Those of us that have been in the resistance welding world for a while (I guess I have been in the business now for almost 30-years) have come to view the terms “resistance welding” and “resistance welding auto-body sheet” almost synonymously. Certainly, resistance welding has been an enabler for body in white construction, and is the dominant joining technology in the entire automotive industry. However, the notions of resistance heating and its use for assembly have extended far beyond the confines of the auto-body shop.
Resistance welding systems have extended into the regime of micro-electronics, facilitating joining of materials on the order of 10’s of microns thick. Alternately, resistance welding systems are now used for single shot joining of cross sections up to 1000’s of mm2. All this is has been made possible by two initiatives in the market place.
First has been an explosion in our understanding in the nuances of these processes, and how these must be manipulated for a specific application. Aspects such as follow-up requirements, current rise time, geometric considerations, etc. are now understood to a level that it is almost possible to define a desired capability without making a single weld. The second aspect has been development of new generations of equipment and sub-systems. For example, new generations of MFDC power supplies allow demands for specific current delivery systems to be straightforwardly met, and used to accomplish applications that were unthinkable even 10 years ago. The result has been a virtual explosion in resistance welding applications.
Resistance welding is being aggressively pursued in industry sectors ranging from aerospace to advanced energy to heavy manufacturing. Traditional advantages such as tooling simplicity, process robustness, and high productivity that we take for granted in the automotive world are now being exploited in this wide range of industrial sectors. Resistance welding engineers can now look beyond our normal fields of application to see fertile fields of new opportunity.