Like most industries, the mining industry faces significant costs from corrosion. One study conducted in China estimated that direct corrosion costs in coal mining were 84.70 billion RMB ($13.4 billion), representing 4.67% of the total annual production value of coal.
While wear and mechanical damage are major causes of costs and downtime in the mining industry, corrosion is also a considerable problem that can shorten equipment life and cause unplanned downtime. Laser cladding, also known as laser metal deposition (LMD), can be a viable and cost-effective solution for the mining industry.
In laser cladding, a stream of metallic powder is fed into a laser beam to apply a protective coating to the surfaces of metal components to increase their corrosion or wear-resistance. This process offers a number of advantages over traditional additive processes, including:
- Improved metallurgy with higher material hardness
- Lower powder costs due to thinner coatings
- Less stress due to lower heat input
- Shorter process time than traditional processes like PTA
Here are some examples of how laser cladding is being used in to extend equipment life in the mining industry:
Smelters: Smelters are exposed to highly abrasive and corrosive environments, and maintenance downtime is very costly. LMD applies a protective coating to the smelter’s cooling elements, as well as to the boiler tubes in the waste heat boiler at the smelter. Results include improved operating efficiency and longer time between maintenance shutdowns.
Mining Boom Cylinder: Mining boom hydraulic rams are exposed to impact abrasion and corrosion, and internal bearing surfaces are subjected to wear from dust particle contamination. Applying LMD to these elements results in better than OEM surface metallurgy and longer equipment life.
Cutter Drums: Underground mining cutter drums are subjected to damage from particles and moisture. An effective solution is machining to clean up the drum surface, followed by laser cladding and remachining back to OEM specifications. This process extends drum service life and provides an alternative to replacing expensive equipment.
Remanufacturing: Cladding can rebuild and restore expensive mining equipment such as inner and outer cutter drums, gear teeth, journal areas of shafts, pug mill paddles, and bearing housings in gear cutter cases.
Maximizing equipment uptime and availability is critical in the mining industry. In addition to these examples, there are other mining applications that can benefit from LMD. If you have questions about applications not mentioned here, get in touch with our experts or leave a comment in the space below.
Want to know more about laser cladding solutions for corrosive environments? Our e-book offers additional examples for other industries including power generation and oil & gas. Download it here.