Pioneering Advancements in Welding

This is the third in a series of articles that will be published on the Smith Precision Products Company website this year to highlight the engineering achievements of the Company’s founder, Reuben Stanley Smith, as celebration of the Company’s 75th anniversary year, 2013.

Articles already posted involve Reuben’s work with the Smith Motorwheel and the Mechanical Marvel.  These can be accessed under Recent News Posts or News Archives.


Pioneering Advancements in Welding

Reuben Stanley Smith, founder of Smith Precision Products Company, and a team of engineers at the A.O. Smith Corporation in Milwaukee, made some incredible advancements in welding technology between the years 1916 and 1920 when Reuben was the Chief Engineer of the A.O. Smith Corporation (See Family Legacy timeline, year 1918).

Pipe Loading Platform

It is widely acclaimed that it was the A.O. Smith Company’s early developments in arc-welding which became one of its greatest contributions to industry.

Reuben Stanley Smith filed four welding patents while working for the A.O. Smith Corporation.  The first two patents were filed on the same day, December 6, 1918.  One was for the first coated electrode (paper soaked in sodium silicate) and the other was for an arc welding apparatus that could weld longitudinally and circumferentially.  The arc welding apparatus was ingeniously designed so the device being welded could be moved in different directions automatically for a variety of weld configurations.  In 1919 another patent was filed for a “Process and Apparatus for Producing Electrically Welded Joints”.  The process and apparatus utilized cool water to attain continuous seam welding for pipes.  This insured a strong and ductile weld along the pipe seam.

Record Pipe Shipment, circa 1928

Later, in 1920, Reuben invented extrusion around a continuous core wire using a plastic material and compressed air for continuous seam welding, forming the basis for his electric arc welding machine.

These early welding advancements produced an effective gas shield in the area and greatly improved the ductility of the weld metal.  Solving the issues of weld quality and economical processing allowed the Company to produce large quantities of steel pipe and later high-pressure vessels for refinery applications.

World's Largest Autoclave; 3-inch wall thickness


Inside Test of Gas Pipe Without Fracture
World’s Largest Cracking Tower
Interior of A.O. Smith Cracking Vessel Shop

Following is a reprint from Welding, A Journey to Explore Its Past, written by Mr. Andre A. Odermatt.

 Courtesy of Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, Troy Ohio USA.

Reuben’s welding patents are as follows:

1,301,331  Electrode for Arc Welding   December 6, 1918

1,453,026  Apparatus for Arc Welding  December 6, 1918

1,323,556  Process and Apparatus for Producing Electrically Welded Joints  May 16, 1919

1, 347,184 Electric Arc Welding Machine  May 17, 1920


Website article author: Walter W. Smith

Website article editor: Paulina Alfaro