Professional welders and craftsmen know the importance of mathematics in welding. It is used for calculating the connections for metal frames and how to make joints and welds at precise angles. Welders who are good at math can work on precise, complicated projects.
Math skills allow welders to complete more projects and increase their productivity. The good mathematical skill also allows them to prevent mistakes and inaccuracies that would otherwise ruin their project.
Many people who consider welding as a career or a hobby may think they don’t need any math skills to be able to melt two pieces of metal together, but they’d be wrong. Welding involves a lot more than just mashing two pieces of metal together and heating them.
So do welders need to know math? The answer is yes. Welders (especially professional welders) need to be well-versed in a variety of mathematical subjects including fractions, decimals, geometry, trigonometry, volume, and area. The reason is that welding must be performed very precisely in order for the resulting welds to have structural integrity, especially for high-pressure vessels.
Welding is one of the most profitable careers in our modern economy, especially with the oversaturation of college degrees and the lack of available technical laymen. Still, you will need some math knowledge in order to be successful. Read on to find out more about what math is required for professional welding and how you can learn it.
Mathematics in Welding
You will not be able to get very far in welding without a moderate understanding of mathematical calculations and measurements. Math is used to measure, cut accurately, and fit metal frames onto other materials. All of it is based on the calculation of fractions that may need to be converted to decimals. Things get complex when you apply that to measurement system based on yards and feet.
You need math even for the simple process of figuring out how big of a plate you can fit on a rig or what angle of a bevel you should make on a frame to connect your sheets without causing problems.
Math can be a difficult subject, especially when it comes to using geometrical shapes, decimals, and fractions. However, all of these mathematical skills are useful, even necessary, in welding. Suppose you are working as a welder or thinking about joining the profession. In that case, you are going to need a lot of mathematical skills, particularly in geometry, area and angle measurement and trigonometry.
If math wasn’t your forte in high school, then don’t worry. A good welding training program will give you all the necessary mathematical skills that you need to succeed in the profession. It is never too late to learn, and you don’t need an advanced level course. Even a basic understanding will do a lot of good and improve your welding significantly.
Importance of Math for Welders
Suppose you are working on a project to fit a metal frame on the second-floor window of a building. Without mathematical calculations or measurements, you would need to go up and down the ladder several times to find the correct size of the frame before you can weld it on. By using math, you can simply calculate the correct size and angle of the window by measuring the size of the frame.
Many welding projects require mathematical calculations. Every cut that you make must have been previously measured for the accuracy, or you could end up wasting the plate. When you are connecting two pieces, they must be held at the correct angle to form the right shape. Even the weld itself must be made at an angle that forms a sturdy and secure meld.
Mathematics comes in handy regardless of your welding industry. Whether you are working in pipe connection, construction sector or indoor furnishing, you need to have a fundamental understanding of mathematical computations. The skill is also useful when you are using blueprints. Every type of welding blueprint makes use of mathematical measurements and numbers to build structures.
Without mathematical skills, you would be very restricted in the complexity of welding projects you can complete. Five main areas of math are crucial for welders; fractions and decimals, size and area, geometry and trigonometry and algebra.
Math Is A Vital Part of Professional Welding
People who aren’t involved in welding as a profession may not understand how often math is used in welding, but the truth is that it’s used in everything from planning out a weld to taking inventory. None of the math required is particularly difficult, but it’s the quick, off-the-cuff variety that you’re not going to be able to depend on a calculator for in many cases.
Here are some of the different kinds of mathematical concepts that will inevitably crop up in the course of your welding career:
- Simple arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division)
None of these types of mathematical concepts is particularly difficult. You’re not going to be doing physics equations to calculate a weld. But you will be doing some calculations related to measurements and angles that it will be essential to have accurate mathematical skills for in order to get a successful weld in the end.
If you weren’t the best math student in high school, though, don’t worry. Most degrees in welding at technical schools and colleges offer related math courses that will teach you the specific math you need to know in order to do welding calculations.
Arithmetic in Welding
One of the most common forms of math you’ll run into in welding is basic arithmetic, some of the earliest math concepts taught to children. This is your addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Chances are if you’ve had any kind of traditional education at all, you’ve got plenty of background in simple math.
The issue with simple math in the welding workshop in welding is twofold: one, basic math is used for just about everything from inventory to higher geometric calculations during a weld plan, and two, you’re probably not going to have a whole lot of time to whip out a calculator when you’re in the middle of a welding job, so knowing how to figure things up in your head quickly is useful.
Because of this, it’s helpful to practice “mental math” so that you don’t end up having to stop and manually calculate every time you pull out a tape measure in the workshop.
Fractions and Decimals in Welding
Another major form of math you’re going to see in a welding career is fractions and decimals, and these are mostly related to the art of measurement in the workshop. Without a strong foundation in fractional math, beginning welders can struggle with reading blueprints. A lot of fraction and decimal work will also revolve around working with two tools—the measuring tape, and the calliper.
- Measuring tape: Measuring tapes are based around fractions, with most Imperial measuring tapes divided up into increments of an inch further divided into increments down to a sixteenth of an inch. (Metric tapes and tapes that measure both metric and Imperial are also available.) A measuring tape allows welders to make very precise measurements and subsequent cuts, leading to a better result.
- Calliper: Calipers are another measuring tool found in the welding workshop. Welders and woodworkers have their specialized kind of calliper. Callipers can come in Vernier, dial, or digital varieties, though all are used for measuring out materials for high precision welds. Digital callipers are the best and most modern option since they include both fractional and decimal-based measurements.
It has probably already occurred to you, but if you’re seeking a career path in welding, math will be an essential component. However, it isn’t simply a one-and-done test of knowledge that will give you the advantage over your competition in the workplace. Constantly reviewing your math skills will be the one thing you can do to ensure your career can continue to flourish in shipbuilding. What are the math skills most essential? Let’s take a closer look.
Decimals and fractions
Everything about welding involves fractional math. The skill is essential for understanding blueprints and measurements. Take time to brush up on your math skills to include numbers both as a fraction and using decimal points. This will help you make precision cuts and excellent weld seams as you work.
Many people thought they were completely done with algebra as soon as their high school diploma was in their hands. But in spite of our adolescent cries that we’ll never use this math, algebra has long-term implications. This is especially true for welders. It helps with the calculation of shapes and volumes that will be critical in your work.
All that geometry has to offer
Pythagoras would be proud. This ancient Greek philosophers ideas about geometry affect every aspect of our lives, and that certainly goes for shipbuilding and design. As a welder, you will need to know how pieces fit together, and that’s where geometry fits in. Most importantly, geometry is about the use of specific tools such as a T-square and a compass.
Sines, cosines, and tangents
Do these words sound scary? They shouldn’t if you’re a welder. Trigonometry is another skill that you may want to brush up on to improve your welding career. Welders will use this specific mathematical skill to calculate the potential strength of the physical weld.
Math, including geometry, algebra, and trigonometry, doesn’t have to be a scary prospect. Weaving these skills into your career or your daily life should be second nature, especially if you decide to go into a field such as welding in a shipyard environment.
Out of all of the kinds of math necessary to know for serious welding, a solid foundation and constant practice with fractions and decimals is probably the mathematical skill that will serve you best as a welder, because everything you measure in the shop is going to depend on it. The precision of your measurements will determine both the structural integrity and aesthetics of your weld.
Geometry in Welding
Geometry is a mathematical discipline involving the study of lines and angles in relation to physical two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes, so if you’re using welding to build things, geometry is going to be an important skill to have in your workshop.
The reason geometry is crucial to welding is that it affects many aspects of the welding process, from the types of materials chosen to the shapes that welding pieces are cut into prior to welding. Comprehending the fundamental relationships between angles and lines helps a lot when it comes to learning how to read welding blueprints and other kinds of measurements.
One large way that geometry affects welds is that it determines the shape of edge preparations, fillets, spot welds, and many other welding applications. There are three concepts of geometry used in welding: surface welding, light welding, and solid welding.
Aside from helping you make more accurate and better-looking cuts and welds, basic understanding forms of geometry not only allows you to read the welding blueprints of others more easily, but it also makes it a lot easier to compose your original welding designs as well. This is one aspect of welding experience that separates amateur welders from knowledgeable ones.
Trigonometry in Welding
Trigonometry is likely to be the highest form of math you’re going to encounter in a welding environment, and this mathematical concept is used by welders to calculate a physical weld’s estimated strength potential.
The main trigonometry concepts that come into play in a welding environment are sine, cosine, and tangents. While trigonometry can be a bit of more difficult math to wrap your head around than some of the other forms of math used for welding, it is also one of the more important forms of math for doing more complex levels of welding work.
That means learning basic trigonometry is necessary for you to move from being a mediocre welder to a high-quality one. Since trigonometry is a math that is taught in high school, many welders can easily get the hang of it once they brush up on the basic concepts.
Volume and Area in Welding
While volume and area are technically geometric concepts, they are important enough in welding that they deserve their section. Calculating the volume of fillet welds, for example, is important to have the background information to use trigonometry then to calculate the weld’s potential strength as well as its final weight.
Welding is a science and an art that must be performed down to a millimetre’s accuracy, especially in high-pressure metal vessels that could suffer catastrophic failure should a weld seam fail, such as those suffered by the Liberty ships manufactured during WWII.
Because of how important this is for both safety and quality of welds, knowing how to calculate volume and area in both geometric and trigonometric applications is an important skill for all welders to know.
Advantages of Knowing Higher Math as a Welder
There are many advantages of learning higher-level math for a welder, not just arithmetic and measurements. Here are some of the benefits welders can enjoy as the result of knowing higher math concepts such as geometry and trigonometry:
- Higher math makes it easier to get a job. While a welding job is ultimately sealed by the quality of an applicant’s welds, a strong background in math that can be demonstrated freely during the interview process can make a prospective employee much more attractive. Not only that but knowing higher math also demonstrates a prospective employee’s dedication to the finer points of their work.
- You can get jobs with better pay. Because having higher math skills makes you more competitive on the job market and gives you a more marketable profile, this means you can go after jobs that offer a higher salary and better benefits with more complex welding projects, rather than simply stick welding jobs.
- You’ll be able to read blueprints more easily. Trying to be a welder without knowing math is like trying to be a musician without being able to sight-read music. At best, it will make you less efficient and less precise than your coworkers. At worst, it’ll impede your ability to land a welding job entirely.
- You’ll be able to make better measurements. If you have a strong background in math, you’re going to make more precise measurements and less measuring mistakes than you would if you aren’t good with math. Making accurate measurements leads to a better weld every time.
- You’ll be able to compose your blueprints. This is probably one of the best benefits of knowing higher math as a welder. This means not only will you be able to easily and accurately carry out someone else’s welding blueprint, but you’ll be able to come up with your own and develop the measurements for your welding designs.
- A welding degree will be easier to achieve. Most welding degrees involve practical applications of math concepts in welding as part of their requisites to earn the degree, so if you already have a strong foundation in higher math before you start a welding course, you’ll be ahead of the game. This will make the class more fun and less stressful too.
While simple math is crucial for being a welder, higher math is the type of math that many people don’t even realize welders interact with. But knowing how to perform higher math easily during a weld planning session and modify designs accordingly can be the difference between a good welder, and a great welder.
Many potential welders may find math intimidating, especially if it wasn’t an especially strong subject in high school. Still, luckily in the twenty-first century, there are plenty of options that allow you to pursue an education in the types of higher math related to welding.
There are loads of online sites that will jog those math brain cells. Some are simple, while others are advanced. The American Welding Society (AWS) offers an online basic math course that focuses on the math used in welding. Among the topics: simplification, estimation, measurement, fractions, and decimals.
While some welding interviews include math equations, that is not the case with industry-leading LeJeune Steel Company (LSC). The company wants team members who are familiar with math, but it also provides personal training. In many material projects, measuring and marking linear dimensions are the first crucial steps. It is important to measure the material to ensure customer requirements are met. LSC prides itself on customer satisfaction and has a respected reputation to prove it.
For those who consider welding all about burning rods, not firing up brain cells, you’re probably leaving a lot of money on the table. The more math you know, the better prepared you can be to read blueprints and plans. It opens doors to becoming a supervisor, manager or inspector. Math is a skill that will take you to the top of this popular career path.
If you suffer from math phobia (it’s a thing), then you can access Math for Welders on American Welding Online. It’s like having a teacher in your home walking you through every kind of math problem, only no one is looking at you, or perhaps, more importantly, judging you. The online course also allows you to start at whatever level you choose. For example, you may want to skip straight to conversions, or you may want to review some addition and subtraction before moving on. It’s cool, and no one is watching. So, take it from the glassy-eyed, space cadet at the back of math class, you can do this!