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Welders and Welding Technicians


Some welding techniques were used more than 1,000 years ago in forging iron blades by hand, but modern welding processes were first employed in the latter half of the 1800s. From experimental beginnings, the pioneers in this field developed a wide variety of innovative processes. These included resistance welding, invented in 1877, in which an electric current is sent through metal parts in contact. Electrical resistance and pressure melt the metal at the area of contact. Gas welding, also developed in the same era, is a relatively simple process using a torch that burns a gas such as acetylene to create enough heat to melt and fuse metal parts. Oxyacetylene welding, a version of this process developed a few years later, is a common welding process still used today. Arc welding, first used commercially in 1889, relies on an electric arc to generate heat. Thermite welding, which fuses metal pieces with the intense heat of a chemical reaction, was first used around 1900.

In the last century, the sudden demand for vehicles and armaments and a growing list of industrial uses for welding that resulted from the two world wars have spurred researchers to keep improving welding processes and also have encouraged the development of numerous new processes. Today, there are more than 80 different types of welding and welding-related processes. Some of the newer processes include laser-beam welding and electron-beam welding.

Automated welding, in which a robot or machine completes a welding task while being monitored by a welder, welding technician, or machine operator, is becoming an increasingly popular production method. This development is not expected to greatly affect the employment of welders since the machinery must be operated by someone who has knowledge of welding in order to ensure that a proper weld has been made. 

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