Dramatic improvements in efficiency and safety are today enjoyed by engineering firms and metal workers throughout New Zealand, thanks to Russia’s massive investment in space research in late 1980s.
This is possible only because of the initiative of the team at Advanced Plasma Technology, a company that has the exclusive rights here to market a remarkably versatile tool designed for work that, quite literally, is out of this world.
It is a multi-functional device for welding, cutting and soldering called Multiplaz 3500. It is so small and light that it can easily be carried in a small bag. It generates plasma from electricity and water – needing no gas or compressed air – and emits only oxygen.
“This makes it ideal for working in enclosed spaces without ventilation such as basements or places without windows,” says Vladimir Voronkov, director of the company and Multiplaz product specialist.
“That’s why it was initially created by the Soviet Union for use in outer space and then also proved invaluable for repairs in the army and navy. It was revolutionary new technology which cost a fortune to develop, but when the big political changes came in Russia, it became available for more general use – and our company secured the rights for this part of the world.”
The uses of it are as surprisingly varied as its functions. For instance, it can weld giant beams to hold up roofs and yet is also sensitive enough to work on the most delicate of materials.
Another advantage is the increased safety this device brings to welding. Statistics confirm the dangers inherent in traditional methods.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about 10 percent of that country’s manufacturing workforce are welders or perform welding-related tasks. This totals nearly two million people and it is officially estimated that every day an average of about 1000 suffer eye-related injuries alone, in addition to injuries caused by explosions.
Horrific consequences of welding accidents have been seen repeatedly in New Zealand. For instance, a 20-year-old Wellington man suffered serious burns to 80 percent of his body, with his partner and their baby also being burned, when welding sparks ignited solvent cans in their garage. Another man in his mid-30s suffered serious burns to his face after an acetylene explosion at the Port of Nelson. He had been welding in a tank at the port when the explosion, possibly caused by a buildup of gas, happened.
That could not have happened with the Multiplaz 3500, which won the coveted Grand Prix at the International Salon of Inventions in Geneva.
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