The History of Welding
Welding - Changes and Improvements Through History
Elliotts has been manufacturing safety gear for the welding industry for many years. To celebrate this achievement, we’ve decided to take a look at how welding has changed and improved throughout history.
Those who work in the welding industry would know that welding has a long history. But only a few know that welding can be traced back as far as the Bronze Age (3300-1200BC)!
The earliest examples of welding come from the Bronze Age where small gold circular boxes were made by pressure welding lap joints together. It is estimated that these boxes were made over 2000 years ago.
During the Iron Age (1200-600BC) the Egyptians and the eastern Mediterranean area learnt the art of welding. Many tools have been found which were made approximately 1000 BC.
During the Middle Ages (400-1400AD), the art of blacksmithing rose in popularity. This was where items made from iron were produced which were welded by hammering.
It was not until the 1800s that welding as we know it was born.
1800 – 1880s
In the early 19th century, there were two major breakthroughs in welding. In 1800, Sir Humphrey Davy produced an arc between two carbon electrodes using a battery. And in 1836 Englishman, Edmund Davy discovered acetylene (the use of open flames), allowing the development of intricate metal tools and equipment.
The popularity of arc welding continued to grow through the 19th century with the invention of electric generators and the development of gas welding and cutting. Arc welding with a carbon arc and metal arc was also developed and resistance welding as a practical joining process.
In 1881, French scientist Auguste De Meritens succeeded in fusing lead plates together by using the heat generated from an arc. However, it wasn’t until four years later, his pupil, Russian scientist Nikolai N. Benardos and partner Stanislaus Olszewski were granted a patent for an electrode holder from Britain and then America in 1887.
Carbon arc welding was one of the most popular welding methods during this decade. In 1890, American, C.L. Coffin also secured a US patent for metal electrode arc welding at the time. In the same year, Russian, N.G. Slavianoff used the same metal electrode arc principle for casting metals into moulds.
Coated metal electrode was first introduced in 1900 by Strohmenger. A coating of clay or lime helped the arc to be much more stable. A number of other welding processes were developed during this period. Some of these included seam welding, spot welding, flash butt welding, and projection welding. Stick electrodes also became a popular welding tool around this time as well.
Immediately after WW1 finished, twenty members of the Wartime Welding Committee of the Emergency Fleet Corporation under the leadership of Comfort Avery Adams, founded the American Welding Society – a non-profit organisation dedicated to the advancement of welding and allied processes.
Alternating current was also invented in 1919 by C.J. Holslag.
P.O. Nobel invented automatic welding in 1920, which integrated the use of arc voltage and bare electrode wires. It was used for repairing and moulding metals. Several types of electrodes were also developed during this decade.
During the 1920s there was considerable research in shielding the arc and weld area by externally applied gases. The atmosphere of oxygen and nitrogen in contact with the molten weld metal caused brittle and sometimes porous welds. Research work was done utilizing gas shielding techniques.
The New York Navy Yard developed stud welding. Stud welding was increasingly used for the construction industry and also for shipbuilding. It was during this time that the National Tube Company developed a welding process called smothered arc welding. In the sector of shipbuilding, the stud welding process was replaced by the more advanced submerged arc welding.
Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) had its beginnings from an idea by C.L. Coffin in the 1890s, it was then refined in the 1920s by H.M. Hobart and P.K. Devers. But it wasn’t until 1941 that Meredith patented a process known as Heliarc welding – seamlessly welding aluminium and magnesium.
The gas-shielded metal arc welding (GMAW) process was another significant milestone in the history of welding, this was developed at Battelle Memorial Institute in 1948.
In 1953, Lyubavskii and Novoshilov announced the use of welding with consumable electrodes in an atmosphere of CO2 gas. The CO2 welding process immediately gained favour since it utilized equipment developed for inert gas metal arc welding, but could now be used for economically welding steels. This development was the short-circuit arc variation which was known as Micro-wire, short-arc, and dip transfer welding, all of which appeared late in 1958 and early in 1959.
There were several advancements in the welding industry during the 1960s. Dualshield welding, Innershield, and Electroslag welding were some of the important welding developments of the decade. Plasma arc welding was also invented by Gage during this time - it was used for metal spraying. The French also developed electron beam welding, which is still used by the aircraft manufacturing industries of the United States.
Friction welding (or inertia welding), which uses rotational speed and upset pressure to provide friction heat, was developed in Russia. It is a specialized process and has applications only where a sufficient volume of similar parts is to be welded because of the initial expense of equipment and tooling. This process is called inertia welding.
Laser welding is one of the newest processes. The laser was originally developed at the Bell Telephone Laboratories as a communications device. Continuous pulse equipment is available. The laser is finding welding applications in automotive metalworking operations.
Elliotts Australia has been providing quality safety gear to the welding industry for over 40 years. Our wide range of welding gloves, jackets, aprons, leggings, hoods and other accessories continue to protect welders at work and will continue to in the future.