Simply speaking, welding is the most economical and efficient way to join two or more pieces of metal together. But what is this staple of the steel fabrication world, really, and where does it fit into our lives?
Welding, it turns out, is a bit more complex than the average Jane or Joe might think.
Welding takes place in a whack of different applications. From making airplanes and cars to constructing bridges and buildings, it is the lynchpin behind much of the industrialized world. Indeed, a truly surprising number of objects with which we regularly come into contact—coffee pots, skateboards, and barbecue tongs among them—has been welded at some point in its evolution.
Welding can be divided according to the industries in which it takes place—i.e., steel mills, iron and steel foundries, smelting and refining plants, electrical and electronic equipment companies, public administration operations, wholesale and retail establishments, and fine art—and according to the types that define it. Here, we find:
• MIG—or gas metal arc—welding (the most widely used and arguably easiest-to-master welding subset; applied to mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminum);
• Arc welding (the most basic of all welding types, used for manufacturing, construction, and repairs, and suited to heavy metal);
• Gas welding (where oxygen and acetylene gas are mixed to generate a flame capable of melting steels, commonly used for maintenance work, gas metal cutting, and welding delicate aluminum parts);
• TIG—or Tungsten Inert Gas—welding (for carrying out high-quality work when a superior standard of finish is needed; this approach calls for considerable operator expertise).
As for the practitioners behind the process, welders need a high degree of skill and a solid technological proficiency level. A better understanding of their professional preoccupations engenders new respect for their work and the part that it plays in all of our daily lives.