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Studies & Degrees in Welding

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Welding is an industrial process that is taking less credit than it should – mainly because it’s a backstage player. People get to see the finished product without the recognition of the back processes that made the integration of different parts of that product possible. There are only few people who come to realize that they are surrounded by things that are made possible by welding – the parts of the car you are riding are joined by welding, connecting various parts of refrigerator at home is made possible by welding, the airplane flying up there becomes a one-piece craft because of welding. These are just few of million other things that we use or see everyday which were made possible by welding. Welding is a multidisciplinary engineering field that involves materials science, design, quality inspection, mechanical system, and electronic systems among the major ones.

Decades ago, the only means metals get connected is through forge welding or the process of pounding and heating (done by blacksmiths). Welding is now defined as the process of fabricating or permanently joining separate parts of metals and thermoplastics (metal is more common) to form single-part equipment. Generally, this is done by melting part of the material and adding filler materials that form a strong joint when they cool down. Basically, pressure and heat produce the weld. There are many types of energy resources that can be used in welding metals, including laser, gas flame, friction, electric arc, electron beam, and even ultrasound.

Welding is a critical industry behind most segment of world’s economy. In the United States alone, over 50% of products it produced are, in a way or another, impacted by welding. Welding engineers build pipelines, airplanes, automobiles, robots, welding machine, home appliances, and lots of other equipment known to mankind. They are also responsible for material selection and joint design. They also do recommendation about the needed repair procedure or redesign of equipment after thorough failure analysis.

There are different types of Welding, depending on resources used to weld and the base materials that will be connected: (1) Gas Welding is widely used in joining or repairing pipes, tubes, and other hallow items that cannot stand higher temperature. This is also commonly used in jewellery industry; (2) Arc Welding uses electric current to join materials and is known to be the simplest and less expensive of all methods; (3 Resistance Welding is an approach where resistance of individual metal pieces to each other produces electric current which, in turn, produces heat that is used in joining them. This is known to be the most environment-friendly of all types. Unfortunately, this is a very expensive method; (4) Solid State Welding is the type where the base metal retains its original properties mainly because it does not undergo significant heating or melting process. In this type, fusion of metals happens even before the metal reaches its melting point; (5) Radiant Energy Welding involves the use of energy, electron, and laser beams on base metal. This is one of the latest, fastest, most accurate, but most expensive types; (6) Thermochemical Welding is the type that uses chemical reactions to produce heat that would allow for melting and joining of metal parts; and (7) Friction Welding is the type that does not emit or make use of spark, fumes, sprays, and intense light.

The quality of Welding is measured in terms of its strength, as well as the strength of materials around the weld. There are many factors that can affect the quality, including the welding method used, nature of base material, design of the joint, etc. There are destructive and non-destructive methods of testing the quality of welding. Testing is done to make sure that the weld is free of defect and durable – i.e., with acceptable level of distortion, acceptable level of residual stresses, and acceptable heat-affected zone properties. Can you imagine a car losing one of its doors while driving to work?

The Welding programs being offered in training and technical schools nowadays are geared towards equipping students with technical knowledge on operating in this field and with management acumen to face the challenges in welding of the present and future generations. Welding is also offered as Master’s and Doctoral degree programs, with focus on strategic, philosophical, and innovation parts. Welding certification is facilitated by recognized welding institutions and is taken by those who seek mastery in specific type of welding - either as a personal decision to improve skill or as an act of compliance to employer’s training requirements. Employers typically give extensive practical test to applicants prior to hiring to see if they possess the needed knowledge in actually doing the work.

The Welding industry is never far behind the latest technologies and innovations. It is often done in an industrial setting, but nowadays it can also be done in open air, outer space, or even under water! This industry is literally starving for competent welding engineers to sustain the growing needs of the world.