Borys Paton was born in Kiev in 1918. He graduated from the Kiev Polytechnic Institute and initially worked as an engineer before joining the E.O. Electric Welding Institute. Paton at the USSR Academy of Sciences, which his father Yevgeny Paton founded in 1934. After his father’s death in 1953, he took over the management of the Institute, which is one of the most renowned electric welding research institutes in the world. In the following years, Paton created the conditions for additional research activities, established important contacts with industry and developed advanced mechanised welding methods.
Thanks to his involvement, the USSR was one of the leading countries in the field of arc welding in the second half of the twentieth century, and Kiev was “the world’s welding capital”: we are talking about Borys Paton. The pioneer met with “Perfect Welding” magazine to answer some questions about current challenges in welding technology, TIG welding and digital welding power sources.
PROFESSOR PATON, YOU ARE THE SON OF THE FOUNDER OF ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT WELDING TECHNOLOGY INSTITUTES IN THE WORLD AND YOU HAVE DEDICATED YOUR LIFE TO RESEARCHING WELDING TECHNOLOGY. WHAT FASCINATES YOU ABOUT WELDING?
Welding technology requires in-depth research, the results of which are extremely beneficial to society. Arc welding is extremely important for human development. I find it inspiring and fascinating.
What do you consider the most important achievement in arc welding in the last hundred years?
The most breathtaking changes were made by manual arc welding, submerged arc welding, tungsten inert gas welding and active gas welding of metals. These welding processes were developed during the difficult times of World War II. Currently, about two thirds of rolled steel worldwide is used for the production of welded structures. In most cases, arc welding is the only possible and most effective method of joining.
Where do you see the role of the industry in this development?
Industrial demand has been shaped by the development of welding processes: the ability to automate production processes and the diversity of element geometries have played a leading role in this area. In response to the ever-increasing demands of industry, welding technology has developed new methods of joining materials such as high-alloy or high-strength steels and non-ferrous alloys, efficiently, in different material thicknesses. The beginnings of AC welding, from impulse processes to automatic correction settings and modern controlled processes, are designed to meet these industrial requirements. Today, industry is stimulating the development of combinations used in hybrid processes.
How important is the “old” EIG welding process in relation to its industrial application?
TIG welding remains the best choice when there is a high demand for weld quality – from stainless steel to aluminium, titanium and nickel alloys. The use of pulsed TIG arcs improves the quality of the welded joint while mechanically controlling the tungsten electrode. In addition, breakthroughs enable significant improvements in the cost-effectiveness of TIG welding. These changes include the use of active substances (activation flux or A-TIG), high-frequency TIG welding (high-frequency pulse or HFP-TIG) and the use of inert gas added to the active gas. TIG welding will play an increasingly important role in the future, especially in the manufacturing sector, especially where robots are used. The key field of application is single lane welding of thicker walls 10 mm and more. Narrow-band orbital TIG welding also has great potential for improving productivity, for example when producing pipelines or when combining different base materials.
Today, power electronics plays an important role in welding technology. What were the consequences of the development of power sources for digital welding?
The digital power supply, together with intelligent control and sensor equipment, affects all industries using welding technology, such as energy technology, automotive and shipbuilding. The technology significantly changes the quality requirements for welded products. Adaptive process control in digital welding systems allows to reduce residual welding stresses and component distortions. This improves the quality of manufactured products. Digital technology is also changing the daily lives of users: more and more welding involves IT methods and tools. This is reflected in the training of system specialists, technologists and operators – the focus should be more on software, hardware and IT skills. I believe that this will also increase interest in the welding profession among the younger generation.
However, over the past few years there has been a lack of young talent in the welding professions. How else can young people be interested in starting a career in welding technology?
I believe that attractive practice and training play a key role. Furthermore, employers must create conditions in which employees can develop. Essentially, people are striving for success – they show commitment to areas where they can achieve this success.
What do you consider to be the greatest challenge for the welding technology of our time?
There are more and more structures and machines that have reached critical service life. Welding repair is therefore an important issue because reliable operation must be ensured, for example in energy companies, transport companies and the chemical industry. It is important to establish reliable processes for determining the remaining service life of welded structures. The design must be further developed to facilitate maintenance and repair work.
With regard to various and often difficult conditions, this requires further development of welding systems, processes and fillers. This is the most urgent challenge that welding specialists will have to overcome in the coming years.
So the next generation of welding experts will have to face difficult tasks.
I’m sure you do. But, in my opinion, the beauty of welding is precisely this constant need to search for completely new solutions and develop new technologies, materials and structures.