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Introduction to Welding

If we define welding in its broadest sense as the achievement of a metallic bond then we can find examples in the Bronze Age city, Ur, around 3,000 BC when swords were joined by hammering and jewellery was produced by hard soldering, but it took nearly 5,000 years for welding to become accepted as a suitable industrial process.

During the Iron Age, forge welding came into its own. With the application of pressure and heat two metals could be fused together (blacksmith welding), although a fully fused joint could not be guaranteed, much depending on the operators skill and experience.

During the 19th century the use of cast iron and steel for structural and mechanical engineering increased. Cast iron ships such as the SS Great Britain built by Brunel in 1845 showed the extent of construction until large scale steel production superseded cast iron. The problems with riveting such as weight and overlap demanded a more improved method of joining.

The basic principles of modern welding processes were discovered in 1724 (pressure welding), 1820s (electric arc), and 1856 (resistance butt).

In the early 1900s the struggle began between riveting and welding, since the main advantages of welding were its improvement in structural design, weight saving and cost/time saving. During the 1930s welding was applied to the construction of German pocket battleships to keep the weight within the treaty limit of 10,000 tons. The Second World War forced many manufacturers to use the developing processes to increase productivity and reduce costs, this in turn accelerated welding technology to such an extent that welding is now regarded as a industry of its own.

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Testing cylinders for leaks

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