welding
A person welding.

Even though you have probably heard of welding, do you really understand how it works? Welding is a vital part of the construction process for a wide range of projects. Understanding welding will also give you a greater appreciation for many facets of modern life, including cars and skyscrapers.

Keep reading to learn how welding works, its major usages, and also how you could engage in this growing profession. Welding is not to be confused with brazing or soldering, although they are often referred to as welding. Soldering is for pipes and electrical wire (although this is a different process/requires a different type of solder from pipe soldering).

How Does Welding Work?

Welding is a process by which welders directly fuse two materials together. Compared to brazing or soldering, welding brings elements together without the need for a third substance, essentially cutting out the middleman.

The first known technique for welding was known as forge welding. Through this process, blacksmiths heated metal until it was bright red and then pounded it together with another piece on an anvil. Nowadays, this process is really only used in places without electricity because it is quite labor-intensive.

What are the Types of Welding?

The two most common forms of welding used today are arc welding and torch welding.

Arc welding is a technique that consists of using an electrical arc to fuse the work materials with the help of fillers. The process involves a couple of pieces of wire. One is a grounding wire that must be attached to any metal surface. The second is an electrode lead that must be attached to the material the workers will weld. As the welder removes the lead, it generates a spark that helps to melt the pieces of metal together with the filler. This arc welding technique requires immense skill and precision to be done correctly.

Torch welding is likely the one with which you are most familiar. Generally, this process utilizes an oxyacetylene torch to melt the material as well as the welding rod. Both the torch and the rod are held by the welder, giving them extensive control over the process. However, just like arc welding, this method also requires immense training for welders to do it properly.

How Do I Become a Welder?

Welders make up nearly half a million people in the United States alone. It is a difficult process to automate, so it is likely that jobs will remain in this field for years to come. If you think you have what it takes to join their ranks, then here are some of the next steps you can consider.

Training

Welders need to engage in some form of training because of the precision and skill required in the profession. As far as formal education goes, generally all that is necessary is a high school diploma. Then, welding certificate programs generally take anywhere from six months to a year and a half.

Equipment

If you are going to be a welder, you need to make sure that you obtain the best equipment possible for your safety. Arguably the most important piece of equipment you will need is your helmet. You need to ensure that it provides the right level of protection so that you do not suffer eye damage or burns to your face and neck.

What is Welding Used For?

While you probably know that welding is commonly used in various forms of construction, it is also quite prevalent in art. For example, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, was welded. In addition to these, welding is also used for shipbuilding, race car assembly, pipe-making, appliances, and roller coasters.

Bottom Line

Welding is a fascinating practice that can be applied to nearly every sector of society. Hopefully, this article has improved your understanding of this practice and maybe even opened your eyes to considering it as a career path.