Material Costs are Relatively Small
The price of welding supplies is by no means irrelevant; but, in mild steel fabrication, material costs represent only 10-20% of total fabrication costs. For this reason, General Air has invested in multiple Welding Engineers and Certified Welding Inspectors to focus on, monetize, and implement cost reductions aimed at reducing the labor costs of joining metals.
Operating factor, or “arc on time,” effects labor costs most. To clarify, operating factor increases through implementation of a weld process change, hard/ robotic automation, and distortion elimination (to name a few). Deposition rate and/or travel speed should be maximized to reduce the time it takes to weld a particular assembly.
It’s important to note that over-welding can result from increasing deposition rate beyond what a welder can handle. Over-welding is expensive, and certainly an unacceptable trade-off. Therefore, end-users that must reduce material costs might consider focusing on high-efficiency consumables. When it comes to the GMAW process, move to a more efficient mode of transfer. If high deposition spray transfer is usable, metal-cored wire will maximize deposition rate/travel speed at a given amperage due to current density (see post on metal-cored wire).
Author: Bob Page