Welding comes from humble beginnings. The high tech welding tools, equipment, and materials we have today were merely a dream for the pioneers of one of the most important skills on the planet. Where would we be without welding? Would we have things like aeroplanes? Let's take a look back...
The first evidence of welding dates back beyond Ancient Egypt, to what is known as pre-historic Egypt. It is thought that copper was the first material to be welded, followed by gold, bronze, silver and iron. It is assumed that charcoal heating was used.
Remains show that methods progressed, and more materials were used as they were discovered. Smelting and soldering were soon invented. In around 600 BC, the Chinese began manufacturing steel from wrought iron, and were soon forging items such as swords.
Documentation of welding methods and breakthroughs began around 2,000
years ago. Writings exist that speak of salts acting as flux, as well as
observations on the ease of brazing various colours of materials.
It was during the Middle Ages that metalworking really moved forwards,
with the emergence of blacksmithing as a common and valuable profession.
Blacksmiths would forge and weld metals using various hammers and other hand tools. These methods continued, unchanged for the most part, until the
A battery operated tool was invented in 1800, by Sir Humphry Davy, that
could produce an arc. Then, in 1836, acetylene was discovered by his
cousin, Edmund Davy. A new era in welding was beginning to bloom. In
1881, a French scientist successfully welded two lead plates, using heat
produced by an arc.
In the coming decades, welding tools and methods were patented and fine tuned. The American Welding Society was formed at the end of the First World War, with the aim of advancing the trade. Automatic welding, using bare electrode wires, was invented in 1920. The first all-welded buildings were produced in 1924.
The advancements made through the 20th century, and the multitude of new methods invented, are too many to list here - the last hundred years have seen leaps that were never before even dreamed of. If you had told a metalworker at the end of the Second World War that we would be welding in space by 1969, he would have looked at you like you were mad. What the future holds, who knows?