Welding, at its core, is the process of joining two materials via coalescence (i.e. combining two or more parts into one whole). Metal is most often the material used in welding, though thermoplastics are also commonly used. If you’re thinking of trying to do some welding or learning how to weld, you should first speak with an expert, such as a staff member from Welding Industries of Australia (WIA).
In this brief introduction to welding, we hope to provide enough information for you to learn whether welding is something you would like to pursue further.
Is Welding and Soldering Just the Same Thing?
No, but this is a common misconception. In soldering, a material that melts at a higher degree is melted between the two pieces to be joined. Then it is allowed to cool and solidify, which creates the connection between the two pieces. However, in welding, the pieces themselves are melted. A filler material (such as iron powder or aluminium) is added to the melted section and this creates a ‘weld pool.’ Once this cools, it will have formed a sturdy joint that is typically more durable than that created by soldering.
How Safe is Welding?
When you take the proper precautions, welding can be very safe. However, you do need to be aware of several things both when preparing to weld and during the welding itself. Personal protective equipment should be worn at all times, especially if your energy source is an open flame, as this creates the risk of getting burnt by flames and/or extreme heat exposure. There are also bright lights involved in the welding process, so it’s essential to wear goggles and a helmet that will filter the intense UV rays. You need to be knowledgeable about the materials you are welding with too, as some materials have properties that make them dangerous to use in combination. For example, some metals will produce a hazardous gas when welded together, so if you know about this in advance you will be able to take the necessary steps to reduce the risk to your health.
The History of Welding
Though welding as it exists today is quite high-tech, it has existed in more primitive forms for many centuries. Blacksmiths from the middle ages are considered to be some of the earliest ‘welders,’ though the process of welding – though much cruder than it is now – was used as early as the 4th or 5th Century in India, Europe, and the Middle East. The craft of welding (or ‘forging’) really took off during the renaissance, when it was adopted by talented craftsmen. The industry surged again with the discovery of the electrical arc in the early 1800s, and it has since been growing in popularity and developing alongside technological advancements to become increasingly more effective, efficient, and safe.
Welding is a complex art that can allow for the creation and transformation of many, many items, both decorative and practical (and everywhere in between). It perfectly complements several other industries, particularly construction, and is a vital skill for several trade professionals.