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Axemusica's avatar

How was Welding discovered?

Asked by Axemusica (9500points) October 13th, 2010

Hurried home this morning and hopped on fluther to ask this question and nearly forgot to ask it, lol.

Just about every time I’m welding or watching some one weld with those face masks on I wonder….

How did someone come up with welding metal to other metal? Also, how did they know it would be too bright to see without proper shielding of vision?

….Just wondering.

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14 Answers

marinelife's avatar

According to Encyclopedia Britannica:
“Welding is a technique used for joining metallic parts usually through the application of heat. This technique was discovered during efforts to manipulate iron into useful shapes. Welded blades were developed in the first millennium AD, the most famous being those produced by Arab armourers at Damascus, Syria.”

“In 1885, Nikolai Benardos and Stanislav Olszewski were granted a patent for an electric arc welder with a carbon electrode called the Electrogefest. Nikolai Benardos (Russia) and Stanislav Olszewski (Poland) are considered the inventors of modern welding apparatus.” Source

CyanoticWasp's avatar

The idea has been around since Man started working with metals in the Bronze Age. The process changes with the metals in use, but the technology is ancient. With bronze the technique is known as “brazing”.

As far as the brightness of the welding arc, that has also brightened gradually (from ancient days) as the heat of the arc has increased. You can braze with nothing darker than the lenses in gas cutting goggles (not too dark), and as you progress to TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding to shielded metal arc welding (and bigger arcs for higher capacity metal deposition) then you need darker and darker lenses to watch the process.

Axemusica's avatar

Well @marinelife that only answers half the question, lol. I want to know what they were actually doing, in terms of trying “to manipulate iron into useful shapes”. How does one come up with using gas/electricity to bond solid steel, one of strongest things on earth? It just seems like a brilliant thing to discover and highly thought out. I mean did they just stumble upon it some how by tripping over an electrical cord and causing it to arc and cut through for a wonderful discovery?

Ohhh, @CyanoticWasp that makes sense now. Brazing. It makes sense now how they would want to try and find other methods, but take for instance MIG welding. A wire fed through along with gas and electricity. Where does someone think this shit up?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I guess once the idea was developed of using an electric arc to generate the heat to fuse two adjacent metal pieces by melting filler into the joint, then all it took was innovative ways to generate and control the electric arc, feed the filler metal, provide the shielding, etc.

Have you seen clamshell orbital welding? Talk about novel technologies…

Axemusica's avatar

I have not @CyanoticWasp, but guessing by the word orbital it’s done in space?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

LOL… no, not quite that exotic. It’s a welding machine that clamps onto a tube or pipe and either rotates itself around the joint as it produces the weld, or remains in a stationary position (usually the 2G position at the top of a horizontal butt weld) and rotates the pipe underneath. (When welding boiler tubes, it would be prohibitively inconvenient to rotate the boiler around a small machine, but when shop-welding pipe joints there’s a lot more flexibility in manipulating the pipe lengths before they’re joined at one or both ends to something fixed.)

Axemusica's avatar

@CyanoticWasp oh that’s pretty cool, but show me a machine that can put down a stack of dimes and I’ll show you some welders in the unemployment line. XD

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Axemusica it still takes certified welders to weld with orbital machines. (At least, it does if you’re welding under ASME requirements.)

These guys are right down the road from us, and I’ve taken a tour of their shop:
The videos on YouTube are pretty impressive.

But they don’t make machinery that will do the flange weld you pictured. Their equipment is for butt welding only. So far.

grumpyfish's avatar

It’s important to realize that what a blacksmith does when forge welding iron (which is how iron was welded for a long time) is very different from modern welding. In forge welding, you hammer a convex shape in the two faces to be welded, then heat both and then hammer them together (with a flux in the middle).

This development is fairly obvious—you’re using heat to shape the material, and you want to stick two pieces of metal together… one leads to another.

However, forge-welding steel doesn’t work anywhere near as well as in wrought iron, so you need a different technique. Puddling the steel and then back-filling that puddle to create a strong joint is more or less the obvious method to connect the two together.

Notably, this later form of welding didn’t come about until the 19th century, when there was enough materials science & chemistry to come up with oxy-fuel welding and then various electric arc welding methods. I do imagine that many people went blind trying to figure out welding, but then you figure out you need a shield.

Axemusica's avatar

Well now, those videos were kind of impressive @CyanoticWasp.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Edmund Davy discovered acetylene in 1836, but the arc welding came about ca. 1880. This has a little more history.

I saw a really cool piece on The History Channel about Damascus steel that you might find interesting.

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