Poulsen Welding Shop, Susanville, CA
Growing up, I remember welding and fabrication shops being common. Not so much anymore. There are just over 20,000 self-employed welders in the US today, according to the bureau of labor statistics, but getting historical data from them is approximately impossible. Looking for more, I found Assembling Magazine’s retrospective on how welding has changed in the past half century or so:
New processes, such as electron beam welding, friction welding, plasma arc welding, friction stir welding, explosion welding and laser beam welding, have increased the range of materials and components that can be welded. Most of these processes are fully automated and computer controlled, making them highly productive. All of these processes are new to manufacturing since 1957.
[T]he advent of robots in the 1960s ushered in change[…] Robots now are quite intelligent with unmatched quickness and reliability. The perfect work angle and travel angle can be programmed with a just few mouse clicks, reducing the requirements for a skilled weld programmer.