Thursday, October 15, 2015

The A - Z of History of Welding (Part 2)

This complete history of welding will sure help you track developments in welding and reason why welding is super important today.

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Women welders at the Hog Island shipyard near Philadelphia
The outbreak of World War I saw manufacturing and industry output predominantly in Europe increased dramatically. The growing need for ships, vehicles and armaments and demand for maintaining efficiencies in industry to serve for competition against the warring sides pushed welding to new levels. Also, as the need for trained professionals increased, the welding trade was passed to more people. The main role of welders, throughout the 4-year war, was in repairs out in the field. 


By 1915, longer pipelines had been established in the US, and by 1916, welding equipment was made available to the public. This comprised mainly spot welding equipment, but showed the development of welding process and trade. That trend grew in 1916 with Mig welding introduced, as enterprises started to produce and sell a number of gases and equipment to everyday welders. 

The industry was prospering and corporations started to grow as to address the public and industrial demand for welding gases and equipment. Take overs and mergers were a typical occurrence in the American welding industry at the end of the decade, and competition pushed further advancements – for example, combining acetylene and oxygen that created a flame hot enough to melt just about all metals 3100°C (5700°F) in use that time. 

By now, such methods in welding as Electroslag welding and plasma welding were commonplace alongside such established methods as Mig welding. Due to the gas shortage in England during World War I, using electric arc welding to manufacturing mines, bombs and torpedoes was the primary fabrication method. 


The World War I ended but the lessons drawn by welders in factories and welders in the field wouldn’t be forgotten. For welders, it was time to look back at what they had accomplished during the war. For the first time, welding was used in production of fighter planes and battleships. The Great War had made a huge increase in the use of welding in construction and repairing. 

After the war, welding was recognized across the US for its fundamental role. Numerous societies for welding began to be founded, but none of them was more pivotal to welding future than the American Welding Society (AWS). This society was established with a view to improving and advancing the welding process, and it is the society that is still going strong. Later in the decade, the Institute of Welding Engineers was also founded (1923). 

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Many societies for welding were founded, including American Welding Society.


By 1920, automatic welding was growingly popular. Invented by P.O. Nobel, automatic welding combined the use of arc voltage and bare electrode wires. It was applied for repairing and molding metals. During this decade, some types of electrodes were also developed. 


By 1926, hydrogen and atomic energy were beginning to play a role in the welding evolution. This was led by Irving Langmuir – American physicist and chemist. He was credited for developing Atomic Hydrogen Arc Welding (AHAW) or Atomic Hydrogen Welding (AHW). Gamma radiation was most noticeable scientific method in the mid-1920s, but its potential in welding wasn’t truly understood until late in the century.


Lincoln Electric produced the Fleetwood 5 heavy coated electrode.

This year also witnessed important roles of the AWS in welding industry when it helped advanced the industry through research. It also acted as a hub for welding companies and welders. Along with its growing influence, it played a role as a responsible regulatory body in which safety in welding started to become paramount concern. At the end of the decade, the AWS established the first ever welding symbols. 

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Early 1930’s

By the turn of 1930s, the introduction of plastics and thermoplastics in welding created another eureka moment in this industry. They acted as light-weight alternative to metals. As shown in experiments, thermoplastics can be welded in the same fashion as metals when heated. This breakthrough really got off the ground when war eventually broke out in Europe at the end of the decade. German engineering and research was foremost in the trend when developing welding process using thermoplastics. 

Mid 1930’s

By the mid-1930s when the worst of Great Depression had gone, employment was starting to pick up once again. That time, numerous new techniques and welding methods were created. Stud welding was beginning to be replaced by submerged arc welding – a new process in ship building. Also, underwater welding was first executed and gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) or Tig welding was in its early stages of development. 


The World War II in 1939 tended to change tremendously the welding process. Advancements in the industry led to a number of processes that were in huge demand, delivering numerous new landmarks in the evolution of welding. 

The use of aluminum spot welding was recognized as being useful in aviation.  


Much like in the First World War, for the welding world, the Second World War gave a period of the process to be driven further. New, lighter metals were available and shaping the production of aircraft, etc. The demand for workforce increased accordingly.

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GTAW welding
Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) was established to be a helpful technique for repairs. It, after decades of development, was eventually perfected in 1941 and its patent was issued in 1942. Invented by Russel Meredith and developed by the Linde company, it was also called Heliarc or Tig. 

Also in 1942, firecracker welding process patent was given to George Hafergut.

In 1943, gas metal arc welding (GMAW) was invented by C.B. Voldrich, P.J. Rieppel and Howard B. Cary. It was developed at Dow and Northrup Corporations, and then licensed to Linde Corporation. Also that year, the Sciaky company started to sell a 3-phase resistance welder. 

Post War Period 1945-1955

1945 saw experimental hand-held Mig gun developed at the Battelle Memorial Institute (Columbus, Ohio). Also this time, welding took place of riveting as the major method of assembly for ships with over 5,000 vessels constructed through 1945. 

GMAW followed in 1948, facilitating fast welding of non-ferrous materials, but requiring costly shielding gases. Also in 1948, inert gas metal arc process (Mig) was developed at the Air Reduction Company, and SIGMA (Shielded Inert Gas Metal Arc) welding was developed to weld thicker plates.

In 1949, Westinghouse introduced Selenium Rectifier welding machines.

By the turn of 1950s, welding was growing in popularity not only in large-scale industry but also for individual use. Developments mainly in Eastern Europe and Russia resulted in the introduction of Flux Coated Consumable Electrode that was very popular at the time of its launch. Also, electroslag welding (ESW) was developed, though it wouldn’t be in large-scale use until 1958. 

The CO2 welding process made popular by Lyubavskii and Novoshilov in 1953 became a preferred welding process for welding steels, as it was relatively economical. 

In 1955, a decade after the end of World War II, plasma torch was introduced that revolutionized the cutting process. 


By the mid-1950s, the Cold War became thawing and Russian advancements in welding were welcomed in Europe and the US. Friction welding – a new solid state method, was invented and is still popularly used today. By 1957, some 2 years following the introduction of the plasma torch, plasma arc welding (PAW) was invented. And that same year, flux cored arc welding (FCAW) debuted as an alternative to shielded metal arc welding (SMAW). In this process, the self-shielded wire electrode can be used with automatic equipment, leading to greatly increased welding speeded. FCAW gets an edge over SMAW in that the use of stick electrodes in SMAW is unnecessary. This helped FCAW to deal with many of the restrictions related to SMAW. 

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By 1960, the industry entered into a new phase. Global economies were beginning to show stable recovery. Middle classes were starting to grow; populations began to surge. And with them, the demand for consumer electronics and cars grew. Also, passenger airplanes got increasingly popular, and the welding developments followed suit. Space industry also relied on welding for outer space mission. In 1962, Sciaky company welded Mercury Space Capsule that was created with an outer and inner titanium shell. 

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Mercury Space Capsule
In France, electron beam welding was developed and is still a process we see today in manufacturing aircrafts. The welding world was introduced to the laser, and many started to consider its uses in welding one day. 

It wasn’t until mid-1960s that lasers would be used in welding and cutting. By the end of the decade, science fiction became science fact when the electron beam weld resulted in the establishment of first welding program in space introduced by Russia. 


The 1970s came as a new age of industrialization. The higher demand for oil and gas made big companies to step up their exploration efforts, and for doing so, more rigs were beginning to be manufactured. Demand for welding, once again, took big strides regarding its commercial and large-scale use. Advanced technologies like the development of infrared was availed, as the complexities of miniaturization pushed welding firms and welders further and into smaller gaps than before. 

By the mid-1970s, space exploration really began to ramp up. Human beings had stepped foot on the moon, and the need for better and more efficient welding techniques in space was synonymous to that electron beam welding started to place a real impact in the space race between Russia and the US. 

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That’s for the space. Back on earn, oil was starting to flow, and this came with the demand for transporting those newly filled barrels of black gold. With the help of welding, super tankers were produced. 

The huge floating fortresses, once again, showed the world how capable welding was. 


While there were fewer developments in the process of welding during the 1980s, its application kept on growing. Big projects asked for a rise in laborforce and welding became a very hot career that time. Welding schools began to fill because people looked to be part of this thriving industry. The reliance on welding grew year on year. 

It wasn’t until the 1990s that the welding world, once again, changed with new developments of the process. 


In 1991, friction stir welding was introduced in a laboratory in the UK. This new process was invented by Wayne Thomas – a member of the Welding Institute. This process was different from conventional practice in that a solid state bond was formed thanks to friction without the need or dependence on filler metal or gas. Still, this was an expensive process, which limited it to some extent. 


While the turn of the decade was remembered for the introduction of friction stir welding, the end of the decade will be characterized by developments in penetration.

The Edison Institute developed a method that led to 300% rise in flux penetration into the weld.

2000 – Present day

By the turn of the millennium, magnetic pulse welding (MPW) was introduced by a firm based in Israel, showing the extent that countries across the globe were now improving and inventing new, sophisticated welding procedures. 

Spot welding was being used less in industry because new, more efficient atomized processes came into market. 

Lasers were now driving factory floors’ production around the world. In 2001, the introduction of laser power welding was synonymous to that substrate materials could now be rebuilt. Plastics, for the first time, really started to be applied in the welding process in a large scale. This was thanks in large part to the laser that revolutionized the way polymers were welded, creating an almost invisible weld line. The precision of laser allows for various applications, so solidifying its place alongside some of the other more commonly used methods these days.  

1 comment:

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