The James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation, created in 1936, is the only organization
in the United States solely dedicated to educating the public about the art and
science of arc welding. Formed when the arc welding industry was in its infancy,
the Foundation is now in its seventh decade of publishing educational texts and
granting cash awards to recognize technical achievements.
The Creation of the Foundation
In the mid-1930s, arc welding was a nascent technology. John C. Lincoln, founder
and then-Chairman of the Board of The Lincoln Electric Company, and his younger
brother James F., who was then President of the company, had the foresight to envision
the potential of the technology. They decided that Lincoln Electric should put its
emphasis on the manufacture of welding machines and consumables.
Lincoln distributors and service managers from around the United States reported
instances of customers achieving dramatic cost savings and product improvements
through the use of arc welding in manufacturing. James F. Lincoln realized that
the fledgling industry had a big story to tell. Welding was being applied in new
and novel ways at far-flung locations. If the practical expertise gained in each
of these new applications could be collected and shared, an extremely efficient
technology would win acceptance in ever-wider industrial spheres.
Lincoln Vice President A.F. Davis agreed that a mechanism was needed to collect
the evidence of these new developments, disseminate the information, and stimulate
further study. A.F. Davis and Jim Lincoln agreed that this might be done via the
establishment of a nonprofit educational organization. Chairman John C. Lincoln
and the company's Board of Directors agreed that support of such a venture was consistent
with the development of the welding industry as a whole. A deed of trust was drawn
up, dated December 14, 1936, with Article 1 stating the purpose of the Foundation
as: "to encourage and stimulate scientific interest in, and scientific study, research
and education in respect of, the development of the arc welding industry through
advance in the knowledge of design and practical application of the arc welding
process…" Article 3 established the Foundation as an independent entity to be administered
entirely by its trustees, rather than by its founder, The Lincoln Electric Company.
The First Awards Program
The first James F. Arc Welding Foundation contest for the best technical papers
on the application of arc welding to design and production resulted in the submission
of 1,981 papers before the deadline of June 1, 1938. Of these, 446 papers were given
cash awards totaling $200,000 ($2.68 million adjusted for inflation), with the top
award being worth $13,700 ($183,000 in today's dollars). The program was international
in scope, with the First Grand Award going to a project submitted by the president
and a stockholder of Wellman Engineering Company of Cleveland, Ohio, and the Second
Grand Award being won by engineers on the staff of Diagrid Structures, Ltd. of London,
The First Publishing Venture
In order to disseminate the great wealth of technical information contained in the submissions to the first Awards Program, the Foundation trustees decided to publish 109 of the papers in a book entitled
Arc Welding in Design, Manufacture and Construction (1939). Publication of the resulting 1,409 page volume was heavily subsidized by the Foundation in order to keep the price at a nominal $1.50 per copy,
In the decades that followed, the Foundation continued this approach of sponsoring Award Programs that in turn provided publishable material about the still-young technology of arc welding.
With the publication of Metals and How to Weld Them in 1954, the Foundation began its program of publishing original texts. Omer W. Blodgett's classic texts, Design of Weldments and Design of Welded
Structures soon followed. By the 1980s, the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation had become one of the largest publishers of arc welding and weldment design literature in the world. In 1999, the
Foundation published the 14th edition of The Procedure Handbook of Arc Welding, a book which in its earlier editions had been published under the auspices of The Lincoln Electric Company.
Production needs during World War II dramatized the requirement for more highly skilled welding operators. Anticipating the country's postwar needs, the Foundation developed Awards Programs to offer high
school shop students and college engineering majors an incentive to learn about arc welding. Over the years, many thousands of students have benefited from these programs.
Another important educational initiative has been the donation, free of charge, of complete sets of the welding texts published by the Foundation to public and school libraries around the world.
By the late 1980s, the Lincoln Electric Company had embarked on a program of global expansion. In recognition of the fact that the fastest growing markets for welding products and technology would be outside
the U.S. and Canada, the Foundation appointed several International Secretaries to promote its mission and programs in various regions of the world. In the early 1990s, the Foundation partnered with the
Australian Institute of Steel Construction to jointly support the $10,000 Australasian Steel Bridge Awards.
The professional, college and school shop award programs have continued in the United States, and the goal is to expand them globally. Since July 1984, the Foundation has regularly published a periodical
aimed at advancing arc welding design and practice entitled Welding Innovation. It is available by complimentary subscription, or it may be downloaded (in full or in part) from this website.