Wired: Indalco Brings Single-Minded Focus to Aluminum Welding-Wire Production for Lincoln Electric
In-house alloy formulation and manufacture, backed by a rigorous quality regimen, ensures super-clean, super-pure SuperGlaze® MIG and TIG aluminum welding wire
If you provide a unique product that demands high quality and uninterrupted supply, control is everything. The manufacturing process of aluminum welding wire is a perfect example. The wire must remain free of impurities to produce quality welds and timely procurement of raw material to create finished aluminum products can be risky business.
In 1998, Lincoln Electric Co. purchased Indalco Alloys, a Mississauga, Ontario, producer of aluminum rod and wire products. The acquisition of this Canadian firm brought greater control for Lincoln Electric in its supply of aluminum welding wire. Indalco owns and operates its own aluminum-rod mill, which is unique among welding-wire suppliers. Adding Indalco and its capabilities to its business portfolio also has positioned Lincoln Electric as the leader in aluminum welding wire. Together, the two companies have developed SuperGlaze® MIG and TIG aluminum welding wire.
Premium-quality TIG rod is engineered at Indalco for use in GTAW applications which require clean, oxide- and porosity-free weldments. The MIG wire on the other hand is manufactured to produce consistent and porosity-free welds in GMAW applications. All welding wire is available in spools, cut lengths and bulk packaging with Indalco’s Accu-Pak™ bulk-wire feeding system option.
Aluminum Growth Makes Lincoln Electric-Indalco Partnership “a Great Fit”
“Aluminum continues to grow worldwide as more countries develop increasingly sophisticated economies,” notes Joe Cacioppo, managing director, Indalco Alloys. “It is a trend in automotive, shipbuilding and aerospace and will be a big part of fabrication going forward, due to its lighter weight and price in relation to steel. Aluminum has many benefits: Cheaper than copper, a very versatile material and a very good conductor of heat. So, the rest of the world is getting its arms around aluminum as a filler material and learning what that entails.”
The rising popularity of aluminum makes Indalco a great fit within Lincoln Electric’s family of companies, with Indalco serving as Lincoln’s source of aluminum welding wire worldwide. The two companies combined also offer a vast array of aluminum-welding knowledge and expertise offering customers even greater value when they choose Lincoln Electric’s welding equipment and consumables.
“Indalco has invested heavily in expanding internal resources and technical leadership to provide customers with the crucial knowledge to support their businesses,” says Cacioppo. “Expertise and support from Lincoln Electric and Indalco set us apart.”
State-of-the-art Production Processes Unique Among Welding-Wire Suppliers
“With its own continuous-cast rod mill, Indalco offers security of supply,” explains Cacioppo. “We are not subject to availability fluctuations, which occur frequently in the continuous-cast-rod industry. Secondly, we have tight control of our chemistry, and a full-time metallurgist monitors the aluminum casts every day. In aluminum welding, which is extremely sensitive to the effects of various elements, monitoring chemistry of the casts is very important as it ultimately determines weld quality for the end-use customer.”
Tight controls on the aluminum’s chemistry helps separate SuperGlaze wires from the competition, and the wire-cleaning processes employed by Indalco ensure the production of smooth, clean wire that feeds easily.
“Extremely clean wire carries a low risk of porosity,” Cacioppo says. “And, the ease of feeding proves less taxing to liners and welding tips, while producing a clean looking weld.”
At Indalco, producing aluminum welding wire—the product of recent significant investment by the company--is a four-step process. It begins with two automated tilting furnaces that produce aluminum alloys destined for a continuous caster. This capability enables Indalco to control chemistry and produce any needed recipe. In addition, this initial step allows for the company to offer metallurgical options including filtration, degassing, oiling and heat-treating.
The 3/8-inch-diameter rod produced in the caster is then drawn down until it reaches the desired diameter. The last manufacturing step involves spooling and placing wire into its finished packaging. By investing in new technology during processing, Indalco has removed work-in-process and increased throughput.
Indalco Minds Cleanliness and Quality 24/7
Through the entire manufacturing process, thorough attention is paid to product cleanliness and quality.
The company keeps a strict eye on quality throughout work shifts at all phases of production, beginning at the rod mill where an in-house metallurgist checks the chemistry of each cast several times. For example, a spectrometer measures the chemistry, and a scanning electron microscope provides 200x-plus magnification to examine wire surface quality. Other testing equipment detects the presence and quantity of impurities on the wire. From that information, Indalco issues a go/no go for packaging of that product batch.
“Indalco’s commitment to quality,” concludes Cacioppo, “tells our customers that we are extremely interested in helping them create good welds, all the time, from start to finish.”