History of MIG and Spot Welding in Car Manufacturing Industry

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The car industry is one of the most important ones for our contemporary society. Being able to travel long distances has always been a necessity for humans. We have come a long way from horses and carriages and now have modern cars that do the traveling for us. Automobiles and transportation vehicles are also important for delivering goods and materials from one point to the other.

With the evolution of cars so have ways of manufacturing them developed as well. For a while now, MIG and Spot welding have been staples in the car manufacturing industry. These two welding processes are the most reliable ones when working on cars due to their unique ability to weld sheet metal.

MIG Welding History

MIG welding was originally invented in the 19th century when Humphry Davy discovered the electric arc. Originally, carbon electrodes were used but later substituted by metal ones. The first innovation came in 1920 when a bare electrode wire and direct current were used with an arc voltage to regulate the feed rate.

Today, MIG welding is seen as one of the most popular welding processes, especially in the sheet metal industry. Consequently, it is an important factor for the automotive industry as well. A lot of people are still fixing automobile parts on their own in their garages with MIG welders.

The greatest advantage of MIG welding in the automobile industry is that it is capable of producing clean welds. Not only that but is great for precise work. There is minimal splatter and you can work with dissimilar metals easily.

If you are planning to start MIG welding at home learn more about the basics here.

Spot Welding History

Spot welding is a welding process that uses electric resistance welding to join metal products together. It uses a process where contacting metal surface points are joined by the heat created from the resistance to electric current.

It was created by accident when Elihu Thomson fused two copper wires during an experiment. He started working on electric resistance welding in 1885 and eventually created the majority of his products in 1900.

Spot welding is a staple in many industries today, especially car manufacturing and sheet metal. The main part of it is that you need to make sure that the surface is free of contamination to get the best results.

Spot welding is the most suitable welding method for the automotive industry as it is the one that is most suitable for automation. In fact, advances were made in creating spot welding robots that easily fuse car parts together and great speeds. Today, a contemporary car has around 5,000 different spot welds that join sheets of different thicknesses together. Spot welding is also a process that is most suitable to speed up. Advances were made that enabled robots to work a lot faster when welding car parts on a construction line.

Copper electrodes of spot welding machine at factory, plant – close up. Metalworking, industrial, equipment, technology, machining, manufacturing concept

Welding in the Automotive Industry

With processes like MIG, TIG, and spot welding becoming a mainstay in the welding industry, changes were still needed to meet contemporary standards. As cars grew lighter and faster, reduced emission was the ultimate goal that each manufacturer needed to achieve.

Aluminum, magnesium, and titanium alloy were the most suitable replacements for traditional steel. Using them resulted in weight reduction and lesser CO2 emission. MIG and Spot welding have been used in the automotive industry from the very start. But with the need for more precise and faster work, its usage has expanded even further.

MIG is probably more suitable for repairs. A lot of garages operate in a way where a person uses a MIG welder by hand to make the necessary repairs to a car, no matter how small or big they are. However, spot welding is still a better choice when it comes to doing things faster.

Welding Automation in the Car Manufacturing Industry

Currently, we are at the pinnacle of welding automation in the automobile industry. In the past, a single welding technician was used to cater to 20 robots that did all the work. As the machines became more sophisticated and easier to use, that number swells to one technician per 50 units.

The modem assembly line for car manufacturing does not have so many humans anymore. Besides the technicians that operate the entire line, everything is automated. The welding and joining of parts are done by robots that are able to provide precise work.

The most common welding methods used in automotive welding include resistance seam welding, resistance spot welding, tungsten inert gas (GTAW) welding, metal inert gas (GMAW) welding, friction welding (FW), laser beam welding (LBW), and plasma arc welding (PAW).

Spot welders are now completely automated and are fully capable of finishing everything on an assembly line in mere seconds.

The spot welding the automotive parts by the robotic arm. The hi-technology automobile assembly line production concept .

Are we Facing Complete Automation in the Car Manufacturing Industry?

The lingering question always comes down to – Are humans going to be completely replaced by robots? Based on what we talked about so far it sure looks like it. While it is true that robots are gradually replacing humans statistics show otherwise.

Based on the research conducted during a 10-year span between 2005 and 2015, a reduction of only 8% was established. Even though humans are doing less and less manufacturing themselves, they are not going to be entirely replaced by robots.

Why is that?

The most simple answer is precession. Even though we do have robots that can spot weld an entire car, certain precise work is still not possible that way. A robot cannot do the same thing as a human can. This goes double for MIG welding as a human can change positions, reduce speed when needed, and make adjustments based on the results. Robots are still not equipped to do that. This is why humans are still needed to do fine work, especially when fixing a car.

Robots may be good at assembling a car fast, but a human is still going to do all the repairs and the fine-tuning needed.

To Summarize

MIG and Spot welding are very important processes for the automotive industry. They have been there from the beginning and they are definitely not leaving any time soon. These processes have been improved upon and their speed, way of doing things, and how they are used has certainly been advanced. But there isn’t a method that will entirely replace them.

Robots are taking over the car manufacturing process. A robot spot welder can assemble an entire car. Nevertheless, a vehicle is not complete without a human touch. Even the most advanced ones. The best example comes when Elon Musk decided to get rid of his most advanced welders on the assembly line that we’re able to do the job quite fast. But they didn’t have the best results. Therefore, humans were returned to improve upon these errors.

All in all, welding in the automotive industry is something that will keep advancing and it should be. We need it to make better vehicles that might drive us further and perhaps allow us to reach new heights one day.

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