Nature of the Work
Welding is the most common way of permanently joining metal parts. In this process, heat is applied to metal pieces, melting and fusing them to form a permanent bond. Because of its strength, welding is used in shipbuilding, automobile manufacturing and repair, aerospace applications, and thousands of other manufacturing activities. Welding also is used to join beams in the construction of buildings, bridges, and other structures and to join pipes in pipelines, powerplants, and refineries.
Welders may work in a wide variety of industries, from car racing to manufacturing. The work done in the different industries and the equipment used may vary greatly. The most common and simplest type of welding today is arc welding, which uses electrical currents to create heat and bond metals together, but there are over 100 different processes that a welder can employ. The type of weld used is normally determined by the types of metals being joined and the conditions under which the welding is to take place. Steel, for instance, can be welded more easily than titanium. Some of these processes involve manually using a rod and heat to join metals, while others are semiautomatic, with a welding machine feeding wire to bond materials. Automated welding, done completely by robots, is increasingly being used in the manufacturing industry.
Skilled welding workers generally plan work from drawings, called blueprints, or specifications and use their knowledge of welding processes and base metals to determine how best to join the parts. The difficulty of the weld is determined by its position—horizontal, vertical, overhead, or 6G (circular, as in large pipes)—and by the type of metals to be fused. Highly skilled welders often are trained to work with a wide variety of materials, such as titanium, aluminum, or plastics, in addition to steel. Welders then select and set up welding equipment, execute the planned welds, and examine the welds to ensure that they meet standards or specifications.