiberglass or silica. They can resist temperatures up to 1,800 degrees and offer longer protection with more durability than lighter-duty blankets. They can withstand heavy spatter, lengthy exposure to heat, and droplets of molten metal, so that they can be suitable for horizontal and prolonged use.
The fourth category, which offers even more protection and long-term durability than heavy-duty blankets, is industrial blankets. These can also be larger and more resistant than other blankets and are meant to be used for an extended period without needing replacement.
The fifth and final category is special-use blankets with specific properties and purposes.
For example, some special blankets are made of very soft materials to help prevent abrading or scratching sensitive materials, and others are very insulative, so they can be used to help cool down a project slower than air exposure would.
Related but tertiary are induction heating blankets, which are used to warm up a project before welding.
What to Consider When Choosing a Welding Blanket
There is much to consider when you’re examining different welding blanket options to purchase something for your manufactory, shop, or outside project.
The four main considerations are:
- Price. Obviously, price is always a consideration. Often, the more expensive a blanket is, the more durable, long-lasting, and flexible it will be.
- Position. Most blankets are meant to be hung vertically to offer protection to everything around a project but the floor. More expensive and resistant materials are needed for horizontal usage.
- Handling. Some materials are heavy. Some are thick and stiff and difficult to move. Some are abrasive or irritating to handle. Picking the right balance between protection and usability is critical.
- Additional resistances. If you want your blanket to be resistant to chemicals, oils, water, or other materials like acids, you will have special considerations in addition to pure heat resistance.
For most welders, a fiberglass blanket will do the majority of the work necessary to protect one’s surroundings from a welding project. That, combined with proper safety, like positioning, will be plenty.
Always make sure that, even if you’re creating a protected space with curtains, you have adequate ventilation for your project. Shielding gasses and metal fumes is no joke.
How Do I Properly Care For My Welding Blanket?
Caring for your welding blanket is essential to ensuring its longevity and safety. You’ll need to perform regular maintenance on your welding blanket to do this. Here are some tips for proper care:
- Clean your welding blanket regularly. You can do this by brushing away any dirt or debris that has built up on the surface of the blanket. It’s also essential to vacuum the blanket from time to time to ensure any small particles are removed.
- Check for signs of damage. Regularly inspect your welding blanket for signs of wear and tear, such as rips, tears, or holes. If you notice any damage, you must replace the welding blanket immediately to keep your workspace safe.
- Store your welding blanket properly. When not in use, store your welding blanket in a cool, dry place away from extreme temperatures and direct sunlight. You should also ensure the blanket is not exposed to moisture or dampness.
- Regularly check for loose threads or fraying. Inspecting your welding blanket for any loose threads or fraying that can lead to further damage is essential. If you notice any signs of wear and tear, it’s best to replace the blanket.
How Do I Use a Welding Blanket Safely?
When working with any welding equipment, safety should always be the priority. Welding blankets are no different. There are certain precautions to take to ensure your safety and that of those around you when using a welding blanket.
First and foremost, be sure to wear the appropriate safety gear when working with a welding blanket, such as protective eyewear and gloves. As the sparks from your welding process can be extremely hot and potentially cause serious harm, you should also wear flame-resistant clothing and shoes. Additionally, if the area you’re welding in is extensive or you’ll be working for an extended period, consider wearing a face shield and respirator.
It is also essential to check your welding blanket for any signs of wear and tear before each use; this includes looking for holes, rips, tears, or weak spots that could compromise its effectiveness. If your welding blanket is not in good condition, replace it immediately.
When laying out your welding blanket, be sure to do so in a manner that leaves plenty of space around the welding site; this will help to protect bystanders from sparks and other hot materials. Additionally, pay attention to the type of surface the welding blanket is on; avoid wooden surfaces whenever possible, as they can easily catch fire. If you are working in an area particularly vulnerable to spark damage, consider adding extra layers of protection, such as a heavy canvas sheet or fire retardant material.
Finally, thoroughly inspect your welding blanket once you are done using it. Pay particular attention to any spots that appear burned or discolored due to contact with sparks or molten metal. If any part of your welding blanket is damaged, dispose of it immediately and replace it with a new one.
Following these simple safety measures when using a welding blanket can help ensure your welds are successful and your workspace remains safe.
Do You Need a Welding Blanket?
Maybe! A welding blanket is a protective item used to protect things like furniture, chemical storage cabinets, other equipment, vehicles, or even the floor from being burned, scorched, or spattered with molten metal.
You will need some protection, depending on what you’re doing. Sometimes, welding blankets are the appropriate kind of protection. Other times, you’re better off using an isolated shop configured to itself be resistant to welding. For example, a concrete floor may be scorched by welding, but you may not care enough to protect it. You only need to protect furniture if you have furniture within reach, and so on.
A welding blanket can be essential for shops with multiple purposes, for travel welding, and for many industrial applications. Reviewing your projects to determine if you need such protection is always a good idea.
Do you have additional questions about welding? Are you interested in renting or purchasing welding equipment? Feel free to reach out; the Red-D-Arc team is here to answer any questions you may have and help guide you toward successful welding.
Whether you need small shop tools and equipment, or full industrial turn-key solutions, we’ve got you covered.
Offshore welding equipment requirements in the oil and gas industry are different from those of a small welding shop or a large fabrication line. When working on an offshore oil rig, you want safety, integrity, durability, reliability, and versatility as prime pillars of your welding equipment.
Working with pressurized and flammable materials in an industry where every maintenance and repair interruption creates a profit bottleneck and poses a risk of devastating explosions, requires specialized equipment for all welding tasks.
Pipes and other critical infrastructure on the offshore rigs must be repaired quickly, efficiently, and most importantly, safely. And you cannot achieve this goal with subpar equipment. So, let’s discuss the offshore welding equipment requirements and see how you can benefit from proper equipment selection.
Offshore Welding Conditions
It’s not an overstatement to say that environmental conditions on offshore rigs are brutal. Extreme weather, rough seas, corrosive sea water, and powerful winds require equipment that can reliably perform in the most adverse situations. In addition, welders working on offshore platforms have to repair and install platform elements in noisy, damp, and cramped conditions with extreme weather, making all metalworking tasks more challenging than in most other industries.
Hurricanes and other extreme sea weather events are difficult, if not impossible, to predict. For example, Hurricane “Gustave” swept through the Gulf of Mexico in 2008, damaging more than 130 offshore platforms. Later that year, Hurricane “Ike” produced similar damage. Since it’s welders who repair the damage and keep rigs running smoothly, their personal protective equipment (PPE) and welding tools must be engineered to function even in challenging conditions.
Offshore Welding Equipment
The bulk of offshore welding equipment comes down to welding power sources, diesel generators, induction heating devices, fume extractors, PPE, welding consumables, filler materials, welding automation equipment, and shielding gas for arc welding processes. While you would generally see a similar list of welding equipment for most industries where welding is employed, offshore equipment must meet stringent requirements to perform reliably in harsh conditions.
Personal Protective Equipment
Welders on offshore rigs are at potential risk for electrical burns, eye damage from welding arc, health issues from toxic fumes and gases, exposure to dangerous levels of UV and IR radiation, physical injuries, frostbites, and develop hearing damage due to a noisy work environment.
Offshore welding typically requires working with high-amperage welding machines in less-than-ideal conditions using a shielded metal arc welding process (SMAW). High amperage, coupled with an arc welding process that produces a lot of sparks and welding fumes, requires adequate PPE to combat arc eye injury, like a heavy-duty welding helmet with an appropriate DIN shading level, and fire-resistant welding apparel that can withstand molten slag and metal droplets. In addition, welding respirators may be necessary, along with a welding fume extraction system.
Welding Power Sources
MIG, Flux-cored, TIG, stick, and submerged arc welding power sources for offshore welding can have up to 1500 amps of welding power, be single-process or multi-process units, and work standalone or as a part of multi-operator packs.
Welding on oil rigs means the power source might be exposed to corrosive salt water, harsh moisture-ridden winds, and possibly physical shocks, like bumps and tool hits. These machines must be built to withstand such an environment with rugged bodies made from heavy-gauge stainless steel.
Diesel generators or diesel-powered welders must have extreme-duty protective enclosures to minimize saltwater intrusion. In addition, they should be fuel efficient and produce a low noise level to reduce workers’ distraction and hearing damage. Diesel-powered welders should have excellent cold-starting abilities because offshore platform temperatures can get extremely low. Another significant advantage of diesel-powered welders is the provided auxiliary power for tools, and this benefit is exceptionally useful during post-hurricane repairs.
Stick welding equipment should be equipped with a voltage reduction device (VRD) to prevent electrical shocks to welders. VRD reduces open circuit voltage (OCV) to safe levels before the welding arc is initiated, which minimizes the chances of welder electrocution in cramped, wet, and damp areas.
Offshore rigs require welding everything from rails to heavy construction, pipes, and pressure vessels for barium sulfate and other compounds. The welds on offshore platforms have extremely stringent requirements, which means that the welding equipment must have impeccable arc quality and necessary features to maximize the weld integrity in every application.
Automated Welding Equipment
Automated welding solutions can significantly improve productivity, efficiency, and safety in the oil and gas industry. Weld automation bridges the skills gap and helps you deal with the skilled labor shortage while simultaneously improving your bottom line and weld quality.
Employing automation equipment like welding positioners, manipulators, turning rolls, fit up bed tank rollers, welding cobots, automated submerged arc systems, and other welding automation equipment can drastically cut the production time for pressure vessels, pipes, and other critical elements of offshore oil and gas platforms.
Some of the most critical automation solutions for offshore oil and gas extraction are automated pipe cladding systems. Offshore environments and subsea reservoirs are highly corrosive, and many of the extraction process failures are attributed to pipeline corrosion. The pipelines typically contain aggressive agents like organic acids, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, chlorides, sand, and other chemicals that cause steel pipe corrosion. However, the pipelines can last significantly longer when using automated cladding equipment to bond the corrosion-resistant alloys on the inside of the pipes used in an aggressive offshore environment.
Rent Or Lease From Red-D-Arc
The offshore oil and gas industry has an extensive range of welding needs. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to accurately predict the scope of welding equipment an offshore rig will need in any given year, especially when you account for hurricanes and other destructive natural events.
Thankfully, welding is so versatile that you can join almost all elements on the oil and gas platforms as long as you have the right equipment. But, it doesn’t always make sense to buy fleets of advanced welding power sources and automation equipment. Instead, many welding businesses rely on rental equipment because it’s difficult to predict the hurricane season and the yearly oil and gas industry requirements.
By renting or leasing your welding equipment, you can scale in and out of the welding job and still keep your contract for the maintenance and repair of rigs and platforms. Red-D-Arc offers welder rentals and welding equipment fleet management services for many industries, and provides extreme-duty performance and reliability, even in the harshest environments.
Red-D-Arc experts have an in-depth understanding of materials, products, and specific job-type needs, and we stand ready to help you prepare for your next offshore season. Contact us today, and our team will work with you closely to develop and implement the solutions you need.