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Welding: Creative and Traditional Same Size
Welding is at once an ancient and modern art. Since the dawn of the Bronze Age, welding has existed in various forms. Welding is one art that embraces both form and function. Looking back at ancient artifacts, one can see the craftsmanship and feel the pride that went into each piece. As technology improved, welding took on even more importance, eventually becoming a critical component of buildings and transportation elements. In these capacities, welding must be absolutely perfect or lives can be lost. This paper will explore both aspects of welding; the creative as well as the practical, and explain how these two seemingly opposite aspects of the craft can actually be one and the same. This paper will also examine the cutting edge of welding technology, and compare these new applications to applications used in ancient times.
As mentioned above, welding as we know it today began in the Bronze Age. The earliest examples were gold and bronze jewelry boxes. This early form of welding was reserved for the likes of royalty, and was welding in its creative form. The earliest illustration of welding or “brazing” as it was called in the Bronze Age, was from a painting on the wall of the tomb of Vizier Rekh-Mi Re at Thebes in 1475 B.C. More practical uses would not surface until the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution. During this time, great advances were made in welding technology; the use of compressed gases was introduced for the first time. Using acetylene, a form of acetate, and oxygen, welding could become portable, no longer relying on a furnace. In the late 19th Century, arc welding was invented, enabling welders to fuse previously unusable materials.
The development of these technologies enabled more people to practice welding, and a “welder” became an integral part of the modern workforce. The Industrial Revolution led to mass production, and the assembly line. Welders became an important part of this new concept in manufacturing. From automobiles to aircraft, welding became an important part of the manufacturing process. Welding was also integrated into building construction. The advent of the skyscraper meant that building components consisted mainly of steel. These steel beams had to be welded together, and this required armies of welders. During this period, welding was ever-present in American life.
The creative form of welding was the first incarnation of this art. In jewelry and royal accoutrements, welded art was a sign that the bearer of such art was extremely important. Welders at that time were true artisans, and regarded by their societies as being almost god-like in their ability. At that early time, fire was barely mastered and fusing metals together was pushing the limits of their knowledge and technical ability. Welding was often used to create idols or ornaments in the temples to the gods. Welding was also used to create practical tools, such as axes and weapons such as spears and swords.
Today, creative welding has evolved into a highly technical art form. With more materials to work with than the ancients, and vastly improved technologies, the sky is the limit on what can be done with metals today. Virtually anything that we use in our daily lives that is welded can also is embellished through creative welding; if it’s metal, that is.
Traditional or Practical Form
In today’s highly technical world, practicality and utility are two highly-valued traits. Welding is a critical component of our society today and it permeates virtually every aspect of our manufacturing and construction technology. In recent times, welding has gone a step further and has been accomplished in some instances by robots. This is especially true in assembly lines, where consistency and precision is critical. Other forms of welding today include ultrasonic welding and plasma welding. Metal inert gas (MIG) welding and tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding have enabled welders to fuse together metals that could not be joined until the 20th Century. The ability to weld these metals, particularly aluminum, has vastly impacted the manufacturing industry as well as increased the types of products that can be manufactured. It is ironic that welding started out as an art, and evolved to become a utility. Typically this processed is reversed; something begins as a utility and then evolves into an art form over time, as people see more uses for it.
During the past 100 years, the buying power of the average person has increased substantially. This middle-class segment of our society has grown to the point where it is the very backbone of our civilization. With this increased buying power came the ability to have beautifully-crafted, functional furniture and design elements in their homes. This development led to the creation of a new industry; the home decoration or interior decoration industry. Patrons of this industry can have wrought-iron fences or beautifully-ornate fixtures in their homes. This industry is the culmination of thousands of years of development, and it the true combined form of creative and traditional welding.
When we think of welding, we typically picture some sort of open or controlled flame, or a blast torch. In the future, welding will most likely be at the molecular level. Materials will be literally fused together until they are completely inseparable. Perhaps the use welding will grow to include repairing the human body. Whatever the form, there is no doubt that welding will continue to have both a practical and artistic form. When it comes to welding, these two aspects seem to be inseparably by the very nature of the process. Welding will no doubt be an important part of space exploration, and the colonization of new worlds. Welding may also create new elements or materials, as well as bring art to a new level of sophistication and creativity.
While welding may have decidedly different results depending on its application, the same technique and technology is applied to make both creative and practical pieces. This fascinating tool of man is perhaps one mankind’s greatest inventions-it has enabled us to achieve great things. From the creation of the Eiffel Tower to men walking on the Moon-neither would have been possible without welding. The really fantastic thing about welding is that it is constantly evolving, and will exist well into the future. It is at once ancient and modern, artistic and functional.
1) Gowelding.org. (n.d.). The History of Welding.
Retrieved from Go Welding: http://www.gowelding.org/History_of_Welding.html
2) Johnson, K. (2000, August 11). ART REVIEW;
Testing the Durability of Welding as a Creative Form.
The New York Times.
3) Learn-how-to-weld.com. (2011). MIG Welding.
Retrieved from: http://www.learn-how-to-weld.com/mig-welding/
4) Netwelding.com. (2011, October 30). History of Welding.
Retrieved from WA Technologies: http://www.netwelding.com/History%20of%20Welding.htm
5)U.S. Department of Labor. (2011). Welding, Soldering, and Brazing Workers.
Retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos226.htm
6) Weldinghistory.org. (2011). Brazing & Soldering History-The Pre-1900s.
Retrieved from Welding History: http://www.weldinghistory.org/whistoryfolder/brazing/index.html