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VR Interfaces: Virtual Reality Welding Trainer

Overview | Virtual Reality Welding Trainer in Pictures

Overview of Virtual Reality Welding Trainer
In early 2005, Silicon Graphics Inc and VRSim Inc created a fully immersive VR based training system for welders. The Virtual Reality Welding Trainer uses SGI?s technology and the essence of VR to provide maximum hands-on training in what can be a hazardous occupation for the untrained? welding metals together.

Creating a safe environment, with no physical welding taking place, the VRWT allows an instructor to comment and evaluate a student while the virtual weld is taking place. The entire class can observe each student's weld on a monitor and learn from the instructor's suggestions for one another?s welds.

For good welding, many individual elements are important: the angle of the torch, the fluidity and steadiness of arm movement, eye-hand co-ordination, the position of the student's body, the way they are holding the torch and a variety of other physical attributes that can affect the weld.

The Welding Trainer incorporates an actual welding gun with full haptic feedback, and a custom HMD headset which fully immerses the trainee in a realistic motion-tracked 3D welding environment.

The instructor console monitors all of the end-user stations allowing the instructor to select one, two or as many of the virtual welding bay stations as desired. From either the central console or at each individual bay, the instructor can view the real-time training exercise and monitor the graphical performance metrics, which can be displayed during and after each pass.

Each recorded session is available for immediate playback and evaluation, including structural analysis of the resulting weld, providing optimal learning for the trainee.

Instructor's view from inside the simulation

In physical world-based training, teaching how to weld with actual material and actual welds, a lot of safety precautions have to be taken with untrained welders. Only two or three people can fit in a welding booth where the use of flame-proof protective clothing, gloves, helmets and visors limit vision and mobility while the sheer noise of an actual weld drowns out any words a teacher might offer.

"VRSim's Welding Trainer represents the first commercial effort to combine haptic (or touch) simulation technology with real-time computer interaction to provide fast, efficient skills transfer for welders," said Matthew Wallace, Chief Executive Officer, VRSim. "Whether novice or expert, each welder can learn better welding techniques, faster and with less waste. "

VR based weld training offers vastly improved safety over a physical weld, with no physical gas emissions, or sparking from the weld; no material costs, no matter how many attempts it takes and no necessity for special venting. It allows all the skill and productivity benefits of doing it physically, with none of the drawbacks.

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