Bernard Centerfire™ Consumables Cut Downtime in Half, Improve Weld Quality for Aluminum Trailer Manufacturer

Bernard Centerfire™ Consumables Cut Downtime in Half, Improve Weld Quality for Aluminum Trailer Manufacturer

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Learn how one manufacturer made considerable process improvements just by switching to Bernard Centerfire™ consumables.
Published: December 1, 2007
Updated: May 11, 2020

Executive Summary

Learn how one manufacturer made considerable process improvements just by switching to Bernard Centerfire™ consumables:

  • Tips last three days versus 10 tips per day with previous brand.
  • Smoother, more positive arc starts with less popping and associated spatter.
  • Improved quality with less rework.
  • Improved gas coverage and eliminated black soot associated with poor gas coverage on aluminum.

Aluminum Trailer Manufacturer Cuts Downtime in Half After Switching to Bernard Centerfire™ Consumables

"We lost valuable production time in the welding process due to changing out contact tips and nozzles an average of three times per machine, per shift. Believing we could improve this, we contacted our welding supplier. He recommended we try the Centerfire™ tip from Bernard. Totally compatible with our existing guns, the Centerfiretip, diffuser and nozzle, cut our downtime in half. The new Bernard consumables also enhanced gas coverage. They not only helped us regain lost production time, they raised weld quality." – Tony Hackney, Plant Manager, Cimarron Trailers, Inc.

Cimarron Trailers, located in Chickasha, Okla., is committed to producing custom-built aluminum horse, stock and cargo trailers that are well engineered and well constructed at extremely competitive prices. Cimarron, which is part of CM Trailers, provides the best possible value to customers who care about quality, craftsmanship and outstanding service. The company depends on its welding equipment to maintain high quality, high volume production. Unfortunately, they were experiencing several issues with their existing push-pull MIG aluminum system. This included poor gas coverage, inconsistent arc starts, excessive rework and high contact tip usage.

Figure 1: Centerfire series consumables provide superior gas coverage to improve arc starts.

With the help of Bernard MIG specialist Steve Burger, Cimarron initiated a trial of Centerfire™ series consumables, which include a unique contact tip, nozzle and gas diffuser design (see Fig. 1). During the demonstration, Cimarron welding operators and managers immediately realized arcs started very softly and lit instantly - no big pop or stutter before arc initiation, which was typical with their previous consumables. After several welds, Cimarron welders were convinced that Centerfire improved arc starts, which in turn would lead to less spatter and more consistent weld quality. Further,Centerfire eliminated the black soot indicative of poor gas coverage with MIG aluminum.

As a result of improved weld quality, Cimarron realized it could spend less on clean-up operations and free workers for other activities.However, the biggest improvement came after a three-day demonstration. A welding operator who previously used an average of 10 contact tips a day - an operator otherwise would have been on his 30th tip - was still using the original Centerfire tip that Burger installed.

Cimarron welding operators say Centerfire's soft and instantaneous arc starts keep weld quality high and reduce cleanup time.

Eight months later, Cimarron Trailer has converted all 30 of its MIG aluminum guns to Centerfire series consumables and reports that the average downtime for tip change-outs has been reduced by 50 percent. With the economy rebounding and sales of luxury items such as horse trailers on the rise, it's important for a company such as Cimarron to improve production as much as possible, as fast as possible, while minimizing operating costs.

Companies such as Cimarron Trailer believe that Centerfire series consumables deliver a substantial productivity payback - something that other consumables simply can't provide.

"Day in and day out, Bernard Centerfire tips and nozzles hold up to our demands for quality and help us increase production," says Tony Hackney, Cimarron plant manager.

Centerfire Product Benefits

The Centerfire gas diffuser is designed with a tapered seat. The non-threaded contact tipis locked into the diffuser by hand tightening the threaded nozzle. Production benefits include:

  • Easy conversion to Centerfire series consumables from other guns, including all Bernard guns, Miller XR-Edge and those from Tweco, Tregaskiss and Lincoln.
  • Minimized downtime through a quick, no-tools contact tip change if a burn-back occurs. Simply unscrew the nozzle, pull the trigger and the burnt tip comes out along with the wire.
  • Reduced wear and damage prevention. Eliminating the need to thread contact tips in and out reduces diffuser wear and prevents damage due to over-tightening or cross-threading the tip.
  • Extended tip wear. Operators can rotate the tip 360 degrees within the diffuser to create a new wear surface (tips generally wear out egg-shaped hole from the curve in the welding wire.) If used properly, this technique can double tip life over standard threaded tips.
  • Improved arc starts and prolonged tip life. A large diameter tip base and tapered seat provide more mass for electrical conductivity and better heat dissipation.
  • Made in the USA. All Centerfire components are manufactured in America.

Unique Nozzle Design Welds Better

Centerfire nozzles have a built-in spatter shield that completely protects the gas diffuser. This extends diffuser life and provides superior gas coverage of the weld pool. The design, which is similar to a TIG gas lens, "straightens out" gas from the diffuser that it flows parallel to the contact tip (other designs have a turbulent, swirling flow).Centerfire series consumables can improve weld quality - such as eliminating the sooty black welds Cimarron experienced - and may alleviate porosity caused by to fans or drafts. Further, research shows that a higher concentration of argon gas helps initiate and stabilize the arc.

In addition, the nozzle's screw-on design holds the contact tip fixed (choose from 1/4" or 1/8" tip recess, flush, or 1/8" stick out) and maintains a solid, concentric relationship between the tip and the nozzle. Centerfire series nozzles can withstand rougher treatment than slip-on nozzles and still keep the tip concentric for better weld placement and decreased spatter.