The principles of modern welding began around the start of the 1800’s thanks to the discovery of the electric arc by Humphry Davy. Vasily Petrov, however, was the first to produce a continuous electric arc in 1802, just before Davy was able to do it. For nearly 100 years, carbon electrodes were used in the welding process until C.L. Coffin and N.G. Slavianoff invented the metal electrode. Unlike modern welding, these early efforts did not use a shielding gas to protect the weld. It wasn’t until 1948, in fact, that the modern gas metal arc welding [GMAW] was created thanks to the Batelle Memorial Institute.
The principles of welding, however, have been known since some of the earliest traces of civilization. There are artifacts that come from the Bronze Age that shoe pressure welding on lap joints. Tools as old as the 10th century BC show that iron was welding together to create them. Even hammering in a blacksmith shop is a form of welding.
Why Is MIG Welding So Popular?
GMAW is one of the most popular welding methods today because it can be handled by robotic equipment or performed in a home garage with just a few tools and still create an efficient weld. It is often used with sheet metal because the welding method can help to replace rivets or spot welding through the resistance method. It just isn’t used often outside because the shielding gas for a MIG weld can be dissipated by the wind and this can affect the integrity of the weld.
Most shielding gasses are either going to be inert or semi-inert. Only argon and helium are typically used as noble gasses for shielding because of the cost of the gas itself. These two are typically used to weld nonferrous metals. It is required because the oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere can create brittle welds and fusion defects if they are involved with the welding process.
What About Modern MIG Welding Methods?
The field of welding continues to evolve thanks to the development of friction welding out of Russia. This method uses upset pressure and rotational speed to create heat by friction and is a specialized process that helps to strengthen parts were significant tooling will be accepted. It’s also one of the most expensive methods of welding that exists today.
Another new process in this field is laser welding. Even though lasers were initially created to be a communications transfer device, the small energy is an excellent resource to create tight precision welds. This is typically found in autoworking today, but can be found anywhere that small, tight welds are required.
MIG welding has helped to bring about the modern field of industry and has created strong products that many of us use every single day. Inspired by the ancients, modernized recently by many around the world over the last two centuries, MIG welding could be considered one of the most important inventions of our time.
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