Before the conventional welding method using an electric arc, two pieces of metal were generally welded together by using a hand torch to heat metal to the molten point and joining the pieces together. In the 1940s, Russell Meredith, a welder at Northrop Aircraft Corporation in Southern California, invented the arc welding technique: Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding.His technique was developed because the procedures at the time were inadequate for welds on aluminum and magnesium alloys. This success gave the American industry the ability to build ships, airplanes, and other products at a faster pace.
In today’s economy, with the welding technology’s breakthroughs, many welding methods are available. TIG and MIG welding both use an electric arc and a shielding gas. The main difference between MIG and TIG is the welding electrodes used to create the arc: MIG uses a solid wire that is machine-fed to the weld area, while TIG uses an electrode and filler rod. Today, 80% of welding needs are met using arc welding and other conventional methods. However, these techniques can produce defective parts because of undercuts, incomplete weld penetrations, dense porosity, or cracks.
Laser welding was first demonstrated in the ‘70s on thermoplastics. It was then adopted and is now used for welding different types of materials. Recent advancements in optical fiber technology have made it possible to create compact fiber laser systems, so laser welding machines have become smaller and smaller.