Welding has been around for some 2,000 years, beginning with pressure welding in the Bronze Age. To say it has been changed by technological improvements since then would be an understatement.
Some of the new technology is designed to help alleviate the expected shortage of skilled welders, which could reach 400,000 by 2020. As a result, technologies are being created to shorten training periods and make the welding process simpler, so entry-level operators can perform complex welds without jeopardizing quality. New technological tools also are becoming more efficient, so skilled welders can become even more productive.
As professionals learn how to join new materials, automated welding, and more are taking center stage. If they expect to remain competitive, companies must also evolve in the interest of quality and productivity. As a result, manufacturers are striving to find less expensive, quicker and better ways to join a growing list of new materials. The list has grown to more than 140 separate welding processes, from metals, composites and ships, to computer chips and plastics.
Robotic welding, for one, has had a major impact on welding processes. As research continues to make it easier to program welding robots, automated welding’s primary value is in making high levels of products at lower costs, while maintaining high quality. And, although arc welding remains a primary method of connecting heavier plates in large structures, newer processes, such as narrow gap welding, high heat input and laser welding, among others, are transforming the tried and true process.
With automobiles moving to lighter weight materials in the interest of fuel economy and reducing damage to the environment, high-tensile steels are taking the place of so-called “mild steel.” But, since automakers require the welds to be as strong, the industry now favors laser welding and laser brazing because of their efficiency, compatibility and continuous welding capabilities.
There’s a lot more to learn about welding today than previously, but the industry remains a mainstay of manufacturing and much more. And, with the skilled welder workforce falling short of demand, it’s a career with strong upside. Fortis Colleges and Institutes offer welding programs in Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Visit our Skilled Trades program page to learn more about the career opportunities welding can offer you.