The Welding Industry and Its Future: An Overview of Welding
Welding is a very useful skill which is used all over the world. Welds are the bonds which hold most metal products together. The bodies of cars, appliances, office furniture, and skyscrapers are just a few examples of things that utilize welding technology. Welding is actually the process of melting separate pieces of metal together at the joint. Blacksmiths have been welding pieces of iron together by heating them for centuries, but modern welding techniques were not widely used until the early and middle twentieth century.
The growth of the welding industry has been approximately 6% per year. Welding is now the universally accepted method of permanently joining all metals. For this reason, it safe to say it will continue to be used more in the future with home improvements and the retail infrastructure supporting it, it is becoming a “burgeoning market”. In some respects, it might be considered a mature industry. With increased emphasis on welding as a basic manufacturing technology the growth rate in the future will approximate 8% per year and welding equipment shipments are expected to more than double in the next five years. Growth rate is expected to be shared by all of the different welding processes.
A clever Bronze-Age worker was thinking outside the box one day 5,500 years ago when he came up with an inspired idea. A great way of making things with the bronze alloys that were being developed then, he reasoned, would be to heat them until they started melting and pound them together with a hammer. By combining heat and pressure in this way, craftsmen could make just about anything that required a strong metal like bronze. This was the birth of welding.
Anything made of metal, no matter how big or small, can be welded. Examples are everywhere, from vehicles like cars, trucks and motorcycles to rail cars, ships, aircraft, rockets and space stations. Construction is a huge market, and skyscrapers, bridges and highways would be impossible to build without welding, as would oil and natural-gas pipelines, offshore oil platforms, giant wind turbines and solar panels. Welders help install and maintain boilers, antipollution systems and other large structures, as well as piping for industrial, commercial and residential facilities. Welding is even used by artists to create sculptures and decorative items.
Welding and the Economy
Welding is very important to states industrial economies. Each of us could probably share an anecdote or two about how something everyone relies on routinely couldn't be made as efficiently or, perhaps, couldn't be made at all without welding. Without welding, many of these vital products would not exist. What is the role of welding in the modern economy? In South Africa for example, the welding and welding equipment sector will remain growth industries even once these large infrastructure projects are complete. This is in part due to the fact that welding and welding equipment are used by many smaller start-up businesses and entrepreneurial ventures in South Africa. Travel the highways and byways of Gauteng and the entrepreneurial nature of its formerly unemployed citizens is apparent. Almost every open area alongside suburban roads boasts a backyard mechanic making use of welding and welding equipment to make small repairs to the exhaust systems and bodywork of a variety of cars.
Amidst widespread unemployment there are still those who are willing to take responsibility for their own future and become productive members of society and breadwinners for their family, using only a rudimentary knowledge of welding and welding equipment to make a living. It is through cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset that employment opportunities are created for many in South Africa, for each person welding and using welding equipment at the side of the road there are many who are performing support roles and it is this network that is driving the growth of small business in South Africa. As long as this spirit of entrepreneurship remains a part of the South African psyche we can look forward to robust growth in this country. America case study
Health and Safety in Welding
Welding poses a range of both well known and subtle hazards to health and safety. These can act quickly or may show up only in the long term. They can be rapidly fatal (electric shock or exposure to cadmium fumes) or have delayed effects (lung changes over time).
General hazards of welding include impact, penetration, harmful dust, smoke, fumes, heat and light radiation. The proper personal protective equipment can protect you from these hazards.
Personal Protective Equipment
Eye and Face Protection: Proper eye and face protection varies depending on the particular task being performed. Welding Helmet, hand shield, welding goggles and safety glasses or combination of these are acceptable protection in various applications. All filter lenses and plates must meet the test for transmission of radiant energy.
Protective Clothing: appropriate protective clothing for any welding and cutting operation will vary with the size nature and location of the work to be performed. Clothing shall provide sufficient coverage and be made of suitable materials to minimize skin burns caused by sparks, spatter or radiation. Covering all parts of the body is recommended to protect against ultraviolet and infrared ray flash burn. This includes; reflective welding vests, welding gloves, safety boots, etc…