Benefits of Silicon Nitride Welding & Forming Rollers

Seam welding is one of the most common processes used to join the faying surfaces of unfinished cylindrical profiles (pipes, tubes, etc.). It exploits a similar principle to standard spot welding to produce a durable, longitudinal weld along the full length of the tubular workpiece. The process is typically automated to ensure a uniform solid-state bond, while precision is guaranteed due to the use of welding and forming rollers.

Welding rollers, or squeeze rollers, are integral components in typical high-frequency electric resistance welding (HF-ERW) systems. They perform the dual function of applying pressure and conveying the workpiece through the welding machine. Forged steel rollers are commonplace in longitudinal seam welding despite their comparatively poor performance and service life to technical ceramics like silicon nitride (Si3N4).

In this blog post, International Syalons will explore the working principles and benefits of silicon nitride welding rollers in more depth.

Outlining Welding Rollers

Electric resistance welding (ERW) encompasses a range of joining techniques where faying surfaces are heated to the point of fusion via electrical resistance. This is conducted with a welding head that applies both sustained pressure and a constant electrical current, generating friction while exploiting the material’s temperature coefficient. With longitudinal welding, the electrical current is typically applied by a set of copper electrodes while pressure is applied by a series of welding rollers.

Aluminum, brass, and stainless steel tubes are generally formed from a hot-rolled sheet that is trimmed and formed into distinct cylindrical profiles with faying surfaces in the same plane. This profile is passed into the conveyor of the HF-ERW welder where it is squeezed by the welding rollers and conveyed with surgical precision through the work coil or beneath the contact electrodes of the welder. This ensures an ultra-precise weld point along the entire length of the profile.Weld Rolls

Syalon 101 Weld Rolls

Challenges Facing Welding Rollers

This high-temperature process is mechanically intensive, requiring extremely strong and wear resistant materials that can withstand severe thermal shock. Although stainless steel welding rollers will provide significant improvements in terms of precision, they will fail due to thermal and mechanical breakdown far quicker than silicon nitride. The electrical conductivity of stainless steel welding rollers can also be problematic, contributing to material pick-up problems that are commonplace in non-ferrous metal joining.

Silicon nitride welding rollers vastly outperform steel alternatives, with significantly improved thermal shock resistance and strength, notwithstanding the material’s non-conductivity. Syalon 101 is a proprietary silicon nitride from International Syalons, featuring a compressive strength of up to 3,500 MPa and a thermal shock resistance of Δ900°C. This exceeds the requirements for seam welding, providing a number of advantages over conventional welding rollers, including better product quality, fewer weld failures, reduced roller maintenance requirements, and reduced cooling times. Subsequently, silicon nitride welding rollers can reduce HF-ERW power by up to 30% and can outperform steel components by a factor of up to 12x.

Tube forming process – Image Credit: Shutterstock

Silicon Nitride Welding Rollers from International Syalons

International Syalons specialises in the generation of silicon nitride products for heavy-duty industrial applications, providing value-added solutions for demanding and continuous processes. If you would like any more information about the properties of Syalon 101 or have any general queries about silicon nitride in industrial spaces, simply contact a member of the International Syalons team today.

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