For the past century, welding has been a fundamental aspect of design, and according to Andrew Davis from the American Welding Society (AWS), that isn’t going to change anytime soon.
As AWS partnered with Knovel to release our latest subject area: Welding Engineering and Materials Joining, I recently sat down with Andrew to talk about innovative welding techniques, the challenge of changing international safety standards and above all–why steel is here to stay.
K-Exchange: What is AWS doing to advancing the science, technology and application of welding?
Andrew Davis: AWS writes codes and standards for the advancement of welding and keeps our subscribers current with industry trends through our annual welding journal, the AWS Annual Convention, and other events. Also, the Annual Convention with Fabtech gives manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their technology and showcases industry-recognized welding inspection programs.
K-Exchange: What should design engineers understand about welding techniques?
Andrew Davis: There’s a debate across industries about whether design engineers should understand welding techniques and processes or whether they should just be in charge of designing and let welding engineers take care of placing the welds.
The problem is, sometimes designers don’t understand the limitations that welding engineers have to deal with. It’s great to place the weld, but you can’t have a welder crawling through a hole that’s barely big enough for a rat to crawl through! That’s why, at the very least, really good communication between the design engineer and the welding engineer is vital for a project’s success.
K-X: How has welding advanced in recent years?
AD: In welding, there’s changing international rules and procedures, as well as new materials, and AWS works to make engineers across industries are aware of changing standards. As far as welding goes, we’ve got over 100 years of steel technology and experience, we know more now than ever about how certain materials change due to environment and other processes that affect the strength and reliability of a weld.
The biggest advancements probably came around 20 years ago. Before that, we only had huge industrial machines that lacked the precision and control that’ today’s inverter power supplies now possess using computer controlled-interfaces.
There’s also a new welding process that’s emerged in the last 10 years—friction-stir welding, developed by The Welding Institute in the UK.
K-X: How does AWS respond to competing technologies?
AD: New technology within the welding industry is a healthy thing—it creates competition, refines new solutions and is good for the industry overall.
The biggest challenge for welding is that many industries, like aerospace and automotive, are shifting towards lightweight materials like carbon fiber. For AWS, it challenges us to create new books and new standards —if nothing evolved there would be no need for new standards.
Overall though, metal welds aren’t going away. Steel is the strongest and cheapest material and it’s recyclable—which isn’t necessarily the case with carbon fiber.
If you are a civil, mechanical, electronics or aerospace engineer who who relies on quality joints for your designs to function, check out our Welding and Materials Joining subject area.