We’ve explained the difference between metal fabrication and welding, but do you really know about the latter technique? Kaempf and Harris looks into its history, industry projects, where it’s most popular in the United States, and more:What is welding?
It's a sheet metal fabrication technique that joins together two pieces of metal, glass, or thermoplastics with similar melting points and compositions using fusion.
When did it first occur?
1800s: More than 2,000 years ago in the Bronze Age, small, gold circular boxes are made by pressure welding lap joints together. During the Iron Age, Egyptians and Eastern Mediterraneans learn to weld iron before the art of blacksmithing is developed during the Middle Ages.
During this time, gas, cutting, and resistance welding are developed. Nikolai Benardos and Stanislaus Olszewski secure a British patent in 1885 and an American patent in 1887 for welding. This was the beginning of carbon arc-welding with iron and lead.
1890: Chicago native C.L. Coffin is awarded the first U.S. patent for an arc-welding process using a metal electrode. About the same time, Russian N.G. Slavianoff presents the same idea but to cast metal in a mold.
1900 to 1919: A torch suitable for use with low-pressure acetylene is developed. Three years later, thermite welding is invented and first used to weld railroad rails. Simultaneously, gas welding and cutting are perfected, and the production of oxygen and liquefying of air help its development.
World War I brings a tremendous demand for armament production. Many companies in the United States and Europe manufacture machines and electrodes.
After the war in 1919, Wartime Welding Committee of the Emergency Fleet Corporation members found the nonprofit American Welding Society.
1920s: Automatic welding is introduced and used to produce rear axle housings in cars.
1930s to 1940s: Atomic hydrogen becomes popular for special applications of welding, especially of tool steels. This is the same timeframe that stud and submerged arc-welding are developed for the shipbuilding and construction industries, and gas tungsten arc-welding is perfected.
1950s: Robert F. Gage invents plasma arc-welding in 1957, and the electroslag process is announced by the Soviets at the Brussels World Fair in Belgium in 1958.
During the same year, Lyubavskii and Novoshilov announce the use of welding with consumable electrodes in an atmosphere of CO2 gas. The short-circuit arc variation, known as short-arc or dip transfer welding, works for thin materials. It soon becomes the most popular gas metal arc-welding process variation.
The first production use in the US is at General Motors Corporation, where it’s called the electro-molding process and used for the fabrication of welded diesel engine blocks.
1960s: Arcos Industries introduces Electrogas in 1961. It utilizes equipment developed for electroslag welding but employs a flux-cored electrode wire and an externally supplied gas shield.
Where is this technique most popular?
In the US, it's most popular in states where domestic energy production has increased the demand to build, maintain, and repair pipelines or rigs. The top five areas include Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Why is this technique an important process?
This sheet metal fabrication technique is responsible for a number of projects across industries including aerospace, military, travel, energy, professional sports, and automotive. Without it, even our work would be halted.
If you want to learn about types of welding, which metals work best with each technique and more, download our guide by clicking on the button below:These facts were compiled with the help of Economic Modeling Services International, GoWelding, Hobart Institute Of Welding Technology, and the Welding Information Center.