History of welding involves an ancient craft that became a more niche industrial task in the modern-day. You may not think of welding as the specialized art it was during medieval times, however, welding remains a versatile craft needed across many manufacturing industries even in the 21st century.
Read on to learn about the major events that brought welding to the modern-day, beginning in ancient history. For as long as humans have known metal, they have sought after and achieved excellence in the specialized trade of welding.
History of Welding: The Bronze Age
Unlike many modern trades, welding begins thousands of years ago. The Bronze Age reflects the earliest examples of rudimentary welding, though the techniques differed. Smiths created circular boxes using pressure to weld joints together from gold. We have evidence of these boxes existing even thousands of years ago, placing the history of welding on a similar course as human civilization itself.
The Egyptians in the Iron Age learned to weld iron into many useful tools around 1000 BC. This transformed in the Middle Ages into the craft of blacksmithing, from which iron tools welded by hammering became staples of then-modern life. The 19th century saw the technological advances that brought welding to the modern-day.
Welding from the 1800s to Today
In 1836, Edmund Davy, an English chemistry professor, discovered acetylene. This made way for the use of arc welding using electric generators. Gas welding and cutting developed later. This brought the practical invention of resistance welding as an even more advanced working method.
The patent for modern welding popped up in France in the 1880s when Auguste De Meritens joined lead plates together using an arc welder. A French, British, and American patent for welding processed in the next few years. This signaled the beginning of popular carbon arc welding.
This process continued to refine into the modern-day. Strohmenger’s coated metal electrode made the arcing process more stable while resistance, spot, seam, projection, and flash butt welding became patented as well, primarily in Swedish and German workshops. Even thermite welding was conceived as a safer method to weld railroads.
Scientists learned how to produce oxygen. Using liquified air, blow torches became gas welding and cutting. They eventually adopted low-pressure acetylene as the more efficient alternative. This came in handy during WWI when welding soared in demand due to the machinery required for the war effort. Welding machines capable of manufacturing this equipment were invented to pick up the slack.
Many types of welding technology appeared over the next century, including stud, gas tungsten arc, gas metal, CO2, plasma arc, friction, and laser welding. The latter has current applications in metalworking shops in the automotive industry and continues to be refined.
History of Welding in Conclusion
History of welding involves a specialized craft built from the discovery of metals, unlike many trade industries, which developed more recently. As scientists and metalworkers discovered new chemicals, metals, and methods, welding adapted to changing information. This gave us more powerful, versatile, and efficient methods. Today, we can cut and weld using concentrated energy lasers, which has far-reaching applications for the craft. Who knows what the next advancement will be?