voestalpine Böhler Welding

The Best for the Best. History of electric arc welding

3. Set 2018

It all started 135 years ago…

They are tough men, the Russians. Just as tough as our Miss Spark is. So it comes as no surprise that electric arc welding was invented by a Russian. More precisely, by Nikolai Benardos. Miss Spark has collected all the other hard facts here for you.


  • 1881: At the first International Exposition of Electricity in Paris, the Russian Nikolai Benardos was the first to present the arc welding method by creating an arc between a coal electrode and a workpiece.
  • 1890: Another Russian, Nicolai Slavianoff, used a metal stick instead of a coal electrode. The electrode melted and acted as both a heat source and a filler metal. But the welding points were not airtight and had many pores and holes.
  • 1907: Oscar Kjellberg from Sweden patented the coated stick electrode. He dipped the metal sticks into thick mixtures of carbonates and silicates such as limestone and fluorspar. As the metal stick melted in the electric arc, a slag formed that covered the liquid weld metal. Most of the holes and pores caused by oxygen and nitrogen in the air disappeared. To make them airtight, Kjellberg had to hammer the welds. This method allowed him to repair riveted steam boilers on board ships, a major advance at that time.
  • 1910 to 1920: Coated stick electrodes based on Oscar Kjellberg’s patent used for the first time. Wound extruded electrodes were invented in England by pressing a paste between the asbestos threads wound around the electrode core wire. Paper-coated electrodes were introduced in the USA by R. S. Smith. This offered gas protection for the melted weld metal. That was the beginning of the cellulose electrode.
  • 1930 to 1939: Extrusion was the usual, more economical production method for producing stick electrodes. It is still the standard production method used today. Metals were added to the coating to compensate for burn-off. The first electrodes for stainless steel were introduced. Ship classification societies introduced the first approvals.
  • 1940 to 1945: The use of cellulose electrodes became common due to the shortage of material. Ships totally welded with stick electrodes were common.
  • 1945 to 1950: P.C. van den Willigen in the Netherlands added large amounts of iron powder to rutile and acid electrodes to improve their performance. The high recovery electrode was born. K. K. Hansen in Denmark developed gravity arc welding. In this welding process, a nearly extinguished electrode ignites the next electrode. The welder then fills the container with fresh electrodes.
  • today: Electric arc welding with stick electrodes is still indispensable today, especially in steel and pipeline construction. Welding is relatively tolerant to material flaws. A major advantage: It can be used under all weather conditions, even under water.

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