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JIT systems Dangers and Risks


#1

Ernest,

The reason no one here talks about the safe solution of JIT gas
production is that for most of the people on this forum the system,
for all it’s safety, is not versatile enough. For some the safety
issue is so paramount that the only alternative is JIT systems: Mall
stores and areas where zoning, or a landlord, prohibits use of
bottled gas and piped in natural gas is not available. However, the
kind of work that these people do is limited.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s I had the opportunity to use an
electrolyzed torch system in a shop that was forced (thankfully) by
the city I worked in to change over from bottled propane to natural
gas. The cost of the electolyzer was less than the conversion to
city gas and I think there was also a control issue that made the
jump to the electolyzer an option.

As much as I liked the system, I found it to be too limiting. I
know many jewelers who have three different sized torches. This is
because sometimes you need a very small, delicate flame, sometimes
you need a flame large enough to melt 150 to 200 dwt of metal for
casting and then there is everything in between.

The really hot localized flame you get with an electrolyzer, though
useful in some applications just doesn’t work well for many jewelry
applications. It isn’t enough to just heat a joint that has to be
soldered, you have to heat the whole piece. The localized flames
are just not conducive to this. As well, in order to reduce
oxidation it is common for jewelers to use a large reducing flame to
cover the object being heated, eating up excess oxygen, producing
cleaner results. The fluxed flames that electolysers produce can’t
reproduce this to a degree that is useful. I won’t even get into
annealing issues except to say that I would challenge the usefulness
of any JIT system to anneal a 75 dwt ingot of gold, a 6" x 8" sheet
of silver or 40 dwt of very heavy walled 5mm diameter platinum tube.

Until someone invents a JIT system that can handle the multitude of
tasks at the price of a bottled system, you will find that small
shops such as mine and many large ones just won’t be able to make
the switch, no matter how safe the JIT systems are.

The argument that we should trade our bottled gas for a JIT system
is akin to arguing that because air travel is safer we should all
sell our dangerous cars and fly everywhere. Even though air travel
is safer it’s not useful for every trip. Sadly, sometimes we have
to choose versatility and convenience over safety.

Larry