Welding can be one of the most fascinating and rewarding careers in the construction industry today. Besides being well-paid and in demand, welders get to work with powerful tools to cut, join, and trim metal, performing jobs as varied as breaking down decommissioned ships and welding steel beams in place on a skyscraper’s frame. As a technology, it’s easy to forget just how important the development of welding has been, because its products are all around us: buildings, pipelines, industrial machinery, cars and other vehicles. These all depend on our ability to weld metal.
If you’re interested in welder training, it’s worth taking a look at the history of this fascinating craft, to get a sense of how both the field and the technology have developed over the years. Read on to learn more.
There Were Other Ways to Join Metal Before Welding
Humans have been joining metals for thousands of years, but for much of that time, the techniques used were rudimentary. By around 1000 BC, for example, the Egyptians had developed a technique of melting metals to be used for solder, which could then be fed into metal joints with a blowpipe.
Another technique, developed in the Middle Ages, was to hammer pieces of metal together under heat until they were fused. This was effective for many purposes, such as making swords and armour, but the process was incredibly labour-intensive and not nearly as effective as later forms of welding.
The technique of heating and hammering metal is still in use for certain purposes today
The Tools You’ll Use in Welder Training Originated in the 19thCentury
The process of joining metals didn’t develop much until the 19thcentury, when several key breakthroughs allowed new processes to be developed. The first of these developments was the discovery of acetylene in 1836, which, when burned, produced a flame hot enough to weld and cut metals.
In the early 19th century, the electric arc was also discovered, eventually leading to the invention of carbon arc welding in 1881. Rather than an open flame, this technique uses the heat of an electric arc running between a carbon electrode and the material on which it’s being used. While melting the metal with this electric arc, filler material can be fed into the weld to help join the pieces. This invention was the first significant step towards the types of welding machines you’d be likely to use in welding school and beyond.
Shielding Gas Was a Key Step in Welding History
One of the issues with early carbon arc welding was that welds were vulnerable to oxidization. This is the process of metals bonding to oxygen particles in the atmosphere, which can result in brittle or weak joints. In the 20th century, this led to the development of shielding gas for welding, which was a great advance in producing the strong, durable welds we see today. As students in welding college know, a shielding gas is a gas like argon, helium or carbon dioxide that’s used to shield the molten metal of a weld from coming into contact with oxygen and becoming oxidized. This was first developed with the use of hydrogen by Irving Langmuir in the 1920s.
As students in welding training know, shield gases protect a weld from becoming oxidized
Like most technologies, the tools used for welding are constantly improving, and among the various types of welding equipment in use today, many still use the basic principles developed over the 19th and 20th centuries of an electric arc shielded by gas.
Are you interested in a fascinating new career as a welder?
Contact North American Trade Schools for more information about welding training.