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A Brief History of Modern Welding

Friday, October 9, 2009
The discovery of arc welding, since the 1800s, has been the one of main driving forces in the development of steel and metal production in the industrial revolution. While it is true that forge welding has been employed since the bronze age and all throughout the iron age, arc welding is a much more advanced process involving the use of a power supply to generate an electric arc between an electrode and the material, producing high temperatures in order to melt the material after using metal abrasives for surface preparation of the metal.. Unlike soldering, welding does not consist merely of sticking two objects together with metal glue. Instead it fuses them into one piece, almost as if they were recast.

Galvanization, the first method used to prevent corrosion and rusting by dipping the metal in molten zinc, proved to be useful until modern times. The development of galvanized steel, used in welded chain link fences today, was patented by French engineer Stanislas Sorel in 1837 and was further developed with hot-dip galvanizing; a method still used today and should be provided by any competent welding supply company.

Historically, arc welding was first employed en masse by Great Britain. It was used during World War I in place of riveted steel plates for ship building and became known in America as a way of repairing damaged ships faster (Time, Dec. 1941).

From World War I and up until the end of World War II, the US managed to emerge as an industrial powerhouse through newer developments in welding and from continuous contributions from many a steel metal supplier, shipyards and foundries. A famous example would be Wilmington's North Carolina Shipbuilding Company (NCSC) who managed to manufacture 243 vessels between 1941 and 1946 as part of the American war effort (Ralph Scott, The Wilmington Shipyard, 2007).

New methods continued to be developed after the war as more and more nations became industrialized. Hyperbaric welding, a process of welding at higher pressures, a method utilized for underwater welding involves the weld being performed at high pressures in an enclosed chamber filled with a gas mixture sealed around the material being welded..

Underwater welding, a wet form of hyperbaric welding commonly uses a variation of shielded metal arc welding, employing a waterproof electrode and is a popular method used for underwater welding in Jamaica and in the Caribbean on off-shore platforms and oil rigs.

More modern developments continue to improve welding and metal production like precision welding and plasma arc welding, to name a few, which can be employed for miniaturization, aerospace and hospital applications and is driving the future of technology and opening up more possibilities in the development of mass production and automation.

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