Welding: A Brief History
If you are considering installing an alternative energy system like solar or geothermal, you’ve probably come across the word “welding.” Sure, you understand the basics, but have you ever read into the history of the process? Well, here’s a little information to get you started.
The earliest instances of primitive welding seem to come from around the time of the Bronze Age, but during the middle Ages blacksmithing was a developed and widespread art. Much of blacksmithing involved hammering hot pieces of iron together under heat. Welding as we know it today did not begin until the 1800s.
The discovery of acetylene in 1836 by Edmund Davy, and the creation of an arc between electrodes via a battery in 1800 were the first steps towards modern welding. The late 1800s saw the development of gas welding and cutting. This led to arc welding and resistance welding becoming a practical process for joining items.
Around the year 1900, a coated metal electrode was introduced by Strohmenger. This left a thin coating of clay and provided a more stable arc for welding that had been missing previously. In 1903 Thermite welding was invented and was first used to weld railroad tracks. This period also saw the perfection of gas welding and cutting. Around 1900 a torch was developed that could use acetylene instead of hydrogen and coal. World War I increased the demand for the production of arms, resulting in the advancement of welding into a purpose. This was a boom period for the manufacture of welding machines and electrodes.
After the first World War, the American Welding Society was founded by members of the Wartime Welding Committee of the Emergency Fleet Corporation. The goal of this organization was to advance the technology behind welding and other allied processes. Even though AC electricity was invented by C.J. Holslag in 1919, it did not become popular until nearly 30 years later when the heavy-coated electrode became more widespread.
The use of inert gas with oxygen, which would provide a spray-type arc became popular in the 1960s. This was a predecessor to pulsed current. After the introduction of CO2 welding, a new variation came to be that involved a special electrode wire. This wire was tubular and had fluxing agents on the inside. This technology was patented in 1957. In 1959 it was improved to not need external gas shielding in noncritical work areas. Electron beam welding came about in 1957. This process uses a focused beam of electrons to apply heat in a vacuum chamber. Invented in France by J.A. Stohr, this process would go on to be used frequently by the automotive and aircraft engine industries in the United States into modern times.
The Soviet Union came up with friction welding, which uses pressure and rotational speed to provide heat from friction. It can only be applied when there is a large volume of similar parts that need to be welded because the cost for equipment is extremely high.
Today there are all sorts of alloys and welding techniques. Euroweld has consumables and training that you can check out to learn more.