Naval school’s newest tool a high tech welding simulator

Naval school’s newest tool a high tech welding simulator

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer

Instructors at Naval Fleet School Pacific (NFS(P)) say a new augmented reality welding simulator will enhance instruction, reduce waste, and save money.

They recently tested the AugmentedArc welding trainer that will be used during the Maritime Technician and Hull Technician Legacy QL5 courses. 

“It uses the same principles as real welding, and the student can manipulate the angle, distance and speed, gas and voltage of their torch, in the same manner as they would on the shop floor,” said Master Seaman Yannick Berube.

He was joined by colleagues Master Seaman Anthony Deman and Leading Seaman Andrew Vincent for an introductory lesson by Paul Riddell, President of Progressive Education Systems. The system is O.E.M. by United-States based Miller Electric Mfg LLC, the world’s largest manufacturer of arc welding products, and distributed in Canada by Riddell’s company.

The Department of National Defence purchased six units for the CFB Esquimalt naval school and the same number for Naval Fleet School Atlantic; they cost approximately $30,000 each.

MS Berube says while the cost may seem steep, it will save money in the long term. Gone is the volume of metal and welding supplies used by up to 72 students in seven classes a year as they perfect their skill.

“Welding is a dirty and costly program to teach and every time a student picks up a welder they are consuming metal, welding rod, gas, electricity, etcetera,” adds Riddell. “During the welding procedure a shielding gas is released to prevent exposure to air and water vapor which can create issues. The Miller Augmented Arc welding trainer simulates this entire process, effectively enabling a student to learn how to weld in a realistic, clean, and safe environment.”

Instead of welder’s helmet and mask that protects the eyes from the harmful torch glow, students put on a similar looking helmet that contains a three-dimensional display screen that shows images of the real world, augmented with computer-generated images of metal work pieces, weld arcs and weld beads.

Students then manipulate their torch and solder material to make simulated welds by moving them along a color-coded pallet that resembles a typical welding test coupon.

Graphics on the screen inside the helmet show what they are doing on the virtual plane. Over time they learn how to properly adjust the angle, speed, distance, and the amount of gas and voltage. The result is a simulation of live-arc welding without using an actual arc or consuming wire, shielding gas or coupons.

Tech savvy students will appreciate this unique training device says MS Berube.

For the instructors, they can watch all the students from one vantage, instead of walking the shop floor to check on their progress.

“All of your work is recorded while you are welding; you can go back and pinpoint problem areas and improve. So really for the student, it’s like having an instructor by your side all of the time,” said MS Deman.

The simulator will be introduced to students later this year.

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