Welding: A brief history

 

In a field where technology plays a large role, such as welding, one might be surprised to learn just how far back the history goes. Did you know that there have actually been welding processes used for at least 5000 years?

 

3000-2000 BCE

 

Some of the earliest instances of what can be called welding occurred during the Bronze Age. At this time, metal was shaped into weapons, jewelry and tools.

When the Egyptians weren’t making mummies and dancing like themselves, they were pioneering the earliest forms of pressure welding by heating iron ore and hammering it together.

A gold bowl, circa 2600 BCE, featuring a brazed handle was found in the Sumerian “Queen” Puabi’s tomb.

 

1500-1000 BCE

 

Iron smelting became common during this period. Weaponry was produced by bending metal heated in furnaces. The historical accuracy may not be provable, but I think it’s safe to say these weapons were primarily used for dragon slaying and princess rescuing processes. Hooray welding!

Gold boxes from this time have been found that were produced by hammering lapped joints.

 

60-1600 CE

 

During the first century, Roman writer and philosopher Pliny mentioned the gold brazing process and described how salts acted as a flux and how metal color determined brazing difficulty.

A description of mixing flux using sodium chloride and potassium tarpate for silver brazing was mentioned in a manuscript written by the monk Theophilus.

By the Middle Ages, forge welding was quite common with blacksmiths pounding heated metal until it bonded.

The first recorded usage of the root of the word “weld,” which was “well,” occurred in 1599. Well…isn’t that something.

 

1800-1900 CE

 

Sir Humphry Davy discovered the short pulse electrical arc in 1800, and slightly more than 80 years later, Nikolai Benardos and Stanislaw Olszewski created the first electric arc welding method, carbon arc welding.

Edmund Davy discovered acetylene in 1836.

In 1885, Elihu Thompson received the first patent for resistance welding.

In 1893, thermite welding was invented, and oxyfuel welding became more common.

 

1900-2000 CE

 

In 1900, A.P. Stroghmenger invented a coated metal electrode that provided a more stable arc than what was previously used.

In 1919, C.J. Holslag invented alternating current welding, and the American Welding Society was established by Comfort Avery Adams.

The middle of the 20th century saw rapid advances in the welding industry as large-scale manufacturing took hold and two world wars spurred innovation. One new welding process was introduced after another.

Automatic welding was introduced in 1920.

The first welded road bridge was built near Lowicz, Poland in 1928.

Stud welding was introduced in 1930. Although I am quite sure plenty of welders would classify themselves as “studs,” to clear up any possible confusion, stud welding is a process where a fastener is welded onto another metal part. One of the primary uses for stud welding is in the ship building industry.

In 1932, Konstantin Khrenov was the first to complete an underwater electric arc weld.

In 1941, gas tungsten arc welding was introduced.

The flux-cored arc and plasma arc welding processes were introduced in 1957.

In 1958, electron beam welding was developed. The concentrated heat source of this process makes deep and narrow welding possible, which has proven quite useful in the automotive and aircraft engine industries.

In 1967, magnetic pulse welding was introduced.

In 1991, Wayne Thomas introduced the friction stir welding process.

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