Welding Repair

SIC 7692

Industry report:

This classification covers businesses that primarily do general repair work by welding, including automotive welding.

Welding joins materials by applying heat, and sometimes pressure, with or without the use of a filler metal. The process joins metals by melting, fusing, and solidifying the joined area. Welding is used to fuse structural components for aircraft, cars, ships, and most other metal industrial products. Industry firms perform general repairs in their own shops on welded items, such as motor vehicles. Welders that travel to construction sites are represented in SIC 1799: Construction, Industry.
There are numerous welding techniques used for different applications. One of the most common is shielded metal-arc welding, which uses an electric arc to quickly weld a point. Cold welding, a more specialized technique, uses pressure alone to join metals without any heat. Explosion welding uses a controlled blast to pressure two metals. Other welding techniques include diffusion, which uses heat and pressure; laser-beam; ultrasonic, which utilizes high-frequency vibration; and variations of electric arc welding.

Massive U.S. industrial expansion during the twentieth century was joined with an identifiable welding repair industry. The boom in post-World War II car and truck sales created further demand for welding repair shops. By the end of the 1970s, welding repair revenues approached $1 billion and industry jobs surpassed 24,000. Although U.S. industrial output, particularly for cars, rose during the 1980s, inflation-adjusted welding repair revenues was stagnant. The development of new welding techniques, which increased durability, was one reason for a decline in repair work. Increased use of synthetic metal substitutes also reduced demand for welding repairs.

The majority of welders work in the manufacturing industry. Welding repair is generally one of the functions of those workers, while welders in other industries perform specialized functions, largely in automobile repair, or offer general services. Welders, cutters, solderers, and braziers are categorized together by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as workers who use hand-welding, flame-cutting, hand soldering, or brazing equipment to weld or join metal components or to fill holes, indentations, or seams of fabricated metal products. About 466,400 people were employed in this industry in 2010. Two of three employees worked in manufacturing, and about 20 percent belonged to unions. Of the approximately 15,000 welding repair shops, more than half were sole proprietorships, and more than 85 percent had fewer than five employees. In 2008 the industry generated $3.1 billion in revenues.

Many welders are trained on the job, although vocational and technical schools offer formal training programs and the U.S. military operates welding schools for enlisted personnel. While the demand for welders by manufacturers might decline, the job outlook for welding repairers was positive in the early 2010s, as these positions were less likely to be replaced by automation. Nevertheless, according to the BLS, "automated welding is being used in an increasing number of production processes. � In these instances, a machine or robot performs the welding tasks while being monitored by a welding machine operator." BLS predictions called for little or no change in employment numbers between 2008 and 2018.

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