Get the awesome construction innovation content in your inbox every week

Give it a try—it only takes a click to unsubscribe.

Efficiency

History of welding

Alice-India Garwood
by Alice-India Garwood on September 19, 2018

The history of welding goes back to the Bronze Age! As we discovered new ways of utilising metal we also needed to find new ways of working with it. Welding was an incredible innovation that changed the face of construction as we know it.

The Bronze Age was an era of ancient history defined by a civilisation’s ability to produce bronze through the smelting of copper with another metal such as tin.

weldoing bronze age history innovation construction bobtrade[Photo Credit: Adobe]

Starting in Europe in 3000 BC, welding didn’t start to look like the process we see today until the 19th century.

Welding is just one form of metal joinery. It is a fabrication process characterised by joining two pieces of metal using heat and pressure. Back in the day, this was done through heating and hammering. Also known as forge welding. Other common forms of metal joining are brazing, soldering and riveting.

Welding Bobtrade Construction Supplies Building Materials History[Photo Credit: Shultz Steel]

"Welding didn’t start to look like the process we see today until the 1800s."

Brazing and soldering are very similar processes. A filler metal is melted like glue to join two pieces of metal together. What makes soldering different from brazing is the temperature. Soldering happens at under 450℃.

It’s thought that welding began in Ancient Egypt.

Civilisations began by learning to weld copper before moving on to other metals such as bronze and eventually iron.

There are examples of bronze pressure welding and metal jewellery around 3000-2000 BC.

bobtrade welding egyptian goldsmith ancient history construction [Photo Credit: Soane]

It was in the 1800s that the welding we commonly see today was first starting to be used. It started with the invention of the electric generator. It changed the face of construction and the way we lived.

"There are examples of bronze pressure welding and metal jewellery around 3000-2000 BC."

With this, arc lighting became popular. Arc lighting is the discharge left when gas is ionised.

In the later part of the 19th century, gas welding and cutting were developed.

Welding Bobtrade Construction Materials Building Supplies History[Photo Credit: Ben Owen Photography]

Gas welding is the process of using a welding torch to melt two pieces of metal to create a molten metal glue. When cooled the molten glue cools and fuses the two pieces of metal together.

Gas cutting is when a torch is used to heat metal to a kindling temperature. A stream of oxygen is then trained on the metal, this burns it in to a stream of metal oxide flowing out as slag.

Welding Construction Materials Building Supplies Bobtrade History[Photo Credit: ESAB]

With this, arc and resistance welding became practical options in metal joining.

Arc welding being a form of welding generated by an electric arc and resistance welding coming from passing an electrical current through two pieces of metal and heating them.

Resistance welding is a delicate and precise method. You need to charge the pieces for just the right length of time.

Already you can see the welding processes we see today in the innovations of the 19th century!

"Resistance welding is a delicate and precise method. You need to charge the pieces for just the right length of time."

Welding Bobtrade Construction Materials Building Supplies History[Photo Credit: Superior Glove]

In the 1920s, automatic welding was slowly being introduced. This was done through a bare electrode wire invented by P.O. Nobel who worked for the General Electric Company. This method was also used by the auto industry to make rear axle housing.

To some, these developments just seem like minor details. The controversy about whether it was best to use heavy or light coated rods, for instance. But, these innovations were all about increasing efficiency - something we are all about at Bobtrade!

So, where are we today?

As it stands a debate is raging through the world of metal joining and that debate is this: TIG or MIG welding? Which is the most efficient?

Welding Bobtrade Construction Materials Building Supplies History[Photo Credit: Welding Tips and Tricks]

Metal inert gas or Tungsten inert gas? That is the question.

There are of course, as with all things, pros and cons to both of these.

MIG welding is far more common than TIG. It is easier to learn and a faster process overall.

TIG is perhaps a slower or more complicated process requiring two hands, it doesn’t require filler for a strong successful weld and it doesn’t splatter!

Welding Bobtrade Construction Materials Building Supplies History[Photo Credit: Germantown Tool Manufacturing]

The future of welding? Well, robotics of course!

Robotic welding is much safer than manual welding and is a far quicker process. Equally you’re looking at a reduction in waste thanks to the efficiency of pre programmed robotics.

It’s an interesting and complex history and an exciting future! We look forward to further developments in the world of metal joining!

Tags: Efficiency

AUTHOR
Alice-India Garwood

Alice-India Garwood

Content Marketing Executive at Bobtrade. Interested in design, sustainability and the history of construction. I love all things indie and theatrical.