Praxair Inc was founded in 1907 and became an independent publicly traded company in 1992. It was the first company in the United States to produce oxygen from air using a cryogenic process and continues to be a technological innovator in the industrial gases industry. The Company's main products for its industrial gases business are atmospheric gases and process gases. It also designs, engineers and builds equipment that produces industrial gases for internal use and external sale. The Company's surface technologies segment, operated through Praxair Surface Technologies, Inc., supplies wear-resistant and high-temperature corrosion-resistant metallic and ceramic coatings and powders. The Company serves diverse group of industries including healthcare, petroleum refining, manufacturing, beverage carbonation, fiber-optics, steel making, aerospace, chemicals and water treatment. Atmospheric gases are the highest volume products produced by company. Using air as its raw material, Company produces oxygen, nitrogen and argon through several air separation processes of which cryogenic air separation is the most prevalent. The Company is also engaged in the development and commercialization of non-cryogenic air separation technologies for the production of industrial gases. These technologies open important new markets and optimize production capacity for the company by lowering the cost of supplying industrial gases. These technologies include proprietary vacuum pressure swing adsorption and membrane separation to produce gaseous oxygen and nitrogen, respectively. It also manufactures precious metal and ceramic sputtering targets used mainly in the production of semiconductors. The Company's surface technologies segment supplies wear-resistant and high-temperature corrosion-resistant metallic and ceramic coatings and powders to the aircraft, printing, textile, plastics, primary metals, petrochemical and other industries. It also manufactures a complete line of electric arc, plasma and high-velocity oxy-fuel (HVOF) equipment. Its surface technologies segment has operations in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It manufactures and distributes its products through networks of hundreds of production plants, pipeline complexes, distribution centers and delivery vehicles. The Company operates in geographical segments including North America, Europe, South America and Asia. The North America segment operates production facilities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, approximately 255 of which are cryogenic air separation plants, hydrogen plants and carbon dioxide plants; Europe segment has production facilities in Italy, Spain, Germany, the Benelux region, Scandinavia and Russia which include approximately 60 cryogenic air separation plants; South America segment operates more than 45 cryogenic air separation plants, located in Brazil. Many of these plants supports pipeline complex in Southern Brazil; and Asia segment has production facilities located primarily in China, Korea, India and Thailand, approximately 55 of which are cryogenic air separation plants. The Company owns or licenses a number of United States and foreign patents that relate to products and processes. The Company faces competition from competitors in the industrial gases industry both in the United States and worldwide includes Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., Airgas Inc., L'Air Liquide S.A., and Linde AG. Principal competitors for the surface technologies business are Chromalloy Gas Turbine Corporation, a subsidiary of Sequa Corporation, Bodycote, PLC, and OC Oerlikon Corp AG. The Company is subject to a variety of United States and foreign government regulations.
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