Virtual reality welding simulations have been, and continue to be, a trend in welding training programs. The goal of this study was to examine the use of virtual reality simulations as an assessment tool for existing welders. This study used a virtual reality welding simulator, VRTEX® 360, to assess the existing skills of experienced and trained novice welders. This study also used the shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) process to perform simple and complex welds. Performance was evaluated through a quality score, which was based on the following five welding parameters: arc length, position, work angle, travel angle, and travel speed. The virtual reality welding simulator was able to evaluate performance, but it could not distinguish between experienced and trained novice welders. On average, experienced welders as a group scored 10 quality points higher than trained novice welders. Welding experience also had a large to very large effect on the quality score for each weld type. One identified trend for both experienced and trained novice welders was as weld difficulty increased, the quality score decreased. It is recommended that industries use virtual reality simulators to evaluate welders for ensuring highquality welding in production practices.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/richard_stone/10/