What is welding, and how does it work? Not many people know what welding is or how it works. According to Mary Bonk“welding is the process of heating and melting metal parts to join them together” (Bonk,3). A welding machine uses electricity to melt the electrode, fusing one piece of metal to another. The welding machine uses a ground that connects to the surface that allows the welder to create a flowing currant passing through the electrode and the metal that the welder is wanting to fuse together. Electrodes (or welding rods) can come in many different sizes and with different types of flux. The flux is the protective coating that is around the welding rod protecting the weld as it is being melted to the metal.
There are a few different ways to learn welding. High schools offer welding classes, there are also colleges with available welding curses, or there is on the job training. High school level welding classes are mainly teaching the students the basics of welding to prepare them for colleges and future jobs. “A high school diploma is preferred but not required. High school courses in mathematics and physics are recommended.”(Bonk,2) Many companies will provide on the job training, most of the skills that are learned are learned in the field where improvising is necessary
There are many different needs for a welder in many different fields. “Construction companies or manufacturing plants that employ welders may have job opportunities.” (Bonk,3) Construction company’s often have jobs for welders. When a construction company builds bridges they need a good welder to put the steel frame together. Without a good welder that knows how to produce a good weld the steel might not hold up as well, making it difficult to build the bridge or making it unsafe. Fabrication/manufacturing company’s use welders to build their products. Now days products that used to be made by hand are now made by machines. Car company’s use large robotic arms that can move around while being controlled by a computer to weld parts together. Fortunately there will still be a need for people that can service, run, and program these machines. Pipe line welders are the ones in charge of welding the gas lines together so oil and gas can be transferred across the country. This job requires a lot of skill in order to weld at the many different angles there are on a pipe and to make a good weld that is air tight so nothing can leak out into the ground. Many of the products that are manufactured today are made by engineers who use welders to build and construct objects like buildings.
Once a welder has learned the skills of welding it becomes easy to find a job. “Skilled welders are already at the top of their craft” (Bonk,3). Having the skills in hand with a back ground in welding will obtain more interest from the companies looking for employees to hire. The more experience the welder has the better jobs the welder can get like being a welding supervisor or a welding inspector. A welding supervisor is the person that makes sure the job is going smooth and everyone is doing what they need to do. The welding inspector is the one that checks the welds to keep from having bad welds that have a possibility of breaking.
There are different fields to specialize in that are uses for different jobs and can earn different wages. The most basic welder is the stick welder which uses a welding rod (electrode) to make a weld. The MIG welder can use a shielded gas that goes around the weld protecting it from other materials. The MIG welder also uses a large spool of wire for the electrode instead of a welding rod to create the weld and is often used for objects that need a smaller more precise weld or a stronger weld. The MIG welder is the easiest to use and learn out of all the other welders. The TIG welder is commonly used for thin metal that reacts to higher temperatures such as aluminum. Underwater water welders have one of the most dangerous jobs there are. An underwater welder works on ships or under water pipelines. These welders use a special type of welder that can create an arc under water forming a weld.
Working conditions depends on the job type and job environment but is mostly the same for all welders. “Welders often wear protective clothing, goggles, helmets, and other safety equipment.” (Bonk,3). Welding gloves are a very important piece of safety equipment due to the fact that the amount of electricity produces a large amount of heat and the leather cloves to protect the welders hands from the heat due to their longer heat tolerance. Long sleeve shirts are also used for heat protection and keeping sparks from burning a welders skin. The welding helmet is necessary for the welder to watch as the weld is being formed on the metal. When the welder strikes an arc it is incredibly bright and can only be seen through the welding helmet which has a dark tented lens. Now there are electric welding helmets that are light before the arc is struck and instantly become dark when the welder sticks an arc, protecting the welders eyes and face from the bright flash and sparks that are created from welding. The proper shoes are necessary when welding. Closed toed shoes are needed to protect his skin from sparks that come from welding and from any metal that might fall on the welder’s feet. Long pants also protect the welder from heat as well as sharp objects
Many experienced or retired welders start their own welding company. “There are many expenses for independent workers” (Bonk,3). Depending on the size and type of the welding machine the prices are different. A stick welder can be anywhere from $299 to $3000 and higher depending on the size of the machine. Welding rods for the welder cost about $25 per box and can come in many different sizes and flux types. MIG welders sell for $200 to about $2000 and up also depending on the size of the machine. Wire is also needed for the MIG welder. Cutting torches are used a lot in a welding shop to fabricate objects by cutting them out using heat and oxygen. Different heads are made for different uses for the cutting touches that cost anywhere from $30 to $150. A plasma torch can also be found in a welding shop. The plasma table uses a computer to tell the machine where to cut giving it the ability to cut out intricate designs.
Opening a welding shop takes a lot of work and a lot of money. Having a welding company does not limit the company to one specific job. A personal welding company can be hired to do a variety of different jobs for companies or private hire. “It takes years of experience and background in welding” (Davis,4). Being a welder offers a person a wide variety of opportunity’s for salary and locations where they can work. Being a welder is a great occupation to have.
Bonk, Mary Ed “Mechanical Engineering Technician” Career Information Center. Ed Vol. 6: Engineering science, technology, and social science. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007.50-52. Gale Virtual Reference
Bonk, Mary Ed “welder.” Career Information Center. 9th ed . Vol.4: Construction. Detroit: Macmillan reference USA, 2007. 95-97. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 5 Nov. 2012
Bonk, Mary ed. “Welding Automation Systems & Solutios.” Industrial products Finder 11 Apr.2011. General One file. Web. 5 Nov. 2012
Davis, John. Northwest high school, AG department
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