A day in a welders life is not easy. Hot and cramped work conditions will make you sweat. But the people you meet, teach you tricks of the trade and make it all worth it. To watch the project blossom under your own hands, to create life from something inanimate. That is truly amazing.
Welding is the process of joining pieces of metal by melting, mixing the edges, and then cooling the metals. There are many ways to achieve this, all with their own unique pros and cons. However, the similarities come from the people behind the machines.
These people care about the work they produce, as well as the practical application of the skills they learn. Working with your hands gives a certain satisfaction like none other. A career that allows you to use your hands and make good money, is the American dream for many.
Almost all of the major industries that are essential to American infrastructure, as well as countries around the world, involve welding. These days, robots are smart enough to weld but lack human skills and reason. It is the blue-collar man who drive the industry forward, and who provide skills and knowledge that are hard to find.
Industries that always need welders include; maritime trade, high-rise construction sites, transportation services, electrical grids, nuclear plants, and NASA to just name a few.
As a welder shows up to the job site, they have already thought about the day ahead of them. Planning is always the best method of preparation, and the whole team meets to discuss the days goals ahead of time. Each project has detailed blueprints and schematics for each weld and part of the complete structure.
Welding engineers and planners design the general blueprints. However, the execution of the product is up to the welder. The welder is the person with all of the experience and skill with metal working. Just let them do their thing.
A root, a hot pass, and a cap are on each work piece. The filler material varies by type of metal, as well as the method or process you use. Almost every decision of this step is left to the welder, and this is where knowledge and experience set them apart.
When setting up the workstation, comfort is key. The ability to brace anywhere and preform a quality weld is important. However, the first step is always determining the safety of the welding environment. Adequate ventilation and proper insulation from electrical currents are a must.
A good welder always has the proper PPE. This includes; a good face shield(hood), gloves, vest and pants, and high-quality boots. Cheap gear does not work well, invest in a piece of equipment that is tried and true.
Machine setup is sometimes outlined in the blueprints, or the welding inspector will set the standard. However, the welder makes judgement calls on what technique and the amount of heat they use, to properly fuse the work. Aside from the machine setup, the welder needs to determine if the work has the correct bevel and positioning.
After the work is in place, the machine settings and work-prep is complete, the welder begins. Skill involves consistency in every position, with each process. Skill is hard to come by naturally and the best way to get better, is with practice. The ability to be in a position of comfort anywhere, only comes from experience.
As each weld is completed the welder chips and cleans the work to visually inspect the welds. After the last pass is complete, the welder cleans the work site for the final time and moves on to the next one. This is how a day in the life of a welder goes. However, the work and methods are always changing.
Throughout the day, the welding inspector does a round of visually checking the work of each welder. Other methods of inspection are used as well. These methods include; x-rays, ultrasonic tests, heat checks, and hydro-static tests. These make sure that the welds are high quality, with no cracks or impurities.
If the weld has a problem, the inspector lets the welder know, and checks it again after the repair. The x-ray/ultrasonic methods look for bubbles and cracks in the weld. The heat test is to double check the proper heating and cooling of the material. Hydro-static tests are for pipelines and pressure-vessels.
Quality checks are what prevent any type of joint failure. This essential step can be the make or break it point for most welders, and it can change your pay as well. Give it your all, and learn from the experience of the older welders and you’ll do fine.
After all welds are checked and confirmed to be of high-quality, the machines and equipment are stored. Some personal equipment may be taken home and a few things that may be company owned are left behind. Regardless of whose it is, cleanliness and organization is key.
The end of the day is a debriefing session. At this time, any issues or problems that welders have are brought up. This is also the time for the management to provide any constructive criticism, it always should be positive. The plan for the next day of work is made up, and they answer any questions.
The day in a welders life is not always glamorous, and it is not always clean. However, a day in a welders life is meaningful, and always productive. Not many people are proud of the work they create at the end of each day. Welders are.