Author : Susan Arnold

20 posts

Blacksmithing is a 3,500-year-old profession. Blacksmiths were working on metal projects as far back as the Bronze Age. In the past, blacksmiths had to rely on manpower to get the job done, but nowadays, industrial blacksmithing power hammers are helping to make the work much more efficient.

Significance

The Blacksmithing profession has come a long way from manual labor to a more automated process. Blacksmiths no longer have to toil long hours over the same slab of metal; industrial blacksmithing power hammers now make the job easier. Additionally, metalworking products are of superior quality compared to what was produced in the past.

History

Blacksmiths have been around since the beginning of modern civilization. In fact, the blacksmith profession can be traced back to the Bronze Age (about 3000-1500 BC). Blacksmiths were the toolmakers and manufacturers of their time. They were responsible for constructing tools, weapons, and machinery out of bronze, steel, and iron. There were also decorative and architectural blacksmiths who made gates, fences, and artistic pieces.

When completing these projects in the past, Blacksmiths had to rely on pure manpower; they had to hammer steel and iron by hand. This is why many blacksmiths had to be strong and able-bodied.

Luckily, today there are industrial blacksmithing power hammers available for metalworking projects.

Benefits

Compared to elbow grease, industrial blacksmithing power hammers have a lot to offer modern blacksmiths in the way of convenience and ease of use.

There are two main types of blacksmith power hammers: mechanical hammers and air hammers. Mechanical hammers use a crankshaft to power the machine, while air hammers are powered by air cylinders. These motorized hammers can deliver up to 500 pounds of force. The additional power allows modern blacksmiths to bend metal more accurately. You can easily adjust and move the metal you are working on, which helps shape the entire metal piece with greater precision. For example, if you need the metal to bend at a sharper angle in a certain place, you can set your blacksmithing hammer accordingly. So all in all, you will get a better quality product when you use a power hammer.

Challenges

There are a few downsides to industrial blacksmithing power hammers. For one, these hammers are much more complicated to use as compared to a regular hammer. With the basic hammers Blacksmiths previously used, all that was required was a good grip on the handle and some manpower.

But you have to be trained to use an industrial blacksmithing power hammer because there are many settings to navigate. Also, a power hammer is a dangerous tool; you have to be sure that you are taking every safety precaution when using one of these machines.

A lot can go wrong when welding and metal fabrication is involved. Let’s watch a real incident that I personally saw.

The Incident

As I drove toward Morton, IL to go to my weight loss group, I could see huge billows of smoke rolling into the air. I was still in Washington, IL, and heading toward whatever was on fire. I assumed it was in the commercial area of Morton to be throwing smoke in such huge amounts.

As I got closer and closer, I could see that it was Morton Welding that was on fire, and I was astonished at the amount of black smoke that was being thrown from the building. The traffic was moving at a crawl so I had the opportunity to snap some photos of the smoke. As I got to where I could see the fire itself, the flames looked like they were shooting 100 feet in the air. It was approximately 6:15 pm that I drove by.

The traffic was horrible and I was astonished at the number of people that were pulled alongside the road and standing outside of their cars just watching this scene.

The fire began at approximately 5:50 pm on Thursday evening. Reportedly, a pile of plastic pallets had caught on fire, then caused several propane tanks to explode. I have never learned how these pallets caught fire in the first place. Still, protection is vital when it comes to metal fabrication. Employees said that the blasts were so large that they could feel them rumble the building.

Thankfully, all of the second shift employees escaped unharmed. Morton Welding employs approximately 500 people in the facility, and approximately 130 people were working on that shift.

The damage to the building was not as bad as it could have potentially been. The exterior metal was melted by the heat of the flames. After a few hours, the employees returned back to work, and only a handful of night-shift employees weren’t able to work that evening due to damage.

It could have been a terrible loss to Morton had the fire been worse. The company has been in this town for 40 years and makes parts for such large companies as Caterpillar and John Deere. We are thankful that no one was seriously hurt and that it was under control quickly!

My husband was brave enough to share his experience in tig welding with me. He is not the most patient person, but he does enjoy showing me what skills he has acquired when he can slow me down enough to teach me. Sometimes being asked to step into the man’s world is a benefit for the relationship. I know I was impressed at how much he was able to convey to me in such a short time, which didn’t even touch the amount of knowledge he has to carry around in his brain on a daily basis!

So, from a woman’s point of view, an amateur welder by far, and from the perspective of a wife, here is what I learned about tig welding in one afternoon! Although I was proud of the courage I showed to give it a try, I was still amazed at how something can look so simple but require so much thought. My list is not necessarily in the proper order.

1. Argon comes in mixes. The best tig weld to be had requires 100% Argon gas.
2. Know how to hook up the Argon.
3. Know how and when to sharpen the tungsten. The tungsten is the metal piece that you strike to begin and continue welding.
4. Know how to strike your tungsten.
5. If you have no Argon gas, it will burn up your tungsten.
6. Know how to keep your tungsten from sticking to your metal.
7. Know how to hold your torch.
8. Wear your gloves to protect your hands from accidental injury (burns included).
9. The cup comes in different sizes. The cup is the sleeve around your tungsten.
10. The cup gets very hot.
11. Know how to ground.
12. Hook up the lead to the positive side of a tig/arc welder for tigging so that the Argon gas can flow.
13. Know how and when to adjust your temperature.
14. Know how to turn on your welder.
15. Know how to grind your welds to clean the rough edges.
16. Know how and when to use filler rods.
17. Filler rods come in different sizes.
18.ALWAYS wear your welding helmet.
19. The best welding helmet is adjustable for the size of your head and has an auto-darkening lens.
20. Know how to change your lens should it become necessary.

Let it be noted that while I definitely would require much, much more practice before I could claim any positive achievements in this field, I still very much enjoyed what I learned and observed. Thanks to my husband and to all those welders (male or female) out there who make this skill a part of their lives to help provide something useful for our world.

By taking what is considered one of the most intricate manufacturing processes and automating it, companies can increase efficiency of output at a lower cost, to keep profit margins higher and sustain better levels of quality. This article will explain the benefits of hard automation.

Traditionally, most manufacturing companies in the business of assembling parts have taken great pains to automate the factory floor, but have failed to address the welding process. In some cases, manual welding is still required. However, in many cases these days, most welding processes can be automated, given the advancements in software, tools, and technologies that support it.

Important Factors

The key to knowing if welding automation applies to a process relies on some key considerations:

  • · Is the quality or function of the weld critical in the final piece? If so, these are the applications that benefit most from automation.
  • · If repetitive welds are required on identical parts.
  • · If parts have collected a great deal of value before welding.

Some examples that are perfect candidates for automated welding are:

  • · Capacitor Cans
  • · Valve Elements
  • · Batteries
  • · Sensors
  • · Pipe Fittings
  • · Medical Components
  • · Fuel Filters

Automating the welding portion of the assembly for these types of items bring costs down, increase quality and consistency, and decrease waste.

The overall quality of a weld consists of weld integrity and repeatability. Using automated welding systems, like that offered in orbital welding machines, yields integrity through automated weld process controllers that consistently apply the correct amount of weld on every application, for every part.

Efficiency and output increases when welding is performed by machines. They can be tuned to weld to exacting standards, which is oftentimes not attainable on a consistent and long-term basis through manual welding. Automatic and semi-automatic systems remove the human factor from welding to increase production rates.

Human factor and errors are also removed by automation of the torch and any moving parts. Automation guarantees each weld is like the one before it. The same consistency, the same application rate, and the weld only occurs if all requirements are met. Humans tend to overlook small inadequacies and weld over them. Machines will not do this, which means results will be consistent and less product will be scrapped as waste, another savings in cost.

Most semiautomatic systems can produce, at a minimum, twice the output of a skilled welder with quality results. Machines also are on duty when you need them. If workers are unable to come in, you lose production rates, unless you can find skilled replacements. Finding skilled workers has become more challenging. However, finding a core set of skilled welders who can operate automated machinery is an easier goal to reach, which makes automated welding an option that bears increased cost-savings.

Conclusion

It is always important to remember that automation does not always guarantee profitability. The welding process being automated must fit the criteria for automation in order to yield desired results. Taking care to study and analyze what you plan to automate before making the investment will help you make the most of your investment dollar, and achieve greater profitability.

 

Blacksmithing requires many tools that help the blacksmith make objects from metal. Many wonderful items are made by a blacksmith like gates, horseshoes, and plant hangers. The metal is heated and pounded into the desired shape. Hammers, tongs, and files are some of the tools used by a blacksmith.

Most blacksmith tools are made of iron but some have wooden handles on them. These wood handles need to be kept clean. You can keep them clean by taking a clean soft rag and soaking it in some tongue oil. The tongue oil cleans and conditions the wood to keep the wood moist. If the wood gets too dry it can split or crack and ruin wood. A wood handle that is not cleaned and oiled will eventually need to be replaced and that can be more costly and time-consuming than keeping it clean in the first place.

Protection from Corrosion

Hammers, tongs, and other metal parts need to be oiled as well. The metal can rust even if it is kept in a dry place. Humidity can create rust on the metal in the best conditions and it can make the tools less desirable to use. If the rust is allowed to get too bad it can destroy the tool. To prevent your tools from getting rusty you need to coat them with a thin layer of oil to protect them. You can take a soft rag that has some tongue oil on it and rub it on the metal parts. Make sure you only spread a very thin layer of oil on the metal and then rub the tool with a soft dry absorbent rag to soak up any remaining oil. Let the tool air dry for a few hours before you use it.

Tools that get wet should be dried off as soon as possible to prevent the metal from forming rust. You can use a soft cotton rag to soak up the moisture and let the tool air dry completely before storing or oiling the tool

Blacksmithing tools should be kept in a dry place. The less moisture that the tools are stored in the better the tools will keep from rusting. You can hang the tools on a wall so air can get all around the tools. You can also keep them in a dry toolbox until you are ready to use them.

Conclusion

Those were some of the most important methods that you can use. Take good care of your tools so you can enjoy forming hot metal for years.

There is no clear cut way to becoming a blacksmith in this day and age. There are no apprenticeship programs or university degrees in blacksmithing. But if you are determined to become a blacksmith, there are ways you can learn the trade.

Blacksmithing, once a common occupation, is no longer a necessary trade due to modern machines and technology that can much more quickly and easily make the tools and other metal work that blacksmith made in the past.

As there is no formal education system for blacksmithing, you will need to forge your own path on the road to becoming a blacksmith. Some blacksmiths will take on an apprentice, but you will need to do the work to find one who will. You will need to network and make calls, and ask around. Some blacksmiths don’t like to have an apprentice. It can be a liability to have an unskilled apprentice underfoot. A blacksmith’s shop is a dangerous place, with expensive tools and equipment.

Tips for Becoming A Blacksmith

If you are serious about becoming a blacksmith, you should have some skill in metal working. You can take a courses in welding and metal working at your local college. You should have some form of industrial safety training, and these courses teach safety measures for working with hot metal, and you will learn how to use metal working equipment properly. Taking these courses may also help in finding an apprenticeship faster, as any blacksmith you approach will take you a little more seriously, plus he will know you will be less of a hazard in his shop if he decides to take you on as an apprentice.

The Artist Blacksmith Association of North America, or ABANA, is an excellent resource for those trying to enter the world of blacksmithing. Go to their website and find a local affiliate group, (or the nearest one to you that you can find), and attend meetings. You will be able to gain important knowledge on blacksmithing opportunities, and meet professional and amateur blacksmiths. Networking is important for many career choices, but in blacksmithing, it is almost a necessity.

There is much to be learned from books, blacksmithing publications and websites. Much of your training will come from classes and workshops run by other blacksmiths. You will have to do your research, as these are hard to find.

Conclusion

In the world of blacksmithing, you have to dig for opportunities. They certainly won’t come to you. You must be diligent and persistent, and do a lot of research to find your way to becoming a professional.

Floral forms and leaf work are among the most challenging types of metalwork. This is due, in part, to the visual delicacy that must be achieved in metal. Then there is the inevitable comparison with the ‘real things’ found in nature.

The range of leaf and floral motifs is as broad as the types of process that can be employed to achieve them. They can be incised, chased and made from sheet, plate, round or square bar, with processes that are hot in some examples and cold in others. This new series on floral motifs will cover the processes that produced everything seen here and more.

As you work through different leaf or floral forms realize that much of the leaf work seen in a historic context was the product of specialists. They were blacksmiths who just did leaf work in styles, and with tools, that they had begun to use as children in an apprenticeship. If they started at 10 years old, by the time they were 30, they had 20 years of focused experience.

Tips for Creating Such Patterns

As blacksmiths today, we are usually generalists rather than specialists so it may not be practical to focus and master the entire realm of floral process and effects. Instead, pick what you would like to master in the way of style and process, then learn the tools and techniques while doing test (practice) pieces.

 

Pay close attention to each step taken, each tool applied and the temperature (color) or annealing of the metal, so that specific adjustments can be made. Things to consider include a more polished, softer-edged tool to reduce tool marks; the need to anneal more often to end cracking, to use rivets instead of a weld or where to modify a pattern to make cutting easier.

 

Floral forms and leaf work, in architectural ironwork or furniture, need to be addressed at the drawing board before the first metal is cut or forged. Here are some things to work through at the drawing board, using a leaf as an example.

 

Purpose: What is the leaf supposed to do for the design? Is the leaf to fill a space, cover a joint between two or more bars, be a decorative flourish, add color?

 

This decision (“hmm, all of the above”!) leads to; Process choices: Will the leaf blank be repousse’ in sheet, forged and formed from bar stock or cut and chased from either a forged blank or sheet metal? Before this answer is chiseled in steel, one other consideration is…

 

Joinery: How will the leaf, as it fills a space, covers joints while adding a colorful, decorative flourish to the work, actually get ‘fastened’ to that work? In some cases, joinery can influence the choice of process. Hence, having decided the use or ‘purpose’ for the leaf, joinery and process are co-considered. What follows is an example.

 

The room divider shown above has bronze leaf work that covers joints in some places and serves as colorful finials in other places, such as on some scrolls. The leaves in both applications use the same patterns* and forming process. Where the leaves differ is in the joinery. The stem of the leaf that covers a joint is formed and then riveted onto the bar stock. The stem of the leaf at the end of a scroll is rolled into a tube and gas welded onto a forged bronze bar which is in turn brazed to the prepared end of a forged steel scroll. The leaf patterns had to bemodified so there was material in the right place for their respective joinery. Once these location-based joinery decisions are made, the process and pattern can be addressed.

 

Now it’s time to head to the shop. Full scale patterns with the joinery resolved and which are matched to the right materials, tools and process, will make floral forms and leaf work much easier.

Welding is can be a hobby and a professional skill. Many people are intimidated by this profession. However, it can be a career where a lot of money are made. After all, welders are always needed.

Construction groups around the city and state – as well as around the country – are always in need of such professionals as are government groups and engineer companies. This is a chance to learn the latest techniques and technology and to learn from experts. Highly learning experiences usually happen during apprenticeships, internships, and during their first jobs after they graduate from their welding school.

Welding is all about bringing materials together to build something important: whether it’s a buildings’ structure or something like furniture. People of all ages and backgrounds can pursue such a career. It really is a reliable way to make good money and to meet great people, too. Though long thought to be a men’s world, welding is a great place for women, too, especially those who like working with their hands. Really, anyone who has a fine attention to detail is hard-working and doesn’t mind working with his or her hands is a great fit for a welding career.

In today’s uncertain economy, it is important to invest in a career that will really help people stay afloat even when unemployment is on the rise. This is where enrolling in a welder school is a smart decision. Here, people can invest in solid training that will basically secure them a job later on down the line. The world is always in need of people who know how to handle welding equipment. Thus, this is a great way to secure one’s future. Becoming a welder is a great decision for people who take great pride and making things with their hands, like working with an advanced pieces of equipment, and want to see their work put to good use.

Building an Ornamental Iron Door: A Novice Blacksmith’s Guide

A wrought iron door can be sturdy, functional, and highly decorative, and can be used as a distinctive entrance when compared to standard pre-manufactured doors. Wrought iron doors lend themselves well to applications ranging from home use to doors for larger formal buildings, such as churches, libraries, and courthouses. An ornamental iron door works as a fine accompaniment to traditional masonry construction. Using a process called stipple etching, an ironworker can give a utilitarian metal door a far more ornate appearance than is normally found in wrought iron.

Steps:

  1. Draw the outline of the door’s structural components, such as the two side beams and three cross beams of a standard square door, while marking the locations for pre-fabricated rivet holes using a mechanical pencil on the graph paper. Be sure to include holes for the heavy-duty door hinges that will be required to support a solid iron door. Use the geometry set to ensure that the drawing is made at an easily convertible scale. Finalize the door or structural design by adding numerical distance measurements based upon measurements of the doorway that the metal door will hang in, and ink the lines with the drafting pen. Once the ink has dried, use a white eraser to remove the pencil lines.
  2. Draw the decorative stipple design on the graph paper on a new page, using a mechanical pencil. When a pleasing aesthetic design is ready, finalize the drawing by inking the lines with the drafting pen. Allow the ink to dry before erasing the pencil lines with the white eraser.
  3. E-mail a copy of the structural design diagram to the nearest metal fabrication shop after securing a contract for fabrication work via the telephone. For the ease of the shop personnel, make sure to include an itemized list of parts and their dimensions, as well as where the pre-drilled rivet holes need to be located for the door to fit together. To obtain a digital copy of the hand-drawn diagram, either scan an image using a computer scanner or use a high-quality digital camera in good lighting conditions to create the digital image to send to the fabrication shop.
  4. Assemble the door pieces on the concrete shop floor, running the heavy rivets through the proper rivet holes to reach the final desired shape of the door. Use the metal C clamps to secure the areas where the siding crossbars meet. Use wet folded newspaper to provide a heat resistant buffer between the concrete floor and the iron door to avoid scuffing the metal while hammering the rivets. Place a copper shim block between the shop floor and the rivet to provide a solid backing while hammering the rivet in. Heat the protruding end of the top right corner rivet with a propane torch until it reaches a glowing orange color. Hammer the protruding end of the rivet with the ball-peen using the flat striking face. Hammer until a tight joint is created and the protruding end is rounded down. Repeat the process until all of the rivets are secured and the door structure is complete.
  5. Draw a series of dots on the surface of the iron door with the black permanent marker, using the draft image of the stipple ornamental design as a guide. Strike every place marked with a black dot with the dot punch by striking the punch firmly with the flat surface of the ball-peen hammer. Eventually, the dots will form a decorative image. When adding a stipple design to a metal surface, it is common practice to repeat the same smaller design multiple times to achieve a larger decorative effect, though elaborate pieces that form actual pictures rather than simple designs are possible in the hands of a skilled craftsman.

Things You’ll Need:

  • graph paper
  • geometry set
  • mechanical pencil
  • white eraser
  • drafting pen
  • computer
  • scanner or digital camera
  • prefabricated iron door components
  • heavy steel or iron rivets
  • copper shim block
  • propane torch
  • ball peen hammer
  • blacksmithing vest
  • safety glasses
  • fire extinguisher
  • dot punch

Tips

  • If you are unfamiliar with the process of stipple drawing, you can opt to hire an artist to create the stipple image for you at a resolution that matches the actual door itself. From there it is a simple matter to print out the design on one page at a time, tape it to the finished door structure, and use the printouts as a template to show the metalworker exactly where to strike with the dot punch.
  • Skilled metal workers can take the time to work the iron themselves straight out of raw iron ingots or sheets; however, this will add a significant amount of time to the project, meaning that pre-ordering custom fabricated pieces is the way to go for the craftsmen who value their time.
  • Combining the process of cloisonné –glass enameling – with the stipple engraving process on a piece by piece basis before assembling the entire structure can lead to fantastically beautiful works of craftsmanship the likes of which are rare in the modern era.
  • If during the design phase you suspect that the door will be too heavy using an entirely iron design, consider using a high-quality hardwood for the interior panels as opposed to iron plates. This saves on weight without substantially compromising structural quality.

Warnings

  • Wear safety goggles and a blacksmithing vest at all times when working metal to prevent injury.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy just in case, since the propane torch can lead to unexpected fire mishaps.

Choosing a welding process to improve efficiency is a major issue. In general, it can be confirmed that the more automated the welding process, the higher the efficiency will be.

However, we must not forget the criterion of quality according to the customer’s specifications. Another criterion not to be overlooked in this reflection: can this process be used on site or only in the workshop? From Welding & CNC you can have the best solutions with the welding and blacksmithing works.

Welding Processes: Calculate The Efficiency Rate And The Uptime

There is a fairly simple method to define a rate for the yield by calculating the number of kilograms of metal that will be deposited on the condition of working with a metal contribution.

But another factor is also decisive: it is the actual welding time, to which must be added the preparation of the metals to be welded. The “on arc time” is therefore taken into account.

The last element will be the scrap rate from weld defects. Depending on the situation, it is better to use a certain welding process to improve performance.

The MIG MAG Welding Process: Very High Efficiency But The Need To Control Quality

Take The Example Of MIG MAG

This process can be easily automated with very high yields, simple to practice and quickly mastered. It is one of the welding processes to improve the yield thanks to its productivity.

On the other hand, each MAG weld must undergo a quality test. In MIG mode, as an inert gas is used, this process offers a slightly higher quality, it will be reserved for more sensitive and more neutral materials such as stainless steel or aluminum. Conversely, MAG is widely used for structural and scrap metal applications.

The automotive industry is one of the industries that heavily use the MAG process because of its productivity. As MIG MAG technology has improved significantly over the years, it is widely used in the construction of structures such as bridges or buildings, and even in the nuclear sector. In automated mode, this process is used exclusively in the workshop. On the other hand, the latest generation machines are to be preferred.

The Submerged Arc Welding Process: High Efficiency For Large Thicknesses

With regard to the submerged arc process, very high yields are observed because metal will be laid in extremely high quantities. To give an idea: on site we will be able to merge a plate with a thickness of 10 mm in one go. It is with this process that we will deposit the most metal when welding.

The main use is the shipbuilding industry due to the use of thick sheets which must be butted. In this type of application, two plates are placed on the ground to weld them together. Here, the arc time on ignition is also high but the implementation is longer. This process is rarely used for tube welding because a powder is deposited on the top of the tube, which must rotate. Therefore, this application on tube is only to be carried out in the workshop.

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