Archive for August, 2012

Victor Technologies launched its “Built With Class” class contest in 2011 to encourage and support students entering the welding industry. The company will announce details for its 2012 Built With Class contest later this summer.


By Bill Wehrman, Marketing Manager, Victor Technologies

If the results of our recent Built With Class student contest are any indication, many of the new faces in welding are coming from America’s smaller and rural communities. Of the eight winning schools selected, only two of them came from schools located in a town with a population of more than 16,000, and none larger than 93,000.


Joel Keevert of Swiss Hills Career Center practices welding. Keevert plans to find an apprenticeship with one of the skilled trade unions after graduation.

The contest asked beginning students to write an essay on why they were interested in learning about welding. Intermediate to advanced students, working in teams of two to five, could submit a team welding project plan. While only the plan was required, all team winners completed their project. Student winners each received a cash prize, while their high schools received a Thermal® Arc Fabricator® 181i multi-process welding system and accessories for SMAW, GMAW and GTAW.

Growing Up Around Welding

The National FFA Organization’s “Agricultural Mechanics” career development program emphasizes welding, and many of the Built With Class winners participate in this program. Overall, the necessity of welding on a farm or ranch means rural students are exposed to welding at a much earlier age than their urban counterparts.


With plans for obtaining welding certifications after technical degrees in A/C and electrical, Kyle Supak can write his own career path. He is shown here with the log splitter that won a team award for Bellville High School.

“When I was about 10 years old, I walked into my dad’s shop at home, grabbed a piece of metal out of the scrap bin, threw a hood over my head and started running some beads,” says Colby Siptak, a senior at Bellville High School, Bellville, Texas.

Siptak and classmates Kyle Supak and Blake Mounts, along with instructor Jacob Diezi IV, won a team category award for building a log splitter with a 20-ton hydraulic press that they lend to the community. Supak says, “Myuncle owned a welding shop here in Bellville. He welded odds and ends for people. I got into welding my freshman year, fell in love with it and didn’t want to get out.”

Early Introduction to Welding

For students not exposed to welding on the farm or through family members, creating the next generation of welders requires reaching out to them as early as 8th grade. “We need to send our students the message that welding offers many different career paths,” says Nicki Howard, director of secondary education at Canton South High School, Canton, Ohio. She says that the typical pattern in secondary education has been to wait until students are juniors or seniors and say, “OK, now pick a job. That’s too late. Students need to think about that in advance. If they choose a technical education path, they need the opportunity to apply what they learn [while still in school], be it welding or auto tech or whatever.”

Instructor Art Baughman believes, “Kids often want to do what their parents did, and a lot of them are not aware of welding. Kids are going to listen to her more than me. We also need more industry people willing to let kids job shadow, coordinate plant field trips or come in and talk to students.”

Being Prepared


“I would much rather say I built or repaired a piece of equipment on my own versus saying that someone else did the job for me,” says Kristi Hallmark, shown here with instructor John Griffith of Alto High School.

In addition to reading, math, blueprint reading, operating mills, lathes, fork trucks and other equipment related to metal fabricating, welding instructors seem especially committed to preparing students for the real world.

“I like to think that they learn a little bit about respecting each other and teamwork,” says Coy Hall, an instructor at Clark County Area Technical College, Winchester, Ky. “A lot of times it’s not how good of a welder you are, but the employability skills that you bring to an interview, such as punctuality and preparedness.”


Aimee Bowman signed up for instructor Coy Hall’s welding class at Clark County Area Technical College specifically to set an example for other young women. “Doing something that is male dominated is perfectly okay,” she says.

New faces in welding also need to think beyond themselves and recognize that every individual has the opportunity to contribute to — or detract from — the reputation of their school’s welding or Ag Mechanics program. Post-secondary institutions and local employers know which schools consistently produce the most desirable prospects…and which don’t.

New Faces Wear Make-up

Of the 13 total winning entrants in the Built with Class contest, five were very determined young women. Hall’s student, 15-year-old Aimee Bowman, pulled no punches in her essay. “I could sit here and think of a million reasons why I chose to take a welding class. I’m sure most of those reasons would sound better than the real reason. I am currently taking welding classes to show girls who are younger than I am that doing something that is male dominated is perfectly okay.”


Instructor Art Baughman of Canton South High School says student Dentale White makes a great ambassador by helping the school promote the benefits of its welding program.

Dentale White also received encouragement from her mother. “A lot of people were surprised to see that this is what I wanted to go into. My mother always told me to do what I wanted and don’t let anyone stop me. People may think because I’m a girl I get a lot handed to me…but I don’t. I work just as hard if not harder than most boys. Being the only girl in my class made me a lot stronger mentally and physically. I had to earn respect in this class just like anyone else.”




Acquisition enables the company to offer integrated, industry leading technology for automated plasma cutting under the Thermal Dynamics® brand.

Victor Technologies Acquires CNC Controller Developer Robotronic Oy and ProMotion Controls

Victor Technologies has acquired all of the capital stock of Robotronic Oy, the parent company of ProMotion Controls, Inc., a leading maker of advanced, intelligent CNC controllers used in shape-cutting machines (together with Robotronic Oy, “ProMotion Controls”). The acquisition will allow Victor Technologies to provide end users with fully-integrated automated plasma cutting solutions that improve productivity.

ProMotion Controls specializes in PC-based shape-cutting controls, nesting software, torch height controls and associated products for new and retrofit cutting systems that use plasma, oxy-fuel, laser, water-jet or router technology. ProMotion Controls, with operations in Medina, Ohio, is the U.S. subsidiary of Robotronic, with operations in Tampere, Finland. As a leading provider of cutting, welding and gas control solutions, Victor Technologies will incorporate all the acquired technology and operations into those of its Thermal Dynamics® brand

“This acquisition delivers on our promise to offer end users the industry’s most innovative cutting technology,” said Martin Quinn, CEO of Victor Technologies. “As a fully integrated system provider, Thermal Dynamics will continue to design and develop automated solutions that optimize cutting performance and reduce operating costs. Acquiring ProMotion Controls helps us to advance our vision for Victor Technologies – ‘Innovation to Shape the World.’

J.P. Kinos, President and CEO of ProMotion Controls, added, “As part of Victor Technologies, we’ll be able to combine superior plasma and CNC knowledge to offer a new level of intelligent system integration, providing our customers with exceptional cut quality and productivity.” Mr. Kinos has joined Victor Technologies as Vice President Brand Management, Automated Plasma.

Technology Background

As one of the recognized technological leaders in automated cutting systems, ProMotion Controls was the first shape-cutting control manufacturer to incorporate the Microsoft Windows NT operating system into its products, introducing the intelligent “iCNC” in 1997. The iCNC introduced the concept of dual microprocessors, providing true multitasking, which sets it apart from other shape-cutting controls. Separating the real-time machine and process control from the processor running the Windows based operator interface makes it possible to run more sophisticated software and build true intelligence into the system. This intelligence allows the system to control complex cutting tasks without the need for specially skilled operators or programmers.

Victor Technologies offers a full range of manual and automated plasma cutting power sources, cutting technologies, gas control and torch height control solutions through its Thermal Dynamics brand, which started its business partnership with ProMotion Controls in 2008, developing the XT series of CNC systems. Recent innovations include its 400-amp Ultra-Cut® 400 power source featuring Diameter PRO™ technology, available in its XT CNC. Holes cut with Diameter PRO have virtually no bevel from top to bottom around the entire circumference of the hole, which limits dross and optimizes travel speeds. This allows fabricators to reduce cycle time and lower grinding and machining costs.


Visit Thermal Dynamics Automation            Visit Victor Technologies              Visit ProMotion Controls


If you cut the same shape repeatedly, it’s time to automate. Here, a mechanized torch has been added to an air plasma cutting system.

By Nakhleh Hussary and Dirk Ott

Nakhleh Hussary, Ph.D., is Chief Scientist at Victor Technologies and Dirk Ott is Vice President, Global Plasma Automation

Over the years high-precision plasma cutting has advanced significantly. Compared with the plasma cutting technology of several decades ago, modern systems can cut the same material thickness using much less power without sacrificing cutting speed (see Figures 1 and 2). Such cutting systems use consumables with a much smaller orifice and faster gas flow rates. Compared to conventional plasma cutting, the arc is much more constricted and has a higher energy density.

The methods used to shield the plasma arc from the atmosphere have evolved as well. The concept of using tap water to generate the secondary gas has been around for more than three decades, but high-precision plasma cutting using the nitrogen-water process was developed less than a decade ago. For many operations involving nonferrous materials 1.25″ thick and thinner, this nitrogen-water—or Water Mist Secondary (WMS™)—plasma cutting process may be able to reduce cutting costs and improve quality.

Nitrogen-Water Process Basics


Figure 1. Fabricators have shielded plasma arcs with water mist for 30 years, but only recently has water shielding become viable for precision plasma cutting.

Nitrogen-water plasma arc cutting uses nitrogen as the plasma (primary) gas and ordinary tap water as the shield gas. During cutting, the energy from the plasma gas divides the water in the torch into its principal components, hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen creates a reduced atmosphere in the cutting zone, isolating it from contaminating elements and producing a clean, dross-free, and oxide-free cut surface.

Most of the water used during the process (from 4 to 8 GPH) is converted to principal components and thus does not require disposal. The water also helps reduce fume and nitrogen oxide emission to less than that of dry cutting (though it still emits more fumes than underwater cutting). Nitrogen-water cutting can be considered a semidry process.

What Constitutes a High-precision Cut?

In automated plasma cutting, a precision cut surface has the following characteristics:

– Square face (less than 3-degree bevel).

– Smooth, with nearly vertical drag lines.

– Little to no oxides.

– Little to no dross; what dross is present should be easy to remove.

– A minimal heat-affected zone and recast layer.

– Good mechanical properties in welded components.

A precision cut is made as quickly as possible, yet the part still can go straight to welding or the next fabrication step without any additional, costly activities that compensate for shortcomings of the previous step. While certain codes and standards mandate edge preparation procedures, a precision cut greatly reduces the degree of edge preparation.

Historically, a precision cut was one with no dross, a smooth surface, and a bevel of less than 3 degrees. However, that standard did not take material thickness into account. Today ISO 9013: 2002 provides the best definition of high precision, which is a Class 3 cut or better (see Figure 3).

The nitrogen-water high-precision plasma process makes Class 3 cuts or better on stainless steel and aluminum up to 0.75, and it does so across a wide variety of thicknesses and amperage ranges (see Figure 4). Of course, such precision cutting requires the proper consumables that match the cutting amperage for the application.


 Nitrogen-Water Advantages on Nonferrous Material

Whether paired with water or other gases, nitrogen plasma gas provides a very straight cut with minimal cut lines and a narrow kerf. It also provides excellent electrode life.

Using water to generate the shield gas has numerous benefits. First, it minimizes heat input and cools the metal quickly, which in turn significantly reduces dross formation.

In fact, certain nitrogen-water setups produce no dross when cutting stainless steel and aluminum ranging from 10 gauge to 1.25thick. Second, low thermal input minimizes distortion and preserves mechanical properties. Third, water provides the hydrogen necessary to prevent oxide formation on the cut surface. Oxides can promote weld defects because their properties differ greatly from the base material properties.

Other popular plasma gas combinations for cutting nonferrous materials are H35 (35 percent hydrogen/65 percent nitrogen) for material thicker than 0.375, and F5 (95 percent nitrogen/5 percent hydrogen) for thinner material. Both use nitrogen as the shield gas. While H35 and F5 provide fast, oxide-free cuts, the hydrogen gas introduces a lot of heat into the material. As a result, more dross forms, and cut parts often need cleaning before they can proceed to welding or painting. Using H35 and F5 also can be expensive.

Plasma cutting nonferrous materials 0.375 to 0.75thick also can be performed with mixtures of argon and hydrogen (and occasionally additional nitrogen) as the primary gas and with nitrogen as the secondary gas. These produce excellent cut quality and high cut speeds, but the consumption of argon and hydrogen results in a higher cut cost per foot.

For thicknesses less than 0.375, using an economical gas—such as compressed air or nitrogen—for both the primary gas and shielding dramatically reduces cut costs and provides high cutting speeds, but it compromises quality. Cuts with nitrogen and various mixtures have excessive bevel, while cuts with compressed air show excessive oxidation. Further, it is difficult to get dross-free or low-bevel cuts on material less than 0.375thick using an argon/ hydrogen mix as the plasma gas.


Figure 6. By changing the consumables, an operator can convert an automated plasma system for cutting nonferrous material using the nitrogen-water process to a system that cuts mild steel.

Weighing All Factors

When it comes to automated plasma cutting, fabricators have a variety of plasma and shield gas options. The choice significantly affects cut quality and process costs. Fabricators can use a variety of primary and shielding gas combinations. The best choice depends on the material type, thickness, and application requirements (see Figures 5 and 6).

When cutting stainless, aluminum, and other nonferrous materials, fabricators must weigh their options. If a workpiece needs only a conventional cut quality, using shop air as the primary and shielding gas may suffice, but the resulting cut edge may require grinding and cleaning, and costs for those secondary processes add up.

For precision cutting nonferrous metal, fabricators can use a mixture like H35 for the primary gas and nitrogen for the shielding gas; or, as in the nitrogenwater process, use nitrogen as the primary gas and a water mist as the shielding. According to independent testing, cut quality using either H35 or the nitrogen-water process is about the same, though the nitrogen-water combination may produce a slightly smaller heat-affected zone.

The thicker the metal, the slower the cutting speed, regardless of the shielding and primary gas used. But for thin metal, the nitrogen-water process (WMS) can cut faster. For metal 1.5 and thicker, traditional gas mixtures like H35 may be the best choice. (seeFigure 7).

The choice, as always, comes down to the application requirements. Most important, no shop’s plasma cutting setup is immutable. Analyzing primary and shielding gas ultimately may help reduce the cutting cost per foot, making a fabricator’s cutting operation much more efficient and competitive.



This story originally appeared in FFJournal’s April 2012 issue (www. and has been reprinted here with permission. It has been edited to fit in the space available.

Whether a small operation or a high volume fabricator, today’s economy is forcing companies to see how they can harness the latest technology to propel turnaround and undercut the competition. A casualty of the recession, Mike Balboni, an out-of-work welder, weighed his options. “I could wait for somebody to send me some money or I could go out and get it,” he says. “I decided I would take a more proactive approach.”


The 181i welded every component of this railing made from
hot dipped galvanized steel to which Balboni also applied a
two-part topcoat.

Once Balboni began looking, he found steady work, which enabled him to start Northeast Welding and Mechanical, North Attleboro, Mass. He needed welding equipment that would let him go from a welding job on a home to a job at a large construction site. “I have a mobile unit with a 9,000 W generator on it, a welder/generator that I run with the Fabricator® 181i machine,” he says. “The company is a little bit bigger than we were four or five years ago and expecting to grow again through this tough time.”

The 181i from St. Louis-based Victor Technologies allows Balboni to switch among MIG, TIG and Stick welding quickly and frequently. “From welding one process and putting the gun down to hooking up the next connection— it’s under 20 seconds to switch,” he says.

MIG, TIG and Stick


Sic doesn’t baby the 252i. Each of these Jersey barriers takes about 80 hours to fabricate, and three fabricators pound .035” or .045”
wire until the job gets done.

“With a plug in the front enabling welders to change polarities, welders can twist off one plug, push it back in and plug it in again. The spool gun connection is in front of the panels, so there’s no need to open the side of the machine to reach the brass plates or disconnect wiring to change polarity,” Balboni says.

Welders can switch among MIG, TIG and Stick welding using the 181i for a range of materials including steel, stainless, aluminum or copper-based alloys. In the past, until inverter technology was developed, “It’s always been very difficult for welding manufacturers to produce a machine that gives the best arc characteristics for MIG, TIG and Stick welding on each process because of the different volt amp curves required,” says Thomas Wermert, Senior Brand Manager of Welding Products at Victor Technologies.

Powerful-Portability4Sic Fabrications, Maumelle, Ark., is a high-volume fabrication company that welds structural components and ornamental iron, offers heavy equipment repair and specializes in ornamental iron arm rests for tattoo parlors.

Sic purchased its first Fabrication 252i machine in July 2011 and its most recent one in April 2012, according to Stan Darnell, co-owner of Sic. Using the Fabricator 252i, Sic TIG welds iron armrests, Stick or flux core welds bridge parts and uses solid wire MIG welding with general fabrication work. “Each person is able to use one machine to do all of the work as it comes in and that was the biggest thing,” he says. “I don’t have to have three machines sitting side-by-side per station. I have one machine.”


From construction equipment repair to Jersey barriers to
custom metal art such as these arm rests for a tattoo parlor,
the 252i gives Sic great flexibilty. “If you can can draw it,
we can weld it,” says Stan Darnell. “And if you can’t draw it,
we can.”

Sic uses the 252i to weld steel molds for Jersey barriers. “If you’ve ever driven down a freeway and you see the little concrete barriers that are about 32 in. tall sitting on the side of the freeway, those are Jersey barriers,” Darnell says.

The barrier molds are made of mostly A36 carbon steel with 1⁄4-in. gussets on 3⁄16-in. skins with angle iron stacked and sitting on top of very heavy plate. Without the heavy plate, through hydraulic action, the 5,000-lb. mold will lift it off the ground, ruining the pour, Darnell says.

Consolidated technology Darnell finds the Fabricator 252i’s adjustable arc force settings to be particularly helpful. “It gives the arc more force, which is nice when you switch between a 7018 rod and a 5P. You need more arc force to run the 5P. It’s a stand-off rod, the 7018 is a drag rod, so you need less arc force, giving you a smoother weld with less spatter,” he says.

According to Darnell, the 252i creates less spatter because of the inductance settings on a MIG machine, which controls the fluidity of the puddle.  “For a MIG machine, you run through an amperage curve. Inductance does not change the amperage but it changes the fluidity of the puddle,” giving it a higher inductance, which is more fluidity in the puddle, he says.

Myriad projects


[L-R] Mark Harrison of WELSCO, Sic co-owners Matt Zajac and Stan Darnell.

Balboni needed a durable and economical tool, and the 181i allows him to take on a number of jobs, welding 1 ⁄8-in. 4043 diamond plate aluminum with 4043 aluminum wire with a spool gun. He was able to work on a set of van roof racks for a local contractor as well as a threshold of ramps for a nationwide fast-food chain restaurant using the same machine.

“The restaurant found tiles would crack as it loaded freight in and out of the stores with a pallet jack,” Balboni says. The diamond plate ramps were constructed with a kick in them with edges so they couldn’t hit the doorjambs, taking the stress off from going over the doorjamb and hitting the first set of tiles at the edge of the restaurant door.

Balboni also used the machine to weld a set of handrails at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Boston. The aluminum handrails had been torn off by a snowplow. He took the machine on the road. With a small tank of argon gas on the truck, he used a spool gun on-site to fix the railings.


Mike Balboni of Northeast Welding prepares to MIG weld an aluminum lift gate using the Fabricator 181i and a spool gun.

The same tool allowed Balboni to work on some light structural steel. “Anything up to 3⁄8 in., I’ll weld with that machine,” he says. Northeast Welding fabricated a stand made from recycled copper to collect water off of a building through downspouts for an eco-friendly project at a Boston retirement home.

The stand was made of 2-in. square, 16-gauge structural tube.

The 181i allowed Balboni to respond to a call where a big rig had a crack on its engine cover. “So I took the 181i with the spool gun and welded the cast aluminum engine cover on-site,” he says. “Honestly, I bounce around with that machine … and I take on all work.


Sic co-owner Matt Zajac uses the 252i’s Stick output for good penetration on the heavy steel plate used for the lift of a repo truck.

“It’s amazing how many times I hear, ‘You’re the only one that answered the phone,’ or ‘You’re the fourth person I’ve called, and nobody else could do this,’” Balboni says. “It’s a simple solution to be able to offer my customers affordable steel, aluminum, stainless and brass welding.”








Victor Technologies provides superior solutions for cutting, welding and gas control,continuing its heritage of designing innovative products that evolve as a result of carefully listening to end users and anticipating their needs. This singular focus, built upon creating new and better solutions, is reflected in Victor’s vision statement, “Innovation To Shape The World.”








Some present day examples of continuing technological advancement developed through real world end-user experiences and needs:

  • As oxy-fuel torches became the preferred workhorse of metal cutting, design enhancements such as reverse flow check valves and flashback arrestors set the standard for superior torch design.
  • When workers sought a precise, efficient and fast way to cut both ferrous and non-ferrous metal types, we developed plasma cutting which set the new standard for precision cutting. Using this plasma technology, Thermal Dynamics® designed and built systems for the NASA space program to simulate the high heat of reentry conditions.  Today’s plasma systems incorporate this complex science into versatile and portable cutting machines.
  • When rescue workers needed a rapid entry tool to cut through virtually anything, of any thickness, we developed exothermic cutting. Versatile and safer than other cutting methods that use electrical power or special fuel gases, Slice became the trusted tool for fire and rescue.
  • For decades, gas regulation saw little change or improvement. Not willing to settle for “good enough,” we anticipated the next generation and invented the EDGE™ Series regulators, offering superior durability, performance and safety.
  • In 1968, after studying the market, Tweco® developed the first series of MIG guns with the game-changing patented coaxial Cablehoz®. The Tweco No. 4 MIG gun sets the standard for ergonomic design, and remains one of the industry’s top selling MIG guns.
  • We developed a process for seamless, clean welds utilizing our plasma power supplies, and we continue to refine our research in plasma welding products as one of only a few providers in the industry.
  • When a single product could offer the end user the flexibility and portability needed to perform his craft virtually anywhere, we developed “multi-process” machines that changed
  • From its early patent for tungsten carbide castings, to its latest non-chromium bearing hardfacing wire that reduces or eliminates dangerous hexavalent chromium welding fumes, Stoody® boasts a 90 year heritage of developing hardfacing technologies in response to end-user needs.








  • Purchasers want to have a say in what works for them and what should be improved. They want to be heard. Victor Technologies is an innovator in creating ways for our users to voice their ideas and suggestions, and we turn that input into advanced technology solutions.
  • We react to unique and timely needs. When September 11 brought unique challenges to rescue teams, we responded with custom, extended-length torches that could reach places the rescuers could not, and in record time… because the needs were immediate. Or when an industry event created an increased demand for alternative fuels, we responded with enhanced product offerings, to supplement the one torch in the industry that was already designed to handle any fuel, the Victor torch.
  • We are committed to helping build the future of this industry, not only crafting better and safer equipment. Through our education programs, we support educators and their students… the next generation of welders. Sharing our experience and knowledge with the next generation is just as essential to the growth of our industry as the tools they will use.
  • We continue to listen