8 Tips to Reduce Welding Costs

It doesn’t take a savvy business owner to know that reducing welding costs leads to better profits. What really sets a manufacturing company apart is knowing how to cut costs without cutting corners.

If you are the CEO or Operations Manager, it is your job to create plans and processes that make your stakeholders money. In fact, your job depends on it.

While you may be tempted to just look out for the lowest price tag for parts and materials, we don’t recommend it. Instead focus on cost-cutting practices that don’t compromise your output quality.

In this article, we will discuss the common costs of welding and how you can reduce them.

Costs of Welding

Typical welding costs include the materials to produce your product plus labor. Costs to consider include filler metals, shielding gas, raw materials, equipment, and electrical power.

While on paper this seems easy enough to budget, mistakes can happen which leads to costs adding up quickly.

Common causes of cost overruns:

  • Unplanned downtime
  • Consumable waste
  • Lost labor
  • Repairs and rework
  • Lack of training

So how can you keep your facility from making these costly mistakes? Keep reading to find out!

8 Tips for Reducing the Cost of Welding

Stop missing out on savings because you think you don’t have enough time to implement new practices. While the more complex initiatives may take some time there are methods that don’t take much work on your part and can be easy to implement.

Attract And Retain Skilled Workers

Retaining employees can save you lots of money on training and recruiting. The best way to attract experienced employees is to enhance your culture and facility.


reducing welding costs

Creating a safe and comfortable environment not only attracts but retains dedicated employees. Additionally providing perks and ongoing training can ensure everyone is motivated to do well and has the resources to do so.

Your employees are the backbone of your company so investing in them is best for your bottom line. When they feel like you care about them they will care more about their job.

Improve Welding Procedures

No matter how long your business has been open or how efficient you think your procedures are there is always room for improvement. Start with an assessment of your facility’s current procedures to pinpoint any areas of weakness.

Factors that can affect your efficiency include:

  • Feed speed
  • Transfer mode
  • Voltage
  • Erratic arcs

From having procedures that leverage efficient technology to having procedures for storing and using parts, improving productivity can save you money.

Ensure A Safe Environment

As we mentioned earlier, a safe environment can attract and retain employees but it also has other benefits. Workplace injury lawsuits and workers’ compensation can be very expensive for your business.

Having automated processes and incorporating robots in your operations that are more dangerous can help protect your employees. Additionally, you should offer safety gear such as goggles and gloves.

Give Padding In Time

One of the biggest welding costs towards consumers that can affect your bottom line is unplanned downtime. It can lead to delays in revenue and lost loyalty.

When there is unplanned downtime you are still paying for labor and space without producing anything. This means not only are you not making any money but you’re losing it.

If you allow for padding time before delivery and between processes you can account for that when budgeting. This can also help with your partnerships because you can give a more accurate quote and ensure you meet expectations.

Invest In New Technology

As technology advances, it is able to make our jobs easier. Investing in new technology can help you improve your productivity, reduce maintenance, and reduce costs.

Automated technology is gaining power as more and more welders realize its benefits. It can allow you to reduce costly errors and cut down on labor costs.

While this involves an initial investment in the long run you will save time and money in production and improve quality.

Make A Preventative Maintenance Plan

It costs more to clean up a disaster than to prevent it. Having regularly scheduled maintenance performed can save you from wasting money on downtime.

Make a preventive maintenance (PM) plan for how operators should perform maintenance and build it into their procedures. The hour it takes to check on your equipment is far better than the days lost while waiting for a replacement.

Reduce Consumable Changes

Your consumables make up a large portion of operating welding costs. We often want to be preemptive and change consumables. But changing your consumables before it’s necessary can be wasteful and the costs add up.

reduce welding costs with consumables

Additionally, when welders use improper practices or equipment, they may experience birdnesting or other gas metal arc welding gun performance issues.

Replacing consumables not only costs you money for parts but leads to downtime which can cost you more.

Choose The Right Equipment

Many companies make the mistake of looking for the lowest price tag but when you invest in high-quality parts you save in the long run. You get what you pay for and cheaper products tend to have a shorter life span and can cost more in labor, downtime, and parts.

You want to ensure you have high-quality nozzles, contact tips, and gas diffusers to be able to maximize lifespan for your operation.

Cut Costs With American Torch Tip

Ready to start cutting costs the right way? At American Torch Tips we make it easy to save money.

From providing educational resources such as our Complete Guide to MIG Welding to sharing blogs just like this one.

Additionally, we offer a wide range of high-quality welding parts that have a long lifespan and reduce consumable changes. While we have 100% confidence in our consumables and parts we also include a lifetime warranty to give you peace of mind.

Our MIG guns and consumables are the most durable on the market but you don’t have to take our word for it. Try our products risk-free for 30 days and see the cost savings for yourself!

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How Welding Played A Role In Star Wars

May the Fourth Be With You

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate May the 4th than to share some of our favorite Star Wars welding scenes, arguably one of the most iconic movie series of all time.

And if you really think about it, we work with lightsabers every day, right?


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MIG vs TIG Welding: Why MIG Welding is Better Than TIG Welding

Arc welding processes are as varied as the workpieces they create, and choosing the right one is vital to your project’s success. While MIG and TIG welding both form the weld using an electric arc, the techniques are quite different. Choosing the wrong one can lead to more than a headache, it could lead to wasted time, resources, and money.

That’s why it is important to distinguish the appropriate application for a MIG welder or TIG welder.  Read on for the reasons you may want to choose MIG welding vs. TIG welding.

(Click here to learn why TIG is better than MIG.)

MIG vs TIG Welding

MIG and TIG welding both use an electric arc to create the weld. The difference between the two is the way the arc is used.

mig welding process

MIG (metal inert gas) welding uses a feed wire that constantly moves through the gun to create the spark, then melts to form the weld. It uses a semi-automatic or automatic arc.

tig welding process

TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding uses long rods to fuse two metals directly together. It uses a non-consumable electrode and a different filler material.

RELATED: Most Common Welding Equipment and Processes

Why MIG Welders Are More Efficient

While TIG welding guns have their benefits, there are a number of reasons why MIG welders are more efficient. For our more visual learners, here is a comparison chart of the MIG vs TIG benefits.

benefits MIG weld vs TIG weld

Now, let’s explore some of the key benefits of MIG welding in more detail.


First, a MIG welder is more diverse. While TIG welding can be used on more types of metals, it’s limited in its effectiveness on thicker jobs. MIG welding can be used on aluminum, stainless steel, and steel, and on every thickness from 26-gauge sheet metal to heavy-duty structural plates. This makes it a popular choice in many industries such as automotive, construction, and manufacturing. The process is also adaptable to different welding positions, such as flat, horizontal, vertical, and overhead, which makes it versatile for various welding applications.

MIG welding holds this advantage over TIG because the wire feed acts not only as an electrode, but also as a filler. As a result, thicker pieces can be fused together without having to heat them all the way through. And because it uses filler rather than fusing, MIG welding can be used to weld two different materials together.


Another reason for choosing MIG vs. TIG is speed. A MIG gun is designed to run continuously for long periods of time, making them more efficient and productive than its counterpart. MIG welders are efficient is because the process is automated and relatively easy to learn, which reduces the amount of time and effort required for training.

For large, industrial operations that require high production rates, MIG is the go-to choice. The speed of MIG welding also translates into lower labor costs, as welders can complete more welds in a given amount of time. In contrast, TIG welding is a much slower process that’s focused on detail.

Finest Welding Equipment Manufacturer American Torch TIp, mig welder


As with any manufacturing job, time equals money. And because the MIG welding process is so much faster, it’s also more cost-effective. MIG parts are also more readily available and far less expensive than TIG.

Moreover, MIG welding machines are typically less expensive than TIG welding machines, and the wire used in MIG welding is less expensive than the tungsten electrode used in TIG welding. MIG welding also uses a consumable wire electrode, which means that there is no need for frequent electrode replacements as there is in TIG welding.

Another factor that makes a MIG welder more cost-effective than TIG welding is the fact that it produces less waste. MIG welding creates less scrap material and less rework than TIG welding, which means that less material is wasted and the overall cost of production is reduced. TIG welding has a lower deposition rate making it more expensive per foot of bead. The initial costs are also a little more than MIG because the consumables are a bit pricier.


Finally, a MIG welder is easier to learn and can be perfected after just a few weeks of training. In fact, it’s even been referred to as the “hot glue gun” of welding — just pull the trigger to start or stop the weld. A MIG welder can hold and operate the gun with only one hand, making it a better option for beginning welders. TIG welding, on the other hand, is a specialized technique that requires the use of both hands and one foot — all doing separate things.

MIG welding is also easier than TIG welding because it requires less preparation and clean-up time. A MIG welder does not require the use of a tungsten electrode, which must be sharpened and cleaned before use. It also doesn’t require the use of filler rods, which must be cut to the proper length and diameter. MIG welding produces less spatter and requires less post-weld clean-up than TIG welding.

Moreover, MIG welding is easier to learn and master than TIG welding. It can be learned in a relatively short period of time, and welders can become proficient in the process with minimal training. On the other hand, TIG welding requires more time and practice to develop the necessary skills and experience.

RELATED: How to start a career in welding

When to Use MIG Welding

Both TIG and MIG welding have their pros and cons, so it is important that you consider the application. Manufacturers find MIG welding useful when high production is necessary and delicate work isn’t required. It can also be helpful when there aren’t experienced welders available.

Here are applications best suited for MIG welders:

  • Thicker materials
  • Long runs
  • Difficult positioning

Welding Thick Materials

When it comes to thicker materials, MIG welding’s high deposition rates and efficient heat transfer make it an excellent choice. The continuous wire electrode used in MIG welding allows for faster welding speeds, enabling efficient and effective fusion of thicker metal sections.

Additionally, the adjustability of MIG welding parameters, such as voltage and wire feed speed, allows welders to tailor the process to accommodate the specific requirements of thicker materials.

Long Runs

MIG welding is also advantageous for long runs, which involve welding over extended distances without interruptions. The continuous wire feed in MIG welding ensures a constant heat source, making it suitable for continuous welding applications. This eliminates the need to frequently stop and start, resulting in faster and more efficient welding for long runs.

Difficult Positioning

MIG welding can handle difficult positioning scenarios more easily compared to other welding processes. The wire electrode and the use of shielding gases help to protect the weld pool from external factors like drafts, ensuring better arc stability and shielding.

This feature is particularly useful when working in challenging positions, such as overhead or vertical welding, where maintaining proper shielding and controlling the weld pool can be more challenging.

Get High-Quality MIG Welding Parts, Torches, & Guns

Are you a MIG welder looking for high-quality MIG welding equipment? American Torch Tip offers durable MIG welding parts, torches, and guns that are specifically manufactured for welders like you.

Our line of Lightning® MIG guns and consumables are impact resistant, ink-resistant, and ergonomic. With our indestructible handles and swivel-neck technology, welders can get more done with less downtime.

For help with your MIG setup, download our free MIG Ultimate Troubleshooting Guide.

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GMAW Basics of Welding Aluminum

Aluminum is a popular material used in various industries due to its lightweight, strength, and durability. However, welding aluminum can be a challenging task for welders due to its unique properties. Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), also known as MIG welding, is a commonly used welding process for aluminum.


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The Pros, Cons, and Best Practices of Welding Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a popular building material long heralded for its durability and substantial resistance to corrosion. However, welding with this attractive metal poses some unique challenges that need to be considered before launching into a project with stainless steel.

Before we take a closer look at the pros and cons of working with this substance, let’s get a better idea about what we’re working with.


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TIG Welding Techniques: Scratch Start, Lift Start, or High-Frequency?

When considering a TIG welding machine, the number of features, modes, and settings can be daunting. One of the most critical to understand, however, is the arc initiation method the machine uses. In this article, we will discuss the three types of TIG welding techniques used for starting an arc.

The Scratch Start Method in TIG Welding

The scratch start method is the original arc starting TIG welding technique. With the scratch start method, welders must manually “scratch” their electrode across the workpiece. The motion is often compared to striking a match.

This arc starting method is not very user-friendly, and it can take quite a bit of practice. The electrode tends to stick to the workpiece, which leads to point loss on the electrode and contamination of the weld. To avoid getting the electrode stuck to the workpiece, it is important to maintain control over the torch at all times. When using this method, the operator must also manually terminate the arc by pulling away from the workpiece.

As opposed to a gas solenoid in the machine, a valved torch head controls the gas in this TIG welding technique. This arc starting method will only be found on older machines, entry-level machines, and machines converted from SMAW operation. If you are new to TIG welding techniques, machines utilizing scratch start may be difficult and frustrating to learn on.

The Lift Start Method in TIG Welding

Lift start is a common TIG welding technique used on many welding systems because it is very user friendly. To use this method, the welder will touch the electrode to the work piece, depress the foot pedal or finger switch, and “lift” the torch off of the workpiece to form an arc.

This arc initiation method is much smoother than scratch start and will not disrupt nearby sensitive electronics like high-frequency start circuitry can. Lift start is often found on multi-process machines where the TIG process may only be used sparingly.

The High-Frequency Start Method in TIG Welding

This is the most common arc initiation method for industrial TIG welders. High-frequency start is the only true “touchless” TIG welding technique for arc initiation. Applications where any contamination of the weld puddle would result in a structural defect, most notably aluminum pipe work, will usually require high-frequency start..

High-frequency arc starting is also the most user-friendly method, as the welder may simply hold the torch where they want to start an arc and depress a foot pedal or finger switch. For machines that use scratch or lift start, adding on a module with high-frequency capability can upgrade the machine.

The downside is that these arc starting systems can cause issues with nearby televisions, radios, computers, lighting, pacemakers and other sensitive electronics. Fortunately, machines equipped with high-frequency arc starting capability will usually have the option to switch to lift start when it is needed.

Scratch start, lift start, and high-frequency start all have their pros and cons. Knowing the difference between these arc starting TIG welding techniques will help you choose the best method for your project.

For more information about TIG Welding practices, you can read more of our guides & blogs here at American Torch Tip.

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How to Start a Career in Welding

A welding career can be very rewarding. Good pay, high job demand, and opportunities for advancement into robotics or management (or both.) But, it’s not a career you can just decide to start overnight. It takes specialized training, skill development, and certifications. So, we put together a list of schools, scholarships, and more to help you get started.

How to Start Your Dream Welding Career

Deciding your career path can be very nerve-wracking. With no prior experience or guidance, starting your welding career may seem overwhelming. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are 4 steps to guide you to your preferred job in the welding field.

1. Research Different Welding Programs

Your first step will be to research welding programs, to eventually enroll in a welding program. Top-rated welding schools can be found from Alaska to Georgia, especially in areas of the country where welders are in the highest demand. To find the right school for you, do a little research to figure out which one best serves your end career goal. Take a look at the degrees and specialties offered, regional accreditation, and relationships with local businesses that hire graduates. Make sure you’ll get mostly real-world education that’s up to current standards, and look for included certifications.

Researching Welding Schools

2. Evaluate Tuition and Fees Across The Programs You Researched

The next step is to weigh your financial options. It’s no secret that money will likely be a determining factor – if not the main one – in which school you choose. Tuition and fees range widely depending on the type of welding program you’re interested in, from a few thousand dollars for basic certification programs to near six figures for a bachelor’s degree.

Evaluate Tuition

3. Compare Scholarships and Other Resources

Next, you should search for a scholarship or take advantage of a related program. One of the upsides of choosing a welding degree is its high demand – many organizations with a vested interest in training skilled welders offer scholarships, grants, or other ways to help grow a talented workforce.

Scholarships vary in the amount awarded, grade-point average requirements, and eligibility. The American Welding Society offers its own scholarships as well as links and information to hundreds of others around the world. Most scholarships require a GED or high school diploma and acceptance to an accredited program. Keep careful track of deadlines since they can be any time during the year.

States also receive federal funding through the Workforce Investment Act to award grants to help build up a local workforce. For many areas, welding is high on the list of important positions. Start by contacting the Workforce Development Center in your state!

Saving Money with Welding Scholarships

4. Finally, Get Certified!

The final step to your first welding job is to get certified, which proves that you can create quality, sturdy welds that meet your job’s code. If your school doesn’t include certification as part of its curriculum, several organizations offer testing. Certifications are as varied as the type of job and cost anywhere from as little as $25 to maintain a certified welder (CW) certification, to more than $1,000 for more specialized roles.

If an official welding school just isn’t an option for you, it’s possible to get certified using other methods. One popular option is to work under an experienced welder and learn through hands-on experience. And while certification is required for you to get paid work as a welder, how you get certified is based solely on if you can show up and adequately perform the responsibilities of the job position.

Starting a Career in Welding

Is it worth it?

In a word, yes. The median pay for a welder in May 2017 was just under $20 per hour, and wages can be upwards of $25 per hour for specialized jobs in industries like electric or gas utilities. In addition, The Bureau of Labor Statics expects the field to grow by 6 percent through 2026.

Keep Up With Welding News

At American Torch Tip, we pride ourselves in providing useful information and resources for those in the welding industry. After being in business for more than 80 years, American Torch Tip is fulfilling the mission we set out to accomplish by successfully designing and manufacturing thousands of industry-leading torches and consumables for welding, laser and plasma cutting, and thermal spraying.

You can follow our blog for more information about the welding industry, and you can always get in touch with us here.

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Welding Hazards & Risk Management 101

How to Approach Welding Hazards

Since welding and fabrication are tasks with elevated risks, they require specialized tools and equipment that need to be operated properly to prevent injury. It is very important to recognize what these welding hazards are, how and when they appear, and what to do in order to ensure that the chance of harm is as low as possible. 

The Types of Welding Hazards & How to Prevent Them

There are a variety of high-risk factors in welding. In order to reduce the likelihood of injuries, we will discuss the different welding hazards and how to prevent them.


Electromagnetic radiation is the way in which energy moves from one place to another. Most welding and cutting processes produce one or more forms of radiation. This radiation varies in energy depending on the wavelength or frequency. Radiation with a shorter wavelength (higher frequency) carries a higher density of energy than radiation with a longer wavelength (lower frequency). Exposure to higher frequency radiation (such as a welding arc) for even a short amount of time can cause severe damage to the eyes and skin. In the eyes, radiation exposure can cause photokeratitis (arc flash burn), retinal scarring, cataracts, and even blindness. Ultraviolet radiation attacks the electrons in skin cells, causing burns on exposed skin.

Prolonged exposure can eventually lead to skin cancer. In order to prevent radiation damage to the eyes, protective eyewear and lenses which meet ANSI Z87.1 and ANSIZ49.1:2005 should be used. To prevent UV damage to exposed skin, wear clothing that is in accordance with OSHA standard 1910. Try to cover as much exposed skin as possible, including the neck, face, and forearms. 

Electric Shock 

Exposure to as little as 100 milliamps (1/10 amp) of electrical current can be fatal. Electric shock occurs when the human body accidentally becomes part of an electrical circuit. When this happens, electrons in the atoms of human tissue resist the flow of electrical current. The, they quickly absorb the resulting heat, which can cause severe burns, tissue damage, or death.

Since many welding and cutting processes use electricity to generate an arc, it should come as no surprise that according to OSHA standard 1910.332, welders face a higher-than-average risk of electric shock. With poorly maintained or improperly connected equipment, sweat, moisture, and incorrect operation create added risk. Thus, the potential for death or serious bodily injury rises considerably.

Many injuries resulting from electric shock are caused when the injured party falls after sustaining a shock, as the muscles spasm involuntarily. To mitigate the risk of electric shock welders face, operators need to know how to properly operate the equipment.

Safety Tips to Avoid Electrical Shock

  • Equipment should be well-maintained and turned off when not in use.
  • Operators should inspect the condition of their equipment, especially the cables, on a daily basis.
  • When extension cords are used, they should be rated for the application, properly grounded, and routed away from moisture and moving equipment.
  • Welders should wear personal protective equipment that insulates them from electrical current and take care in wet environments or when perspiring excessively as sweat is highly conductive.
  • Welders performing tasks above ground level should follow fall protection protocol. 

Fires & Burns 

Welding can be a violent process, generating sparks and sending bits of molten metal onto nearby surfaces which can burn operators and cause fire or explosion. Cutting torches can burn in excess of 4,000°F and may require compressed highly-flammable gases. Welders can sustain burns either directly from the welding process or from fire ignited as a secondary hazard.

In order to reduce the risk of fire, welders should be trained on fire prevention strategies. These include the segregation of combustible materials, care of oxygen and fuel gas storage cylinders, and inspection of equipment. Welders should also wear flame-resistant clothing, have access to fire extinguishers, and be trained in their use. Burns may be sustained directly from the equipment, from sparks or molten metal on the work surface, or via residual heat from the workpiece.

To prevent burns, welders should wear proper gloves, sleeves, aprons, and footwear. Welders should also be trained to use first aid equipment to treat burns with bandages and compresses. 

Fumes & Gases 

Many welding and cutting processes generate hazardous fumes and gases. You should absolutely try to avoid these welding hazards.

Fumes and gases are produced when a material is heated above its boiling point and vapors condense into tiny particles which become airborne. These particles may or may not be visible and may originate from filler rod or wire, base materials, or coatings or plating.

When inhaled, these fumes and gases may cause nausea, dizziness, headache, fainting, or disorientation. Prolonged exposure may cause emphysema, lung cancer, brain damage, and even death.

Zinc Fumes

Zinc fumes are particularly hazardous and can induce a condition commonly referred to as “metal fume fever,” which has symptoms similar to the flu. Because of this, welders should take particular care when welding or cutting zinc plated or galvanized material.

Hex Chrome

Hexavalent chromium, or hex chrome, is perhaps one of the most dangerous substances that can transform into a toxic gas by welding or cutting. Hex chrome can cause cancer, ulcers, respiratory distress, and allergic reactions. Other common metals which produce hazardous fumes to welders are aluminum, manganese, nickel, cadmium, beryllium, iron, mercury, and lead.

To reduce the risk of fumes and gases generated by welding or cutting, welders should wear respiratory personal protective equipment such as powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs), use fume extraction devices, or both. 

Noise Hazards 

It takes a lot of energy cut, weld, bend, twist, form, and work metals. Sound is often a byproduct of this energy transmission. This sound can be barely noticeable, such as in the buzz of a TIG torch, or powerfully deafening, such as in air carbon arc gouging. OSHA requires companies to implement a hearing conservation program when employees are exposed to noise at or exceeding 85 decibels (dB) averaged over eight working hours. Unfortunately, it takes far less than eight hours of exposure to high-decibel noises to cause permanent hearing damage.

At noise levels above 112dB, hearing damage can occur in seconds. Noise hazards are extremely common for welders. However, earplugs or ear muffs with the proper attenuation rating for the environment can reduce these noise hazards. In extreme environments, reducing sound levels below the 85dB threshold may require both earplugs and ear muffs. 

Get More Welding Tips From American Torch Tips

It is important to approach welding hazards with extreme caution and proper safety procedures. Taking appropriate measures will ensure that every employee goes home healthy at the end of the day. Free welder safety training is available online from the American Welding Society.

For more welding tips, follow the American Torch Tip blog!

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The 4 Main Types of Oxy Fuel Welding and Cutting Gases

The 4 Main Types of Oxy-Fuel Heating Cutting, & Welding Gases

A flame is a flame, right?

Well, not exactly.

While all industrial fuel gases are capable of generating a flame, their properties can be very different.

Here is a rundown of the four common types of oxy fuel heating, cutting, and welding gases.

Acetylene: The Old Standby

First, the nerdy stuff. Acetylene (a.k.a. ethyne) is an alkyne hydrocarbon consisting of two carbon atoms and two hydrogen atoms (C2H2). It was discovered in 1836 by Edmund Davy, who accidentally produced potassium carbide, which reacted with water to produce gas. The gas was given the name acetylene by French chemist Marcellin Berthelot in 1860.

Acetylene is intrinsically unstable, especially when pressurized. Because of this, industrial acetylene is dissolved in acetone and stored in porous cylinders which renders it safe for transport and use. This is why acetylene cylinders should always be stored upright. If acetylene cylinders are tilted, or if the operating pressure exceeds 15psi, liquid acetone can become introduced into the torch, which will cause the flame to drip from the orifice. This is also why acetylene has a withdrawal rate limit of 1/7 of the cylinder volume per hour.

From a performance perspective, acetylene has the hottest flame (around 5,720°F). It has a total calorific value of 1,470 BTU. The low hydrogen content of acetylene makes it an excellent choice for oxy fuel welding and cutting. When used as a cutting fuel, the inner cone of the flame will contain about 507BTU and the outer cone will contain about 963BTU. This allows for fast piercing with a minimal heat-affected zone. It also generates a fair amount of slag, requiring more post-cut cleanup. Acetylene is also highly prone to flashbacks. Flashback arrestors should always be used when cutting with acetylene.

Propane: Not Just for Grilling

Propane is an alkane consisting of three carbon atoms and eight hydrogen atoms (C3H8). It was discovered in 1857 by French chemist Marcellin Berthelot (the same man who gave acetylene its name). Propane is a liquefied petroleum (LP) gas and a by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining. Propane is heavier than air and has a tendency to sink when a leak occurs. This can pose a risk of explosion or fire, especially when propane is stored in basements near heat sources. Propane has a lower temperature flame than acetylene at around 5,122°F. Propane is not recommended for oxy/fuel welding.

The most notable potential benefit that propane offers is a significantly higher calorific value than acetylene at around 2,510 BTU. This makes it an excellent choice for heating. When used for cutting, the inner cone of the flame will contain about 255 BTU and the outer cone will contain a whopping 2,243 BTU! This allows a much faster preheat than acetylene but as a tradeoff for much longer piercing times and a larger heat-affected zone. Once the piercing is done, the cut speed is comparable to acetylene.

Propylene: The Other Prop-Gas

If propylene (C3H6) sounds similar to propane, that’s because it is. The prop- prefix that the two gases share means that they both have three carbon chains.

The molecular difference between propane and propylene is the number of hydrogen atoms (propane has eight, propylene has six). The similarities of the two gases don’t end there. Both gases have a comparable flame temperature and calorific value. The main difference between propane and propylene is the heat distribution when cutting. Propylene has a higher BTU value in the inner cone and lower BTU value in the outer cone than propane. The oxygen to fuel gas ratio is also slightly lower with propylene, making it somewhat more efficient than propane.

Methylacetylene-Propadiene: The gas you’ve never heard of (or have you?)

Methylacetylene-Propadiene (C6H8) is universally known as MAPP gas (a Linde trademark) or MPS.

There is some confusion surrounding the name. You might have heard that MAPP gas is no longer available. This is technically true. The last MAPP gas production plant in the US closed in 2008.

Gases available today are MAPP substitutes. MAPP gas does not offer many benefits over propane or propylene and is typically only used for small part heating and brazing. The one standout benefit of MAPP gas for cutting is its performance in high-pressure submerged cutting applications, but this is a rare application these days.

These four gases comprise the vast majority of fuels in use today for industrial heating, cutting, and welding. Many other gases exist, including branded gases which are usually one of the above-mentioned gases with a proprietary additive to enhance certain characteristics.

Knowing the capabilities and limitations of your fuel gas will make for a safer and more productive work environment. If you are unsure of the safety considerations of the gases you are using, please consult your gas supplier or OSHA standard 1910.253.

American Torch Tip is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date information surrounding the newest updates in the welding and cutting industry. Looking for more information about oxy fuel welding and cutting? Read our recent article about oxy fuel cutting and safety procedures.

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Here’s the rundown on how virtual reality plays a role in welding, why it’s important, and how you can get in on this growing tech trend.


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It’s no secret that U.S. manufacturers face constant increases in labor costs, which are already up 0.6 percent since the start of this year. The biggest contributors to that uptick are wages and benefits, but lost time due to illness, injury, or mistakes that throw a job off schedule also plays a part.


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The History of Welding & The Evolution of Welding Technology

The History & Future of Welding Technology

When we think of welding, we tend to think of it as a fairly recent technology used to construct some of the marvels of the modern age.

The truth is that there are dozens of forms of welding, some of which date back over five thousand years.

Ever since man first began shaping metal, there has been a desire to fuse two pieces of it together. It is entirely logical then that some of the first welders were blacksmiths and the first techniques used to bond metals were accomplished with a hammer and a forge.

The basic methodology was to heat a material to the point of malleability, and then smash it into another piece of similarly heated metal until they stuck together. This process remains largely the same today and is still used by blacksmiths to forge bespoke blades and ornaments.

Let’s explore some more history of the welding industry and analyze how it will shape the future.

The History of Welding: Forge Welding

Forge welding was the preferred process of joining metals from the early bronze age (circa 3,500 B.C.) through 1836, when gas welding became possible with the discovery of acetylene. Although this represented a tremendous leap forward in welding technology, early welding gases were inconsistent and expensive and the quest for more modern methods continued.

history of welding technology

In 1877, English-born American engineer Elihu Thomson invented the process of resistance welding by chance while preparing a lecture at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Eight years later, in 1885, Thomson built the first electric welder.

The First Carbon Electrode

In 1887, Nikolai Bernardos and Stanislaw Olszewski patented the first carbon electrode to be used with the arc welding technology developed in 1881 by Auguste de Méritens to join lead battery plates and manual metal arc welding was born. The process was cemented in 1890 when C.L. Coffin of Detroit was awarded the first U.S. patent for arc welding with a metal electrode.

history of welding

In stark contrast to the approach used by earlier methods, thermite welding was developed by Hans Goldschmidt in 1893 and by 1899 it was being used to join sections of railways in Germany. Over a century later, Goldschmidt’s process is still common in the rail industry.

20th Century

The twentieth century brought about rapid development in the burgeoning practice of welding during the machine age and many of the processes we are all familiar with today were developed during this time. Although the arc welding process and carbon electrodes had been invented years earlier, the welds produced by this process were prone to flaws and unsuitable for use in structural applications.

Everything changed in 1900 when Arthur Percy Strohmenger and Oscar Kjellberg released the first coated electrodes, which offered increased arc stability and more consistent welds.

Post World War

In 1919, shortly after the end of World War I, twenty members of the Wartime Committee of the Emergency Fleet Corporation founded the American Welding Society. Alternating current welding was also introduced by C.J. Holslag the same year but would not gain popularity for another decade until electrodes were developed which favored the process.

history of welding society

In 1920, P.O. Nobel of General Electric invented automatic welding; the first process to feed a wire electrode automatically based on arc voltage and the basis for what would later become MIG welding. A decade later, National Tube Works Company of McKeesport, Pennsylvania developed the submerged arc welding process to achieve higher deposition rates in pipe welding, a purpose for which it is still very popular to this day.

Welding During Times of War

Warfare has served to spur many major technological advancements and World War II proved to be no exception. One of the least-appreciated yet most significant contributions to welding technology was born in California’s Mare Island Naval Shipyard in early 1941 when shipbuilder Ted Nelson invented stud welding for use in attaching deck boards to ships.

Prior to Nelson’s invention, decking was attached with nuts and bolts using wrenches and large scaffolding systems. Nelson’s process was estimated to have saved the U.S. Navy more than 50 million man-hours during WWII.


The process he invented bears his name to this day as a registered trademark of the Stanley® company. Around the same time, Russell Meredith of the Northrup Aircraft Corporation developed the standard process for gas tungsten arc welding for use in aircraft construction using aluminum and titanium.

His patent would later be licensed to Linde, who renamed it Heliarc and invested heavily in further development of the process. The post-war years saw a booming U.S. economy which further drove the need for new and improved welding processes capable of supporting infrastructure, construction, transportation, and demand for consumer goods. The prevalent technologies of the jet age were shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) and gas metal arc welding

The History of GTAW Welding

GTAW stands for gun tungsten arc welding. These processes were capable of producing high-quality welds, but not at the high deposition rates that manufacturing demanded. This led to the development of gas metal arc welding (GMAW / MIG) at Battelle Memorial Institute in 1948.

With much higher deposition rates than competing processes, gas metal arc welding quickly gained popularity and has been renowned for its ease of use and speed ever since. In 1949 electron-beam welding was developed by German physicist Dr. Karl-Heinz Steigerwald, which uses a high energy beam of focused electrons to weld without filler metal in a vacuum.


This process can weld complex joints with a very small heat-affected zone. The space-age saw the first patent awarded for the plasma arc welding process to Robert Gage of Union Carbide in 1957.

Plasma arc welding is very precise and produces very high-quality welds on a variety of materials. Perhaps the most extreme form of metal fusion, explosion welding was developed by DuPont in 1962 and can be used to bond two metals that cannot be welded by other means. In this process, two sheets of material (a backer and a cladder) are buried in a granulated explosive compound which is then detonated at the corner, permanently sandwiching the sheets together.

In 1964, Kumar Patel of Bells Labs developed the Co2 laser, and laser beam welding was born. This process is similar in theory to electron-beam welding but electrons are transmitted via light at a 10.6μm wavelength and the process need not be performed in a vacuum.

The Development of Friction Stir Welding (FSW)

Friction Stir Welding (FSW) was invented by Wayne Thomas of The Welding Institute in 1991. FSW uses a tool that rotates at high speed and travels across a joint where downward force is applied and heat is induced by the friction of the tool meets the plate.


No filler material is used and the heat-affected zone is extremely minimal. This technology is most commonly used to join aluminum alloys up to 75mm in thickness but is also capable of joining dissimilar metals including magnesium, titanium, and nickel.

The Welding of The Present and Future

Modern-day welding technology is largely focused on process improvement, waste reduction, and efficiency. While robots have been integrated into welding processes since General Motors adopted the UNIMATE in 1962, recent improvements in collaborative robotics technology have allowed robots to work right alongside their human counterparts in flexible applications that don’t require lofty upfront investments, dedicated floor space, and lengthy programming sequences.

These “cobots” are well-suited to welding applications and can be integrated into a production welding environment in a matter of hours, expanding or supplementing manufacturing capacity exactly when and where the need arises. As the needs of an ever-evolving economy change, the future is sure to see the continuation of the storied tradition of innovation and adaptation of welding technology that has shaped the world we live in today.

As the welding industry & its needs continue to evolve, we will continue to bring you the most updated information and products here at American Torch Tip.

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