The Watkin orthodontic spot welder was invented by Harold Gladstone Watkin. Watkin was a leading orthodontist. In 1930 he started one of only three specialist orthodontic practises in the UK at that time and he became president of the BSSO in 1933.
Watkin had an inventive mind combined with technical skill. He designed and made many orthodontic components or tools he needed for his treatments as well as developing a variation on Angle’s Pin and Tube Appliance, the Loop and Tube Appliance. Watkin’s design was easier to construct and use and allowed longer time between appointments. His inventiveness was in use in his home life as well and Watkin designed his own electric garage in the 1940s.
The 1930s saw a revolution in orthodontic appliances with stainless steel and acrylic replacing precious metals. This revolution was aided by the introduction of the Watkin spot welder. Watkin had identified that the condenser types of spot welders in use were unreliable and susceptible to surges of power which burnt through appliances. He designed and built a spot welder with components found in his workshop – a carbon arc lamp, two brass rods, a transformer and a Bowden brake cable. It had timed contact and a wheel which allowed the size of contact to be changed for different gauges of wire. The spot welder was produced commercially by Elliots of Liverpool. It was a great success for over 25 years until the introduction of electric welders.
Watkin orthodontic spot welder