Twenty years ago, Ted Wilcox was in the U.S. Navy, running a repair welding facility that was servicing nuclear submarines. After joining the Navy at age 17, he took all the welding training offered, and found he had an aptitude for critical-quality welding. When he was made supervisor of the nuclear welding repair facility, he was the youngest at that time to assume such a responsible position.
Today, he heads up Absolute Welding Inc., which he founded in 1994. AWI is a dedicated forging die welding facility, located in Greenville in southern Indiana, some 20 miles from Louisville, KY. This facility serves forge shops throughout the Midwest and East Coast. At the time of Forging’s interview with him, Wilcox was preparing to open a satellite operation in Ft. Worth, TX.
According to Wilcox, welding offers unequaled ability to extend forging die life. A die with flood-welded working surfaces can have specific alloys placed in specific locations to minimize problems such as wear and die cracking.
A welded die lasts longer than a non-welded die before it must be re-machined; in fact, with flood welding the overall service life of a die block can be dramatically extended.
With high production jobs, there are fewer interruptions for retooling to produce the same number of forged parts. That means the forging equipment can be more productive, resulting in a more profitable forging operation.
There are less obvious advantages, as well. Welded die blocks can be maintained at the original die height without the shimming required after re-sinking a non-welded die. And hammer dies are maintained at their original weights and heights.
Also, high-value forging components such as bolster plates, hard plates, rams, and sow blocks can be weld-repaired for a fraction of the cost of producing new components and with drastically shorter lead times.
The ability to reclaim obsolete die blocks with die welding is another advantage. An obsolete die block can have the old impression removed and flood welded, making it ready for the sinking of a new impression.