Anatomy of a Construction Site: The Welding Equipment, Filler Metals and Protective Solutions Working on the Lambeau Field Expansion
Welding demands on every site are different. Here is an overview of the technologies built for the construction industry put to work on the Lambeau Field Expansion.
Miller Electric Mfg. Co. and Hobart Brothers have been named as the Official Welding Equipment Provider for the Lambeau Field Expansion by the Green Bay Packers. Through a partnership with Miron Construction Co., Inc. — the Official Provider of Construction Services for the Green Bay Packers and Lambeau Field — Miller and Hobart Brothers have worked to bring the latest in welding technology to the site. In this brief article we’ll review the technologies used on this project and cover some of the specific facts about each that are pertinent to this project and the construction industry in general.
One of the most common pieces of equipment found on any construction site, the engine-driven welder/generator is equally adept at structural steel erection, mobile fabrication, and maintenance and repair work. These tools are particularly helpful because they offer both welding and power generation capabilities for running jobsite tools in a single package. In the context of the Lambeau Field expansion, the engine-driven welder/generators were used primarily in the reinforcement of steel columns to support the new structure and to run jobsite tools. Welders here relied on a number of Trailblazer® Series engine-driven welder/generators, the centerpiece of which is the brand new Trailblazer 325 EFI with Excel™ power. Key benefits to the new Trailblazer 325 EFI include:
- Up to 50 percent longer runtimes compared to previous models and comparable machines, requiring less downtime associated with refueling and ensuring more productive time.
- Up to 35 percent reduction in fuel use for significant cost savings.
- Sound reduced by as much as 68 percent for a safer, more productive jobsite.
- Up to 5 inches shorter and 108 pounds lighter for greater mobility and space savings.
- Smart-Cor™ technology provides independent welder and generator power for no interaction between jobsite tools and the welding arc for optimal welding arc quality.
- Excel power provides 120 volts/60 hertz of pure sine wave generator power at all speeds for clean power that runs most jobsite tools — including grinders, chop saws, drills and lights — at idle speed.
- Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) substantially reduces fuel use, offers fast and easy starts in all climates, requires no choke and is less prone to fuel deterioration.
- Auto-Speed™ technology adjusts machine output to match the job at hand, ensuring optimal fuel use and operation.
- 325 amps of welding power in all processes at 100 percent duty cycle with 12,000 watts peak/10,500 watts continuous generator power plus 2,400 watts of recommended/optional Excel power.
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The new Trailblazer 325 EFI with Excel power
Dual-Operator Engine-Driven Welder/Generators
Two dual-operator engine-driven welder/generators were put to work on the Lambeau Field expansion: The Big Blue® 450 Duo CST™ and the Big Blue 700 Duo Pro. Dual operator systems allow for two operators to weld off of the same machine with no interaction between the two welding arcs, and also provide industrial-strength generator power for running jobsite tools. The benefits of running dual operator systems include improved productivity (two operators on one machine), a lower total cost of ownership than two separate machines, less equipment to transport to each site, and reduced noise and emissions compared to two machines.
The Big Blue 450 Duo CST features two CST 280 Stick/TIG inverters and 12,000 watts of continuous three-phase power. The machine offers superior performance on difficult Stick electrodes found in structural steel and fabrication applications, such as E6010, and excellent TIG performance for pipe fabrication and maintenance applications. It operates at a low 1,800 RPM, which reduces fuel use and keeps noise levels up to 10 dBa quieter than other models, improving work site communication and safety.
The Big Blue 700 Duo Pro offers two independent welding arcs up to 400 amps (no interaction between the arcs), and the ability to parallel both independent welding outputs to create an extremely powerful 800 amps of welding power for running large electrodes, stud welding and carbon arc gouging (up to 3/8-inch carbons). Offering full multiprocess capabilities (Stick, MIG, Flux Cored, TIG, Carbon Arc Gouging), the Big Blue 700 Duo Pro also offers two independent generator outputs. One 5,500-watt-peak/4,000-watt-continuous single-phase generator is fully independent of weld output and offers peak performance even when welding at 700 amps (no interaction between arc and generator). The second generator (27,000 watts peak/20,000 watts continuous) provides more robust power for high power needs on site.
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Dual-operator welding systems overview
Inverter-Based Welding Power Sources
For a site like the Lambeau Field expansion, where there is existing power within the structure, inverter-based power sources such as the CST™ 280 Stick/TIG welder and the XMT® Series of multiprocess power sources are used extensively. These small and compact welding units allow for excellent portability and accessibility on larger jobsites and are extremely energy efficient. Stick welders like the CST 280 are common fixtures on aerial lifts for welding in high places, and the XMT Series inverters are commonly matched with a SuitCase® X-TREME™ 12VS wire feeder for Self-Shielded Flux-Cored welding. Key features of each machine:
- The CST 280 offers 280 amps of output, which is ideal for Stick electrodes up to 3/16 inch. This power source is extremely easy to operate with a process selector knob that automatically sets the proper dig setting on E6010 and E7018 electrodes for optimal performance. At 41 pounds, these units are extremely portable and are often found in racks of four to allow for easy transportation around the site and multiple arcs to run from a single location.
- XMT Series power sources provide excellent multiprocess capabilities (MIG, Stick, TIG, Flux Cored and Air Carbon Arc Gouging) in a single compact unit. The XMT 304 was used extensively for both Stick and Flux Cored welding, which offers a rated 300 amps of welding power at 60 percent duty cycle.
SuitCase Wire Feeders
Built to be durable and face the rigors of life on a construction site, these extremely portable SuitCase X-TREME 12VS voltage-sensing wire feeders also offer excellent arc starts and improved arc performance for all types and sizes of wires. As the wire feeder runs off of open circuit voltage, it does not require an extra control cable —eliminating clutter and hassle. The feeder also offers a trigger hold function that improves operator comfort on long, continuous welds. The potted and trayed main circuit board helps protect the machine and ensures excellent reliability in the harshest of environments.
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Flux-Cored welding in structural steel applications
Welders used the ProHeat™ 35 induction heating system from Miller throughout the project as a faster and more efficient way of bringing steel columns to temperature – and keeping them there – than using traditional heating methods such as a propane-fueled torch. Preheating helps prevent rapid cooling of the weld metal, relieves stresses and drives out hydrogen that can lead to cracking and embrittlement. Heat is created electromagnetically in the material with induction heating rather than by surface heating, as is done with an open flame. The induction cables do not heat up themselves, but create eddy currents that generate heat throughout the plate and column. Overall benefits of the process compared to heating with a torch are:
- Faster time-to-temperature
- Consistent heating throughout the entire part
- Easier to apply/wrap heat
- Lower consumable costs by reducing/eliminating gas expenses
- Reduces total weld cycle times – improving productivity
- Improved safety for employees (no open flames or hot heating elements)
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Induction heating in structural steel applications
Portable Welding Fume Extraction Equipment
The FILTAIR® 130 portable fume extractor was used extensively in the indoor areas of the stadium, including hallways, press rooms and locker rooms. Fume extraction in this application helped in two key ways: it helped keep the area cleaner by removing airborne particulate at the source of the weld, and it substantially improved the environment for the welder, making it easier to see and breathe in confined work environments. The FILTAIR 130 features FilTek™ XL Filter Technology specifically designed for capturing welding fumes, as well as a MERV 16 rating, making it the class leader in filtering out submicron particles found in weld fume. This unit is extremely portable at 46 pounds, and a manually cleanable filter makes it easy to clean and extends filter life compared to other solutions on the market.
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Weld fume extraction in indoor welding applications
Welding Filler Metals – Stick and Flux Cored
Two primary filler metals were used on the Lambeau Field Expansion: The Hobart® 418 (E7018-1 H4R) Stick electrode and the Fabshield® XLR-8™ (E71T-8JD H8) self-shielded flux-cored wire. The Hobart 418 Stick electrode is a good general-purpose low hydrogen electrode for use in all welding positions. It offers excellent arc stability, low spatter levels and easy slag removal.
As work on the site transitioned to Flux Cored welding, welders switched to the Fabshield XLR-8 wire. This wire requires no shielding gas and is perfect for welding outdoors in construction applications. This particular wire provides a low hydrogen weld deposit and high impact strength properties at low temperatures to resist cracking, excellent out-of-position performance even at high current levels for increased productivity, excellent mechanical properties under a wide range of heat inputs, and excellent slag removal for increased productivity and reduced slag entrapment.
Arc Armor Welding Protective Apparel
Safety is paramount to welding applications on construction sites. Welders at the Lambeau Field expansion were outfitted with Arc Armor™ welding protective equipment to provide the right mix of comfort and protection in a demanding work environment. Featured solutions on the Lambeau expansion site included:
- Heavy-duty MIG/Stick gloves: built from durable side-split cowhide, these gloves provide excellent protection and are designed for extended wear. Aluminized insulation reflects radiant heat, and the pre-curved pattern is designed to fit the natural shape of the welder’s hand for optimal dexterity and comfort.
- Classic cloth flame-resistant jackets: provides comfortable wear with a barracuda-style stand-up collar for extra neck protection. Extremely durable with finished hems and reinforced stitching, these jackets are ideal for a wide variety of applications.
- Pro-Hobby™ Series auto-darkening welding helmets: a 6.06 square-inch viewing area with an auto-darkening lens provides excellent visibility and protection for the welder.