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Welding's Journey1.jpg

welding history and methods series of articles iconSince the invention of the opposable thumb, the human species worked hard using tools for improving their lives—the migration from migratory to sedentary lifestyles.

Those living in one place discovered the need to build safe structures in which to live. Building materials varied as time marched on. Early buildings were constructed with thatch, then progressed to wood, rock, and adobe.

Eventually, metal elements were discovered, and people learned how to mold them as fabricated components. Around 2,000 years ago, metalworkers made a small, circular gold box by pressure welding the lap joints together.

The era of metal formation using welding began.

What is Welding?

Welding is defined as a method involving fusing to join metals together to create or repair metal structures. Intense heat is the most commonly used fusion method. Various ways of heating metal include an electric arc, open flames, or laser light.

Welding's Genesis

For nearly 1800 years, the only way of joining metal pieces was using pressure welding. Blacksmiths and farriers hammered iron into shapes for use as tools, horseshoes, and ornamentals. During the early 1800s, welding technology took a giant leap forward with Sir Edmund Davy’s discovery of acetylene.

Sir Davy experimented with the gas, and using two carbon electrodes connected to a battery, created welding’s ubiquitous arc. However, 70 years passed before acetylene became used for welding. This method needed a suitable blowtorch for succeeding.

Welding Evolution

In the following decades, advances in electrical current research directly applied to welding. The modern incarnation of welding is traced to one man, Augeste de Meritens. De Meritens used arc heat, joining two lead plates together. Nikolai Bernardos, a Russian student of de Meritens, patented the method of using carbon rods for electric arc welding. Along with fellow Russian Stanislaus Olszewski, he patented processes in both England and America using an electrode holder. This became the genesis of carbon arc welding using electricity as its power source.

Original Carbon Electrode ApparatusCarbon arc welding uses an arc between a carbon electrode and the weld pool. The process is used with or without shielding or the application of pressure. The primary stated use was repair welding. The patent issued in 1885 to Augeste and N. Bernados notes the carbon welding process can be used for welding two metals, for severing and punching holes in metal. The patent described both a solid carbon electrode and a hollow electrode filled with powdered metals. Since they intended the powder to melt and flow to the weld, they are credited by some with inventing metallic arc welding. Ultimately because of the limitations of this approach, they are not credited with this accomplishment by most historians. 

In 1889, C. L. Coffin was the first to record melting metal using an electrode and carried across the arc, depositing filler material inside the joint, finishing the weld. 

Around that same time, a Russian, N.G. Slavianoff, used the same concept of transferring metal across an arc; however, he used this method for casting metal inside a mold.

The science and methodology of welding took off from here. The various weldments, accessories, and fuel improved and advanced leading up to the many ways of welding material together.

How Many Ways to Weld?

Although I’m sure there are many more ways of welding, I’ve discovered the following 24 methods, in alphabetical order:

Atomic Hydrogen Indirect Spot Resistant Spot
Cross Wire Laser Beam Resistance Weld
Electroslag Magnetic Pulse Series Spot
Energy Beam Micro Resistance Single-Sided Resistance
Explosive MIG Stick
Flash MIG on 3D Printing TIG
Flux Plasma Arc Upset
Gas Tungsten Projection Vaporing

Many methods listed are subsets of others, and writing about each would use up most of the space in the internet.

Welding Series of Articles

In the next series of articles, we're presenting several welding forms using the illustration below as a guide. I hope you'll find them enlightening and informative.

Visual History of Welding

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