Archaeologists have discovered evidence that welding existed at least as far back as 3300 B.C. during the Bronze Age. Small golden boxes from that era were uncovered in Egypt with the handles apparently welded on. It is thought that the welding process consisted of heating two pieces of metal and hammering them together.
Fast-forward to the Iron Age, which started around 1200 B.C. Bronze, copper, gold, iron, and silver metal artifacts have been found with pieces welded together. In addition, metal tools used by the farmers of this era have been found which also show evidence of welding.
In about 589 A.D., the Chinese discovered how to turn iron into steel and began making Samurai swords. As time progressed and discoveries were made during the Industrial Revolution, new and improved welding processes began to take shape which were carried into the next century.
In our modern day and age, we see various metals used across all industries. From aerospace to car manufacturing, shipbuilding and home construction. There are some common metals frequently used, and some metals that do not weld well together. Let’s take a closer look at the types of metals most commonly used today.
The Most Commonly Used Metals in Present Day Welding
Every industry has its “favorite” welding metal. Each of these metals have different uses and respond in their own way to heat. Some of the most common metals used in welding are steel, stainless steel, and aluminum.
Steel. Steel may be the most common metal used for welding. It is inexpensive and works well for many types of welding. It is used extensively in the construction industry for both residential and commercial buildings. Steel also is used for building bridges, constructing pipes, manufacturing farm equipment, and manufacturing of household appliances. Steel has a high tensile strength which is, according to Britannica, the “maximum load that a material can support without fracture when being stretched…”
Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. The higher percentage of carbon the steel contains, the stronger the steel is, but the more difficult it is to weld. Although steel is good for most welding projects, due to the iron, it is not good for any project where food will be involved. Also, due to its tendency to rust, it is avoided when making medical equipment since the rusting creates areas for the development of bacteria.
Stainless Steel. Stainless steel is a good metal choice for projects where steel would generally work, but stainless steel is preferable since it is more lightweight and does not rust as steel does. This makes it a good metal for welding medical products and items for the food industry.
Stainless steel is used in pots and pans for the kitchen and welding on the handles. It is often used for kitchen appliances since it is easy to clean.
On the downside, it is more costly than steel. Some estimate that it costs five times more than high carbon steel!
The metal comes as an alloy with carbon, nickel, or chromium. The higher the chromium level, the greater rust resistant the metal will be. All welding techniques can be used with stainless steel.
Aluminum. Aluminum is the most abundant metal on Earth, making up about 8 percent of the Earth’s crust. There are seven different aluminum alloys to choose from depending on the item that is being made and the nature of the welding process.
Aluminum is light-weight, weighing approximately one-third of stainless steel, and is rust-resistant. It is commonly used for airplane parts, bicycles, cans, cars, electrical lines, foils, kitchen utensils, mirrors, railway cars, rocket parts, and watches.
Welding has come a long way in the last 5,000 years since Egyptians used primitive methods to weld handles onto their small gold pitchers. There are now more than 90 welding processes and new techniques are being developed every day. Amazing developments in welding various metals have been achieved since that time, which our generation greatly benefits from!
Consult With Vern Lewis Welding Supply, Inc. Before Beginning Your Welding Project
If you need assistance Vern Lewis Welding has nine locations in Arizona and has been helping welders with their projects for more than 50 years! Contact one of our stores today for more information.