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 ABOUT AWS: WELDING AND THE SOCIETY
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A nostalgic look at the American Welding Society and events in the history of welding
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Shipbuilding

Since the earliest days of welding, the shipbuilding industry has embraced the technology and found ever-more uses for it, until today it is the dominant method of metal fabrication used in ship construction.

An article that appeared in a 1941 issue of the Journal titled simply 3All-Welded Ships2 detailed the construction of an all-welded cargo ship noting that after consultation with the contractor, the Maritime Commission and the American Bureau of Shipping, 3...we chose to go all welded, using no rivets any place in the ship, and departing as much as conditions permitted from the practice of using a riveted design and merely substituting welding for riveting.

The extensive use of welding in shipbuilding also brought to light a reoccurring cracking problem, which initiated intense and comprehensive studies to determine its cause. Eventually hydrogen was found to be the culprit, leading to the development of low-hydrogen electrodes and standard precautionary methods to prevent hydrogen entrapment in weld metal.


The diesel-powered cargo ship American Press, contracted by the United States Maritime Commission, was chosen to be an all-welded vessel because welding was considered the most economical means of construction, as well as a means of simplifying detailing and reducing overall weight.


An after-section of a tanker that broke in two at sea (below). Studying structural failures in welded ships such as these led to a wealth of knowledge in fracture mechanics and the development of new welding electrodes and techniques to prevent it from happening in the future.

A fleet of commercial fishing vessels (above) experienced the advantages of the antifouling characteristics of copper-nickel when 3/16-in. hull plates of Alloy 706 were welded to their carbon steel frames with ENiCu-2 covered electrodes and then welded to each other with 70-30 copper-nickel electrodes.
The versatility of welding was instrumental in converting the rugged freighter Pine Tree Mariner (above left) into the luxury ocean liner Mariposa (left) whose ports of call were exotic locales in the South Seas.


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