Modern metal fabrication would be impossible without welding, but where did this technology originate? Who discovered it, and what can we observe about how it has changed over the years? Here are the answers to some of your most pressing questions about one of the most significant developments in metal fabrication.


As you might imagine, welding has been around for quite some time. We can assume it existed in some form as far back as the Iron Age and the Bronze Age. There is evidence that the Egyptians learned to weld iron together, and we have found small gold boxes with pressure-welded lap joints from over 2,000 years ago.

However, the type of welding prevalent then and during the Middle Ages was a very rudimentary type of welding that typically involved hammering two pieces of metal together under heat until they joined. Conventional welding as we know it did not appear until the 19th century.


No single person takes credit for the invention of welding. Some of the earliest inroads toward traditional welding came about as early as 1800. In that year, Sir Humphry Davy produced the first electric arc between two carbon electrodes through the use of a battery. In 1836, Edmund Davy discovered acetylene. But the process we recognize as welding today didn’t arise until 1881.

It started with Auguste de Méritens, who used arc heat to join lead plates together. His Russian student, Nikolai Benardos, then patented a method of electric arc welding with carbon rods. After that, welding processes advanced rapidly. Nikolai Slavynov figured out how to use metal electrodes for welding. Following this, C.L. Coffin, an American engineer, discovered an arc welding process using a coated metal electrode that became the precursor of shielded metal arc welding.


Welding history is a rich study of human ingenuity and spirit. After its invention, welding continued to evolve, bringing it to its modern-day form. Ancient welding looks a lot different than it does now. But each step in the welding timeline is an impressive leap of mechanical engineering. Here are some of the pivotal moments in welding history.

  • 4000 BCE: Historians believe the ancient Egyptians developed the earliest forms of welding around this time. Civilizations started welding with copper, and over time, moved on to other metals like iron, bronze, gold and silver.
  • 3000 BCE: The Egyptians used charcoal to generate heat to turn iron ore into a loose substance called “sponge iron.” They then hammered the loose particles together to join pieces in the first instance of pressure welding.
  • 1330 BCE: The Egyptians began soldering and blowing pipe, joining pieces of metal together.
  • 60 CE: The historianPliny recorded information about the gold brazing process. He included information about using salt as flux and even mentioned how a metal’s color reveals its brazing difficulty.
  • 310 CE: Indian welders created the Iron Pillar of Delhi, which still stands today, using iron from meteorites. The Pillar remains an impressive display of early craftsmanship, at 25 feet high and six tons in weight.
  • 1375 CE: Forge welding was at the forefront during this period. Blacksmiths would heat metal pieces and pound them together until they bonded.
  • The 16th century: Welders advanced in their craft during this period. Manuscripts from this century included the first references to the word “weld.” The Italian goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini wrote about a soldering process used for brazing silver and copper.
  • The 18th century: Welding technology skyrocketed in the 18th century due to the Industrial Revolution, which paved the way for the society we know today. Industries needed more advanced welding practices to achieve their goals. Welders developed innovative welding technologies to meet this demand. A couple of new advances included the development of blast furnaces and the discovery of oxygen.
  • The 19th century: This century saw the discovery of the electric arc by Sir Humphry Davy. Other inventors also innovated and patented fusion welding, bare metal electrode welding and carbon arc welding. Robbers used a torch to break into a bank vault, providing the first look at purposely using torches to melt metal.
  • The 20th century: Thermite welding first emerged in 1903. In 1919, C.J. Holslag invented alternating current welding, replacing electric arc welding as the most prevalent form of welding in the United States. Welding continued to increase and was in high demand due to the First and Second World Wars. President Woodrow Wilson established the United States Wartime Welding Committee to increase the production of welded equipment.


Since the 19th century, people have developed increasingly efficient techniques for accurate, fast and effective welding. Today, we even have robotic welding, a method growing in popularity that uses computer control to weld metal much more quickly and accurately than is possible through manual welding. It also significantly reduces or eliminates any risks to human workers. We can only imagine what incredible new welding processes the 21st century will bring.


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