Sheet metal welding is a love of mine. I’ve been in this business for over 30 years. I spent the first few years out of high school in the military. Nothing special, just a regular army infantryman. But that taught me discipline and work ethic. I got my welding ticket from them, and when I was about 25 or so I went out into the civilian life looking for work as a welder. I’ve seen some changes in the welding industry in these past 30 years for sure. Mostly subtle stuff and a lot more health awareness. And that’s good. Back in the day we welded with just little goggle and that was all. Hardly ever wore welding gloves.
I remember when hot gas welding was just new, that’s how far back the welding history for me goes. Nowadays there’s a lot of talk about laser welding, but the equipment for that stuff is expensive. I’ve looked into it, but it’s a specialized technique that doesn’t really have a lot of broad application at the moment. For me, I like to stick to sheet metal welding, TIG welding sheet metal and MIG welding thin sheet metal.
A lot of times folks are talking now about robotic welding and how that might revolutionize the industry, but I don’t think so. In big industrial settings you might find robot welding applications can make sense, but I’ve gotta tell ya, there is nothing finer than a finely crafted human weld. Not in my books anyway. That’s where you reach a real high level of art in the weld. I haven’t seen any robots do sheet metal welding to that great degree.
So I wouldn’t worry about that. I’d keep practicing the trade if I was you and find a nice niche say maybe in TIG welding pipe or something like that. I know one guy who loved mountain biking and he was a welder. So what he does now, is high end custom mountain bike frame fabrication and welding. His stuff is brilliant, and guys will pay him thousands of dollars for his high end custom made and TIG welded frames. You just gotta find a corner to set yourself apart. For me, I’ve started doing custom sheet metal welding for small applications and art. Like sculpture.