Friday | 18 November, 2011 | 1:16 pm

Super steel

By Lynn Stanley

Langley brings high-performance alloys to the United States

November 2011 - When parts need to withstand the pressure of operating underwater at depths of more than 23,000 feet or function in harsh conditions, the right alloy is critical. For 70 years, Langley Alloys Ltd., Staffordshire, England, has been developing high-performance, corrosion-resistant alloys that solve the challenges of subsea, aerospace, power generation and chemical production plant applications. Specializing in inventing and supporting advanced stainless steels, nickel and bronze alloys, the company purchased Vancouver, Wash.-based National Metal Distributors in 2009 to bring its alloys to process chemical and power generation markets in the United States.

New distributor
NMD’s technology and in-house metallurgical expertise attracted Langley’s attention along with its access to key U.S. sectors that represent a substantial market share potential for high-strength, corrosion-resistant alloys. “We had been dealing with NMD for nearly 10 years and knew their key staff quite well,” says Chris Halliday, managing director for Langley. “When the opportunity came to acquire the business, it seemed a logical step for us to take.”

Following a reorganization of its warehouse, NMD, Langley’s newest division, is stocking all main grades of super duplex stainless steel alloys to provide the U.S. market with a range of diverse products with shorter lead times. Stock material is available in bar, ½ inch to 14 inches, and plate, 1/8 inch to 4 inches. In the past year, NMD has achieved significant sales in the supply of alloys for drill-string connectors, pump and valve components, shafts and fasteners.

Key benefits
Aside from expanding Langley’s product presence in the United States, connections with production mills complements ongoing development of corrosion-resistant alloys like its patented Ferralium or super duplex, the world’s highest-strength stainless steel. Other key benefits to the U.S. metals market include NMD’s capability to ensure certified material quality control. The division’s products are NORSOK compliant, which is fast becoming an oil-industry standard requirement. NMD conducts substantial mechanical, chemical and corrosion testing programs, including service feedback on materials performance. Non-destructive testing includes radiography, ultrasonic testing and liquid penetrant examination.

This data offers design engineers technical support on issues such as welding and fabrication, helping to eliminate potential obstacles to the adoption of materials that might prove to be optimum choices for specific applications. Finding the right alloy for a key application requires an understanding of how operational and environmental factors will impact the efficiency and durability of advanced materials. An alloy that may suit one type of environment may not be the best fit for another.

As sales and distribution channels are solidified, NMD expects to offer Langley’s patented Hiduron 130. The high-strength copper-nickel alloy features anti-galling properties and resistance to stress corrosion while exhibiting no susceptibility to hydrogen embrittlement. Both Hiduron and other products in the line have low magnetic properties, good weldability and machinability.

Langley has seen demand growing for the advanced material in sub-sea applications where metal-to-metal friction occurs in components such as stab-plate connectors and shafts. The material is also cryogenic. In cathodic protection systems, the material’s immunity to hydrogen embrittlement offers an advantage. Hiduron 130’s profile—high strength, superior mechanical properties and corrosion resistance—typify Langley’s products.

Through its NMD division Langley’s goal is the triple U.S. sales within the next three years. The company will consider satellite facilities in strategic locations to support regional customer requirements. The ability to supply U.S.-based niche markets also affords customers the advantages of scale when it comes to availability and cost.

“I remain enthused about the potential the acquisition of NMD brings to Langley through the opportunity this provides to make us a significant and genuinely transatlantic supplier of corrosion-resistant alloy niche products to those sectors in which we have substantial in-service experience,” says Halliday. MM



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