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December 02, 2005
Silicon Graphics has announced the sale of six SGI and VRSim turn-key Virtual Reality Welding Trainers to the U.S. Army Ordinance Center and School at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, to train soldiers and Marines for battlefield repairs, parts repairs and maintenance on armored and other vehicles. The immersive, Virtual Reality Welding Trainer is based on SGI visualization hardware and VRSim simulation software; the Welding Trainer was announced at the American Welding Society Show in Dallas earlier this year.
Designed and integrated by SGI Professional Services specifically for the U.S. Army/Marine Corps as a time and cost-saving productivity tool for Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) and Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), the simulators are for novice and experienced welders alike. The six welding bays are linked to a central console for instructors to monitor trainee performance and store weld information for future training analysis.
The U.S. Army/Marine Corps has contracted SGI and VRSim to deliver GMAW and SMAW welding in flat, vertical, horizontal and overhead welding positions. A follow-on project to add Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) and OXY/Fuel processes is under consideration. The Welding Trainer incorporates an actual welding gun with haptic feedback and a custom headset through which the trainee experiences 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.
"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. We are proud to present this new generation of training technology to the U.S. Army."
Key benefits of the Virtual Reality Welding Trainer include:
-- Improved workmanship and productivity: Muscle memory and hands-on
experience play a critical role in complex and critical welds. The
Virtual Reality Welding Trainer promotes faster learning as trainees
can complete more practice welds within a fixed amount of training time
when compared to conventional training. Instant feedback from each weld
pass allows the trainee to hone the specific skills that need
improvement until the full technique of laying a quality weld is
-- Increase training retention and improve trainee/worker safety: Welders
learn new techniques or practice their skills in a safe environment
without risk of injury.
-- Reduce training costs: Reduced expenditures in training materials,
waste disposal and unavailable welders due to injury all result in cost
-- Environmental concerns: Harmful emissions and/or waste materials are
eliminated in a virtual environment.
The Silicon Graphics Prism Deskside system powers the VRSim Welding Trainer visualization. The Deskside is driven by dual Intel Itanium 2 processors and ATI FireGL graphics processors.
"The power of Intel Itanium 2 processors and SGI visualization technology delivers realistic welding in real time, enhancing the learning experience," said Melissa Laird, general manager of Intel's Developer Relations Division. "The SGI and VRSim Welding Trainer is a unique product that takes great advantage of Intel's platform."
VRSim's Sim Welder Software leverages SGI OpenGL Performer technology to deliver the realism required for a virtual training environment. The virtual environment can be tailored to display real-world scenarios such as a vehicle repair on a battlefield or an industrial manufacturing setting during the training exercise. VRSim's IO software provides the middleware to manage the complex array of peripheral devices required to make the turn-key training solution complete.
"The Virtual Reality Welding Trainer provides a cost-effective solution that decreases overall training expenditures while increasing safety, training productivity, and the overall quality of workmanship," said James Hooks, global sales manager for welding trainers, SGI. "With the acquisition of virtual welding technology, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps will now have a powerful new tool to quickly and safely train personnel. SGI has a long history of providing robust, turn-key visualization solutions to both government and commercial industries, and we are excited to apply state-of-the-art visualization technology to provide this new leap forward in welder training productivity."
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