History of Welding

Throughout history, welding, in its simplest form, has been around for more than two thousand years. Archeologists have found evidence of pressure welded gold boxes dating back at least that far. The Egyptians figured out how to weld iron by hitting it with a hammer over and over. Herodotus also claims that a Greek sculptor by the name Glaucus of Chios was the person who invented iron welding in the 5th century BC. Techniques were also developed in other areas of the world, completely independent of one another. For example, one of the most spectacular early examples of forge welding (a process by which iron is first heated in a forge to make it malleable and then hammered together) is the Iron Pillar of Delhi. It is 7,000lbs of welded wrought iron that was built sometime in the fourth century.

In the history of Welding, this style of welding would continue this way for hundreds of years, not undergoing any significant changes until 1800, the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. This changed when Sir Humphrey Davy discovered the wonders of the electric arc. In Russia, Vasily Petrov independently developed the continuous electric arc. In the nineteenth century, newer, more modern methods were developed (by Russians and Americans), which got us closer to advanced techniques.

It took until World War One for modern welding to take off, though. The sudden need for ships and new additions to war weapons like tanks and aircraft precipitated a new burst of innovation. In Britain, arc welding was used to create a completely welded hull for the first time. Germans became the first to apply welding to aircraft, also using arc welding.

In those early days, there were issues with oxygen and nitrogen getting into the welds, leading to excessive and far too rapid corrosion and excessive brittleness. It also led to the degradation of welds and significant damage to ships, aircraft, and even bridges. Fortunately, the problems were reduced by the introduction of shielding gas back in the 1920s. Shielding gases are inert (meaning that they don’t readily interact with other elements). They are used to displace the typical atmosphere around the weld. The most commonly used shield gasses are hydrogen, argon, and helium. It’s worth noting that the welding can still take place without the purge gas. Using it merely makes the weld stronger than it would be without it.

It was also discovered than an effective way of shielding was to coat the welding rod. As the rod is used, the coating is burned off, creating the gas shield. However, this type of rod requires unique controls as there is concern about moisture degrading the coating. Therefore, the coated rod has to be used either as soon as it is removed from its container. It is being kept at a high temperature to prevent problems from developing from excessive moisture content. Because of this, it is only used in specialized applications.

World War One has provided ample evidence of the usefulness of welding; development continued apace even after the war was over. This led to the construction of an all-welded merchant ship (M/S Carolinian) and other significant advances like submerged arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, plasma arc welding, and several different methods.

Methods of welding that require heavy machinery to use, such as magnetic pulse and laser welding, came into use since the 1960s. However, these are only used in heavy industrial settings. At Schaus-Vorhies Manufacturing (SVM), we use various methods that don’t require anything more than a machine, a ground, and a gas bottle or two.

These include tried and true methods of welding such as Gas Metal Arc (or Metal in Gas – MIG) Welding, Gas Tungsten Arc (or Tungsten in Gas – TIG) Welding and Shielded Metal Arc (Stick) Welding.

Welding has been around through modern history and has been integral to the development of civilization for thousands of years, a fact that has only become truer in the last century. SVM is proud to participate in this tradition with our fabrication services. Our expert welders help create custom fabricated buildings, crane rails, custom railings, and more for our clients.

Call us to find out how we can create something for you.