can trace its historic development back to ancient times. The earliest examples
come from the Bronze Age. Small gold circular boxes were made by pressure welding
lap joints together. It is estimated that these boxes were made more than 2000
years ago. During the Iron Age the Egyptians and people in the eastern Mediterranean
area learned to weld pieces of iron together. Many tools were found which were
made approximately 1000 B.C.
the Middle Ages, the art of blacksmithing was developed and many items of iron
were produced which were welded by hammering. It was not until the 19th century
that welding, as we know it today was invented.
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Davy of England is credited with the discovery of acetylene in 1836. The production
of an arc between two carbon electrodes using a battery is credited to Sir Humphry
Davy in 1800. In the mid-nineteenth century, the electric generator was invented
and arc lighting became popular. During the late 1800s, gas welding and cutting
was developed. Arc welding with the carbon arc and metal arc was developed and
resistance welding became a practical joining process.
De Meritens, working in the Cabot Laboratory in France, used the heat of an arc
for joining lead plates for storage batteries in the year 1881. It was his pupil,
a Russian, Nikolai N. Benardos, working in the French laboratory, who was granted
a patent for welding. He, with a fellow Russian, Stanislaus Olszewski, secured
a British patent in 1885 and an American patent in 1887. The patents show an early
electrode holder. This was the beginning of carbon arc welding. Bernardos' efforts
were restricted to carbon arc welding, although he was able to weld iron as well
as lead. Carbon arc welding became popular during the late 1890s and early 1900s.
1890, C.L. Coffin of Detroit was awarded the first U.S. patent for an arc welding
process using a metal electrode. This was the first record of the metal melted
from the electrode carried across the arc to deposit filler metal in the joint
to make a weld. About the same time, N.G. Slavianoff, a Russian, presented the
same idea of transferring metal across an arc, but to cast metal in a mold.
1900, Strohmenger introduced a coated metal electrode in Great Britain. There
was a thin coating of clay or lime, but it provided a more stable arc. Oscar Kjellberg
of Sweden invented a covered or coated electrode during the period of 1907 to
1914. Stick electrodes were produced by dipping short lengths of bare iron wire
in thick mixtures of carbonates and silicates, and allowing the coating to dry.
resistance welding processes were developed, including spot welding, seam welding,
projection welding and flash butt welding. Elihu Thompson originated resistance
welding. His patents were dated 1885-1900. In 1903, a German named Goldschmidt
invented thermite welding that was first used to weld railroad rails.
welding and cutting were perfected during this period as well. The production
of oxygen and later the liquefying of air, along with the introduction of a blow
pipe or torch in 1887, helped the development of both welding and cutting. Before
1900, hydrogen and coal gas were used with oxygen. However, in about 1900 a torch
suitable for use with low-pressure acetylene was developed.
War I brought a tremendous demand for armament production and welding was pressed
into service. Many companies sprang up in America and in Europe to manufacture
welding machines and electrodes to meet the requirements.
after the war in 1919, twenty members of the Wartime Welding Committee of the
Emergency Fleet Corporation under the leadership of Comfort Avery Adams, founded
the American Welding Society as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement
of welding and allied processes.
current was invented in 1919 by C.J. Holslag; however it did not become popular
until the 1930s when the heavy-coated electrode found widespread use.
1920, automatic welding was introduced. It utilized bare electrode wire operated
on direct current and utilized arc voltage as the basis of regulating the feed
rate. Automatic welding was invented by P.O. Nobel of the General Electric Company.
It was used to build up worn motor shafts and worn crane wheels. It was also used
by the automobile industry to produce rear axle housings.
the 1920s, various types of welding electrodes were developed. There was considerable
controversy during the 1920s about the advantage of the heavy-coated rods versus
light-coated rods. The heavy-coated electrodes, which were made by extruding,
were developed by Langstroth and Wunder of the A.O. Smith Company and were used
by that company in 1927. In 1929, Lincoln Electric Company produced extruded electrode
rods that were sold to the public. By 1930, covered electrodes were widely used.
Welding codes appeared which required higher-quality weld metal, which increased
the use of covered electrodes.
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 sometime porous welds. Research work
was done utilizing gas shielding techniques. Alexander and Langmuir did work in
chambers using hydrogen as a welding atmosphere. They utilized two electrodes
starting with carbon electrodes but later changing to tungsten electrodes. The
hydrogen was changed to atomic hydrogen in the arc. It was then blown out of the
arc forming an intensely hot flame of atomic hydrogen during to the molecular
form and liberating heat. This arc produced half again as much heat as an oxyacetylene
flame. This became the atomic hydrogen welding process. Atomic hydrogen never
became popular but was used during the 1930s and 1940s for special applications
of welding and later on for welding of tool steels.
Hobart and P.K. Devers were doing similar work but using atmospheres of argon
and helium. In their patents applied for in 1926, arc welding utilizing gas supplied
around the arc was a forerunner of the gas tungsten arc welding process. They
also showed welding with a concentric nozzle and with the electrode being fed
as a wire through the nozzle. This was the forerunner of the gas metal arc welding
process. These processes were developed much later.
welding was developed in 1930 at the New York Navy Yard, specifically for attaching
wood decking over a metal surface. Stud welding became popular in the shipbuilding
and construction industries.
automatic process that became popular was the submerged arc welding process. This
"under powder" or smothered arc welding process was developed by the
National Tube Company for a pipe mill at McKeesport, Pennsylvania. It was designed
to make the longitudinal seams in the pipe. The process was patented by Robinoff
in 1930 and was later sold to Linde Air Products Company, where it was renamed
Unionmelt® welding. Submerged arc welding was used during the defense buildup
in 1938 in shipyards and in ordnance factories. It is one of the most productive
welding processes and remains popular today.
tungsten arc welding (GTAW) had its beginnings from an idea by C.L. Coffin to
weld in a nonoxidizing gas atmosphere, which he patented in 1890. The concept
was further refined in the late 1920s by H.M.Hobart, who used helium for shielding,
and P.K. Devers, who used argon. This process was ideal for welding magnesium
and also for welding stainless and aluminum. It was perfected in 1941, patented
by Meredith, and named Heliarc® welding. It was later licensed to Linde Air
Products, where the water-cooled torch was developed. The gas tungsten arc welding
process has become one of the most important.
gas shielded metal arc welding (GMAW) process was successfully developed at Battelle
Memorial Institute in 1948 under the sponsorship of the Air Reduction Company.
This development utilized the gas shielded arc similar to the gas tungsten arc,
but replaced the tungsten electrode with a continuously fed electrode wire. One
of the basic changes that made the process more usable was the small-diameter
electrode wires and the constant-voltage poser source. This principle had been
patented earlier by H.E. Kennedy. The initial introduction of GMAW was for welding
nonferrous metals. The high deposition rate led users to try the process on steel.
The cost of inert gas was relatively high and the cost savings were not immediately
1953, Lyubavskii and Novoshilov announced the use of welding with consumable electrodes
in an atmosphere of CO2 gas. The CO2 welding process immediately gained favor
since it utilized equipment developed for inert gas metal arc welding, but could
now be used for economically welding steels. The CO2 arc is a hot arc and the
larger electrode wires required fairly high currents. The process became widely
used with the introduction of smaller-diameter electrode wires and refined power
supplies. 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. This variation allowed all-position welding on
thin materials and soon became the most popular of the gas metal arc welding process
variation was the use of inert gas with small amounts of oxygen that provided
the spray-type arc transfer. It became popular in the early 1960s. A recent variation
is the use of pulsed current. The current is switched from a high to a low value
at a rate of once or twice the line frequency.
after the introduction of CO2 welding, a variation utilizing a special electrode
wire was developed. This wire, described as an inside-outside electrode, was tubular
in cross section with the fluxing agents on the inside. The process was called
Dualshield®, which indicated that external shielding gas was utilized, as
well as the gas produced by the flux in the core of the wire, for arc shielding.
This process, invented by Bernard, was announced in 1954, but was patented in
1957, when the National Cylinder Gas Company reintroduced it.
1959, an inside-outside electrode was produced which did not require external
gas shielding. The absence of shielding gas gave the process popularity for noncritical
work. This process was named Innershield®.
electroslag welding process was announced by the Soviets at the Brussels World
Fair in Belgium in 1958. It had been used in the Soviet Union since 1951, but
was based on work done in the United States by R.K. Hopkins, who was granted patents
in 1940. The Hopkins process was never used to a very great degree for joining.
The process was perfected and equipment was developed at the Paton Institute Laboratory
in Kiev, Ukraine, and also at the Welding Research Laboratory in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia.
The first production use in the U.S. was at the Electromotive Division of General
Motors Corporation in Chicago, where it was called the Electro-molding process.
It was announced in December 1959 for the fabrication of welded diesel engine
blocks. The process and its variation, using a consumable guide tube, is used
for welding thicker materials.
Arcos Corporation introduced another vertical welding method, called Electrogas,
in 1961. It utilized equipment developed for electroslag welding, but employed
a flux-cored electrode wire and an externally supplied gas shield. It is an open
arc process since a slag bath is not involved. A newer development uses self-shielding
electrode wires and a variation uses solid wire but with gas shielding. These
methods allow the welding of thinner materials than can be welded with the electroslag
invented plasma arc welding in 1957. This process uses a constricted arc or an
arc through an orifice, which creates an arc plasma that has a higher temperature
than the tungsten arc. It is also used for metal spraying and for cutting.
electron beam welding process, which uses a focused beam of electrons as a heat
source in a vacuum chamber, was developed in France. J.A. Stohr of the French
Atomic Energy Commission mad the first public disclosure of the process on November
23, 1957. In the United States, the automotive and aircraft engine industries
are the major users of electron beam welding.
welding, which uses rotational speed and upset pressure to provide friction heat,
was developed in the Soviet Union. 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 for equipment and tooling. This process is called inertia welding.
welding is one of the newest processes. The laser was originally developed at
the Bell Telephone Laboratories as a communications device. Because of the tremendous
concentration of energy in a small space, it proved to be a powerful heat source.
It has been used for cutting metals and nonmetals. Continuous pulse equipment
is available. The laser is finding welding applications in automotive metalworking
courtesy of Hobart Institute Of Welding Technology.
article was excerpted from Modern Welding Technology, 4th edition, 1998, by Howard
B. Cary. Published by Prentice-Hall, the book may be ordered from the Training
Materials Dept., Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, 400 Trade Square East,
Troy, OH 45373. http://www.welding.org