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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Furness College welding simulator allows students to show mettle

A CUTTING-EDGE virtual welding simulator is proving to be a valuable training aid in Furness.

Furness College is the first place in the North West to have a VRTEX 360 virtual welding machine.

The Channelside campus, in Barrow, is one of only five locations in the UK to introduce the US technology, and it is the most advanced of the five.

Students use the equipment to learn techniques and best practice of the trade, and receive data feedback on how correct their work is. The tests start at a basic level and become more complex.

The college is using the equipment with apprentices and students, but says it also hopes to use it as an activity for school children to give them confidence around learning these skills.

Brian Hughes, a college engineering lecturer, first saw the technology being used at a UK Skills event where there were large queues of people wanting to have a go.

He said the beauty of the machine is that it is very realistic, it can be used without students having to get kitted out in the protective equipment, no materials are needed and it is safe for anyone to use without training – even young children.

Mr Hughes said he wishes it had been around 40 years ago when he started out as an apprentice welder.

He said: “This is cutting-edge technology. There are only five of these machines in the UK and ours is the first in the North West. It has the most up-to-date technology and it can be added to.

“As a teaching aid it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s very realistic and the sound changes if you get it wrong.

“It looks at the accuracy, the speed of the work, angles and welding defects.”

A group of second year welding and fabrication apprentices from BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines, who learn at Furness College one day a week, are impressed with the equipment.

Kyle Murphy, 18 ,of Millom, said: “It’s a very good piece of kit. This will be very good for people who are starting out with welding. It can also be used for more complex work. It’s very realistic and it gives you a lot of feedback.”

Jack Culbert, 18, of Walney, said: “This is very good for giving the basic concepts and stages of welding, and the techniques. It also saves a lot on the cost of materials.”

Elizabeth Herring, 20, of Millom, said: “It’s very good equipment. It makes sure you are using the correct angles and you are the correct distance from the weld.”

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