Advantages and Disadvantages of Welding
There are various methods for joining materials in the manufacturing world. Each of the methods may have characteristics that make it suitable for the item being manufactured. Welding is by no means "the best" way to join things together however we will go over some of the major advantages and disadvantages of welding versus other joining processes.
Here are a few of the major advantages of welding.
- Little special tooling is needed that may require modification when design changes are made.
- Opportunities for corrosion/erosion are minimized as compared to bolting/riveting since welding reduces the occurrence of surfaces that may trap corrosive materials or cause turbulence in a joint.
- Welds can be more resistant to fatigue failures than some bolted joints due to the ability to provide smooth transitions at welded joints with finishing such as grinding or machining.
- Welding lends itself to joining materials edge to edge better than mechanical fasteners such as rivets and bolts.
- Welding can be performed fast than many other processes due to reduced preparation time (drilling holes, gathering fasteners and tools, precleaning for adhesives etc). Though the actual installation or tightening of bolts may be quicker, the overall labor time that went into preparation may be higher.
- In most cases welded joints maintain the same strength as the material being joined, This includes tensile strength, toughness, hardness, ductility etc..
Disavantages of Welding
- Usually requires more skill than other processes. A step by step procedure can be written for almost any assembly method that can allow any worker with the ability to read to perform the task. Welding can have all of the written instructions in the world but requires developed skills and manual dexterity.
- FIRE. Other methods do not usually involve the possibility of burning up people and equipment.
- Smoke generated by welding can be a health hazard. Though many companies have taken action to reduce the risks, many still put little emphasis on welding as compared to eye, ear, hand protection.
- Distortion caused by welding varies when welding is performed with different techniques. Maintaining a welded joint with the exact dimensions before welding and after welding is nearly impossible. In many cases the amount of distortion is acceptable however it does exist.
- Equipment cost can be higher in some cases. A hand drill, bolts/nuts, wrenches are all that could be needed in some cases.
- Not as portable as adhesives or mechanical fasters.
- Welding is difficult to perform in wet, windy, or submerged situations. Bolting or riveting is not.
- Welding only works on materials that can be melted and solidified and that are the same material types. There are no welding processes for joining wood to plastic, plastic to metal, metal to glass, etc .
Overall welding has many applications in which it can be applied safely and economically. However don't rule out other methods. As technology grows new options come up that may be better than the old way. Keep your mind open.