A press fixture holds workpieces as a homopolar generator sends a pulse of energy to complete a large weld in seconds. Imagine a technology that could weld a circumferential seam of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in less than three seconds. It turns out the technology, an ultrahigh-power forge-resistance process called homopolar-generator (HPG) welding, has been around for decades. In the 1980s researchers at the Center for Electromechanics at the University of Texas at Austin (UT-CEM) worked to perfect the pipe welding process in a joint industrial program with major oil companies, looking for a way to streamline welding for offshore J-lay pipeline construction. They came close, nearly perfecting the joint prep and welding parameters to produce a clean weld within a few seconds. The pipe being tested wasn’t as big as the Alaska pipeline, but the process would have been straightforward enough to scale up. Alas, HPG welding never caught on, in part because of equipment costs. But technological advancements have changed that cost equation. Today a decades-old technology is being dusted off, tested, and perfected again—this time for bridge welding. If UT-CEM researchers and industry par...