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Since the introduction of cored wires in 1957, the North American market has seen steady growth and acceptance. This growth has included not only mild steel wires but also low alloy high strength wires, as well as 300 and 400 series stainless steel cored wires.
Virtually every industry – from automotive, structural, transportation, offshore, shipbuilding, and light and heavy fabrication – is using cored wires, realizing the benefits of increased productivity and efficiency, as a result.
At ESAB Welding and Cutting Products, our facility in Hanover, PA has been a constant supplier of cored wires to the market since the late 1950s. We’re also known for being a high-quality producer, as well as the industry leader in innovation and cored wire technology. ESAB has maintained this level of leadership in three key cored wire trends in the North American Market.
Up to the early 1970s, the diameter of choice was 3/32 inches (2.4 mm). As technology improved, end-users were able to achieve comparable results and obtain all-position capabilities from smaller diameter wires.
Not only did smaller diameter cored wires grow in popularity due to advancements in improved manufacturing, slag systems, and alloying of the cored wires, but because the technology in the power sources available to the market also improved.
ESAB’s full line of conventional and inverter power sources and wire feeders have helped the market move away from 3/32 inch wires to the all-position 1/16 inch (1.6 mm), 0.045 inches (1.2 mm), and even 0.035 inches (0.9mm) diameters.
Today, the wire diameter of choice in North America is by far the 0.045-inch diameter. In fact, over 85% of our production in Hanover is for diameters 1/16 inch and smaller.
The advantages of ESAB’s small diameter cored wires go beyond welder appeal and deposition rates as high as 12.7 lb./hr. (5.76 kg./hr.) for 0.045 inch diameter and 20.1 lbs./hr. (9.11 kg./hr) for 1/6 inch diameter wires. The emphasis from the market is beginning to be centered on the total cost to weld a structure, including weld preparation and post-weld clean-up.
Additionally, factors, such as government regulations, market share, and the competitive landscape, are requiring many fabricators to consider the well-being of their welders and the cleanliness of the working environment. ESAB’s “Ultra Series” provides fabricators with cored wires that have very low spatter, reducing post-weld clean-up and lowering fume emissions.
For those applications where critical weldments are required, such as the shipbuilding industry, the Dual Shield II Ultra Series provides low spatter, low fume. It also exhibits extremely good mechanical properties along with low diffusible hydrogen levels.
ESAB’s latest innovation for the global cored wire market is Dual Shield 70 Ultra Plus. Specifically designed for optimized performance with high argon shielding gases, it has virtually no spatter and the lowest fume emission rate of any cored wire on the market.
Unlike other areas of the world, like Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa, where basic slag and metal-cored wires enjoy higher popularity among welders, the North American market has focused predominantly on rutile slag (E71T-1) cored wires. However, there is currently a growing movement underway by U.S. fabricators to change from solid wires and rutile slag cored wires to metal-cored wire.
These growth trends offer obvious advantages, including high deposition rates similar to flux-cored wires coupled with high efficiencies of solid wires. In addition, metal-cored wires can offer less rework in many applications where better penetration and sidewall fusion is required.
Another advantage of metal-cored wires is the lower heat input required per weld deposit. This means the operator can use lower current levels for thin gauge material to eliminate warpage. Fewer tack welds are often required resulting in additional labor savings.
Based on market research, there is also a perception in the welding industry in the U.S. that metal-cored wires welded with high argon gas mixtures provide reduced fume emissions when compared with flux-cored wires. However, ESAB’s line of “Coreweld” metal-cored wires are designed to meet the requirements of AWS A5.18 electrodes, while providing an excellent spray transfer with reduced fume and spatter levels. Post-weld clean-up is all but eliminated, resulting again in labor savings.
In addition to the line of mild steel metal-cored wires, many end-users prefer metal-cored over solid wires when a specific alloy cored wire is required. Because of the ability to produce small batches of fabricated wires, ESAB has the ability to customize many types of low alloy metal-cored wires that would be difficult to obtain as a solid MIG wire. This simply means the end-user can have a low alloy metal-cored wire tailored to a specific application and base material.
Although development and technology improvements had been occurring in cored wires for a number of years, packaging was often overlooked. ESAB recognized the importance of the package, as well as the product, and has introduced several trends in packaging types and sizes that are becoming the industry standard.
The Marathon Pac cored wire product, for instance, is the most rapidly growing new package in the North American market today. Once thought to be primarily for high-speed robotics applications only, many end-users with stationary weld stations are taking advantage of the straight wire fed from a Marathon Pac.
Not only is downtime for change-over dramatically reduced, but the straight Marathon Pac wire feeds extremely easily and has less effect on the wear of the feeder, liner, and contact tips. According to market reports, many fabricators who have converted to the bulk packaging of the Marathon Pac have found significant labor savings.
The U.S .is somewhat behind the rest of the world in their use of recycling of packaging materials. ESAB Welding and Cutting Products have made it a priority to provide the North American market with products that are packaged in the most environmentally friendly materials available. The introduction of the adaptorless wire spool and various types of bulk packaging has reduced landfill waste and disposal costs for many of ESAB’s customers.
ESAB Welding and Cutting Products will continue to lead the industry and the North American market in cored wire innovation, technology, and growth rates. Research and Development, along with Plant Engineering and Process Engineering, are constantly working on projects to not only enhance existing products but also remain on the cutting edge of new ones.