Welding is a fabrication process that joins metals or thermoplastics with the help of coalescence. Welding processes have been employed since the inception of the industrial revolution. The processes entail the usage of filler metals or electrodes that help form molten material which in turn cools into a single piece of metal that fuses the surrounding parts together through a strong physical bond. Forge welding was the first method of welding used in manufacturing industries. Other well-known welding methods include arc welding, resistant welding, solid beam welding and oxy-fuel welding. These welding products are applied in various end-use industries such as manufacturing, automobile, marine, building & construction and offshore. Welding is the only joining technique used in space and underwater applications.
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Despite being a mature market, the welding industry has been witnessing continuous technological advancements and introduction of innovative welding techniques for various end-use applications. Arc welding dominates the global welding market, whereas other technologies such as resistant welding, oxy-fuel welding and laser beam welding account for comparatively smaller market shares with specific applications in end-user industries. Arc welding technology, the most popularly employed welding technique, accounted for more than 39% of the total welding products demand. Other methods such as resistant and laser beam welding are gaining popularity for specific applications due to their advantages such as deep weld penetration and minimum size of weld area.
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The welding industry primarily includes welding equipment, welding consumables and accessories. Stick electrodes, solid wires, flux-cored wires, SAW wires and fluxes, and gases are used significantly in the welding process. Stick electrodes have exhibited strong demand statistics, especially in Asia Pacific, owing to the presence of large end-user industries in the region. However, stick electrodes face competition from flux-cored wires and solid wires as they are more cost efficient. The global market for flux-cored wires accounted for more than 7% of the global welding consumables demand in 2013.
Welded joints offer excellent corrosion resistance and superior fatigue resistance compared to other methods. Additionally, welded joints have the same strength as the material being joined. This includes tensile strength, toughness, hardness and ductility. Hence, welding is extensively used in automobile, transportation, building, construction and marine industries in demanding applications. The automobile and transportation industry is one of the largest consumers of welding products and accounted for approximately 17% of the global welding products market in 2012. Welding is routinely used in the manufacture of critical components and vehicle body parts. In marine applications, the welding process is carried out for a wide variety of structures such as repairing ships, offshore oil platforms, and pipelines. Underwater welding is one of the emerging areas of marine applications. Additionally, it is used by end-user industries in repair and maintenance operations.
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Welding is a well-established process used in different industries including manufacturing firms, transportation, shipbuilding, and construction. Asia Pacific dominated the global welding products market in 2013 with a market share of around 43%. Europe was the second largest market for welding products in 2013. The region has been gradually losing its market share to rapidly emerging regions such as Asia Pacific, especially to countries such as China and India. One of the key reasons for the sluggish growth of this market in Europe and North America is the shortage of skilled labor in the welding industry.
Various large and small regional as well as global players operate in the welding industry. The three major companies - Lincoln Electric, ESAB and Illinois Tool Works (ITW) — dominate the market for welding products. These companies have a strong global distribution channel, with presence in welding equipment as well as welding consumables markets. Additionally, various small and medium players are located in the U.S., Japan, China and India, among others. Other players in the market include DAIHEN Corporation, Arcon Welding, Obara Corporation, Miyachi America Corporation, Fronius International GmbH, Sonics & Materials, Inc., ROFIN-SINAR Technologies Inc and Doncasters Group Ltd.
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