The development of welding

From furniture racks to pick and pack tables, most material handling and storage equipment is manufactured using welding to join lengths of tubular steel.

Forge welding

Forge welding is an ancient method of joining two metals. Two pieces are heated at high temperature then hammered together.
Forge welding can join similar or different metals together. This was originally done by hand on a blacksmith’s anvil, but after the invention of electrical and gas welding methods, forge welding became less common.

For hand-constructing equipment, forge welding is rare apart from craftspeople sculpting art or making small quantities of forged steel items. Automatic forge welding machines are common though.

The discovery by the Davys

In the early 1800s, Edmund Davy discovered acetylene. Sir Humphrey Davy found that if two carbon stick is connected to a battery, an electric arc is produced. These discoveries led to the process of arc welding metal, which is the basis of modern welding techniques.

The problem of storing acetylene

Storing acetylene gas was at first a problem, as it is an unstable substance. Glass and steel containers were used but were not good or safe solutions for the gas. A steel container containing porous materials was the solution as this kept the gas stable. It was then discovered that using a cylinder that contained a light substance was safer, and this is the basis of modern storage methods. Nowadays, acetylene is dissolved in liquid acetone and the liquid is stored in a container that has a porous cementitious material.

Acetylene is highly flammable, so strict safety precautions are needed when using it. If acetylene is not safely stored in a cylinder with its valve closed, even the static electricity caused by someone walking over a carpet could ignite the gas.

World War I

Before World War I, iron ships were made using riveting. The outbreak of World War I meant that the nation needed warships building quickly. Welding is quicker and more cost efficient than riveting and was used to make ships, guns and other military equipment for the war effort.

Ships were also built in the USA using welding. Shortly after the war, in 1919, the American Welding Society, was formed whose mission was “dedicated to the advancement of welding and allied processes.”

Several types of welding

Over the years, diverse types of welding have been developed. Shielded welding involves using an electrode covered with flux. An arc is formed, and the electrode melts. As it cools, it forms a strong joint.

Submerged gas welding uses a continually fed electrode and granular flux protects the molten weld from contamination, while tungsten inert gas welding uses inert shielding gas and metal which protects the weld. It uses a tungsten electrode.

Skilled metalworkers

Though welding is an efficient way of joining metals, it requires skilled metalworkers. In inexperienced hands, the weld will not stand stress.

A skilled metalworker can use welding with tubular steel to quickly manufacture material handling and storage equipment that should last for many years under heavy use.

Posted by Derek
9th June 2018

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