Fayette Firm Is the World Leader in Explosion Welding

By C. M. Mortimer | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 22, 2007 | Go to article overview

Fayette Firm Is the World Leader in Explosion Welding


C. M. Mortimer, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


A horn bellow followed by three shorter signals warns of the coming blast. The cry of "fire in the hole" rings out, followed by a muffled boom.

The ground vibrates, and a gust of wind and dust blows out of a hole carved in a hillside of a former limestone mine.

The symphony is over in a millisecond, as seven metal plates are merged by about 12,000 pounds of explosives, the result of a metal- fusion process conducted daily by DMC Clad Metal in Mt. Braddock, Fayette County, a division of Dynamic Materials Corp. of Boulder, Colo.

The company that has been using and expanding the explosion bonding technology since buying the business from E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. in 1996.

It has spent about $12 million during the past 18 months to add a 42,000 square-foot building to its production plant in Mt. Braddock. It employs 90, including about 30 hired in the past year.

"We are the world leader in explosion welding. The investment here means we believe there are opportunities for the future. Our end markets, energy and petrochemicals, are strong," said Yvon Pierre Cariou, president and CEO of Dynamic Materials Corp.

Explosion-weld cladding uses an explosive charge to bond plates of different metals that don't easily bond using traditional welding techniques, such as titanium and steel, aluminum and steel, and aluminum and copper. It also can be used to weld compatible metals, such as stainless steels and nickel alloys to steel.

Dynamic Materials is one of the few companies in the world that provides explosion-welded metal plates, corrosion-resistant products that are used in the petrochemical, refining, aluminum smelting and shipbuilding industries.

At the Mt. Braddock plant, the company uses ANFO explosives, which is ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. "We mix tons of it daily, all on site," said Gary S. Burke, vice president of operations.

Burke said the company can weld materials that are 16-feet wide, 45-feet long, 16-inches thick and weighing as much as 100,000 pounds. After the material is prepared for welding, it's loaded on large trucks and taken to the limestone mine in Dunbar, Fayette County, about six miles away from the main plant. …

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