Pipe welding started in the 1920’s and is now almost a century old art and science. Why did welding begin? Because as systems and pipe sizes grew, the need for stronger, faster, and longer lasting joints became a necessity. Remember in the 1920’s there was no plastic to glue, no grooved pipe system, no mechanical joining systems other than threading and caulking.
Initially welding was accomplished by heating the two pipe ends with an oxygen/acetylene torch flame and then filling the gap with “filler material”, which in essence meant getting the joint to almost a molten state.
During the 1930’s the evolution of the metallic arc method started. This method was simply creating an arc with sacrificial filler, a mode that melted the two sides of the joint and acted as a filler at the same time creating a puddle that cooled to form “the weld”.
As World War 2 dawned and a massive building boom occurred in heavy industries the field of pipe welding progressed rapidly spurred by private and government research. Following the war, there was a continuing growth of industry, this growth resulted in the need to train even more skilled welders and evaluate them as well as rapid advances in technology.
Thus began the race to see what organizations would gain supremacy in welding standards that would govern all pipe welding. As it now stands, ASME is the lead definer of pipe welding standards. In conjunction with ANSI they have developed a number of piping codes that dictate the quality of pipe welding. These codes cover the bulk of all process and building energy systems; the one great exception is pipelines, which fall under API standards.
Over the years as the critical nature of pipe systems has elevated, a myriad of groups have stepped forward to provide weld testing, certification and specialized insurance.
What does all of this mean? Simply put, the contractor that possesses weld QC programs, certifications or stamps, hires third parties to insure certain types of weld integrity and provide inspections are most likely to hire the most competent welders, have them using the best welding procedures, possesses and have the tooling/infrastructure to support “code” quality welding in all welds. This is not to say firms that do not possess code stamps provide inferior welding, rather they typically meet the applicable code and not exceed it.
As a consumer of pipe welding you should ask the following;
Do you have welding procedures for the type of quality of weld to be produced
Do your welders have certification papers and if the papers are not within six months can you prove continuity
Do you have a method to assure that welding materials and processes are matched up?
If your contractor can produce this information then you can rest assured that they are most likely producing pipe weldments that meet the noncritical code standards.
For more information, contact Air Masters at 636-680-2100