Riveting vs. Welding: Why Stud Welding Is Still Used in Shipbuilding

Northland Fastening Systems (NFS) has provided comprehensive stud welding supplies for over 30 years to customers working with capacitor discharge, drawn arc, and short cycle welding. From large-scale construction to fine food-grade stud welding, we offer the right tools for rent or purchase, studs in various dimensions, custom stud options, welding accessories, and the expertise of our own stud welding technicians. Since our start in 1987, NFS has seen the many changes in welding operations, developments in technology, and advancements of technique. Today, stud welding is a highly precise process that can be fully automated for rapid, exact production applications. Even from the 1980s, significant and positive changes have come into the industry around safety, quality, and capabilities. However, some things in the welding industry haven’t changed much since the beginnings of stud welding. These applications were used in shipbuilding during World War I and the early 20th century.

In the shipbuilding industry, in particular, both stud welding and riveting operations have a notable place in the manufacturing repertoire. Stud welding is a newer manufacturing tool that developed as a technique for the type of shipbuilding that arose from the turn of the century, the Industrial Revolution, and the requirements of the U.S. Navy during both world wars.

Stud welding was key to the shipbuilding process because it could create a strong connection that was watertight, resistant to corrosion, cosmetically clean, and flexible. In addition to stud welding developments during the early 20th century, metal riveting continued to be used heavily in the manufacturing of many types of ships.

Riveting is a fabrication technique that dates back as far as the Bronze Age. Modern riveting is a very versatile operation in many industries, and it’s used in shipbuilding for several reasons. Not only is riveting fast and cost-effective, but it can also form connection points between many different types of materials, including most metals, plastics, and even wood.

Although riveting is used extensively in many kinds of shipbuilding, stud welding is still an important operation that offers results that can’t be achieved through any other types of rivet fastening systems. In particular, stud welding provides a much stronger connection point than riveting. A properly performed stud weld will have a connection point to the surface material that is stronger than the stud itself. This alone differentiates stud welding as a key operation for structural integrity in ships of all sizes.

In addition to forming a powerful, long-lasting connection, stud welding provides a very specific, clean aesthetic in an industrial setting. Stud welding generates the strength needed in a mark-free result that doesn’t require further finishing work. While riveting may be faster than stud welding overall, the majority of stud work done in shipbuilding is still considered a rapid operation.

Thanks to its speed, strength, and aesthetics, stud welding is still used in shipbuilding and other industries. To learn more about the stud welding services we provide, contact NFS at (651) 730-7770 or request a quote online.