What is Welding? | MillerWelds

What is Welding?

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Nearly everything we use daily is welded or made by equipment that is welded. Learn what welding is and what welders do.
closeup of welder MIG welding on automobile

What is arc welding?

Welding is the most economical and efficient way to join metals permanently. It is the only way of joining two or more pieces of metal to make them act as a single piece. Welding is vital to our economy. Sources say that over 50% of the gross national product of the U.S.A. is related to welding in one way or another. Welding ranks high among industrial processes and involves more sciences and variables than those involved in any other industrial process.

There are many ways to make a weld and many different kinds of welds. Some processes cause sparks and others do not even require extra heat. You can weld anywhere — outdoors or indoors, underwater and in outer space.

Nearly everything we use in our daily life is welded or made by equipment that is welded. Welders help build metal products from coffeepots to skyscrapers. They help build space vehicles and millions of other products ranging from oil drilling rigs to automobiles. In construction, welders are virtually rebuilding the world, extending subways, building bridges, and helping to improve the environment by building pollution control devices. The use of welding is practically unlimited.

What do welders do?

Many industry groups employ welders. Machinery manufacturers are responsible for agricultural, construction, and mining machinery. They also build bulldozers, cranes, material handling equipment, food-processing machinery, papermaking and printing equipment, textiles, and office machinery.

The fabricated metal products compiles another group including manufacturers of pressure vessels, heat exchangers, tanks, sheet metal, prefabricated metal buildings and architectural and ornamental work. Transportation falls into two major groups: manufacturers of transportation equipment except motor vehicles; and motor vehicles and equipment. The first includes shipbuilding, aircraft, spacecraft, and railroads. The second includes automobiles, trucks, buses, trailers, and associated equipment.

A small group of welders belongs to the group of repair services. This includes maintenance and repair on automobiles or refers to the work performed on industrial and electrical machinery to repair worn parts.

The mining, oil extraction, and gas extraction industries form yet another group. A large portion of the work involves drilling and extracting oil and gas or mining of ores, stone, sand and gravel.

Primary metals industries including steel mills, iron and steel foundries, smelting and refining plants also employ welders. Much of this work is maintenance and repair of facilities and equipment. Another group is the electrical and electronic equipment companies. Welding done by this group runs from work on electric generators, battery chargers, to household appliances.

Public administration employs welders to perform maintenance work on utilities, bridges, government armories and bases, etc. Yet another group involves wholesale and retail establishments. These would include auto and agricultural equipment dealerships, metal service centers, and scrap yards.

Probably the smallest group of welders, but perhaps those with the biggest impact on the public, are the artist and sculptors. The St. Louis Arch is possibly one of the best known. But there are many other fountains and sculptures in cities and neighborhoods around the world.

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Information courtesy of Hobart Institute of Welding Technology. This article was excerpted from Modern Welding Technology, 4th edition, 1998, by Howard B. Cary. Published by Prentice-Hall.