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Almost everything that we use in our daily lives is welded or at least made from equipment that was welded. Welding is the process by which two or more pieces of metal are united by means of heat or pressure. From the outside, it seems simple enough. All you have to do is to combine materials. Welding isn’t an easy process. Far from it, actually. It’s not a science, but an art. Not anyone can master the art of welding. Each person owes it to themselves to develop a technique. This is the only way that welding will grow as an art form. 

Interestingly, welding is as old as time. Joining metals dates back from the Bronze and Iron Ages. Little has changed during the years, meaning that welding technology has remained pretty much the same. If you would like to find out more about the history of welding, please continue reading. 

Welding during medieval times

The earliest known welded artifacts date back to the Middle Ages. Egyptians resorted to utilizing charcoal to produce fire and heat, which in turn could transform iron into solid metal iron. They pounded the pieces of metal with heavy rocks which were tied to sticks. Soft metals, such as copper, gold, and bronze, would be shaped into jewelry, bowls, and cups. Welding didn’t become a common practice until years later. Joining metals took place in China, Japan, and many countries. People made swards and all kinds of weapons that proved to be sharp, rigid, and tough.

The type of welding practiced in the Middle Ages was pretty basic. To be more precise, it was limited to basic principles. Welding, as we know it today, didn’t come to life until the 19th century. Pliny highlighted how gold brazing processes took place. Not many know that the Iron Pillar of Delhi was made using iron bullets, which were crafted by blacksmiths by means of welding. Renaissance blacksmiths were highly skilled and promoted this forging operation. The first time the word “weld” was ever used was in 1599. The word comes from Middle English wellen, which means something that holds water.

1800 – The first welding patent

Important developments in welding technology occurred in Great Britain. Edmund Davy, who was a chemistry professor, discovered acetylene. It was regularly used for welding and cutting. Acetylene was preferred to gas because it had a high burning temperature. In the years 1831-1832, Michael Faraday discovered the principle of electromagnetic generators. Lighting became the most prevalent method among welders. This isn’t the only way Michael Faraday revolutionized the world. Let’s not forget about the fact that he actively campaigned against pseudoscience or that he changed the work of small farmers.

Now, let’s talk about the first patent. In 1880, Auguste de Meritens was awarded a patent for the first arc welding process. Working in a laboratory in France, he used the heat of an arc to join lead plates for storage batteries. Following this episode, welding advanced at fast speed. People realized that it’s possible to use the same metal electrode arc method for casting metals into molds. The industrial revolution continued, so the construction industry took advantage of welding. Nowadays, welding is used in industries like aerospace, automotive, construction and infrastructure, manufacturing railroads, and shipping.

Changes during the world war years

Numerous innovations have immerged from the World Wars. New materials started being used, not to mention that the tools of existence immediately became associated with the conflict. Needless to say, there was an urgent need for armament. Weapons were necessary for self-defense and even law enforcement. Welding was particularly helpful in making weapons. After the beginning of World War I, the American Welding Society was established. This organization, which was dedicated to advancing welding and allied processes, contributed significantly to war efforts by bringing together industry leaders.

During World War II, there was a shortage of male workers because most of them had gone to fight. Women took over the roles of welders, steel cutters, and riveters. Millions of women were employed all over the world in war industries. Although they didn’t have knowledge or training, women were allowed to do the same work as men did, handling important positions in factories. Training programs became popular and welding gear was in high demand. More should consider going into engineering, as the welding industry needs more employees. Stick welding was used a lot during the time, in particular, in the flat position. Automatic welding equipment came to life in 1943.

What about today?

Laser welding represents the most recent advancement. What happens is that pieces of metal are joined together through the use of a laser. It can be carried out at high speeds per minute. No matter the technique used, fumes are formed the moment that the metal is heated. Welding fumes are known to cause health issues for workers. Risks include cancer to the urinary tract, lungs, and larynx. How healthy or unhealthy the environment depends on the employer. The best way to prevent potential problems is the extraction of welding fumes from the surrounding air.

Welding fume removal is a must in modern times. Not only is it necessary to keep the indoor air clean, but also to safeguard property and productivity. Businesses with welding operations need to pay attention to emissions. Opening the door isn’t a solution. If the fumes are discarded outside, they will pollute the environment. It’s essential to install a weld fumes extraction system that cleans the air at the workplace. Therefore, it’s not impossible to control the process. Maybe new advancements will eliminate this problem, although it’s highly unlikely. Some of the fumes will evaporate, while others will condensate into particulates. As mentioned earlier, exposure to fumes isn’t good for health.

There’s no denying the fact that welding is important in our world. You don’t need to look over statistics or see more examples to understand that joining metals is indispensable. Welding has taken many leaps across history. We don’t know what will happen next, but innovation is guaranteed.