Case Studies

3D printed trailing shield

3D printed trailing shield

3d printed trailing shields have become the ideal solution to create the perfect seam weld. So what does the perfect weld seam look like? To create the perfect weld seam you need to create a join high in strength, optically and metallurgically unblemished to avoid extra labour time trying to doing again!

By 3D printing a trailing shield in ceramic or H13 it becomes possible to design a hard wearing shield to assist in the provision of inert gases to prevent oxidisation.

The welder expertly controls these factors in most cases, although having the flexibility to work with an extensive size range of industrial tubes makes the job more difficult. Therefore a suitable bespoke trailing shield can make it easier irrespective of geometry.

Productivity is maintainable when you can design your own shield in-house.

Furthermore the complication of a large array of torches can also be addressed. Indeed, the opportunity to iterate more often once these factors can be efficiently addressed is a huge competitive advantage.

Traditional TIG Nozzle
Traditional TIG Nozzle
3D printed TIG Nozzle
3D printed TIG Nozzle


TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding consists on creating an electric arc thanks to a non-consumable tungsten . To avoid oxidisation an inert shielding gas with argon or helium is sprayed around the electrode and the weld area.

However, isolating the electric arc from oxidation is far from easy. With a curved welding area air contamination is more likely to occur. This effects the quality of the welding. Because of the impressive size range of existing industrial tubes traditional TIG nozzles adapted to all of them, simply doesn’t exist. Previously, businesses had to reduce productivity or post process the weld when oxidation appeared. Notwithstanding this both solutions were time consuming and did not guarantee best results. This problem is even occurs with stainless steel which is less likely to oxide than other metals.

Use Case

Orbital service is familiar with this issue and as a result were looking for an efficient and cost-effective solution for a while. 3D printed trailing shields with Zetamix became their opportunity to exploit the limitless possibilities of the technology and find new solutions for orbital welding.

3D printed trailing shields have become the norm at Orbital services. They enable Orbital to deliver the best quality products to their customers in the most efficient and cost effective way.

The R&D team decided to design a more complex part than the regular trailing shield and gave the nozzle a concave shape that perfectly conforms to the tube. Then, produced the part in less than a week!! Including the printing and post processing. The result is indisputable. Not only does the new TIG nozzle allows to reduce the number of weld defects, it also reduces the inert gas consumption. More broadly, by minimizing oxidation tailor made TIG nozzles avoid rework and post weld machining.

3D printed trailing shields

The solution centred around Zetamix materials used in the 3D printing process. Zirconia is a material of choice for prototyping and to resist corrosion and wear. In fact alumina is the perfect material to withstand the extreme temperatures generated by the electric arcs so is primarily for trailing shields. Also used for some of their work is the H13 steel filament.

Founded in 2008 Orbital specialises in welding services. The company aims to develop and retail tailor made products and solutions such as cutting-edge orbital welding systems. They also produce residual oxygen measuring devices and, open welding heads or closed welding heads.

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