Welding Education

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Immediately after the war in 1919, twenty members of the Wartime Welding Committee of the Emergency Fleet Corporation under the leadership of Comfort Avery Adams, founded the American Welding Society as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of welding and allied processes.

Alternating current was invented in 1919 by C.J. Holslag; however it did not become popular until the 1930s when the heavy-coated electrode found widespread use.


In 1920, automatic welding was introduced. It utilized bare electrode wire operated on direct current and utilized arc voltage as the basis of regulating the feed rate. Automatic welding was invented by P.O. Nobel of the General Electric Company. It was used to build up worn motor shafts and worn crane wheels. It was also used by the automobile industry to produce rear axle housings.

During the 1920s, various types of welding electrodes were developed. There was considerable controversy during the 1920s about the advantage of the heavy-coated rods versus light-coated rods. The heavy-coated electrodes, which were made by extruding, were developed by Langstroth and Wunder of the A.O. Smith Company and were used by that company in 1927. In 1929, Lincoln Electric Company produced extruded electrode rods that were sold to the public. By 1930, covered electrodes were widely used. Welding codes appeared which required higher-quality weld metal, which increased the use of covered electrodes.

During the 1920s there was considerable research in shielding the arc and weld area by externally applied gases. The atmosphere of oxygen and nitrogen in contact with the molten weld metal caused brittle and sometime porous welds. Research work was done utilizing gas shielding techniques. Alexander and Langmuir did work in chambers using hydrogen as a welding atmosphere. They utilized two electrodes starting with carbon electrodes but later changing to tungsten electrodes. The hydrogen was changed to atomic hydrogen in the arc. It was then blown out of the arc forming an intensely hot flame of atomic hydrogen during to the molecular form and liberating heat. This arc produced half again as much heat as an oxyacetylene flame. This became the atomic hydrogen welding process. Atomic hydrogen never became popular but was used during the 1930s and 1940s for special applications of welding and later on for welding of tool steels.

H.M. Hobart and P.K. Devers were doing similar work but using atmospheres of argon and helium. In their patents applied for in 1926, arc welding utilizing gas supplied around the arc was a forerunner of the gas tungsten arc welding process. They also showed welding with a concentric nozzle and with the electrode being fed as a wire through the nozzle. This was the forerunner of the gas metal arc welding process. These processes were developed much later.


Stud welding was developed in 1930 at the New York Navy Yard, specifically for attaching wood decking over a metal surface. Stud welding became popular in the shipbuilding and construction industries.

The automatic process that became popular was the submerged arc welding process. This "under powder" or smothered arc welding process was developed by the National Tube Company for a pipe mill at McKeesport, Pennsylvania. It was designed to make the longitudinal seams in the pipe. The process was patented by Robinoff in 1930 and was later sold to Linde Air Products Company, where it was renamed Unionmelt® welding. Submerged arc welding was used during the defense buildup in 1938 in shipyards and in ordnance factories. It is one of the most productive welding processes and remains popular today.


Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) had its beginnings from an idea by C.L. Coffin to weld in a nonoxidizing gas atmosphere, which he patented in 1890. The concept was further refined in the late 1920s by H.M.Hobart, who used helium for shielding, and P.K. Devers, who used argon. This process was ideal for welding magnesium and also for welding stainless and aluminum. It was perfected in 1941, patented by Meredith, and named Heliarc® welding. It was later licensed to Linde Air Products, where the water-cooled torch was developed. The gas tungsten arc welding process has become one of the most important.

The gas shielded metal arc welding (GMAW) process was successfully developed at Battelle Memorial Institute in 1948 under the sponsorship of the Air Reduction Company. This development utilized the gas shielded arc similar to the gas tungsten arc, but replaced the tungsten electrode with a continuously fed electrode wire. One of the basic changes that made the process more usable was the small-diameter electrode wires and the constant-voltage poser source. This principle had been patented earlier by H.E. Kennedy. The initial introduction of GMAW was for welding nonferrous metals. The high deposition rate led users to try the process on steel. The cost of inert gas was relatively high and the cost savings were not immediately available.

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