Representatives from 10 training centers for the International Training Institute (ITI), the educational arm of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers, attended the first hand-held laser welder training the week of May 2 at Local 88 in Las Vegas. Representatives included training directors and instructors from the first set of centers awarded an ITI grant to cover 90% of the cost of a single hand-held laser unit.
The ITI-provided course includes the training of a laser safety officer, which every grantee is required to have on staff.
“Laser welders are not any more dangerous if you follow the rules than a lot of the other sheet metal equipment we use,” said Mike Harris, ITI administrator. “If you use it, and you use it right, it has the potential to change our industry.”
While laser welding isn’t new, the future of laser welding lacks the automation of the past, and it is portable when used for accepted applications (one-quarter-inch material or thinner).
“This is the first hand-held laser welder an actual person uses,” Harris said. “That’s what makes this different. In a few hours, I can have someone putting down high-quality welds. I think it’s a game-changer for our industry.”
Units cost from $25,000 to $28,000, and the ITI will provide 90% of the cost in addition to the training. By the end of the year, 40 training centers will have the equipment and more then 60 JATC instructors and/or coordinators will have completed the class.
For more information about ITI and its available training curriculum for members covering sheet metal trade work, visit the website or call 703-739-7200.