Dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages, welding is one of the practices in engineering that is shaped up by a rich history. Europe is credited with some of the inventions and major developments that took place with regards to this engineering practice especially in its initial stages. Welding may be defined as a sculptural or fabrication process through which materials are joined through causing coalescence. Usually, thermoplastics and metals are the main materials utilized in the processes of welding. In engineering, coalesce refers to the process where to or more thermoplastic or metal pieces are bonded together through liquefying points where the materials bond. During this process, the materials are liquefied and bonded while still in liquid form. During the process of welding, a filler material is usually added to the liquefied materials and this forms what is usually known as the weld pool. A weld pool can be defined as a dime-sized workable section of a weld in which the base material being employed in the entire process attached its melting point. During this point, the material is ready and able to be infused with the filler material. There is a rich history behind the weld pool and this can be traced back to the 1836 acetylene developments and innovations by Edmund Davy as well as the 1903 oxy-fuel welding developments and innovations by Fouche & Picard. When the process comes to an end, the two materials are allowed to solidify and this results in the formation of a single continuous solid (Davies).
Heat and pressure are of great importance with regards to welding. Although not all forms of welding incorporate the use of both heat and pressure, it is important to look into the application of heat and pressure in the different forms of welding. Today, most of the welding activities rely solely on heat and the number of pressure welding mechanism is growing lesser and lesser. One of the main reasons behind this trend is the ability to attain high temperatures and infuse pressure into heat producing tools.In the modern engineering platform, some of the common methods of welding include Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), Electroslag welding (ESW), Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), Submerged arc welding (SAW), and Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW). These methods differ from each other with regards to their application of heat and pressure, the materials involved, and the products thereof. Within the modern engineering platform, it is evident to note that the sources of energy in welding are continually growing. Some of the common sources include electric arcs, laser, ultrasound, gas flames, electronic beams, and even friction. The advantages and disadvantages of welding differ from one welding method to the other (Jeffus).
One of the greatest advantages that can be traced to the various welding methods is speed. Unlike traditional forms of working with metals and thermoplastics, welding is very fast. Another advantage of wielding is presented in versatility. Welding practices are usually readily applied to different applications and there are a wide range of choices of electrodes through which different works get done. The equipment required for welding is simple and highly portable. The costs attached to most – if not all – welding processes, are considerably low. Welding practices are highly adaptable to remote locations and confined spaces. Through welding, there is minimal training, logistics, and supervision required to ensure an entire project is effectively undertaken. Welding is advantageous as it ensures the end product is of high quality and maintains a good appearance of the material involved (David).
The disadvantages of welding differ with regards to the welding methodology in question. One of the greatest disadvantages of wielding is presented in the defect that exits in the end product. Compared to other similar engineering processes, welding is less predictable and less reliable. Depending on the quantity of metal involved, welding can cost more compared to other related engineering mechanisms. Where time is of the essence, welding practices that require stopping to change electrodes can be costly. The rates of metal wastage in the different methods of welding are considerably high and in some cases, they may be excessively costly. In some forms of welding, fume extraction is necessary and this leads to high costs. Welding practices require high precision and this requires professional training (Jeffus).
It is important to ensure that safety precautions are taken into serious consideration with regards to the various methods of welding. Generally, the more the amount of heat involved in the welding process, the greater the protective gear required. Some of the important safety topics in welding include – but are not limited to - fumes and gases, noise, radiation, electrical hazards, welding in confined spaces, fire and explosion prevention, nickel and chromium welding fumes, burn protection, and electromagnetic fields. Basically, welding safety required that the person undertaking the welding activity wears proper welding gloves, have closed shoes, be with a proper face shield, have non flammable clothes with long sleeves, have ear protection, and ensure they are well ventilated throughout the course of the welding (Davies).
David, S A. Trends in Welding Research: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference, June
1-6, 2008, Callaway Gardens Resort, Pine Mountain, Georgia, USA. Materials Park, OH:
ASM International, 2009. Print.
Davies, A C. The Science and Practice of Welding. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
Jeffus, Larry F. Welding: Principles and Applications. Albany, NY: Delmar Publishers, 2002.
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