In this new era of shipbuilding it is refreshing to see that new methods and technology are being used and embraced. The use of welding automation to improve the overall process and increase arc on time is something shipyards have used to stay competitive by dramatically reducing the cost of welding and rework.

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The Shipbuilding Industry

The modern shipbuilding process is a complex undertaking, requiring accuracy and precision to generate parts or joints that are durable and oil- and watertight. To accomplish this, welding is a critically important technique to achieve these goals in ship construction and repairs. At Gullco International, our innovations in automated welding can make this vital shipyard process safer, efficient, and more consistent. Learn more about the types of welding applicable to the shipbuilding industry, and how welding automation can improve your operations and help you remain competitive.

Types of Welding

Welding has taken over as the primary fabrication process in shipbuilding for its capability to produce strong smooth surfaces on a ship’s hull and decrease resistance and weight. Among the welding methods available for shipbuilding, there are three that are the most common.

Arc Welding

The arc welding family of techniques is named for the arc of electrical current passed between a metal electrode or wire and a base metal. The arc acts as the heat source to melt the metals, fusing components together and forming a strong, lasting, and fully sealed bond as the welds cool. Arc welding processes generate a closed circuit between the power supply and the electrode. Each variation of the process uses a different method to shield or otherwise keep the arc stable and produce quality welded joints. Some categories of arc welding include:

  • Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW)
  • Submerged arc welding
  • Metal inert gas (MIG) welding
  • Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding
  • Stud welding

Of the three main welding categories, arc welding is particularly useful in shipbuilding. It can successfully and efficiently bond or repair decking, metal plates, panels, membrane tanks, and aluminum deckhouses, as well as affix studs, insulation, wood flooring, and more.

Resistance Welding

Typically used for spot welds and seams in shipbuilding, resistance welding passes electrical current through metal parts held together under pressure, fusing them where they join. It is the metals’ electrical resistance that creates the heat needed to achieve a weld. Unlike arc methods, resistance welding requires no metal filler, which makes it a highly affordable technique. Examples of resistance welding processes include:

  • Seam welding
  • Spot welding
  • Flash welding
  • Projection welding
  • Upset welding

Gas Welding

Concentrated fuel gas flames react with acetylene or oxygen to heat metal in a particular weld area in gas welding processes, fusing parts together with a welding rod or other filler—though filler is not always necessary. As surrounding material is at a higher risk of distortion, gas welding is less commonly used in ship welding as compared to arc welding. The different gas welding processes include:

  • Oxy-gasoline gas welding
  • Oxy-acetylene gas welding
  • Hydrogen gas welding
  • Propane or butane welding
  • Methylacetylene-propadiene propane (MAPP) gas welding

Improving the Process

Welding is an inherently dangerous process, and the environment in which welders work directly affects both the quality of the weld and their safety. Wind, rain, humidity, extreme temperatures, and other environmental conditions can compromise the strength and integrity of weldments, exposing workers to heat-related illnesses and electrocution risks in the process. Welding in shipyards, unfortunately, is susceptible to all of these risks, creating challenges for efficient, quality production while ensuring worker safety.

At Gullco International, we offer automated welding equipment to address these issues and improve speed, quality, and safety in the shipbuilding industry. Our solutions can provide:

  • Improved worker safety with reduced exposure to heat and other hazards
  • Enhanced reliability with minimized human error
  • More consistent, accurate, quality welding
  • Increased arc time through welding automation
  • Expanded capacity with enhanced productivity
  • Fast weld repositioning
  • Reduced costs
  • Minimized waste and rework

Partner With Gullco International

With nearly seven decades of experience and a worldwide reach, we synthesize the skills, knowledge, and experience to offer reliable, innovative solutions to automate welding and associated processes. We are committed to continual improvement, developing new welding automation systems and equipment to address the ever-changing needs of the industry.

Our catalog of durable machinery and accessories can assist our customers in expanding production, reducing costs, enhancing quality and uniformity, and, above all, improving worker safety in shipbuilding and countless other industries. Contact us today to learn more about our welding automation products or request a quote for your next project.