Allow me to introduce you to the fascinating world of steel, and show you why I become so obsessed of this material, trust me , it’s is more than you can see at first glance.
I want to share with you how I create all of my sculptures using different types of technologies. Let’s start with the beginning, what is steel?
WHAT IS STEEL
Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon containing less than 2% carbon and 1% manganese and small amounts of silicon, phosphorus, sulphur and oxygen. There are more than 3,500 different grades of steel with many different physical, chemical, and environmental properties. Steel is completely and infinitely recyclable, stainless steel is the “green material” par excellence. In fact, within the construction sector, its actual recovery rate is close to 100%. Stainless steel is also environmentally neutral and inert. This material has a great durability, and, compared to other materials, requires relatively low amounts of energy to produce. The properties of steel remain unchanged no matter how many times the steel is recycled. Many elements and materials go through chemical reactions with other elements. When steel comes into contact with water and oxygen there is a chemical reaction and the steel begins to revert to its original form – iron oxide
The atoms in pure iron are arranged in densely packed layers. These layers can slide over each other. This makes pure iron a very soft material. The atoms of other elements are different sizes, when other elements are added to iron, they atoms distort the regular structure of the iron atoms. It is more difficult for the layers of iron atoms in steel to slide over each other and so this alloy is stronger than pure iron
THE TECHNOLOGY I USE
I use a fusion between three welding technologies, MIG, TIG and MMA this allows me to melt the metal at 1.200°C in seconds, and being able to create all the patterns. Nothing is poured into the mold, everything is created by adding hundreds of layers of melted steel, layer by layer, It’s very similar to a 3d printing machine.
Photos from the workshop while working at THE KING’S KINGDOM
MIG (Metal Inert Gas) Originally developed in the 1940s for welding aluminium, is a welding process in which an electric arc forms between a consumable MIG wire electrode and the workpiece metal, which heats the metal, causing them to fuse, melt and join. Along with the wire electrode, a shielding gas feeds through the welding gun, which shields the process from atmospheric contamination.
This is the MAIN technology I use in creating my sculptures. All expressions, movement, is made using this technique, it is a combination of amperage, settings, and even gas pressure is important (CO2) it gives the final expression of the sculpture.
TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) is the hardest form of welding for various reasons such as being a tedious process, and it is harder to master than other forms of welding. The process of TIG is reasonably slow, using this type of welding I have to use hand and foot at the same time: A foot operated variable amperage control device is used, and it gives me the ability to slowly start the heat and slow it down at the end, as well is an arc welding process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to produce the weld. The weld area and electrode are protected from oxidation or other atmospheric contamination by an inert shielding gas (argon or helium)
I only use this at the end, to smooth the sculpture, give expression and add fine details.
Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), also known as manual metal arc welding (MMA), flux shielded arc welding or informally as stick welding, is a manual arc welding process that uses a consumable electrode covered with a flux to lay the weld. An electric current, in the form of either alternating current or direct current from a welding power supply, is used to form an electric arc between the electrode and the metals to be joined. The workpiece and the electrode melts forming a pool of molten metal (weld pool) that cools to form a joint. As the weld is laid, the flux coating of the electrode disintegrates, giving off vapors that serve as a shielding gas and providing a layer of slag, both of which protect the weld area from atmospheric contamination.
This welding technique is very useful due to the long electrode, when I can’t reach a welding point.
Welding fumes and gases it is extremely hazardous to health. Welding fume contains potentially harmful complex metal oxide compounds from consumables, base metal and the base-metal coatings. That’s why I use appropriate protective equipment welding helmet from 3M, a Spedglas 9100xxi fx air. Best investment I ever did.
As for the suit, I have to use a full leather cow, almost 8kg of leather (12kg in total) this is probably the hardest part of my job, to carry all this weight almost every day. This will protect me from the ultraviolet radiation (UVR) created by the welding arc. Leather is the preferred material for welding because it’s durable, non-conductive and dissipates heat well
Welding arcs give off radiation over a broad range of wavelengths – from 200 nm (nanometres) to 1,400 nm (or 0.2 to 1.4 µm, micrometres). These ranges include ultraviolet (UV) radiation (200 to 400 nm), visible light (400 to 700 nm), and infrared (IR) radiation (700 to 1,400 nm).
Tools are extremely important doing my job in most professional way, therefore I use tools from BOSCH professional, from grinders to supplies.