Welding is a proven method of securing infrastructure-related and fabricated metal joints, and is often the preferred method in a wide range of applications. However, welding it is not without drawbacks that can affect its suitability for a number of applications. As an alternative to welded joints, engineered fasteners can provide significant time and cost advantages, depending on specific project factors and design requirements.
When evaluating whether welding or fastening is best for a particular installation, a variety of factors must be considered. In the final analysis, the type of joint to be specified and fabricated depends on project factors as well as operational preferences.
Project factors that guide the selection of joint type include: the weldability of the materials to be fastened (including surface coatings that may be affected by heat), joint types, installation processes and logistics, inspection requirements, cost, labor availability, accessibility, environmental conditions, safety, and future maintenance/repair considerations. Any or all of these variables can be a potential factor in deciding whether to fasten or weld a joint.
This paper will discuss some primary considerations involved in choosing between welded joints or fastened joints, or some combination of both. By taking these factors into consideration, design engineers, project managers, fabrication supervisors, and construction management can make design and joining decisions that improve performance, increase safety and productivity, and control costs, while meeting and exceeding performance requirements over the lifecycle of the project.