The History of welding has a fascinating beginning dating back to ancient Egypt. The process of fusing two pieces of metal revolutionized civilization. From designing ornate and beautiful jewelry pieces to constructing skyscrapers, airplanes, and spacecraft, welding has become the backbone of the modern world. Without welding, almost all industries could cease to exist.
If you are getting started in welding, you will be amazed at what you can do with a welding gun, some sheet metal, and ingenuity. Most beginner welders get started with MIG welding.
However, you can learn more complicated welding processes as your skill levels grow. For example, modern welding methods include plasma arc welding, laser welding, electron beam welding, and underwater welding.
In this article, you will learn about the history of various welding processes. You will also find out how this fascinating process of fusing metal came to dominate every industry in the world.
Where Did Welding Originate?
Welding has its origins in ancient Egyptian crafts around the Bronze Age in 3000 B.C. During the time of the Pharaohs, craftsmen developed a technique of heating two pieces of metal, then hammering them together until they fused.
This ancient type of welding allowed people to make jewelry, utensils, and weapons.
Modern welding techniques started during the Industrial Revolution when a type of electric arc welding was invented. During the 19th century, significant developments in welding happened.
Various welding techniques were developed that used an electrical arc between two electrodes to join metals.
Here are some notable dates in the modern origins of welding:
· 1800: Sir Humphery Davy invented the first type of arc welding using carbon electrodes and a battery.
· 1802: Russian scientist Vasily Petrov invented the stable electric arc. This process allowed welders to melt metals.
· 1803: Edmund Davy discovered acetylene which led to inventions like gas welding, cutting, and electric generators.
· 1881: The first arc welder is used in industry.
· 1920: Automatic welding using an electrode wire that continuously feeds through the welding gun became popular.
What Is the Oldest Type of Welding?
Forge welding is the oldest process used for welding applications. This type of welding involves applying extreme heat to two metal pieces. The metal worker then fuses the work pieces by hammering them.
While this method was primarily used for tool and weapon production, it was also used to manufacture decorative items such as jewelry and art objects.
Although forge welding is the oldest welding process, it is still used in some applications today. Modern forge welding is mostly automated using hydraulic presses and specially designed furnaces.
Modern types of forge welding include diffusion bonding, flash welding, and percussion welding.
How Did They Join Metal Before Welding?
Before the invention of modern welding processes, people used rivets or soldering to join metal.
For example, the ancient Egyptians used wooden rivets to join large plates together, or they used solder to act as glue between two pieces of metal.
Then in the 1800s—before modern welding applications were invented—shipbuilders used metal rivets to join large sheets of metal together.
Although forge welding has existed for thousands of years, it has had limited use in the metal industry.
This is because all the heating and hammering were done at the blacksmith’s furnace or smithy. Therefore, forge welding was only used to join smaller, transportable pieces of metal together.
How Did Ancient Egyptians Weld?
The ancient Egyptians used forge welding in metalwork. Metal workers would heat metal objects to a precise temperature and hammer them to create fusion.
Most ancient welding applications were used to make gold ornaments or jewelry, hand tools, or tools for farming. However, farming tools in ancient civilizations only became widely used around 500 B.C.
History of Arc Welding
The first time arc welding was used to join metal pieces was in 1881. French inventor Auguste de Méritens demonstrated how to use electrodes to weld lead. However, the electrical arc heat was too low for welding iron.
It was in 1885 and 1887 when the first true arc welding machine was patented. And the discovery of acetylene gas as a controllable heat source for cutting and welding revolutionized the welding industry.
The first arc welder had an electrode holder, creating an arc powerful enough to fuse metal pieces.
Notable dates in the history of arc welding:
· 1800: Sir Humphery Davy discovered how to use short pulsed electrical arcs.
· 1802: Vasily Petrov discovered how to use the continuous electrical arc and proposed its use in welding applications.
· 1881: Nikolai Bernardos showed how to use arc welding using carbon electrodes.
· 1881: Auguste de Méritens invented carbon arc welding, and other inventors started using metal electrodes.
· 1900: Coated metal electrodes became popular because they produced a more stable arc.
· 1905: Russian scientist Vladimir Mitkevich suggested welding applications using a three-phase electric arc.
· 1919: Alternating Current (A.C.) welding was used for the first time.
Other types of arc welding developed in the mid-twentieth century include submerged arc welding, flux-cored welding, electroslag welding, plasma arc welding, and electrogas welding.
The History of MIG Welding
Also called Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), the history of MIG welding dates back to 1948, when the first MIG welder was patented.
This welding process uses a continuously fed wire as an electrode and a shielding gas to protect the weld from contamination.
MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding is one of the most popular welding methods. It’s fast, efficient, and can be used on many types of metals, including steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and iron.
In addition, MIG welding is typically the easiest welding technique to learn.
Since its invention, MIG welding has advanced significantly. It is now the common type of welding used in many industries, including automotive manufacturing, construction, aerospace engineering, and home repair projects.
Additionally, MIG welding is incredibly versatile. It’s relatively easy to learn and is ideal for home repair projects, hobbyists, and DIY enthusiasts. Once you understand how it works and how to set up your machine safely, you can start creating strong welds immediately.
As long as you have quality tools and supplies on hand, you’ll be able to produce high-quality results—even without a lot of experience.
A related process invented in 1957 is flux-cored arc welding. This welding technique uses a self-shielded wire electrode that typically doesn’t require a shielding gas. However, some dual-shield welders use a shielding gas for better and more consistent results.
The History of Stick Welding
The first type of stick welding application appeared in 1900 when the first coated electrodes were developed. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that stick welding became popular.
This welding technique uses a flux-coated electrode that creates an arc and releases shielding gasses to create and protect the weld pool. It’s the electrode that acts as filler material.
Also called shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), stick welding is the most common welding process in the industry. This process is the mainstay of industrial fabrication, steel construction, maintenance, and repairs.
It’s also highly versatile, with applications for welding steel, iron, aluminum, copper, and nickel alloys.
Stick welding may not be the latest in welding technology or as fast or efficient as MIG welding, but it has several advantages. Here are a few benefits of stick welding:
· It’s portable
· It can be used in many different environments—including outdoors
· Stick welding is suitable for thicker metals
· No special equipment is necessary—only an electrode holder, some rods, and a power source
History of TIG Welding
TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding was developed in 1941 as a solution to weld non-ferrous metals like aluminum, copper, and magnesium.
This process uses a tungsten electrode arc and a shielding gas—typically argon, helium, or a combination of both gasses. Unlike stick welding, the electrode is non-consumable. Due to its speed and cost, its popular in the aviation and shipbuilding industries.
Also known as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), it is one of the most advanced and reliable welding techniques available. But it’s good to remember that TIG is tricky to learn.
It requires two hands—one to hold the electrode and the other to control the welding arc. However, suppose you can master TIG techniques. In that case, it offers superior strength and durability compared to MIG or stick welding.
History of Ultrasonic Welding
Ultrasonic welding is a relative newcomer in the welding industry and was developed in the early 1960s. This type of welding uses high-frequency sound waves to fuse rigid plastic, soft plastic, or metal pieces.
However, because it cannot melt base metals, ultrasonic welding on metal is limited to copper, aluminum, or other thin, malleable metals.
Ultrasonic welding offers many advantages over traditional techniques. For example, it’s exceedingly fast, with welds taking a short time to cure or dry. Also, it’s a precision welding technique, ideal for applications that require speed and accuracy.
Due to its use in the plastic industry, ultrasonic welding is becoming ever more popular. It is also extremely precise when welding electrical components. In various industries, this type of welding replaces screws, glue, or snap-fit designs.
History of Underwater Welding
The history of underwater welding or wet welding surprisingly goes back to 1932. Then, the Russian engineer developed electrodes with a waterproof coating and a stable power source.
The electrode’s design keeps the arc stable enough to weld while submerged in water.
This revolution of underwater welding in the industry made repairing and emergency work on ships and offshore structure repair more affordable.
According to the International Journal of Innovative Research in Technology, underwater welders must master several skills not typically required of traditional welders. For example, in addition to welding abilities, they must be able to inspect, cut, rig, maintain, and assess metal structures submerged in water.
The History of Welding Helmets
The first modern welding helmet was produced in 1937. This early version of welding safety equipment had a rounded design that protected the entire front of the face and around past the ears.
Like modern helmets, early versions had a lens shade to protect the eyes from sparks and intense U.V. radiation.
Thanks to new technology, welding helmets have developed to provide more safety and an enhanced welding experience.
Now modern welding helmets have auto-darkening lenses that offer better protection against U.V. rays and can be programmed for specific welding conditions.
Additionally, the most advanced welding helmets have adjustable sensitivity settings, digital displays, voice commands, color touch screens, large viewing areas, and full head protection.
They also come in various styles and colors so welders can ensure they look their best while keeping themselves safe on the job.
The History of Welding — In Conclusion
Modern welding equipment has come a long way from ancient forge welding in the Bronze Age. Today, welding is an essential part of modern life. And there is probably nothing we use in our day-to-day lives where welding was not used at some stage.
Joining metal pieces using extreme temperatures is used in various industries, from manufacturing to construction projects, automotive, space engineering, and even intricate ornamental items.
And while there are many different types of welders available on the market today, one thing remains true—without this ancient art form, we wouldn’t have access to many of the luxuries we take for granted today.