Turning abstract ideas into concrete realities is half the fun when it comes to welding. After all, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your concepts come to fruition. Still, there are plenty of considerations to make when approaching a welding project.
Arc Welding Versus Torch Welding
When you decide to weld, one big decision is the medium by which you’ll be combining the work materials. Two of the most common methods are arc welding and torch welding.
In arc welding, an arc of electricity generates heat to fuse metals. Electrodes form a namesake arc that melts together all of the different pieces by using a power supply and several connective cables. Within arc welding, there are several subcategories and methods, including metal inert gas (MIG) and tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, which differ based on how the electric arc is used.
Torch welding is the kind often seen in sculpting and repair work. By applying heat from an oxyacetylene torch to the working material and maneuvering the welding rod, welders can maintain control over the project. In this regard, torch welding offers more accuracy but is not quite as versatile as arc welding methods.
Joining the Metals
While welding can join all sorts of materials, including plastic and wood, metalwork is the most common. Keep in mind that brazing and soldering are not necessarily synonymous with welding. While all three involve combining materials, the welding process requires that the base material be melted and, at times, that a filler material be added to the end-product.
Joining the metals requires knowledge of various joint configurations. Some of the most common are the corner joint, which creates a right angle, a butt joint, which connects the ends of two parts, and a cruciform joint, which welds two bars into a + shape.
Before any of the metals are joined, however, welders must ensure that work materials are clean. It’s easy for grime and dirt to get onto raw materials, so welders should check that all metals are wiped clean before starting. Throughout the process, it’s essential to look for any errors or detriments to quality. For small-scale projects, a visual inspection is usually sufficient. However, large-scale welding requires large-scale examination. To test durability, welders may use x-rays, pressure tests, or particle exams.
The End Result
Welding is an incredibly versatile tool and has produced some of the most recognizable elements of our infrastructure and culture. The Golden Gate Bridge, One World Trade Center, and even Chicago’s Cloud Gate (known as “the bean”) were created and are maintained by welders. Countless bridges, boats, and buildings require welding each day, both for construction and maintenance. Welding’s usefulness in architecture and its creative nature in art has helped combine utility with aesthetics.