Virtual Welding

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Real welding helmets are equipped with 3D stereo eye pieces and sound for a realistic experience.

The new technologies and advancements of today are leading to exciting changes in welding training. How do you spark the minds of students exposed to a daily explosion of multimedia experiences? By making the learning environment digital and interactive.

In a virtual environment, the welding student puts on a real welding helmet, picks up a real MIG gun and lays down a weld. But that weld is laid down in a virtual world. In real time, the instructor tells the students which modifications and adjustments to make as they are welding. Students can compare scores and try to achieve a better weld every time.

The virtual reality system creates a 3D environment. Most virtual reality welding systems have a welding helmet equipped with a display in front of each eye. Through high-resolution images and software, the welder is immersed in a realistic visual environment that can be enhanced by sounds and feedback to supplement the learning experience. Most systems provide students with the tools they will use in their virtual environment. In some cases, a MIG welding torch or stick device is electrically connected to the system to provide the user with feedback on placement and motion as a weld is being produced.

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Some virtual reality welding systems offer multiple joint configurations and welding processes. The welder is preparing to weld on a 6-inch schedule 40 pipe.
 
Virtual reality systems create environments where students can weld and interact, like this construction site and welding booth.

The virtual environment is further supplemented by incorporating welding process and equipment instruction. By incorporating welding machine setup, joint configurations and welding processes into the training experience, the welding instructor and student can cover proper how and when to use certain welding processes, the appropriate process variables and setup procedure specifications to reinforce and build real world welding knowledge.

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High-resolution images and software create a real life feel for welding. Shown here is a GMAW torch prepared to weld in the 2G position.

In a virtual welding world, no scrap base plate or consumables are needed, thus there is no disposal of the scrap created in training. Energy usage is reduced from a welding machine and weld fume control systems. Safety training can be reinforced before a student ever picks up a welding torch.

Real World Markets for Virtual Products
The market for virtual welding products is broad. Schools and other educational institutions that teach welding are obvious, but there are others: Unions and trades want ways to train welders more quickly and effectively. Global companies that require universal training programs and curriculum are an ideal target. Non-welding educational programs looking to enhance science and math programs can use virtual reality to discuss metallurgy, electricity, heat flow, physics, angles, measurement and more. Some correctional institutions are already using virtual welding programs to teach job skills for outplacement employment.

By bringing new tools and new technology to the forefront, your company becomes a differentiator, and you gain new customers.

A stand similar to what is seen in a welding school holds the coupon as the welder prepares to stick weld on a horizontal Tee joint configuration. The computer screen shows what the welder will see in his or her helmet.

 

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Deanna Postlethwaite Meet the Author
Deanna Postlethwaite is marketing manager of The Lincoln Electric Company’s Automation Division in Cleveland, Ohio, and at www.LincolnElectric.com.