Australian Turntables has been manufacturing turntables from its Bendigo factory for more than 30 years. With a team of 30 staff, the company specialises in rotational movement systems - from exhibition turntables and industrial turntables, right through to car turntables.
Most turntables are fabricated using mild steel, so when the team were approached by a US-based construction company to build a turntable using aluminium for a revolving bar at Binion’s Casino in Las Vegas, they had to carefully consider whether they could deliver.
David Martin, Production Manager at Australian Turntables says: “The fact that we had to construct a turntable with aluminium for the first time, combined with some very specific weight restrictions – made us turn this job away initially. Until we spoke to BOC’s welding specialists.”
Making it happen
Although Australian Turntables initially declined the job, the company was interested in exploring how it could be done, and so it approached BOC for advice on how it could build the 18-metre aluminium turntable and what equipment would be needed.
With the correct welder, gas mixture and support, BOC explained it was possible to build the aluminium turntable to the standards and specifications required by the customer.
The EWM Phoenix 405 Progress Pulse Expert 2.0 Welder, using a helium-argon shielding gas mixture called Alushield Light was recommended. BOC spent time in the Australian Turntables workshop, going over test pieces, which were cut and macro tested to check the penetration profiles to ensure the security of the weld.
One challenge with welding aluminium is that it has a lower melting point than other metals, yet it requires heat for proper weld pool formation. This makes it more sensitive to heat input and distortion when compared with other metals.
To keep the heat input down, BOC advised Australian Turntables to use the ForceArc process – a specialised EWM welding process that maximises the penetration on the aluminium section and leaves a clean spatter-free weld.
Another challenge was ensuring the turntable didn’t warp during the welding process, as this would cause the turntable to go out of level and not run properly on the rollers. This was also solved by using the faster travel speeds of the ForceArc process to minimise the heat input.
Using the Alushield Light shielding gas mixture, as opposed to a straight argon mixture, helped ensure weld speeds and cleanliness of the weld.
BOC worked with the team of welders to ensure they were comfortable with how to operate the machine and trained them on its various settings such as SuperPuls, hot starts and crater fill.
“The training that BOC provided was invaluable to our team and assured us that we had the skills and equipment necessary to meet the unique requirements of the customer,” says Martin.
With confidence that it could carry out the job, Australian Turntables went full steam ahead to secure the order with the customer and quickly got to work.
Betting on a quick build
The typical time it takes to build a large turntable in mild steel is roughly 12 to 16 weeks. Two weeks into the project, the customer requested that the aluminium turntable be manufactured in 5 weeks, halving the original time given to build the turntable.
To meet the timeframe, Australian Turntables purchased a second EWM Phoenix 405 Progress Pulse Expert 2.0 Welder and BOC trained more employees on how to use the equipment.
The 12-person welding project team built the turntable in 18 wedges, like a pizza with 18 slices, so it could be easily transported to the USA and assembled there.
The turntable included many infrastructure components such as drives and control systems that the team manufactured. And after the parts were cleaned, some post-processing work included assembly of the wheels, motor and drive systems.
“BOC quickly trained qualified welders on how to weld aluminium using the EWM Phoenix 405 Progress Pulse Expert, something they had never done before.
“The background support that BOC provided, from developing welding procedures to specifying welding sequences, was invaluable to our team,” said Martin.
Ready for the bright lights
The turntable was then packaged and sent to the bright lights of Las Vegas where it will be constructed and placed in a new revolving bar at Binion’s Casino on world-famous Fremont Street.
The wedges that were placed in the turntable allow the outlier of the turntable to rotate while the inner part, which is 10 metres in diameter, remains stationary so bar staff are not constantly revolving and customers’ drinks don’t disappear.
“The whole project taught us a lot about project and time management – and there is no doubt, that BOC played a huge part in helping us complete this project,” adds Martin.
“Most importantly, it has helped expand our operating and manufacturing capabilities now that we have the right equipment and expertise behind us. We are now looking at options to fabricate in aluminium and are exploring opportunities to reduce weight across our standard products by using aluminium.”