Friday, December 11, 2015

Admire These 5 Welding Wonders of the Modern World

The welding trade has helped countless industries thrive, even made the impossible possible. Let’s take a tour of some of the world’s most famous welding wonders to admire them, learn more about huge impacts of welding on the world.

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Anyone in the welding industry has reason to brag about their professions because the big world has been made possible thanks to welding – one of the most essential trades. For thousands of years, unlimited industries have counted on advances in the welding field. Let’s take a tour of some of the world’s most famous welding wonders to admire them, to be more proud of your job, to boost the morale of your co-workers, your employees, and of course to enhance your knowledge about this amazing field. 

1. Trans-Alaska Pipeline


The Trans-Alaska pipelines are commonly known as one of the world’s historic welding projects. Thousands of welders braved the Alaska’s wilderness terrain and cruel weather for 3 years to weld the pipeline that is 49 inches in diameter. Since its completion, over seventeen billion oil barrels have flowed from the Prudhoe Bay oil field in North Alaska to Valdez Bay. 

2. The Vertical Assembly Center


For over 50 years, NASA has heavily relied on the welding trade to make the impossible possible. Debuting in 12th September, 2014, the Vertical Assembly Center became the globe’s largest welding tool. It is used to bring together the Space Launch System – the largest and most powerful rocket ever designed by mankind. It will help take humans not just to the moon but to other destinations like Mars and asteroids.

3. Cloud Gate


Standing 33 feet high and 66 feet long, Cloud Gates has been praised as one of Chicago’s most iconic structures. Because it takes after the tiny legumes, people often call it ‘the bean’. This sculpture was designed by Anish Kapoor - a British artist, but it was brought to life thanks to the diligent work of over 100 metal fabricators, technicians, engineers and welders. The designer was inspired by liquid mercury when coming up with the original structure. This reasoned why most of the work went on inside the structure that was created by a smooth series of polished, steel plates. Some of the largest plates weighted up to 1,500 pounds. For the perfect appearance, the curved plates were flux-core stitch-welded to the rib –system, a task that utilized a mammoth amount of welding supplies and the hard work of welding team.  

4. Disney’s Spaceship Earth


 “Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, our planet has sailed through the universe of time. And for a 
brief moment, we have been among its many passengers.” That was the opening line for the almost 32-year-old attraction at Disney’s Epcot Center – Spaceship Earth. It stands as one of most iconic structures ever built by Disney Imagineering. The main purpose of this Spaceship Earth was to ‘bring the world together through technology’, and that goal was certainly accomplished throughout the construction process. To create the structure, welding was a key task, most of which was implemented off site using industrial tools.  That way helped improve quality control and provide better working conditions. 

5. Space Shuttle External Tank


The Space Shuttle, for years, stood as the beacon of U.S spaceflight. Between 1981 and 2011, as many as 135 missions were launched from Kennedy Space Center (Florida). Thanks to the Space Shuttle, a number of satellites and interplanetary probes were launched (inclusive of the Hubble Space Telescope), significant science experiments were carried out in orbit, and the International Space Station was developed. All of this was made possible thanks to welding trade that brought the Shuttle external tank into life. The external tank was designed by Martin Marietta Corporation (Maryland, U.S), and manufactured and assembled by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (Colorado, U.S) at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility (New Orleans, Louisian). It was the largest and heaviest part of the Space Shuttle. The original tank built until 1983 weighted around 76,000 pounds. The weight of the tank was reduced with the construction of Lightweight Tank. It trimmed around 10,000 pounds from the tank preceding it. New welding processes made the Lightweight Tank production more cost efficient. In 1984, the Marshall Spaceflight Center used Variable Polarity Plasma Arc welding as the method of the tank construction. After years of research, Reynolds Aluminum, Lockheed Martin and the labs at Marshall Space Flight Center were able to develop a new alloy called Aluminum Lithium Al-Li 2195 – which lowered the weight of the External Tank by another 7,500 pounds. While repair welds became harder to make and production costs increased on the tank, NASA started researching alternative welding techniques. Eventually, project managers chose the friction stir process that created a stronger joint than the fusion arc welding employed in the earlier Lightweight Tank. 

Can you think of any more iconic machines or structures that have been made possible by welding? We - VMST, would love to hear from you in the comments below. 


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