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For years, welding was seen as the only way to ensure the integrity of joints in demanding load-bearing or high-vibration structures. So, companies manufacturing heavy-duty equipment or fabricating large, metal structures continued to employ the universally accepted process of welding joints together. However, today there are alternatives to welding, one of the foremost being direct-tension installed, swaged lockbolts, such as the HuckBolts® currently offered by Arconic Fastening Systems. These unique engineered fasteners, proven in such demanding applications as truck suspensions and chassis, railroad track crossings, and heavy defense vehicles, are now being used in a number of products and structures where welding was once the only option.

Welding – Proven, But Not Without Drawbacks

While welding is proven to be one of the surest processes for securing a joint, there are a number of issues relating to it. To begin, the welding process is very time consuming, particularly in situations where in-depth inspection procedures are required. Welding also requires skilled, often highly paid, technicians. And in some industries, such as oil and gas, quality welders are both difficult to find and to retain.
The heat generated by welding can often reduce the strength of the metals being joined, and damage critical surface coatings. In addition, welding dissimilar metals or pieces of varying sizes can be a challenge. Welding also often requires an on-going process of inspection, with many of these procedures being both costly and time consuming. And as most companies who make extensive use of welding as part of their manufacturing or fabrication process have discovered, the removal and/or rework of a weld can be problematic.
Last, but most assuredly not least, welding is a dirty, dangerous process. Safety is a critical issue, since many fires have been started by a random spark created while welding. At the same time, spent rods and other remnants of the welding process are an ongoing housekeeping issue in shops where welding is performed on a regular basis.