Seven Wonders of the Welding World

Published on 07 July 2021

20 min

  1. St. Louis Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch is a 630-foot monument in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. Clad in stainless steel and built in the form of a weighted catenary arch, it is the world's tallest arch, the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere, and Missouri's tallest accessible building

Welding sections for the assembly of a triangle caused some deformation due to heat shrinkage of the welds. Later, these sections were forced into the proper position for welding on the legs, causing a slight buckling of the stainless-steel surface. After a study of the situation and of the welding operations, the steel erector decided to camber the walls of each triangular section about 1-1/2 inches in 35 feet, so that the walls would be in the desired straight line after the welding shrinkage occurred.

It should be pointed out that all the welding on the Arch was done by expert welders who not only successfully completed welding tests but also showed exceptional welding skills.

Each triangular section below 300 feet high has two walls: an outer stainless steel wall and an inner carbon steel wall. Welders used butt welding techniques on both walls. Builders also used MIG, or metal inert gas, welding to join the polished stainless steel that forms the arch’s exterior walls. These stainless steel plates also had long rows of studs welded to them.

To attach the inner and outer walls, welders chose spot welding. This nearly heatless welding method ensured that the steel would not warp and become misshapen. 

  1. Disney’s Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth is a geodesic sphere that serves as the symbolic structure of Epcot, a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida. It is also the name of the dark ride attraction that is housed within the sphere that takes guests on a time machine-themed experience. The 15-minute dark ride demonstrates to guests how advancements in human communication have helped to create the future one step at a time. Passengers journey back in time to witness the origins of prehistoric man, then travel forward in time to witness important breakthroughs in communication throughout history—from the invention of the alphabet to the creation of the printing press to today's modern communication advancements, including telecommunication and mass communication. At the conclusion of the ride, passengers have the chance to design their own future using touch screens that are embedded into the ride cars.

  1. Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate is a public sculpture by Indian-born British artist Sir Anish Kapoor, that is the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. The sculpture and AT&T Plaza are located on top of Park Grill, between the Chase Promenade and McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink. Constructed between 2004 and 2006, the sculpture is nicknamed The Bean because of its shape, a name Kapoor initially disliked, but later grew fond of. Made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together, its highly polished exterior has no visible seams. It measures 33 by 66 by 42 feet (10 by 20 by 13 m), and weighs 110 short tons (100 t; 98 long tons). Kapoor's design was inspired by liquid mercury and the sculpture's surface reflects and distorts the city's skyline. Visitors are able to walk around and under Cloud Gate's 12-foot (3.7 m) high arch. On the underside is the "omphalos" (Greek for "navel"), a concave chamber that warps and multiplies reflections. The sculpture builds upon many of Kapoor's artistic themes, and it is popular with tourists as a photo-taking opportunity for its unique reflective properties. The sculpture was the result of a design competition. After Kapoor's design was chosen, numerous technological concerns regarding the design's construction and assembly arose, in addition to concerns regarding the sculpture's upkeep and maintenance. Various experts were consulted, some of whom believed the design could not be implemented. Eventually, a feasible method was found, but the sculpture's construction fell behind schedule. It was unveiled in an incomplete form during the Millennium Park grand opening celebration in 2004, before being concealed again while it was completed. Cloud Gate was formally dedicated on May 15, 2006, and has since gained considerable popularity, both domestically and internationally.

Cloud Gate is more than 30 feet (9 meters) high and 60 feet (18 meters) long, coated in highly polished stainless steel plates. Inside is a massive steel frame assembled using arc welding.

  1. Trans-Alaska Pipeline System

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) is an oil transportation system spanning Alaska, including the trans-Alaska crude-oil pipeline, 11 pump stations, several hundred miles of feeder pipelines, and the Valdez Marine Terminal. TAPS is one of the world's largest pipeline systems. It is commonly called the Alaska pipeline, trans-Alaska pipeline, or Alyeska pipeline, (or the pipeline as referred to in Alaska), but those terms technically apply only to the 800 miles (1,287 km) of the pipeline with the diameter of 48 inches (1.22 m) that conveys oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, Alaska. The crude oil pipeline is privately owned by the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. The pipeline was built between 1975 and 1977, after the 1973 oil crisis caused a sharp rise in oil prices in the United States. This rise made exploration of the Prudhoe Bay oil field economically feasible. Environmental, legal, and political debates followed the discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay in 1968, and the pipeline was built only after the oil crisis provoked the passage of legislation designed to remove legal challenges to the project.

Welders use heat to permanently join metal pieces together. To construct the pipeline, welders joined 40 foot sections of pipe and covered them with concrete. They worked inside an aluminum enclosure that protected them from the harsh weather and provided them with light so that they could work day and night. Inspectors used x-ray technology to make sure the welds were good quality

  1. Vertical Assembly Center

The Vehicle (originally Vertical) Assembly Building, or VAB, is the large building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), designed to assemble the large pre-manufactured space vehicle components, such as the massive Saturn V and the Space Shuttle; and stack them vertically onto the mobile launcher platform (MLP) and crawler-transporter. The future Space Launch System (SLS) will also be assembled there. At 129,428,000 cubic feet (3,665,000 m3) it is one of the largest buildings in the world by volume. The building is at Launch Complex 39 at KSC, halfway between Jacksonville and Miami, and due east of Orlando on Merritt Island on the Atlantic coast of Florida.[2] The VAB is the largest single-story building in the world,[3] was the tallest building (526 ft or 160 m) in Florida until 1974, and is still the tallest building in the United States outside an urban area.

The Vertical Assembly Center uses a technique called friction stir welding to bond pieces of metal without melting them or using filler material to seal joints.

  1. Walt Disney Concert Hall

The Walt Disney Concert Hall at 111 South Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, California, is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Center and was designed by Frank Gehry. It opened on October 24, 2003. Bounded by Hope Street, Grand Avenue, and 1st and 2nd Streets, it seats 2,265 people and serves, among other purposes, as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

To attach the metal together, the steel beams were welded and bolted together.  Steelworkers were hired to carefully walk and balance over one hundred feet amongst the skeletal frame of steel beams to bolt and weld the framework.

  1. The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel

The Detroit–Windsor Tunnel, also known as the Detroit-Canada Tunnel, or D&C Tunnel, is a highway tunnel connecting Detroit, Michigan, in the United States, with Windsor, Ontario, in Canada. It is the second-busiest crossing between the United States and Canada. 

The last landmark on our list is also the oldest. Built in 1930, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel runs below the
Detroit River and into nearby Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Workers first attempted to build the tunnel in the
1870s, but obstacles such as sulfur gas and limestone made the project expensive and dangerous.

Luckily, by the 1920s, new techniques, including arc welding, made the tunnel possible. The Detroit-
Windsor Tunnel is just under one mile in length (5,160 feet), but it contains around 65 miles of arc welding. Today, this tunnel serves as the second-busiest border crossing between the United States and Canada.

Prefabrication of the nine tube comprising the 32-foot diameter main channel section involved 65 miles of arc welding !V the first major use of arc welding in tunneling history. 

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