Since their invention over 50 years ago, flux-cored wires have transformed offshore welding, leading to higher deposition rates and lower hydrogen levels than their solid antecedents. Despite these advantages, current production methods give certain limitations to the possibilities of further improving these product characteristics.
Given these problems, it made sense for Oerlikon to take the time to develop a new range of products that aimed to address the aforementioned limitations. The company has used a new technology for producing cored wires that laserwelds the tube to obtain a totally closed flux-cored wire with excellent feeding characteristics and very low hydrogen content. The first to be launched are Fluxofil 22HD and Fluxofil 23 HD, which have been specially designed for offshore welding.
"They have better mechanical properties, better toughness," says Elisabeth Sampaolo, Oerlikon's marketing director. "They will also be able to reach -60°C, in line with NACE standards. This will help satisfy customers' requests on new, high-strength steel products."
At the same time, Sampaolo emphasises that Fluxofil 22 and 23 HD preserves all the traditional benefits of its well-known tubular-cored wires, a technology the company first patented with its 'seamless' design in 1966.
"This new range has all the characteristics of a tubular product," explains Sampaolo. "For example, it will have a very low level of diffusible hydrogen."
It also shows the typical characteristics of a folded flux-cored wire, meaning good deposition rate and an excellent weldability.
"Oerlikon has a deep knowledge of this tubular technology, as it developed it itself more than 50 years ago," explains Bruno Leduey, the firm's research and development director. "This, together with its experience in production of folded cored wires, made it possible for the company to combine the two to obtain a unique set of advantages."
Oerlikon is pressing ahead to improve its flux-cored wires further. Now that the basic technology is in place, explains Leduey, this process is relatively straightforward, especially given the firm's three R&D 'excellence centres'.
"Oerlikon wants to expand the range, developing higher-strength steel products with better mechanical properties," says Sampaolo. "The firm is careful to follow the trend of the base materials that its customers use and will extend its range of products that use this new production technology."
Oerlikon is helping offshore oil and gas companies in other ways, too. In addition to Fluxofil, it has developed Fluxocord, a range of flux-cored wires especially designed for submerged arc welding. Like Fluxofil, this second product promises a better deposition rate than solid wires.
Tenacito, meanwhile, is a range of double-coated stick electrodes that provides strong arc stability, and excellent wetting, even at low currents.
"Oerlikon is involved in machines, automation and consumables," says Sampaolo. "The company has what it calls a 'global solution' whereby it takes on every demand of the customer."
"Oerlikon is careful to help customers with every aspect of their welding. The goal is to find the adapted solution combining equipment and consumables in order to fulfil the request of customers" she continues. "This involves being welding experts in all aspects of the industry."