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The rise of the additive manufacturing industry has pushed the limits of traditional arc welding processes. To meet today’s elaborate requirements, Messer offers a wide variety of specialty welding gas solutions to protect as well as fine-tune material properties.
Taking welding to the next level
This new process utilises arc welding and plasma arc welding tools and wire as feedstock which have been around for decades and adopts them for addititve manufacturing purposes. Gas-metal arc welding (MIG/MAG) and plasma welding techniques are used to melt metal filler to form a 3D component layer by layer.
Avantages of arc and plasma additive manufacturing
The advantages of arc additive manufacturing and plasma additive manufacturing are apparent: No complex tooling and equipment is needed, which means investment costs are low, while the results are convincing. The so formed metal objects appeal through structural integrity and less distortion. Plus, being able to produce leightweight components from costly material like aluminium and titanium without material waste puts arc and plasma additive manufacturing in the centre of interest for many industries, in particular for aerospace, automotive or medical. In regard to cost effectiveness it outdoes other additive manufacturing processes like laser beam welding and electron beam welding.
The main process is:
The wire arc AM process
As in standard MIG/MAG welding, metal wire is added as the electrode melts in the arc and its droplets form layers on the substrate. Processes with lower heat input, such as controlled short-circuit metal transfer, are preferred given the heat sensitivity of most materials used in additive manufacturing. Shielding gases protect the layers against ambient air.
Shielding gases in arc and plasma additive manufacturing processes
Air, hydrocarbons and moisture will lead to distortion. To avoid the chemical reaction heated metal has when in contact with elements like oxygen and nitrogen, gases are applied to protect the hot substrate against the ambient atmosphere. This protective shield of gas keeps the quality of the weld joint from being mared by the chemical reaction. The metallurgical properties of the component are maintained or in some cases even improved when deoxidizers are added to the weld.
Tried-and tested MIG/MAG welding gases help improve mechanical properties
Argon, helium and mixtures thereof are the preferred process gases for MIG/MAG welding and plasma additive manufacturing. Active components such as CO2, O2, N2 or H2 can be added to fine-tune material properties. With its long-standing expertise in all welding, cutting, heating and surfacing applications, Messer can advise you on choosing the right gases and mixtures for your individual arc and plasma additive manufacturing project. We deliver a range of tried-and-tested MIG/MAG welding gases under our CORGON®, CRONIGON® and VARIGON® families. Mixes that have been designed to bring you the full benefits like continuity, speed, comparative freedom from distortion coupled with the reliability of automatic welding with the versatility and control of manual welding.
Latest research shows: additional cooling gas enhances grain structure and size
In cooperation with a research team from the University of Technology, Departement of Production Technology in Ilmenau, Germany, a novel strategy of gas in cooling in context of additive manufacturing was tested to avoid the high heat accumulation in the top layers of the workpiece. Experimental trials with argon, hydrogen and nitrogen were carried out, proving the significant influence of cooling gas on the temperature during the GMAW additive manufacturing building process. The best results were achieved with nitrogen and hydrogen, which led to a higly effective cooling process. Hence, grain structure and size can be modelled to a homogenous microstructure by the composition of the gas.
Profit from Messer’s technical knowledge and industry experience
As the deposition conditions such as temperature and protective atmosphere are key determants for the layer quality, our application experts can also advise you on the choice of shield gas, desirable shielding gas flow and other operating parameters best suited to your needs, also supporting you with the equipment and gas management services you need. We’d be glad to help you optimise all your gas-related procedures. In addition, we offer safety training and preventive maintenance.
Please contact us for personal consulting about our high-quality gases for Additive Manufacturing:
Messer solutions for arc processes at a glance:
- Argon and helium gas supply – design, provision and installation
- Active gas supply – gases mixed in advance or on-site satisfying specific process demands
- Plasma gases – required to generate the plasma
- On-site support – process and/or technical support
- On-stream gas system – design and maintenance services
- Gas safety – equipment, safety checks and training