A TIG welding robot, stainless steel and almost three meters across, lowers onto the corner seam of a metal sink. It moves between two different work zones, handling different pieces. Through triangulated modeling, its torch moves with a precision down to the millimeter. A perfect seam is made.
This is welding in 2017. And it would seem like sorcery compared to the methods used decades back. To get an idea of the changes, we’ll take a look back at welding in the 1940s.
In 1940, there wasn’t any laser technology. No robotics, no automation or microprocessing. Heck, there wasn’t even Internet!
So the work had to be done with manpower. The manual shielded metal arc was the process most widely used, and it was about half as fast as the semiautomatic process that’s used today. Things like spot welding guns were manually positioned; today, that’s all done by robots.
That time though was a surge in America for metal manufacturing. For one, we were at war. So the need for ships, tanks and planes was huge. Rear Admiral Emory S. Land, who was chairman of the U.S. Maritime Commission, referred to that time as “the greatest shipbuilding program the world has ever known”.
But here’s a surprising part:
Did you know a large part of the workforce then were women?
As a matter of fact, in the production of B-29 bombers, women made up one-third of the work force. Reason being, all the men were off fighting in the war. Many women got to leave the confines of homemaking, strap on some overalls and go to work.
It was still a man’s world, in that regard. Women were paid much less than men, and by some records not equally respected on the job site.
Conditions for women gradually improved, as did processes for welders. The industrial robot was first implemented in 1961, which greatly aided productivity. These were mainly used for manufacturing cars. It was one of the greatest innovations in welding.
Now, we’re capable of practically anything. Granted, our needs for welding and metalwork have changed. Before it was tanks for the war; now, it’s vessels for space travel!
We mentioned the robotics and precision lasers earlier on. A competent metal fabrication company has this type of equipment on hand, and could cut and mold anything you can dream of.
These technologies are why custom metal fabrication is a specialty of ours. You can check out some of our projects and capabilities to see more.