Electric Arc Welding

Electric arc welding lowered the price of joining metal pieces, eventually enabling the construction of much larger structures.

Russians love to build giant things, bolshoya as they say in Russian. Therefore, it makes sense that it was a Russian, Benardos Nikolai Nikolaevic, who realized in 1881 that two metal pieces can be tightly joined together by welding with an electric current.

Like most other Russians who can, Nikolaevic soon after moved to Paris. He patented electric arc welding in 1885 and the US in 1887.

As electric arc welding became more common, Nikolaevic became homesick and moved back to Russia, settling in St. Petersburg. There, he created the “Elektrogefest” society to teach the world about welding. This group soon transformed into a company that “ruthlessly exploited” Nikolaevich, leaving him so poor he could not afford to live in the city.

Like countless inventors here at Innowiki, Nikolaevich moved back to his home village of Fastov and died poor. Well, they don’t all move to Fastov — he’s the only one who did that — but way too many die poor while their inventions, in this case literally, allow people to soar.

Every modern skyscraper uses electric arc welding to reach to the heavens. Automobile factors feature welding robots, themselves welded together using the technique, that assemble cars with Nikolaevich’s methods. The Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower are possible thanks to this method. Nikolaevich’s electric arc welding is the glue for the modern world.

Ironically, except for tall buildings, the rush to weld metal together quieted down for several decades. It was World War I, where tanks and tractors became high-strength instruments of war, that increased the efficiency and use of electric arc welding. Industrialization, especially in the automobile and building industry continued during the interwar period. The Empire State Building was revealed in 1930, a testament to the methods Nikolaevich created.

Today, we take electric arc welding for granted. We sit in buildings, ride in cars, and look at even the cheapest manufactured products welded together with electricity.

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