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No noise, no smoke, no heat, no material input – Fronius Virtual Welding offers a totally safe and sustainable framework for training new welders. Similar to a flight simulator, 3D glasses and amazing graphics enable a realistic welding experience. The result is high-quality welder training that also saves on costs.

Author: Philipp Schlor, Product Manager Virtual Welding, Fronius International GmbH

Figure 1: Hannes Krempl, welding technology and transport trainer at the Fohnsdorf Training Centre

Comprehensive training concept: theory and practice

With Virtual Welding, Fronius has developed a sophisticated training concept for providing theoretical knowledge about MIG/MAG, TIG, MMA welding and more, with a testing system to assess learning progress. A ranking list encourages trainees to enter into some friendly competition with one another.

The practical welding tasks in the Fronius Virtual Welding curriculum are based on training by the International Institute of Welding and therefore meet the international standard for training welders.

Ghost: the trainer always at your side

To master their manual skills, trainees first practise with a virtual instructor known as the Ghost. Step by step, it shows the right welding speed, distance and tilt angle of the welding torch relative to the workpiece, giving the trainee immediate feedback. The task gradually increases in difficulty until finally welding is completed without the Ghost in a realistic simulation. The Virtual Welding system records the welding operations, making it possible to play them back at a later date and analyse them together with a real trainer.

Figure 2: Virtual Welding combines state-of-the-art consumer electronics technology with welder training.

This combination of guided practical exercises and theoretical units enables trainees to complete much of their training independently using the welding simulator. They acquire basic knowledge and fundamental manual skills before moving on to the real welding system. This enables training centres to improve the quality of their training while also reducing costs.

Field study: Fohnsdorf Training Centre

The Fohnsdorf Training Centre is one of the most modern and innovative professional training establishments in Austria. The Fohnsdorf Training Centre has been using Virtual Welding in its metal engineering workshops since 2010. It now carries out 30 percent of its practical welder training by means of simulation, making simulators a mainstay of the training curriculum.

A field study was commissioned to research the impact of these simulators on training efficiency. It analysed data from:

  • 13 students
  • 2 weeks of training comprising 30% Virtual Welding and 70% real welding
  • Fillet welds (135 P FW FM1 S PB ml) and pipe fillet welds (135 T FW FM1 S PB sl), which are welded in real and virtual welding operations

The metal, gas, welding wire and energy consumption of the 1,577 real weld seams were analysed to determine the savings potential of training with Virtual Welding. This was then compared with the data from 1,733 virtual weld seams.

Figure 3: Fronius uses 3D glasses that feature a particularly high resolution and level of sharpness as well as a large field of vision.

Better quality of training: 23% more practice time

The Fohnsdorf Training Centre boosts welding time by 23 percent with Virtual Welding. This makes it possible to produce three times as many seams as can be produced in the welding booth in the same period of time. This is mainly because virtual welding eliminates time-consuming preparation of the test sheets as well as cooling of the sheets and cleaning of the weld seams. With a simulated welding seam taking just one click, there is more time for mastering and practising the required manual skills.

However, it is not just practice time that receives a boost: “We believe that Virtual Welding makes a significant contribution towards improving training quality. The Ghost provides every student with one-on-one tuition and immediate visual feedback, something that a real-life trainer is simply unable to do,” says Hannes Krempl, a trainer in welding technology and transport at the Fohnsdorf Training Centre.

Figure 4: The Ghost is the virtual trainer that shows the right welding speed, distance and tilt of the welding torch and filler metal relative to the workpiece using markings (shown in green in the image).

Cost savings: material costs reduced by €230

In addition to the quality of the training, the welding simulator also increases cost effectiveness; savings on consumables such as gas, wire and sheets make the training significantly cheaper. “In total, we save around 230 euros per participant on material costs – despite the longer arc time,” says Krempl. Virtual welder training ensures maximum effectiveness using minimal resources.

Fronius UK

Fronius UK, a subsidiary of Fronius International, provides the UK welding market with solutions for MIG/MAG, TIG, electrode, laser, plasma and resistance spot welding and automation. Its new state-of-the-art facility in Milton Keynes extends over 30,000m2 and houses the Tech Support team, the Repair Center, a warehouse and a training area and epitomises the importance of being able to deliver a first-class service to customers.

Fronius UK, a subsidiary of Fronius International, provides the UK welding market with solutions for MIG/MAG, TIG, electrode, laser, plasma and resistance spot welding and automation. Its new state-of-the-art facility in Milton Keynes extends over 30,000m2 and houses the Tech Support team, the Repair Center, a warehouse and a training area and epitomises the importance of being able to deliver a first-class service to customers.

Sales and service teams, both at head office and regionally, ensure that customers are supported as quickly as possible on their own premises. In addition, customers benefit from services such as calibration, a warranty extension and a maintenance contract.

For decades, Fronius has made significant contributions to advances in welding technology. The company is still in family ownership and its welding technology division is now one of the world’s technology leaders in the arc welding market segment. It is also the market leader in Europe.

Welding Technology is one of three Fronius divisions. Since the 1940s, Fronius has been creating technologies and solutions for monitoring and controlling energy in battery-charging systems, and since 1992 the same in solar electronics. The mains-connected inverter, the unique Fronius Service Partner programme and products for monitoring photovoltaic systems make Fronius one of the leading suppliers in the field of solar electronics.

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