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thermal spray lab

Swinburne establishes thermal spray lab

SWINBURNE is establishing Australia’s first university-based thermal spray lab, to help Australia’s coatings industry solve thermal spray problems.According to Swinburne Magazine, the research and problem-solving group will be headed by Swinburne’s Professor Chris Berndt.Thermal spray is a coating process in which melted or heated materials are sprayed on to a surface. This process eventually creates a thin coating. It is faster than electroplating and vapour deposition, and can coat metals, alloys, ceramics, and composites.Coating metals and alloys can help prevent corrosion and protect material from high temperatures. They are used in various applications, from car parts to drilling rigs, power station turbines and bridges.The new facility will include training for TAFE and higher education students in thermal spray technology, and provide manufacturing engineers and technicians with coatings technology expertise.According to Richard Moore, CEO of United Surface Technologies, new coating technologies emerge every year, making it essential for the local industry to have access to developments, problem-solving expertise and trained graduates.

ABB’s VirtualArc robot welding

ABB’s VirtualArc robot welding simulation software teaches robots without waste

ABB says its VirtualArc robot welding simulation software allows welding robots to achieve precise, clean, mass-produced welds.Human welders draw on experience, intuition and trial-and-error to establish the right parameters for a welding job. Transferring this skill to robots can be complex.While robots speed productivity, and provide accurate repeatability of tasks, they can only get the welding right if they have been programmed correctly. “Teaching” a robot to perform a arc-weld, means providing it with the knowledge that comes from many years of human experience and the intuition that enables it to choose the appropriate process for a new task.Traditionally, experienced welder set up the welding parameters on robots by performing a series of test welds and adjusting parameters to hone the result. This approach uses up materials, manpower and energy.ABB says its VirtualArc software features on-screen optimization of welding parameters, avoiding real-life trial and error, saving welding materials and energy. It can define the exact parameters then test them virtually, without actually carrying out any welds.The software uses a sophisticated simulator that incorporates information on the equipment available, such as the welding device and the power supply, and application data, such as the materials to be used, the plate thickness, and the required joint configuration.Depending on the results of the virtual test, the operator can adjust parameters such as weld speed, torch angle etc. and optimize for maximum productivity and minimum energy use, while maintaining the required quality of the weld and allowing the plant’s robots to continue with their […]

Stainelec supplies Ogura hydraulic rebar equipment for green project in Philippines

STAINELEC Hydraulic Equipment says it is supplying Ogura hydraulic rebar cutter and rebar bending equipment for a project in the Philippines.The Ogura brand rebar equipment will be used to fabricate rebar deformed bars which will in turn be used in structural concrete structures. The concrete structures will be used to build ethanol and cogeneration plants in the Philippines.According to Stainelec Hydraulic Equipment, the Ogura rebar cutter and rebar bender can cut and bend rebar up to 32mm in diameter.

welding helmet

Sperian’s Galaxy high impact welding helmet now with hard hat adaptor

SPERIAN has launched the Galaxy high impact welding helmet with a hard hat adaptor. According to Sperian, its Galaxy high impact welding helmet is currently the only passive flip front, high impact approved welding helmet on the market. It is tested to Australian Standards, and approved by SAI Global. The Galaxy welding helmet is now fitted with a hard hat adaptor to suit PA620V and MSA V-Guard Elite hard hats. Also available as a spare part, users can quickly convert their standard Galaxy high impact welding helmets to be used with a hard hat. This provides protection for the head without needing to switch helmets and hardhats. The Galaxy high impact welding helmet with hard hat adaptor can be used at construction sites. Welders using the Galaxy high impact welding helmet with hard hat adaptor can change the distance from the Auto Darkening Filter (ADF) to the eye, and the angle of the welding helmet to the hard hat to suit to their personal needs and working environment.

Smelting and metal refining

Smelting and metal refining jobs to bear brunt of climate change legislation

THE MINERALS Council of Australia says 8570 smelting and metal refining jobs could be lost by 2020 under the proposed climate change legislation. According to the Concept Economics report, of the minerals processing job losses, the metal making and refining sector will be hardest hit, with 8570 lost by 2020, and 33,670 lost by 2030. While amendments to the climate change legislation have insulated the aluminium smelting and other refining industries with transition assistance up to 2020, critics say it has only delayed the job losses. The Minerals Council has criticised the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme as being “fundamentally flawed” because of its cost in jobs. It has also pointed to the lack of a global emissions protocol and Australia’s leading position in emission reduction efforts, which it fears will see industry bearing the brunt of the impact.

ASC prepares workforce for destroyer program

ASC will soon start cutting steel as the starting stage for its manufacture of three destroyers. The air warfare destroyers are going to be built at the Techport Australia facility at Osborne on the Port River, South Australia. The first destroyer, HMAS Hobart, will be finished by 2014, with HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Sydney to follow. A further 140 workers will be recruited by ASC for Techport Australia for the $8b Air Warfare Destroyer contract. As the construction program reaches its apex in 2011, there will be a workforce of around 1000 on the site. In February 2009, ASC selected ten apprentices as the first intakes to its Apprentice Development Program, to work on the Air Warfare Destroyer program. The ten apprentices are currently working with third-party host companies, while waiting for ASC to finish upgrading its Osborne shipyard.

climate change

Big steel and aluminium companies lobbying against climate change policy

STEEL and aluminium companies will be lobbying politicians representing coal mining, and metal making and metal working towns in an attempt to overhaul the Federal climate change policy. Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Xstrata, together with their lobbyists, are targeting the politicians ahead of the 10 March release of the draft laws for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. BHP Billiton and BlueScope Steel are being represented by lobbyist Gavin Anderson and Company, who will push for their cause in Canberra. Big polluting companies are asking for more compensation, claiming to have been unfairly targeted. The Federal Government’s climate change policy has been the target of both sides of industry, with environment groups criticising it for giving away too many free permits and too much compensation.

Western Titanium

Titanium shortcuts lead to fraud indictment

EXECUTIVES of metal supplier Western Titanium have been indicted for fraud over weak titanium parts it supplied to Boeing and the US Air Force. According to a four-year Defense Department investigation, the weak parts were used in active-duty military aircraft, and included flight-safety-critical parts such as engine mounts. Four of the company’s executives were charged with eight counts of fraud and conspiracy for falsifying the quality certificates of titanium supplied to its customers. The prosecutors say Western made short cuts to its process, by using a press to squash the metal and cut it down to a rolled thickness. For aircraft-grade titanium, the ore should be heated and fed through giant steel rollers to result in directional strength.

China’s steel market may be recovering

CHINA’s largest steelmaker has raised prices for key steel products for March, halting decisively five months of price declines. Baoshan Iron and Steel (Baosteel) had halted two-thirds of its galvanising steel production facilities in late 2008 due to weakening demand. The company has now raised the sale prices for major hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel products. The new March 2009 prices for hot-rolled steel products will be at US$547 per tonne, while cold-rolled products have been set at US$618 per tonne. According to analysts, Baosteel may be optimistic regarding the Chinese market with the Lunar New Year holidays approaching. It is hoped this move will boost the confidence of other steel makers. The prices are still slightly depressed, however, with uncertain demand from the automotive and home appliance industries.

solar generators

Dyesol and Corus to integrate solar generators onto steel sheets

AUSTRALIA-based Dyesol has collaborated with the fifth largest steel producer in the world to open a multi-million dollar facility in Wales, UK. This moves comes a month after the company opened new manufacturing, design and assembly facilities in Queanbeyan, NSW. The Photovoltaic Accelerator Facility will accelerate the commercialisation of Dye Solar Cell (DSC) technology onto Corus’ steel sheeting building products. Corus also showcased its advanced composite panel manufacturing lines at the opening event, and spoke about the importance of innovation at a time when traditional steel business was taking financial blows. The Dyesol technology is said to have lower facility cost, requires less energy to manufacture, and outputs higher levels of electricity in normal and low light conditions. By integrating the photovoltaic capability into steel building panels, buildings gain passive electricity generators.

Stainless steel conference approaching

THE Australian Stainless Steel Development Association (ASSDA) says its PacRim Stainless 2008 conference will be held in Townsville, Queensland, from 30 to 31 October 2008. The steel industry is being challenged by the recent emergence of many new grades of stainless steel, and requires innovative solutions to help it access and use these materials effectively. Multiple speakers will be presenting at the conference, headed by Outokumpu President and Chief Executive Juha Rantanen. Papers will be presented on opportunities in various countries, stainless steel in the food and minerals processing sectors, Australian innovation, stainless steel clusters, and the role of steel in the Queensland Water Grid. The conference will also be the site of a Fabrication Forum which aims to generate discussion among fabricator delegates. It will deal with issues such as procuring work from local government, lean manufacturing, and how to sponsor overseas skilled workers.

US metal workers

US metal workers, Australia wants you

AMERICA’S manufacturing slump could be Australia’s gain, as the Queensland government launched a recruitment drive in the US ‘rust belt’ for metal workers, fitters and engineers. Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Minnesota are suffering from record unemployment as manufacturing plants shut down or lay off hundreds of workers. The exodus of jobs to China has emerged as a major issue in the race for the next US President. Peter Beattie, Queensland’s Los Angeles-based US trade commissioner, has started running a media campaign seeking skilled workers. The sunny state is particularly looking for boiler makers, welders, diesel fitters and engineers. The advertisements contrast Queensland’s climate with the freezing conditions found in the northeast of the US during winter. They also focus on the language similarities, family and education, wage structure and worker benefits. According to the State Government and employers, hundreds of places are open for skilled workers. They say American workers are well trained and skilled, would enjoy the relaxed lifestyle down under and fit in well with the local communities.

South Australian steel award winners proclaimed

THE AUSTRALIAN Steel Institute has announced the winners of the 2008 ASI South Australian State Awards. The Awards aims to showcase the best in steel design the State has to offer in architecture, engineering and building projects. Australia’s steel industry employs 72,000 people with annual turnover of $21 billion. Despite the downturn in housing construction, infrastructure works and construction in other areas are seeing a flurry of activity, according to the ASI. The institute expounded the importance of innovation and inspiration as being central to buildings of significance. Among the winners of the state awards were local architecture firms Woodhead and Wallbridge and Gilbert for their work on the Adelaide Central Bus Station, and Cameron Ainslie who was named most outstanding Graduate in the industry. Ainslie, who works with diversified engineering company Ahrens, says he will be remaining heavily involved in the steel industry because the opportunities to design and construct new, efficient and functional structures is nearly limitless.

iron-making plant

Iron-maker creates animated 3D model of plant

AUSTRALIAN-owned NZ Steel is creating an animated three-dimensional model of its iron-making plant at the Glenbrook steel mill. According to the plant staff, the model will allow the company to plan maintenance tasks, improve safety and minimise downtime at the metal facility. The model is an attempt to stop the inevitable “brain-drain” of experience and knowledge as the plant’s work force ages. The project models and demonstrates a number of jobs around the iron-making plant, such as how to do a mantle change. In the metal plant, machinery must be taken apart, parts replaced, and then reassembled in extreme conditions. The 3D model is a step toward making the entire process clearer for new workers.

Tussle over blacksmith heritage

BLACKSMITHS in Eveleigh, Sydney, are campaigning against the State Government’s move to evict them from their workshop. For the past 17 years, Wrought Artworks has had free use of the furnace workshop in Bay Two of the Australian Technology Park. Using ancient blacksmith techniques, metal is melted in a furnace and banged into shape by a steam-powered hammer. The Redfern-Waterloo Authority is demanding the company pay to use the workshop because it is a commercial business. It says it simply wants a tenant which pays the rent. According to the company, it had an agreement to run rent-free in exchange for keeping the heritage equipment maintained. It fears the government will demolish the site and turn it into an office building The authorities say the heritage status of the site will be preserved if the company is evicted. Activists say heritage is about more than building and machinery. 85-year-old ex-machinist Bob Rhymes worked at the site for 30 years, starting in 1950. According to him, heritage is also about the memory of the men who worked there. Many died of industry-related disease, and keeping the machines working is a way of keeping the memories alive. The workshop will be running an open day on 17 August 2008.

Steel Design

State Australian Steel Design Awards winners announced

THE WINNERS of the Australian Steel Design Awards for Victoria and Tasmania were announced on 25 July 2008 at the Crown Palladium. The awards aim at highlighting the standard of design and execution achievable with the aesthetics of steel and the Australian industry’s capabilities and efficiencies. The state awards were presented in seven categories. The Steel Fabricators Award was won by Structural Challenge for their entry on the new Nigel Peck Centre for Learning, while the PlanIT Design Group got the Steel Detailers Award for their Melbourne Convention Centre redevelopment. The Architectural Steel Design Award for a Large Project went to Cox Architects & Planners’ entry on the National Institute of Circus Arts building, while the Small Project category was won by Studio D’Ambrosio for their Under the Moonlight House at Mount Hotham. The Structural Engineering Steel Design award was given to the Connell Wagner submission for Stage Two of the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre. The Metal Building Product Design Award was won by Suters Prior Cheney Architect’s Boroondara Sports Complex. The awards are part of the first-ever national steel awards program held by the Australian Steel Institute (ASI). Results of the national program will be announced in September.

National Engineering

National Engineering director retires

THE MANAGING director of structural steel fabricator National Engineering is retiring at the end of August. Dave Williams will be handing over his role to Norm Chapman so he can enjoy life cruising, shooting and golfing. According to Williams, the structural steel industry was experiencing difficult times with rocketing steel prices, shortages and a lack of major projects because of the poor building market. The financial difficulty has been made worse by the American sub prime lending crisis. He also says National Engineering’s plans to relocate to a new site in Burrangong have been effectively finalised, and are now subject to planning approval and rezoning.

molten metal

Boffins apply steel concepts to planetary model

THE STEELMAKING process could be the key to unlocking the secrets of the planets, according to researchers at Swinburne University of Technology. Professor Geoff Brooks, Dr Sarah Maddison and Vianney Taquet are collaborating to use mathematical models from steelmaking to determine what compounds form during the initial stages of planet development. According to the researchers, the science behind steelmaking is comparable to the process of planet formation. Steelmaking furnaces often contain molten metal with a layer of crust on top. Similarly, the centre of the Earth is made of molten metal, with an outer crust. The university researchers are also taking know-how from the steel makers. For example, the industry has models that show how extremely high temperatures can determine the grade of steel that is produced. An adapted process allows scientists to work backwards from a piece of metal to indicate the temperatures and processes which it has undergone. This could help in the analysis of meteorites.

Seamless tube plant

Seamless tube plant to be located in Gladstone

BOULDER Steel will be locating its expanded seamless tube plant in Gladstone, Queensland. Dubbed the “Australian Project”, the facility was initially slated to be located at Ipswitch. Following a widening of the scope of the project, a new location was needed. According to the metal working company, the new site is close to the port, gas, power and rail infrastructures. The project was expanded after planners added a pig iron plant to the projected facility. This plant would ensure the quality of the steel to be produced and reduce production costs. The seamless tube plant will produce 400,000 tonnes of seamless tubes per year, and will take advantage of the growing global market and the lack of competition in Australia. Construction will start in 2008, and full capacity is expected by 2011.

Architectural Steel Design

State entrants to first national steel awards announced

THE AUSTRALIAN Steel Institute (ASI) has announced the NSW and ACT State winners of a number of industry awards, in a lead up to Australia’s first national steel awards. Four categories were awarded, in Architectural Steel Design, Structural Engineering Design, Metal Building Product Design and Multi-Level Building Design. The winners of the first three categories will be competing for the national awards which will be announced in September. Kingston Building’s entry on St. John the Baptist Catholic Church building in Woy Woy won the Architectural Steel Design category. The Structural Engineering Design category was won by Arup’s entry for the Allianz Centre redevelopment at 2 Market Street in Sydney’s CBD. Brookfield Multiplex’s submission on the Latitude East building development at World Square in Goulburn Street, Sydney topped the Multi-Level Steel Building category. The RAAF Liquid Oxygen Extraction (LOX) facility in Richmond won in the Metal Building Product Design category. According to the awards organisers, these accolades highlight the standard of design and execution possible with steel.