Use External Electric Heating Panels for Ease and Simplicity

ELP tank heater
ELP tank heater construction
When it comes to heating process tanks electrically, you have two options - immersion or externally mounted panels. Immersion heaters must penetrate the tank wall, or be placed of over-the-side in an open top tank. Both approaches add cost and/or safety considerations. Sometimes entry to the tank may not be possible at all.  A good alternative are electric heating panels.

One type of exterior heater design, the epoxy laminated panel (or ELP), is a very versatile tank heater. Possessing unique flexibility, ELP heating panels can be used in a variety of heating applications ranging from freeze protection to process heating up to 212 deg. F . These panels can be used on either vertical or horizontal tanks of metallic or non-metallic construction. They can be used in dry, wet, or corrosive environments in ordinary or approved hazardous locations.

ELP heating panels are quick and easy to install, require no special tools or skills. Heaters are usually installed by banding them to the tank with metal bands or polyester straps. Installation of several ELP heating panels takes only a few minutes.

Check out the following document for more information on the epoxy laminated panel heaters.

Large Scale Post Weld Heat Treating Project? Use a Custom Heat Treating Furnace

custom PWHT furnace
Custom PWHT furnace
As opposed to factory production, onsite production of large fabricated steel equipment could be the most cost-effective way to proceed on a large construction project. When you consider the costs of factory production, which includes complexities in permitting and approvals, logistics of materials and personnel, and most importantly transportation costs, the argument for onsite production starts to make sense.

The benefits of onsite fabrication of large vessels, heat exchangers, condensers, sections of pipe, spool pieces or any other large item are compelling.

They include:
custom PWHT furnace
Heated parts exiting furnace
  • Elimination of costly transport of large parts, including permitting and bureaucratic issues
  • Reduction of fabrication cost and time
  • Reduction of inspection and approval complexity
  • Close control over production 
  • Fabrication under local, consistent and watchful quality control methods
Onsite manufacturing is complex, and requires localized production equipment and know-how. All aspects of the fabrication process which include engineering, material logistics, material preparation, field heating, welding, post heat weld heat treatment, and testing must be carefully considered.

With regards to post weld heat treatment (PWHT), it is advantageous to have a large enough capability to do the stress relieving in one shot with a field erected heat treating furnace. The most common approach for large part PWHT is to place the fabricated part inside the furnace and heat it to the required temperature in a single firing, as per procedure. This is the most desirable type of PWHT because all parameters in the heating, soaking and cooling can be carefully controlled.  

custom PWHT furnace
Large field erected PWHT furnace

PWHT furnaces can be diesel, gas, or electrically fired, and can be built to accommodate very large work-pieces. Computer controls accurately ramp the item up to temperature, assure the required soak, and then cool the parts down according to specification.

Custom furnace designs range from smaller low through-put sizes, to much larger rail-driven furnaces designed to move back and forth over the materials being heated.  These larger furnaces may include crane wheels and drive systems, or even hydraulic lifting systems that lift the entire furnace for optimal transport and placement.

Large field erected PWHT furnace
Large field erected PWHT furnace with vessel entering
If you have any questions about custom PWHT furnaces, contact Hotfoil-EHS for a no obligation consultation. Hotfoil-EHS has years of experience in the engineering, design, fabrication, and commissioning of large scale post weld heat treating furnaces with many successful installations around the USA.

Hotfoil-EHS, Inc.
2960 East State Street Ext.
Hamilton, NJ 08619
Phone # 609.588.0900
Fax # 609.588.8333

Portable Hardness Testing for Field Welding

Hardness Testing Kit
Portable Hardness Testing Kit
Hardness testing is an easy and informative test to learn important information about material properties. For most general applications, hardness can be described as the property a material has to resist indentation. In welding, its important to measure hardness of welds for quality and material compliance.

Various methods and procedures are used to measure hardness. One method is to create a "dent" on a target material (under controlled conditions) and then carefully measure the resulting indentation. The indentation correlates directly to the hardness of the material. In very general terms, the smaller the mark, the harder the material, and the larger the indentation, the softer the material.

The Brinell Hardness Number (BHN) and Brinell testers are very popular. Brinell testing is done by pressing a perfectly spherical ball (10 mm in size) into a target material with a force of over 6600 lbs (3000kg to be exact) for a minimum of 10 seconds, and then measuring the resulting impression. After which, the size of the impression is measured by an optically scaled microscope positioned over the impression.

Laboratory Brinell testers are obviously impractical in the field, but portable, lightweight Brinell testers are available for weld hardness testing in the field. These portable testers are easily transported and simple to use.  No special training is required and in a few minutes anyone can learn to determine a Brinell Hardness Number accurately.

The accuracy of portable Brinell testers are done via NIST traceable test bars. The test bars are calibrated to a uniform hardness of ±3% of their labeled Brinell Hardness Number. Additionally, the microscopes used for measurement are capable of reading within .05 millimeters.

Typical Field Procedure

A test bar with a known BHN, and approximately the hardness of the target material to be tested, is chosen. The test bar is inserted into the Brinell test instrument and the instrument placed upon the specimen.  A steel impression ball, secured in the the head of the instrument, is in contact with both the test bar and the target material. Built-in to the test instrument is an anvil, which is then struck sharply with a hammer. Via the impression ball, the impact of the hammer, regardless of force, is transmitted equally to the test bar and to the target material, leaving marks in both. The diameters of the resulting indentations are directly related to the respective hardnesses of the test bar and the specimen.  The bar is removed from the test instrument and the microscope is positioned over the appropriate indentation.  The impression in the specimen metal is measured in the same manner and the hardness is determined.

For more information on portable Brinell Harness Test kits, contact:

Hotfoil-EHS, Inc.
2960 East State Street Ext.
Hamilton, NJ 08619
Phone # 609.588.0900
Fax # 609.588.8333

Postweld Heat Treatment

Welding sparks from process involving postweld heat treatment
Some welding operations require postweld heat treatment
Welding is a process of joining materials, usually metal or thermoplastic, by causing a fusion at the junction of two or more physical parts. The fusion is accomplished through the creation of specific conditions at, and adjacent to, the joint area. Welding is a heat based process, but there are other heat based processes used for joining metals. The welding process differs from lower temperature joining operations, such as soldering or brazing, that do not require melting of the base metal.

There are numerous welding methods, as well as specific procedures that are applicable to different metal alloys and intended use of the finished product. Some of these procedures involve controlled heating and/or cooling of the weld and the closely adjacent area of the parts being joined. This is generally termed heat treatment, and more specifically, preheating and postweld heat treatment.

Heat treatment, in any form, is a time consuming and costly operation. Strength, toughness, corrosion resistance, and residual stress of the joint are all impacted by the proper application of heat treatment. Many application codes and standards require specific protocols for heat treating, which is utilized to achieve a specific resulting condition in the subject material or to restore material characteristics altered by production processes such as welding.

Stress relief is a benefit and goal of postweld heat treatment. During the welding process, base materials near the weldment, deposited weld metal, and the heat affected zones exhibit different levels of metallurgical phase transformation. Various degrees of material hardening occurs, particularly in the heat affected zone adjacent to the weld metal deposit, with high stresses due to melting and solidification. Stress relief through heat treatment is accomplished by controlled heating and cooling of the affected material area to relieve a significant amount of the imposed stresses. This postweld heat treatment can reduce the hardness and increase ductility, lessening the incidence of cracking in weldments. The process generally involves maintaining the target area at a specific temperature (soaking), then executing a controlled cooling schedule.

One respected source, TWI, sums up post weld heat treatment (PWHT).....
The necessity for PWHT depends on the material and the service requirements. Other factors that influence the need for PWHT are the welding parameters and the likely mechanism of failure. In some standards, PWHT is mandatory for certain grades or thicknesses, but where there is an option, cost and potential adverse effects need to be balanced against possible benefits. The energy costs are generally significant due to the high temperatures and long times involved, but costs associated with time delays may be more important. Detrimental effects include distortion, temper embrittlement, over-softening and reheat cracking, which means that control of heating and cooling rates, holding temperature tolerances and the times at temperature are extremely important, and must be carefully controlled in order to realise the full benefit of the process.
The precise level of heat control, as well as the substantial quantity of heat, required to successfully accomplish a PWHT protocol calls for the use of special purpose equipment intended for PWHT. Hotfoil EHS is a recognized manufacturer of industrial application heating equipment and specializes in the design and manufacture of power consoles, ceramic mat heaters, and accessories for pre and post-weld heat treatment. Share your application challenges with them and work together to develop a cost effective solution.

Rely on Experienced Welding and Heating Applications Experts for Improved Outcome and Efficiency

Product Experts
Work with the manufacturer's experts for better outcomes
When it comes to selecting the right equipment for welding and industrial heating jobs, projects and tasks are best completed and accomplished through the proper application of the right resources. There exists an access point to high level technical knowledge and assistance that can be easily tapped and brought to bear on your successful task or project completion. The manufacturer's own internal experts.
Manufacturers provide services that may help you save time and cost, while also achieving a better outcome for the entire project. Consider a few elements the technical sale rep brings to your project:
  • Product Knowledge: Product managers and sales support personnel will be current on product offerings, proper application, and capabilities. They also have information regarding what products may be obsolete in the near future. This is an information source at a level not generally accessible to the public via the Internet.
  • Experience: As a project engineer, you may be treading on fresh ground regarding some aspects of your current assignment. There can be real benefit in connecting to a source with past exposure to your current issue. 
  • Access: Through the manufacturer's internal applications people, you may be able to establish a connection to “behind the scenes” information not publicly available. The people at the manufacturer can provide answers to your application questions.
Certainly, any solutions proposed are likely to be based upon the products sold by the manufacturer. That is where considering and evaluating the benefits of any proposed solutions become part of achieving the best project outcome.

Develop a professional, mutually beneficial relationship with the manufacturer's technical sales team, and don't be shy to develop a professional and trusting relationship. Their success is tied to your success and they are eager to help you.

Resistance Heating Mats for Welding Pre and Post Heat Treatment

ceramic mat heater
Ceramic Mat Heater
Resistance heating mats (or pads) are constructed of ceramic beads strung on nichrome or Kanthol wire. These resistance heating elements accurately heat the workpiece to the proper temperature before, during, and after welding, assuring compliance with recommended preheat, interpass, and PWHT practices. Designed as semi-flexible ceramic heater pads, with interlocking beads and high temperature wire, so a proper fit to the workpiece. Capable of temperatures up to 1,850 degrees F., ceramic mat (pad) heaters have an additional benefit in that they can withstand welding temperatures and don’t have to be moved during welding.

Air Carbon-arc Gouging: A Fast and Efficient Way to Get Rid of Metal

Air Carbon-arc GougingIn metal working maintenance and repair, it is sometimes required to repair or replace a weld, or remove excess metal from a worn or defective part. A process called air carbon-arc (also known as air arc) gouging, developed in the 1940’s, has become a widely accepted method for metal working. Compared to grinding, chipping, and cutting, air arc gouging provides a much faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective means to remove unwanted metal.

Air carbon-arc gouging differs significantly from oxy-fuel cutting (OFC) and plasma cutting. Air carbon-arc does not require oxidation to maintain the cut and is able to be used on many kinds of metal. Air carbon-arc gouging cuts and removes metal by an electric arc created a carbon or graphite electrode as it is drawn along the target metal. As the arc melts the target metal, a steady, high velocity air stream blows the molten material out of the way. The arc is supported by a constant current power source. A compressed 60 to 100 psi gas source supplies the air stream. A special air arc torch is required, as it not only holds the electrodes, but has unidirectional air ports built in to direct the air stream.

Air carbon-arc gouging will work on any material that will conduct electricity and which can be melted by the electric arc, such as carbon steel, stainless steel, cast irons, and many copper alloys. Metal removal rate is controlled by increasing the gouger’s amperage, slowing down the movement of the electrode, and by the efficiency of the air stream. Most common uses for air arc gouging are cutting, removal of defective welds, removal of bolts, removal of rivets, making holes, and casting finishing.

If you have any questions about air carbon-arc gougers, contact:

6121 Airways Blvd.
Chattanooga, TN 37421
Phone # 423.424.0515
Fax # 423.424.0518